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Week 14 Rushing Matchups

by Justin Howe, Devin Knotts, and Keith Roberts, Exclusive to

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Great Matchups: [ATL] [CHI] [IND]
Good Matchups: [DAL] [DEN] [LAC] [MIA] [NE] [NO] [PHI] [TB]
Neutral Matchups: [BAL] [BUF] [CIN] [DET] [GB] [HOU] [KC] [MIN] [NYJ] [OAK] [SF] [TEN] [WAS]
Tough Matchups: [ARI] [CLE] [NYG] [PIT] [SEA]
Bad Matchups: [CAR] [JAX] [LAR]

PLEASE NOTE: This does NOT replace the Cheatsheet ranking. The Cheatsheet rankings are the final say on where we see a player for that week. The Matchup Breakdowns are simply one more tool in the box when it comes to helping choose your lineup.

Also note, just because a player has a "bad" matchup, it does NOT mean he's not a starter in your league. If Tom Brady is playing the toughest pass defense in the league, that just means he's got a tough matchup that week. He's also your starter unless you're loaded at QB. In the same way, if the worst QB on your roster has a "great" matchup that week, it doesn't necessarily mean he's your starter. It means we think he'll fare better than normal that week.

Bottom line is that the cheatsheets are the final say.

Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Falcons’ dual-threat run game continues to impress and, for the most part, drive the offense’s success. The offensive line is among the league’s best – our Matt Bitonti currently ranks it second, with an A+ run-blocking grade – and both Devonta Freeman (4.60 yards per carry, 5 touchdowns) and Tevin Coleman (4.32 and 5) are strong and dynamic enough runners to take advantage. There’s a timeshare in play, but one of the pair has run for 68+ yards and/or 1+ touchdowns in 10 of the team’s 12 games. Thanks to that efficiency, we can feel confident that coordinator Steve Sarkisian won’t veer from it anytime soon; this is one of the league’s elite units and should always be squarely on the fantasy radar.

The Saints run defense hasn’t been particularly targetable for fantasy purposes of late, thanks to a decrease in game pace and a steady flow of Saints-positive scripts. Opponents haven’t been able to stick to their running games long enough to generate big days. Still, this unit remains a per-snap mess in terms of stopping the run. They’re giving up 4.62 yards per rush, fourth-most in the league, and have allowed opposing backs to turn poor fantasy outlooks into usable stat lines. Six of the last 7 lead backs they’ve faced have garnered 4.00+ yards per rush, which suggests this unit is incapable of pinching off efficiency. There’s no need to avoid those opposing runners whenever they face a strong ground attack (like the Falcons’), or Vegas gives us reason to believe the game will stay close (Atlanta currently sits -2). Simply put, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are in favorable spots this week.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Chicago Bears Rushing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Jordan Howard remains a generally strong NFL runner. He’s big and powerful yet nimble, and he’s been as productive as we could ask of a back in this offense. Here in 2017, Howard boasts games of 140, 167, 102, and 125 yards – with 3 of those performances coming against strong run defenses. Unfortunately, he’s a very one-dimensional back, so he’s not much of a fantasy producer unless the game is flowing directly his way (generally, a tight game or a whistle-to-whistle Bears win). Despite his volume potential, Howard’s weekly outlook simply isn’t very good unless he can be penciled in confidently for 15+ carries. When we can expect him to carry the offense, there’s a ton of fantasy value here. There’s potential for that in Week 14 – he’s facing an exceptionally strong matchup, and his Bears are only 6-point road underdogs. If they keep the game within a score or two entering the fourth quarter, we’ll likely see Howard given a fair shot at another 100-yard day. Tarik Cohen is an electrifying change-of-pace weapon, but is barely in the rushing rotation and doesn’t threaten Howard’s carries.

The Bengals run defense has gone from bad to worse, and it looks likely to sink even further going forward. They’ve allowed the league’s 6th-most yards to running backs since Week 7, including season-best performances by the likes of Frank Gore, Chris Ivory, and Isaiah Crowell. Now they’ll likely proceed without heart and soul Vontaze Burfict, who was backboarded and carted away from last Monday’s game. Given Burfict’s extensive history of head and neck injuries, it seems wise to count him out for the immediate future. Without Burfict or viable space-eaters on the front line, this is one of the league’s juiciest units to target with opposing runners; it’s a perfect spot for Jordan Howard to snap out of his funk.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense at Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

We’ve yet to see any real production from Colts running backs this season. With no Andrew Luck to threaten secondaries and generate gobs of scoring opportunity, this unit can’t get off the ground in any meaningful way. Frank Gore, fast approaching 35, has averaged just 3.63 yards per carry and 52.7 per game, and he’s topped 62 just once all year. Rookie Marlon Mack continues to impress with his speed and explosiveness but isn’t making a fantasy dent in this low-scoring, low-impact offense. It doesn’t help that the pair runs behind a subpar and decimated front line, currently ranked 29th (with a C- run-blocking grade) by our Matt Bitonti. Getting back center Ryan Kelly would be a plus, but doesn’t seem likely to tip the scales much for this middling unit.

The Buffalo run defense has simply fallen apart, given up, or both. Dating back to Week 9, they’ve allowed a stunning 162 yards per game to running backs – 40 more than the second-worst Giants – and more touchdowns than anyone to boot. Of late, the only back they’ve managed to slow was Kareem Hunt – who hasn’t? – and they’ve been shredded by duos Matt Forte/Bilal Powell (148 yards and 2 touchdowns), Mark Ingram/Alvin Kamara (237 and 4), Melvin Gordon/Austin Ekeler (120 and 2), and Dion Lewis/Rex Burkhead (170 and 2). You generally want in on any back facing this defense right now. It’s exceptionally ugly, with the defense losing on every level of the field.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Cowboys rushing offense thrived last week as Alfred Morris led them to 182 overall rushing yards, amassing 127 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries himself. Dak Prescott chipped in with 28 rushing yards while Rod Smith had a rushing touchdown on one of his 10 carries, but only averaged 2.7 yards per attempt. Morris was the clear star of this offense as he gained chunk yards time and time again, rushing 10 times for seven or more yards. Morris has now out-carried Smith three of the four games since Elliott’s suspension despite being out-snapped by Smith in each game except their last one. Having a healthy offensive line with Tyron Smith back was an obvious boost for this offense as a whole, and particularly beneficial for the running backs as they had gaping holes to run through for most of the night last Thursday.

The Giants have been an extremely disappointing team this season as they own one of the worst records in football. Their defense, in particular, is loaded with talent, they just have not been able to put it together in any given week. From a rushing perspective, the Giants are giving up the league’s most rushing yards per game (130.7). They have allowed a 100-yard rusher in back to back games now as opposing running backs are averaging 122 rushing yards per game over the last five weeks. Big plays have been the Achilles heel of this defense as their linebackers cannot tackle anyone. Neither rushing touchdown came from within the five-yard line last week as this defensive line has been playing pretty well—but without support from their linebackers, big plays are easy to come by as we saw by Marshawn Lynch’s 51-yard touchdown run early in last week’s game. The Cowboys offensive line is back to full strength and should be able to edge even the talented defensive line of the Giants. With game script in their favor, look for Alfred Morris and Rod Smith to win this matchup.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Denver Broncos Rushing Offense vs New York Jets Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Denver continues to employ a committee approach with its three backs, but it’s bringing only modest success, if any. C.J. Anderson remains a generally average talent, one capable of gaining what’s blocked but lacking in explosiveness; he surely misses the added space once afforded him by Peyton Manning. Anderson has averaged just 3.74 yards per rush and 40.3 per game since the team’s collapse truly began in Week 6. Jamaal Charles and Devontae Booker alternate the No. 2 role, but neither is offering much on the ground – they’re averaging just 35.9 combined yards per game over that same span. With the passing game melting down and the offensive line hovering around the middle of the pack, there’s virtually nothing to be excited about for fantasy purposes.

The Jets run defense has been all over the map in 2017, and it’s a difficult one to trust even against weaker run games. On the year they’ve allowed the league’s 9th-most rushing yards per game and 10th-most per carry. There are gobs of talent and athleticism in this front seven, but the line, particularly Muhammad Wilkerson, has underperformed, and the linebackers are extremely inconsistent. In recent weeks they’ve done a fine job against lead backs, but are still giving up yardage to quicker complements in chunks. The Broncos running back rotation which stays fresh and rides the hot hand, projects nicely against this unit.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Offense vs Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Melvin Gordon has been a volume workhorse over the last three games averaging 20 carries per game. The problem is that he has not been overly successful with those carries as he is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry in two favorable matchups including one against the Bills which was an ideal situation. Gordon still has a ton of talent, but ultimately the problem has been the offensive line for the Chargers as the right side is really struggling with center Spencer Pulley, right guard Kenny Wiggins and right tackle Joe Barksdale all playing a big role in why Melvin Gordon’s numbers are down compared to last season.

The Redskins have been up and down against the run this season as while their defensive line started the season off strong, they are starting to struggle as over their last five games they have allowed 118 yards rushing which is the fourth worst in the NFL during that time stretch. The problem for the Redskins is that when Matt Ioannidis came back from injury he wasn’t the same dominant force that he was to start the year and Ziggy Hood continues to struggle at the nose tackle position. Zach Brown has been one of the lead leaders in tackles which on paper seems like a great thing but in reality, it means that a lot of running backs are getting several yards downfield.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense vs New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

In Kenyan Drake, the Dolphins appear to have found a keeper; the Jay Ajayi makes a lot more sense today than it did a month ago. Drake looks truly explosive, averaging 5.36 yards per carry over 5 games since the trade and ripping off 5+ yards on 20 of his 65 runs. Damien Williams may be available for Week 14, and it would be a shame to see Drake forced back into a timeshare. Williams is a painfully slow-footed back and the personified opposite of dynamism, “boasting” just 3.59 yards over 133 career rushes. Williams brings value to the Dolphins and deserves snaps due to his strong work in the passing game, but Drake represents all of the ceiling here, and this is likely his backfield now. Facing the Patriots’ barely-there run defense, he carries a strong chance at generating a handful of chunk runs and maximizing whatever volume he’s given.

The Patriots continue to field a troublingly poor run defense, arguably the worst in football, but it doesn’t matter as much as you’d think for fantasy purposes. Yes, they’re allowing the league’s most yardage per carry (5.07) by a mile, but it hasn’t turned this into a targetable unit. That’s because the Patriots tend to lead (and often dominate) their games early, forcing their opponents into pass-heavy attacks and limiting running back opportunity. As a result, they’re actually allowing just the 12th-most non-PPR fantasy points to opposing running backs. This unit is definitely vulnerable to efficiency, and as we saw last week, strong lead backs can rack up yardage even without the help of game flow. But since we can’t expect more than 12-15 carries on a given week, we can’t confidently project them near their ceilings.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

New England Patriots Rushing Offense at Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Patriots continue to leverage their high-impact pass game – and usually positive game scripts – into top-tier rushing production. As a team they’ve averaged 133.1 yards over their past 8 games, topping 160 in 3 of them. Dion Lewis looks reborn after an uncertain offseason: he’s averaged 5.44 yards per attempt and and 68.0 per game over that span. And Rex Burkhead looks great as his change of pace, notching 128 yards and 3 rushing scores over his last 2 games. Taking advantage of wide-set defenses and strong game flow, both routinely project to decent usage and maximum production, and both are always afforded short-yardage shots at the end zone. Both make for strong RB2/flex plays anytime the Patriots project to score well and win – which is literally every week.

The Dolphins run defense is a bit of an enigma. Over their last 6 games, they’ve allowed 174+ yards in 3 and 103 or fewer in the other 3. On the whole, though, we can generally project this unit to the lower end of those expectations. Beyond all-world tackle Ndamukong Suh, this front seven badly lacks young talent, and aged middle linebacker Lawrence Timmons has been up-and-down at best. That’s not to mention that the Dolphins tend to trail their games in the second halves, allowing opponents to churn out solid clock-killing yardage. That bodes poorly for Week 14, when the red-hot Patriots backfield and its -11.5 spread coming to town.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense at Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

There doesn’t seem to be any slowing down this Saints running game, which ranks first in the NFL (167.9 yards per game) by a mile since the Adrian Peterson trade over the Week 5 bye. Mark Ingram looks reborn as a runner, averaging 95.3 yards and scoring 9 touchdowns over 8 games since then. But as good as he’s been, the most surprising story has been that of rookie Alvin Kamara, who’s blown the lid off the entire league. Kamara began as a complementary back, but now sees a few more snaps per game than Ingram – he’s the third-down guy as well as an important rushing piece – and is averaging a hard-to-believe 7.05 yards per carry. The great thing about this duo is that they’re not either/or producers: in 6 of their 8 post-Peterson games, both have finished the week as PPR RB1s. Running behind an elite front line, and insulated from the defense by a still-great, Drew Brees-led passing game, there’s no apparent end sight for this stretch; fantasy owners can deploy either or both regardless of Vegas expectation or defensive matchup.

The Falcons run defense has remained a fairly shaky unit, allowing the league’s sixth-most yards per rush. But it’s also not allowing big fantasy days: through 12 games, they’ve allowed just 3 opposing lead backs to reach 70 ground yards. That’s come against a relatively easy slate of matchups, but it’s highlighted the unit’s fantasy advantages in this area: game flow and pace. The Falcons often lead their games in the second halves, and they shorten them by running the league’s fourth-fewest snaps per game, resulting in drastically slashed opportunity for their opponents’ run games. That’s great news when they’re projected to run away with things, but concerning in closely-projected contests like this one (currently Falcons -2). The Saints’ bulldozing run game projects better against this defense than virtually any of its opponents thus far, and Vegas expects it to be active throughout the day. This could very easily be a fall-apart week for this unit.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Rams Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Eagles run game fell fairly flat against a tough Seahawks defense last Sunday as their trio of running backs amassed just 68 rushing yards on 20 carries. Jay Ajayi actually led the team in carries and rushing yards last week while LeGarrette Blount played on just 19% of the snaps compared to Ajayi’s 42%. Corey Clement snuck in there with 38% of the snaps also but just saw three carries as he was used more in the passing attack. Last week was not a great game script for the bruising running style of Blount since the Eagles were playing from behind for the entire game, which explains his lack of usage. This playing time was very positive for Jay Ajayi though, as it is the most he has been used since joining the team.

The Rams will be a soft matchup for the Eagles this week. Allowing the third most fantasy points per game to running backs and the third most rushing yards per attempt (4.7), the Rams defensive line continues to underwhelm despite the talent they have with Aaron Donald playing as one of the best defensive ends in football. The Rams linebackers are also a big reason why this defense has struggled so much against the run, particularly Alex Ogletree as he has not played well at all this season in either run or pass defense. Ogletree did leave last week’s game with an elbow injury and didn’t return, but he just had a hyperextended elbow and is expected to be back this week. The Eagles offensive line has played very well together since the tough loss of Jason Peters, with Jason Kelce at center stepping up in a big way. This should be a good matchup in the trenches between these two units, but the advantage goes to the Eagles.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense vs Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Peyton Barber is trying to seize the most of his opportunity as he had 23 carries last week and was very impressive rushing for 4.4 yards per carry and 102 yards total. Keep an eye on this one throughout the week as the Buccaneers are likely to get Doug Martin back this week as he has returned to practice, but the question will be for the Buccaneers who have nothing to play for whether they give the impressive second-year undrafted player a chance to continue to show what he can do. What was even more impressive is that this offensive line had been a major issue for the Buccaneers and Barber was the first Buccaneers player to go for over 100 yards this season.

The Lions rush defense has really struggled over the last five games as they are allowing 114 yards per game and 1.4 touchdowns which comes out to be the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. The Lions also have not faced elite rushing units during this time as they have faced Minnesota, Chicago, Cleveland, Green Bay and the one elite unit that they have faced was Pittsburgh. Part of the issue is that for as good as Jarrad Davis played earlier this season, he is playing equally as poorly over his last five games. Next, to Davis, Paul Worrilow has had similar issues on the weakside and the defensive line has largely been disappointing this season at keeping offensive lineman off of blockers.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Alex Collins keeps impressing, and it’s become clear that he’s the Ravens’ top option in the backfield. While Buck Allen continues to run in quicksand, Collins has averaged 4.90 yards per rush, and he’s found the end zone 4 times over the past 3 weeks. That said, Collins’ health has become a real concern: he reported migraines after Week 13, and that won’t be taken lightly by either the NFL or the Ravens. If Collins sits, there’s really no dynamism and no reason to invest anything fantasy-wise in this run game. Allen and Woodhead are best suited as pass catchers, with neither offering any real punch on the ground. Terrance West would likely enter the rotation, but the Ravens would almost certainly try to steer their offense toward the pass and away from the Marshal Yanda-less point of attack. Simply put, Collins is the only avenue by which this running game boasts any ground-based fantasy value.

The Pittsburgh run defense remains one of the league’s stoutest, sitting eighth in yardage allowed per game. But they hold a few carryover concerns from last Monday’s brutal date with the Bengals. For one, they allowed 130 ground yards, the first time an opponent has topped 80 yards since Week 5. That wasn’t an egregious total, but it’s a bit concerning when we consider the anemic nature of the Bengals offensive line. More crucially, the Steelers have now lost linebacker Ryan Shazier, likely for an extended chunk of time, after a frightening neck injury left him hospitalized. Special teamer Tyler Matakevich is a weak substitute for Shazier’s speed and relentless pursuit, so the interior gaps should be a bit more doable than usual for the Ravens’ backs.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

LeSean McCoy keeps humming along nicely – he’s gone a long way toward erasing his early-season slump from owners’ minds – but remains an inconsistent producer. He’s running much better of late, averaging 4.96 yards per attempt and 80.2 per game over the last 6 weeks, up huge from 3.36 and 61.7 over the first 6. But he’s still trapped in an offense that can’t threaten defenses downfield and keep defenders out of the box. It doesn’t help that the Bills spell him liberally, with Mike Tolbert, Tyrod Taylor, and wildcat back Joe Webb siphoning off some of his opportunity. McCoy can finally be counted on weekly to produce up to his volume, and he’s a safe projection threaten 90-100 yards. But it’s hard to expect much more with such chaos in the Buffalo offense.

The Colts have surprisingly fielded one of the season’s stingier down-to-down run defenses. The play of interior linemen Jonathan Hankins and Al Woods has spurred on a borderline-shutdown unit. They’re allowing just 3.92 yards per rush, 11th-best in football, and have neutralized a handful of upper-tier runners. LeVeon Bell (26 carries for 80 yards), DeMarco Murray (12 for 9), and Leonard Fournette (20 for 57) have all run into brick walls recently in this matchup. We always have to consider things like Vegas projections and expected game flow, of course, so the Colts always project far worse than those numbers ultimately bear out. There’s always a chance they fall behind 24-7 early and wind up facing heavy rushing volume. But a matchup with the reeling Bills, who will likely be quarterbacked by rookie disaster Nathan Peterman, is a welcomed site for this unit.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense vs Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Just as Joe Mixon was coming into fantasy prominence, he’s immediately muddied for Week 14 and perhaps longer. Mixon had looked fantastic for a game and a half, averaging 4.93 yards over his last 30 carries, but suffered a scary concussion against the Steelers in which he appeared to go fully unconscious. He seems like a longshot to get clearance on a short week, so this will likely be Giovani Bernard’s show for Week 14. Bernard has quietly been the Bengals’ most efficient runner this season, averaging 4.21 yards per carry (to Mixon’s 3.30), so we may see something of an immediate upgrade. Bernard is still explosive on the edges and tends to maximize his opportunity behind the Bengals’ shoddy front line. He racked up 77 yards on 13 relief carries Monday night, after all. With only fifth-round rookie Brian Hill as backfield competition, Bernard carries a solid Week 14 outlook, with considerable upside given his receiving prowess.

The Bears field a generally-average run defense. It’s a unit that’s improved by leaps and bounds from a dreadful 2016 and now sits in the league’s middle third in terms of yardage, touchdowns, and efficiency allowed. This is a talented group, with a front line capable of tying up blockers and plenty of athleticism at linebacker, but there’s also a lot of inconsistency. The Bears’ numbers look decent as a whole, but may be trending downward: they’ve allowed 160+ yards in 2 of the past 4 weeks.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Lions still have not had a player rush for over 100 yards since 2013 which is an incredible streak exemplified partly by Matthew Stafford’s air raid offense and a lack of a bell cow running back. The Lions are looking to potentially get Ameer Abdullah back in this game which once again will add another running back to the Lions running back by committee rotation as Tion Green may continue to get carries after he looked good last week leading the team with 51-yards rushing.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers run defense is a unit that the individual parts are better than the collective unit. The run defense is anchored by two superstars in Lavonte David at linebacker and Gerald McCoy at defensive tackle and while Kwon Alexander has been playing better as of late linebacker, the defense has some serious holes that have led to them giving up the seventh most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and having given up the tenth most rushing yards over their last four games. This is a defensive line that has struggled outside of McCoy particularly on the ends as William Gholston and Ryan Russell have both been liabilities this season so look for the Lions to utilize off-tackle runs to have success in this game with their myriad of running backs.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense at Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Jamaal Williams is emerging as a very strong running back after two consecutive weeks with over 100 total yards and a touchdown. Williams the rookie out of BYU, has run behind this offensive line that has struggled with injuries throughout most of the season and while Aaron Jones is expected to continue to get healthier throughout this week after being active last week this backfield at least at the moment should belong to Jamaal Williams as the Packers will look to ride the hot hand.

The Browns run defense which for most of the season was holding defenses to under 3 yards per carry is starting to show its cracks. Over their last four games, the Browns are allowing 4.3 yards per carry and have allowed the eighth-most yards to opponents during that stretch. This is a team that is designed to stop the run, but one of their problems continues to be that their two best defensive linemen are on the same side of the ball so the defense is running away from Garrett and Shelton as Trevon Coley and Carl Nassib have struggled a little bit. Jamie Collins also was a big injury for this team as James Burgess has filled in and largely struggled this season.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Houston Texans Rushing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Lamar Miller led the Texans rushing offense to another meager outing last week as he averaged just 3.7 yards per rush for 56 rushing yards. This was a tough matchup for Miller, and the Texans were playing from behind for most of the game. Miller continues to see solid volume though, as he has 15 or more carries in each of his last three games. The issue is that Miller is averaging only 3.1 yards per attempt over that span and just 3.7 yards per rush on the season. Some of this lack of productivity has to be attributed to the offensive line here as well, as they have struggled all season and recently lost Chris Clark at left tackle. It is obvious that this unit lacks cohesion when trying to run-block, which does not bode well for Miller and company. Alfred Blue had been spelling Miller at times, however, it is worth noting that Blue suffered a concussion in last week’s game and is questionable coming into this week’s matchup.

The 49ers run defense has been one to target for most of this season, giving up the fourth most rushing yards per game and third most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. This defense has looked much better against the run in recent weeks though, allowing the league’s fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs since Week 11. This stat does require some further investigation though, as the 49ers have faced three bottom-half rushing offenses over that span, including the Seahawks and Giants. Still, though, the 49ers have given up no rushing touchdowns in their last four games and did a great job at limiting Jordan Howard behind a decent Bears offensive line last week. The Texans offensive line ranks as one of the worst in the league and should have a tough time against Deforest Buckner in the interior of the 49ers offensive line.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense vs Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

At this point, there is not much left to say about the Chiefs rushing offense other than they are seemingly abandoning it as in a game in which was tight throughout after the Chiefs blew an early 14-0 lead, Kareem Hunt had just nine carries in the entire game. This is the third time in four weeks in which Hunt has had 11 carries or less in a game and he has now been held to 46 yards or less in three of his last four games while not scoring a touchdown in his last nine games.

The Raiders rush defense this season has been one that has been right in the middle of the pack in seemingly every category in the NFL this season. The Raiders are 11th in terms of fewest yards allowed per game with 104.9 yards rushing per game while they are 13th in terms of lowest yards per carry at 4.0. Navorro Bowman has been a big boost to this defense and has played a big role in the rush defense improving compared to where they are at the start but the reality is that this defensive line is average to below average thus causing Bowman to have to the make consistent plays.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense at Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Vikings rushing offense has played very well as of late with Latavius Murray leading the way. Murray has at least 15 carries in each of the team’s last seven games, averaging nearly 72 rushing yards per game with five rushing touchdowns over that span. While Jerick McKinnon is routinely out-snapping Murray, McKinnon’s role continues to be more of a change of pace and passing down back as he saw only nine carries last week—his lowest usage since the Dalvin Cook injury. The Vikings offensive line is also playing much better as the season has progressed, with their rookie center Pat Elflein doing a great job while right tackle Rashod Hill has done an excellent job filling in for the injured Mike Remmers. This line has actually risen to the top tier of Footballguy Matt Bitonti’s rankings and is a big reason behind Latavius Murray’s recent success.

Carolina has been quite stingy against the run this season, giving up the league’s fourth fewest rushing yards per game (88.6) while allowing the league’s fifth fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. Last week was a tough one against a Saints offense that has been firing on all cylinders as the Panthers gave up three rushing touchdowns compared to allowing just four rushing touchdowns to running backs in their first 11 games (one of which was also by the Saints, meaning they have given up just three rushing touchdowns to all teams other than the Saints). The Panthers run defense has not exactly been trending in the right direction though, as they started the season allowing just 64 rushing yards per game to running backs through Week 5, but since then have given up 84 rushing yards per game to the position, including a season-high 145 rushing yards to Saints running backs last week. The Vikings have an offensive line that is playing very well and an overall offense that is one of the best in the league right now. While Carolina has shown to be successful against opposing backfields, they are vulnerable to solid offenses as we have seen with the Saints, so look out for the Vikings to have a decent chance at scoring here.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

New York Jets Rushing Offense at Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

There’s a lot to like about the Jets’ matchup here. Last week, Kenyan Drake shredded the Broncos for 120 yards and a long touchdown. And the Jets running game, like Drake’s, is based upon quickness, with outside zone runs a big part of the plan. Bilal Powell is a deceptively quick-footed runner who boasts a 4.79 yards-per-carry mark since 2015, while rookie Elijah McGuire has flashed quite a bit when escorted onto the second level. Matt Forte continues to provide a stable, rotational option, and all told this is a three-man team that’s capable of producing, if only in short and hard-to-project bursts. The Broncos are free-falling, which should mean plenty of rushing volume against a tired front seven, so there’s reason for real optimism for Week 14.

Like the rest of the team, the Broncos run defense is cracking up at a wild pace, and it’s actually becoming fun to target in fantasy. After a typically dominant start to the year, things fell apart across the board in Week 6, and since then they’ve given up 145+ yards in 3 of their 8 games. And things are trending awfully hard against them: they’ve allowed the league’s fifth-most yards and third-most touchdowns to running backs over their last five. Furthermore, they’ll be without end Derek Wolfe, a key member of their run-stuffing core, for the rest of the season. There’s still no real certainty that this unit is down for the count, and the Jets run game isn’t exactly among the league’s most dominant. But the matchup is much softer than we’re used to, especially just a week removed from Kenyan Drake’s 120-yard masterpiece.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

It seems as though the Raiders had planned this all along where they start Marshawn Lynch out slow and then as we got closer to the playoffs they start to utilize the running back to save him to be fresh later in the year. Lynch looked great last week against the Giants as he had his longest run since 2015 on a 51-yard run early in the game last week. The offensive line for Oakland continues to be a tremendous strength for this team led by a very strong left side of Donald Penn, Kelechi Osmele and center Rodney Hudson contribute to their ranking of the second best offensive line by Matt Bitonti.

The Chiefs run defense has been battle-tested over the last four games as they have given up the most rush attempts to opponents in the NFL with 31 attempts per game. While they have given up a lot of attempts, their defense has played relatively solidly holding opponents to just 3.3 yards per carry over their last four games which include games against two of the leagues better running backs in Ezekiel Elliott and LeSean McCoy. On the year, the Chiefs have been a team that is about league average when it comes to defending the run as they are solid up the middle with Bennie Logan and linebackers Reggie Ragland and Derrick Johnson, but do have some weak spots that can be exposed as Frank Zombo and the safeties have struggled against the run this season.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense at Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The 49ers have a very average rushing offense on paper, but much of that can be attributed to their sheer lack of opportunity to run the ball due to how often they have been playing from behind this season. Last week was a different story though as the 49ers rushed a season-high 34 times, absolutely dominating time of possession as they held the ball for nearly two-thirds of this game. Despite the volume though, the 49ers only managed 110 rushing yards as Carlos Hyde was stifled more often than not, averaging just 3.2 yards per attempt. Matt Breida saw a season-high 12 carries compared to Hyde’s 17 in this game, but his usage was a product of their intentional run-heavy script here as the 49ers tried to just play keep away from the Bears. Jimmy Garoppolo showed some tendency to run here also as he had a nice scramble for eight yards, but he was no Russell Wilson by any means. Right tackle Trent Brown made it back to the field last week after missing two of his last four games. This made for a nice upgrade to the 49ers offensive line that is now fully healthy again.

The Texans run defense was gashed for nearly 200 rushing yards against the Titans last week. This marks the second week in a row in which the Texans have allowed over 130 rushing yards with three rushing touchdowns in these last two games. Over this two-game span, the Texans have given up the seventh most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. However, in the previous 11 weeks leading up to Week 12, the Texans had allowed the league’s fewest points per game to running backs as they were giving up just 72 rushing yards per game and had allowed one rushing touchdown all season. The ability to limit rushing touchdowns has been the saving grace for this defense, as their efficiency against the run in terms of yardage allowed has been just slightly above average. The 49ers have one of the better offensive lines in the league, but Carlos Hyde has been very inconsistent on the ground this season. The bad numbers from the Texans mostly came on a couple big plays allowed last week, so look for them to bounce back against the 49ers this week.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Titans rushing offense was dominant last week as they amassed nearly 200 yards against the Texans. Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry split carries, each finishing with 11 as Murray saw most of his work in the first half while Henry came in to help close the game out late. This backfield has a two-man show for most of the season, but Henry outshined Murray again last week as he busted off his second 75-yard touchdown run of the season. Murray also looked sharp on most of his runs, so it is tough to really predict who will be the top performing back in any given week here. Marcus Mariota also continues to contribute with his legs as he had a couple of nice runs of over 10 yards, finishing with 23 rushing yards and his fifth rushing touchdown of the season last week.

The Cardinals run defense did a decent job limiting Todd Gurley last week, holding him to just 74 yards on 19 attempts while not a single Rams rusher scored a touchdown. This was a nice way to bounce back after allowing multiple rushing touchdowns in each of their last two games. Defensive lineman Corey Peters remains week to week with an ankle injury though, and he is the core of their interior defensive line. While the Cardinals showed they can hold up against a strong rushing attack as we saw last week, they have also shown that they can be exposed by both running backs and quarterbacks. The Titans offensive line has underwhelmed at times this season, but they are still playing at a high level and should win this matchup in the trenches.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Washington Redskins Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Redskins rushing attack came back to reality this past week after Samaje Perine was looking like a breakout superstar in his two prior games rushing for 100 yards in each of them. Perine only had 38 yards last week as he was largely taken out of the game due to game script and the Redskins falling behind early on in that game. Perine who is a one-dimensional downhill running back is a volume workhorse who relies on volume to wear down a defense so it was no surprise that he struggled in a game in which the Redskins fell behind early on. This offensive line continues to struggle with injuries this season as they have fallen nine spots in Matt Bitonti’s rankings this week down to number 13 overall as Trent Williams and Morgan Moses just are not playing up to their traditional level.

The Chargers are setup to stop the pass at almost every level which leaves them exposed against the run. While they have allowed the second-most rushing yards in the NFL, this was largely due to early on in the season which they allowed 151 yards rushing in their first five games to opposing running backs. Since that point the team has allowed just 79 yards rushing per game over their next seven games. While the safeties are traditionally pass defending safeties, Jahleel Addae has taken a much better approach to stopping the run and has turned himself into one of the best run-stopping safeties in the NFL which was desperately needed for this offense.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

With Adrian Peterson sidelined due to a neck injury, Kerwynn Williams took over the Cardinals backfield and almost ran for 100 yards last week as he had one of the best games of his career. Williams saw most of his carries come during the first half until the Cardinals game script switched to a pass-heavy approach later in the game. The Cardinals have struggled to find consistency on the ground all season long, so this was a much welcomed productive game for them. Despite last week, the offensive line in Arizona is still a very below average unit as a whole, forcing any running back to make plays of their own if any productivity is to be found here.

The Titans continue to dominate against the run this season, allowing the fifth fewest yards per game (89.2) and yards per rush attempt (3.6). They held Lamar Miller to just 56 yards last week and have yet to allow a running back to rush for more than 80 yards in a game this season. Fantasy points have been hard to come by against this unit as they have seen significant contributions in run defense not only from their defensive line but also from their secondary as the safeties Kevin Byard and Johnathan Cyprien have done an excellent job flocking to the ball to help limit big plays. The Titans did lose starting lineman DaQuon Jones for the season due to a biceps injury last week, so that will be a slight downgrade as Jones was a great combination with Jurrell Casey to stop up the middle. Second round draft pick Austin Johnson should fill in for Jones. Johnson is similarly sized as Jones, checking in at 6’4’’ and 314 pounds, so he should be a nice replacement to stop up the middle with Casey. The shoddy Cardinals offensive line should still have a very tough time in this one.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Browns continue to have next to no consistency and identity when it comes to the running game. While Isaiah Crowell has flashes where he is very good, he does not get enough touches as the Browns bail on the running game once they get behind. The coaching staff continues to talk about how they have to get Duke Johnson more involved yet it continues to be the same story for the Browns that it just does not happen so at some point we just have to concede that Duke Johnson is going to be a guy who is going to touch the ball 8-11 times in this offense as is Isaiah Crowell and call it what it is which is a true committee. The Joe Thomas injury and offseason acquisitions that have not panned out have really hurt the Browns offensive line as Matt Bitonti has them as the 29th offensive line after starting the year as the number two overall.

Mike Daniels continues to have a tremendous season at nose tackle for the Packers this year as he and Kenny Clark have played a huge role in this run defense improvement throughout the season. On the season the Packers are right in the middle of the pack against the run allowing 111 yards per game. The one area that this run defense does struggle with is allowing dump offs to running backs who are then treated like a runner. While the overall grading does not reflect it as it is reflected in the passing category, this is a good spot for Duke Johnson to catch a number of passes.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

New York Giants Rushing Offense vs Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Orleans Darkwa continues to lead the Giants backfield in carries, but that is not saying much as this offense as a whole has been abysmal for most of the season. Darkwa has just 32 and 30 rushing yards in his last two games, averaging just 2.5 yards per carry over that span. He did save his fantasy day with a rushing touchdown last week, but that was about all Darkwa can be proud of. Wayne Gallman has been the biggest threat to Darkwa’s workload despite seeing just three carries last week. Gallman had nine carries in Week 12, gaining even more rushing yards than Darkwa. With the Giants’ season firmly grounded in the pit of misery, they may look to cede even more carries to Gallman as they evaluate what the rookie can do. Regardless of who gets the carries though, this is not a backfield to rely upon as they are running behind the worst offensive line in football according to Footballguys offensive line specialist Matt Bitonti’s rankings.

The Cowboys run defense looked great last week against the Redskins, but much of this was due to a negative game script as the Redskins had just 19 carries and abandoned the run in the second half. On paper though, it was the best game we have seen since Week nine for a Cowboys run defense that has really struggled without the presence of their primary linebacker Sean Lee. When Lee was in the lineup for Weeks 7-9, the Cowboys were giving up just 50 rushing yards per game and the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Since Lee’s injury in Week 10, the Cowboys have given up the 11th most fantasy points and 112 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs (including last week, which significantly improved those stats). Sean Lee is expected to return this week, and with the Giants offensive line playing as poorly as it has for most of the season, this Giants backfield should be in for all they can handle here.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

LeVeon Bell still isn’t wowing us with his explosiveness or his efficiency, but he’s delivering on simply massive volume and remains the consensus top fantasy target in a post-David Johnson landscape. The Steelers find a way to manufacture 25-35 Bell touches every week, and as a result he simultaneously boasts the league’s best floor and best ceiling. Again, Bell isn’t running at his absolute best – he’s averaging just 3.91 yards per rush, lowest since his rookie 2013 and well behind his 2014-16 mark of 4.80. But it’s hard to care too much while he remains a weekly lock for such sheer bell cow usage; he’s simply too prolific to overthink on.

The Ravens run defense continues to suffocate opponents to the point that it’s generally unwise to target anyone against them but truly elite backs. Of course, LeVeon Bell is a truly elite back in the flesh, but he won’t find this sledding nearly as easy as he did in Week 4 (35 carries, 144 yards, and 2 touchdowns). The Ravens will have nose tackle Brandon Williams for this game, and his presence is simply massive for this unit: they gave up 170 ground yards per game without him from Weeks 3-6, but have allowed a miniscule 84 with him. Williams’ presence will create a formidable challenge for a Steelers line that’s underachieved all year, and it will free up the team’s ho-hum linebacking corps to pursue. Bell never has an outright bad outlook, but this week looks on paper like one of his weaker ones.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Mike Davis injected some much-needed energy into what has been a struggling Seahawks rushing attack all season long. Davis gained 64 rushing yards from 16 carries last week, marking the first time a Seahawks running back has exceeded 60 rushing yards since Week 2 of the season when the now-injured Chris Carson ran for 93 yards. Davis was the clear lead back as he was on the field for 78% of the snaps, compared to J.D. McKissic seeing only 16% of the snaps as the next most utilized running back. Russell Wilson continues to be involved in the running game as well, rushing for another 31 yards on six carries last week. Wilson has now rushed for at least 30 yards in seven games this season. He has been the key contributor to all facets of this offense. The Seahawks offensive line has been significantly improving as well with Duane Brown playing at a high level while left guard Luke Joeckel returned from injury a couple weeks ago to help shore up the left side of that line. While this rushing offense still has a long way to go, they definitely have more potential now than they did in the first half of the season.

The Seahawks will draw a difficult overall matchup with the Jaguars this week. The Jaguars defense has been elite on multiple levels this season, but we have seen teams get the best of them on the ground in a few games as their rushing defense is actually ranked in 23rd using DVOA compared to their top-ranked passing defense. Opposing offenses are averaging just over 115 rushing yards per game along with the fifth most rushing yards per attempt at 4.5. The Jaguars are still allowing below the league average fantasy points per game to running backs though, and they have not allowed a single rushing touchdown to opposing quarterbacks. We have, however, seen mobile quarterbacks gain some yards against this defense as Jacoby Brissett gained over 30 rushing yards per game in their two meetings this season while both DeShone Kizer and Marcus Mariota crossed the 20-yard mark. The Seahawks offensive line, albeit improving, is still not a great matchup with this talented Jaguars front seven.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Panthers rushing offense has ranked fifth in the league with 127.8 rushing yards per game. A big part of this has been the success of Cam Newton running the ball again, leading all quarterbacks in rushing yards per game with 43 and five rushing touchdowns. Johnathan Steward continues to lead the backfield in carries on a weekly basis, but his productivity has been up and down. Stewart has averaged below 3.7 yards per carry in 8-of-12 games this season with less than 70 rushing yards in all but one outing. After his first 100+ yard game of the season, Steward has followed it up with a couple games below 50 yards. He does, however, now have back to back rushing touchdowns with three rushing touchdowns in his last five games after starting the season with no touchdowns through seven straight games. Christian McCaffrey continues to factor in purely from a receiving perspective, as he has seen eight or fewer carries in all but two games this season. Center Ryan Kalil has still yet to see the field since Week 7 as he is sidelined with a neck injury, but his return looks much more likely this week which would be a big upgrade for the Panthers offensive line.

The Panthers will be in for a test this week against one of the league’s top rushing defenses. The Vikings are giving up the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs with only 77.7 rushing yards per game and 3.5 yards per rush allowed. Devonta Freeman’s 74 yards against them last week was the highest rushing total a running back had posted since Week 5 of the season. The Vikings have also done a great job at limiting pass-catching running backs such as Christian McCaffrey, as running backs only have one receiving touchdown against them this season. Not only have the Vikings been tough on running backs, but they also have allowed the league’s fewest rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks with only two quarterbacks rushing for more than 10 yards in a single game. Their stout defensive line in addition to Anthony Barr at linebacker have been large parts of this success, but the Vikings also have a couple of the best run-defending safeties in the league—a nice safety valve to rely upon in case someone does slip through that front seven.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Leonard Fournette has really struggled through his last few games, averaging under three yards per carry in three of his last four outings and requiring 28 carries to get to 111 yards in his one game over 60 yards during that span. Fournette did find the end zone last week for the first time since Week 6, but he did not look sharp as he struggled to find holes to run through behind an offensive line that is really struggling. He gained over seven yards on just three of 20 carries last week. A slew of factors can be called on as contributing to Fournette’s inconsistency in recent weeks—including a struggling offensive line, lingering ankle injury, and a relatively one-dimensional offense that makes it easy to scheme against him.

Fournette’s prospects will only get worst this week as he squares off against one of the top run defenses in the league. The Seahawks have not allowed an opposing running back to cross the 60-yard mark since Week 4, giving up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs over that span. They rank 7th against the run using DVOA and are giving up only 3.8 yards per rush. Bobby Wagner could be defensive player of the year based on how well he has been playing, while Sheldon Richardson has proven to be a very savvy acquisition as he anchors the interior of Seattle’s defensive line. Knowing that the Jaguars’ best hope on offense is to get their ground game going, expect the Seahawks to game plan heavily against the run and sell out to stop Fournette—which opposing defenses have proven to be very possible in recent weeks against this banged up and underperforming Jaguars offensive line.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.

Los Angeles Rams Rushing Offense vs Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Rams rushing offense did just what it needed to do last week as they cruised to a win over Arizona. Todd Gurley carried 19 times for 74 rushing yards for the second straight week. The 19 carries marked his highest workload on the ground since Week 7. Despite the high number of carries though, Gurley was extremely involved in the passing game with another six receptions for 84 receiving yards. Gurley has gone back to back games now without a touchdown, but he is the most likely player to score on this offense due to his elite workload. The Rams offensive line also continues to play at a high level, making this a solid overall rushing offense.

The Eagles without question have one of the best defensive lines in football, but they did falter last week against what has been a struggling Seahawks rushing offense as they allowed Mike Davis to average four yards per carry for 64 yards. Still, though, the Eagles have held running backs without a rushing touchdown since Week 4 this season and are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the position. Tim Jernigan has been elite against the run while as this defensive front seven has few weaknesses to exploit. The Rams offensive line has been playing well this season, but they will be in for a real test here against one of the league’s best rushing defenses.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.