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From the Trenches: The O-line vs. D-line NFL Matchups Column (FREE)

Sam Smith



The best NFL betting picks for Week 12 Sunday Night Football Browns vs. Ravens on BetMGM Sportsbook with expert odds, lines, player props & parlays

For all the high-flying, motion-laden trends that permeate football in this day and age, the game at its heart still hinges heavily on the battles up the middle. Offensive line vs. defensive line play can determine your fantasy matchups and decide who wins millions of dollars each week, yet very few fantasy sites talk about it. As such, every week of the NFL season, Samuel Smith will present fantasy plays to make for that week based on advantage in the trenches. Let’s get into some NFL DFS picks for Week 1 on DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo and FantasyDraft.

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Baltimore @ Miami: QB Lamar Jackson

Miami opponents may be a good play every single week this year. Based on personnel, they could finish bottom-five both as run-stopping and pass-rushing units. The silver lining for them are interior defenders Christian Wilkins and Davon Godchaux, who could prove to be a solid run-stuffing tandem inside. However, outside of the guard box is where Lamar Jackson operates as a runner, and the Dolphins lack an answer to that at the moment. Jackson’s rookie campaign revealed him as one of the premier running quarterbacks we have seen since Michael Vick, as he ran for almost 700 yards in limited time as a starter. And with a mauling line headlined by Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown, Jackson should have lots of room on designed runs.

His mobility will be an asset to his passing numbers most weeks, as well. This week, however, that likely will not matter nearly as much, since the Dolphins’ pass rush does not exactly threaten on paper. Miami’s two leading sackers from last season, Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn, are in different uniforms this year. They lack the pop on the edge to challenge Stanley and Brown, who project as one of the better pass blocking duos. In other words, Jackson should have plenty of time to throw, and plenty of room to maneuver whether he is dropping back or on the move.

Cincinnati @ Seattle: RB Chris Carson

Despite retaining a top-five quarterback in Russell Wilson, Seattle runs the ball as much as any team in football. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has become notorious as “Mr. Establish the Run,” and the Seahawks have a couple of decent fantasy options to show for it. Chris Carson broke 1,000 yards in his second season and scored nine touchdowns, firmly establishing himself as RB1. Meanwhile, 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny looks to be more of a handcuff than a true threat to Chris Carson’s bell cow status.

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This week, Carson will get a bump from the opponent, as the Bengals may struggle to stop anyone in the run game in 2019. Granted, Seattle is hardly an overwhelming run blocking force. But even they should be able to create ample space for their backs, given Cincinnati’s weakness up front. Geno Atkins will merit added attention and extra blockers, since he remains an elite defender in all facets. If the Seahawks can keep him at bay, Carson should have a strong day.

Atlanta @ Minnesota: RB Dalvin Cook

Like Cincinnati, Atlanta rides with one elite defender up front and a myriad of question marks elsewhere. Minnesota’s wide zone-heavy scheme can mitigate the strength of one opponent, in this case Grady Jarrett, and Dalvin Cook is adept at reading cutback lanes for big plays. Minnesota’s offensive line is a bit of an enigma, but preseason showed that they are at the very least more athletic than last season with more big play potential in the running game. While Jarrett is quick and disruptive, he appears to be the only major threat to Minnesota’s zone attack.

Another thing working strongly in Cook’s favor this week is the fact that Atlanta has led the league in running back receptions allowed in each of the last five seasons. Even with linebacker Deion Jones at full strength, Cook’s receiving ability should be a strong asset this week. The Vikings use Cook a lot in designed pass plays and even split him out wide for linebacker mismatches. Minnesota’s improved line coupled with Atlanta’s come-and-go pass rush means more opportunities for Cook to flourish.

Washington @ Philadelphia: TE Zach Ertz

Count on the Eagles to boast a substantial trench advantage in most weeks. They have the league’s best overall offensive line with potential All-Pros at four positions and a talented rookie in Andre Dillard as their swing tackle. Since Philadelphia is rolling out a committee of backs, it is wait-and-see mode on who steps up as the top fantasy option. For now, most of the Eagles’ fantasy focus falls on their quarterback, Carson Wentz. Wentz should be fully healthy this year, and the last time we saw him at full strength, he was the front-runner for league MVP and his favorite target in Zach Ertz caught eight touchdowns. Last year, the Ertz-Wentz connection only got better, with Ertz going for 874 yards on Wentz throws in only 11 games together. That connection should only increase so long as both maintain health.

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To Washington’s credit, they have a good-looking front packed with young potential stars. The duo inside of Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne could pose a strong threat for years to come. However, against center Jason Kelce and the rest of the strong Philly interior, do not expect that to come against the pass this week. On the outside, Ryan Kerrigan is one of the league’s most underappreciated pass rushers, as he is coming off double-digit sacks for the third season in a row. But Wentz has Lane Johnson and Jason Peters in front of him, so he should have plenty of time to throw. And when he has that time, Wentz looks Ertz’s way almost twice as often as other Philadelphia receivers.

Sam Smith is a writer and editor with He has been immersed in the world of professional sports data since 2015, while also writing extensively on the NFL for a multitude of blogs and websites. With Awesemo, Sam looks to blend his sports and editorial expertise with Awesemo's data to bring you the best fantasy information possible. You can follow Sam on Twitter @samc_smith.

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