The current actuator line method (ALM) within an OpenFOAM computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solver was used to perform simulations of the NREL Phase VI rotor under rotating and parked conditions, two fixed-wing designs both with an elliptic spanwise loading, and the NREL 5-MW turbine. The objective of this work is to assess and improve the accuracy of the state-of-the-art ALM in predicting rotor blade loads, particularly by focusing on the method used to project the actuator forces onto the flow field as body forces. Results obtained for sectional normal and tangential force coefficients were compared to available experimental data and to the in-house performance code XTurb-PSU. It was observed that the ALM results agree well with measured data and results obtained from XTurb-PSU except in the root and tip regions if a three-dimensional Gaussian of width, ε, constant along the blade span is used to project the actuator force onto the flow field. A new method is proposed where the Gaussian width, ε, varies along the blade span following an elliptic distribution. A general criterion is derived that applies to any planform shape. It is found that the new criterion for ε leads to improved prediction of blade tip loads for a variety of blade planforms and rotor conditions considered.