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Week 16 Rushing Matchups

by Justin Howe, Devin Knotts, and Keith Roberts, Exclusive to Footballguys.com

Jump to Passing Matchups

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


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.


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Panthers ground game looked great against the Packers last week as the trio of Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, and Jonathan Stewart combined for 148 rushing yards on 37 attempts. Newton actually led the team in carries with 14 rushes--his most in a single game this season. Newton was on point in all facets of the game as he passed for four touchdowns, so his rushing yards were not even needed despite him crossing 50 yards on the ground for the third straight game and fifth time in his last six outings. Christian McCaffrey saw his normal share of snaps, but he received an abnormally high number of carries with 12 for 63 yards as McCaffrey ended with one of his best games of the season. He has not been near as involved in rushing the ball as some may have expected this season, but last week marked his third game with double-digit carries. Jonathan Stewart regressed in a big way after his huge 100+ yard, 3-touchdown outing against the Vikings as he failed to find the end zone after racking up a score in three straight games. Stewart rushed for only 27 yards, which marks his seventh game with 40 or fewer rushing yards this season.

The Buccaneers run defense was thrashed by the Falcons last week as Devonta Freeman and company racked up 201 rushing yards and a touchdown against them. It is worth noting, however, that this unit was not at full strength last week as they played without two of their top run-defenders in tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. With McCoy likely to continue sitting, this defense that was already in the bottom tier against the run this season has little hope in sight to improve. After last week’s performance, they have now given up the second-most fantasy points per game to running backs while also allowing the eighth most rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks this season. Cam Newton ran right around his season-average mark with 44 rushing yards against the Buccaneers earlier this season, so look for him to have a good chance at even exceeding that in this game considering the diminishing health of this unit.

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


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Lions have yet to piece together a running game of any consequence. They currently sit dead last in the NFL in yards per carry (3.41) and second-lowest per game (77.4), and they’ll enter Week 16 without a clear-cut lead runner of any kind. Theo Riddick remains a pass-catching specialist, and Ameer Abdullah has been judged “not the answer” – he was a healthy scratch in Week 14 before drawing just 8 snaps last week. Frequently nicked up and averaging just 3.40 yards per rush himself, Abdullah’s future with the team, let alone his Week 16, looks tenuous. The Lions will sprinkle him in with undrafted rookie Tion Green, who’s been the team’s second man up behind Riddick over the past three weeks, has managed just 101 yards on 26 NFL carries – ho-hum production but the best the Lions have seen all season. With bigger backs Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington seemingly out of the picture, this looks a Green/Abdullah rushing “attack” that scares no one and deserves no real fantasy consideration. There’s always a chance Abdullah gets his lead role back, but it seems unlikely at this point that he’ll spin it into gold.

The Bengals run defense remains the league’s most fruitful and targetable for fantasy purposes. No team has faced more attempts or allowed more yards, as 8 of their last 9 opponents have totaled 112+ ground yards. The fantasy fallout has been especially apparent of late: they’ve allowed 5 backs to top 75 yards over their last 4 games. Heart and soul linebacker Vontaze Burfict likely remains out after a frightening Week 13 concussion, and with the rest of the front seven built to penetrate gaps and rush the passer, the unit is about as porous as they come at the moment. The Lions run game is nearly nonexistent, but there’s reason to believe it will post near season-high levels this week.

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


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Kareem Hunt is back. After starting the season off incredibly strong, Hunt struggled for a lot of the year before Andy Reid gave up play calling to Matt Nagy who has found a way to incorporate Hunt by giving him significant volume. Hunt over his last two games is averaging 24.5 carries, 136 yards, and a touchdown which has rejuvenated this offense. The offensive line has played much better alongside Mitchell Schwartz who has been consistent for most of the year as Eric Fisher and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has been great over the last two weeks.

The Dolphins have been one of the worst teams in the league this season against opposing running backs as they have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs on the year and have allowed 4.3 yards per carry. The issue for the Dolphins is that while their front four is led by Ndamukong Suh, the linebacker play this season has been horrendous with Kiko Alonso, Lawrence Timmons, and rookie Chase Allen. The linebacking group has been a big reason why if you can get a running back in space whether it is via the pass or the run he is going to have a big game against this defense.

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


New England Patriots Rushing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Patriots continue to run the ball as productively as just about anyone. Apart from a hiccup in Week 14, the duo of Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead has averaged 96.4 yards over the past 12 weeks. Lewis remains a runner of underrated talent, quick-footed and versatile and smart in the open field. He’s improved majorly as an interior runner and now presents, to an extent, a workhorse’s skill set. We’ll likely see it on full display in Week 16: Burkhead is saddled with a knee sprain that probably ends his regular season, and while Lewis doesn’t project to some Earl Campbell workload, he’ll pace the backfield comfortably against the Bills. If the game flow is in the Patriots’ favor – and they’re currently 12-point home favorites – Lewis could do serious, game-long damage to the Bills’ porous run defense. He’ll share snaps with James White and likely Mike Gillislee, but neither looks likely to siphon away enough attention to matter much.

The Buffalo run defense, stout and prohibitive for the first half of the season, has gone completely off the rails since the Marcell Dareus trade. With shaky-at-best linebacking and now far less reinforcement at the point of attack, the Bills simply can’t stop anyone on the ground. Dating back to Week 8, they’ve allowed the league’s most yardage to opposing running backs (136) by a hefty margin, with both lead and complementary backs enjoying tremendous success. In fact, the Patriots’ combination of Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead totaled 170 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 27 attempts just 3 weeks ago. This remains possibly the league’s most targetable unit for fantasy running backs; even the Patriots’ often-uncertain backfield is in fantastic shape here.

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


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense vs New York Giants Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Kerwynn Williams is questionable for this game this week with a quad injury which would leave the depleted Arizona Cardinals with Elijhaa Penny as the starting running back this week if Williams is unable to go. Penny who is a big bruising running back has shown glimpses of being great this season as in limited action last week he was able to gain 45 yards on just 10 carries.

The Giants run defense is one that has struggled most of the season which is amazing for how strong their front four is in Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul. The issue for the Giants is for as good as their front four are, their linebackers completely offset this by being horrendous. The Giants have tried a number of combinations at linebacker this season and nothing appears to be working as they have had 12 different linebackers on the roster this season and nothing has worked. Over the last six weeks, the Giants have allowed 118 yards per game and have allowed four touchdowns. This is a spot where the Cardinals will be looking to run the ball against this defense and the power running backs actually have had pretty good success against this team as Marshawn Lynch and Samaje Perine both were able to go for over 100 yards against this run defense.

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


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

The Falcons ground game remains among the league’s most consistently powerful. Sitting seventh in the NFL in yards per attempt and eighth per game, this is a unit that rarely lets down Devonta Freeman’s and Tevin Coleman’s fantasy owners. Powered by an elite front line (our Matt Bitonti currently ranks it seventh in the NFL), Freeman and Coleman have combined for 96+ yards in 7 of their 10 games together, and one of the pair has reached 74+ in 11 of their 14 overall. Fresh off another dominant Week 15 – Coleman sat out, but Freeman and reserve Terron Ward combined for 166 yards and 1 score – this running game is polished and dynamic and as safe a bet for top-of-the-week production as any other.

The weakness of the Saints run defense is often hidden by a Saints-dominant game flow that chokes volume, but it’s definitely there. This remains a highly vulnerable unit, one that can pinch off an opposing lead runner’s upside but allow him to do whatever he wants with his ultimate volume level. They’re allowing 4.50 yards per carry, fifth-worst in football, and have been worked over of late by lead backs. The key here is game flow: if a team can keep the score tight, it can generally showcase its rushing mismatch and generate strong numbers. We’ve recently seen Samaje Perine (117 yards and 1 touchdown), Todd Gurley (74), and Devonta Freeman (91 and 1) do just that. This spread (currently Saints -5.5) isn’t especially wide, and if we see a competitive game, we’ll almost certainly see Freeman produce with both volume and efficiency.

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


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Ravens run game has shifted and vacillated wildly all season, and while we know there will be usable if not explosive production, we don’t know who will be the hot hand in Week 16. This unit has surprisingly weathered the anemic pass game and the Week 1 loss of All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda, sitting 12th in the league in raw yardage and producing its share of RB2 performances. Either Alex Collins or Javorius Allen has produced 60+ yards in 4 straight weeks, and Collins has found the end zone 5 times over his last 5. He remains the preferred weekly target, based on his stable ground-game role and huge advantage in efficiency. But he’s not a particularly consistent option, and the rest of the backfield – Allen and Danny Woodhead – is used only sporadically in the run game. Again, this can be a productive unit on any given week, but it’s not easy production to pin down.

The Colts generally field a stronger run defense than they’re given credit for, but the dam has burst over the past two weeks. They’ve been shredded by both the Bills (225 yards) and Broncos (213), both of whom boasted 150-yard rushers. It’s not hard to see why: the Colts trot out a handful of strong, run-controlling linemen but have been besieged by injuries and poor play at the linebacker spot. John Simon’s Week 13 injury in particular has made a difference; he had been outstanding in all facets of the game, but won’t return this season. This is starting to look like a unit to target confidently in fantasy.

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


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense at New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

LeSean McCoy continues to serve as the unquestioned bell cow for the Bills’ rudderless offense, but the results are still ebbing and flowing. McCoy has registered 20-32 opportunities (carries plus targets) in 4 straight games and 10 of 14 overall, but his waffling efficiency (a career-low 4.08 yards per rush) keeps him a never-know RB1 play. In recent weeks, McCoy has alternately excelled and flopped in different game scripts. The Bills offense remains a largely punchless one, disproportionately dependent on McCoy’s dual-threat dynamism; defensive boxes tend to stay stacked against Buffalo, which dings his upside. McCoy will likely keep pushing for 20 carries whenever game flow allows, but he can’t be merely expected to produce on an elite level. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor continues to produce well as a runner – he’s racked up 27+ yards in 7 of his last 8 games.

The Patriots run defense remains one of the NFL’s worst on a carry-to-carry basis. They’re still allowing the league’s most yards per rush (a staggering 4.93) by a mile, and they’ve been simply shredded by lead backs of late. Since Week 8 they’ve allowed opposing RB1s to rack up an average of 5.53 yards per carry and 99.5 per game. Granted, they’ve faced some elite backs over that stretch, but it still bodes quite well for McCoy’s chances to find success. Three weeks ago in this matchup he managed to pick up 93 ground yards despite the nasty game script of a 23-3 loss. In general, runners are capable of maximizing their production against the Patriots’ light front seven.

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


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jordan Howard continues to be a roller-coaster ride this season as his overall season numbers are going to end up looking alright with over 1,000 yards rushing close to 10 touchdowns, but the reality is that he either has these huge games or is completely quiet. A big part of this has to do with when the Bears win, Howard has had 20 or more touches in every win while in the losses he has only one game in which he has gone for over 20 touches this season as the team gives up and abandons the run.

The Browns run defense has come back to reality. After being one of the top defensive lines in the first eight weeks of the season, the Browns are averaging allowing 97 yards per game to opposing running back over the last five games, and while they did shut down Alex Collins through the air, Collins did have a nice game receiving the ball. Overall, this Browns defense is one that is the definition of league average as they are allowing about 4.0 yards per carry since week 9 which is when Jamie Collins went out with an injury. The Browns have been susceptible to pass-catching running backs which could open an opportunity for Tarik Cohen to potentially create a big play even though Cohen has not been used much as of late.

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


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense vs Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Cincinnati will likely get back lead runner Joe Mixon this week, but it’s debatable how much that will matter in the ground game. Mixon had been (gradually) turning an efficiency corner before his serious Week 13 concussion, and he’s probably a superior runner to Giovani Bernard, who managed just 92 rushing yards over 2 spot starts. Still, the Bengals offense is in shambles at the moment, with little downfield dynamism to draw defenders out of the box. That’s especially bad news against the Bengals’ bottom-tier offensive line, which has forced its backs into slogging inefficiency dating back to 2015. There’s blow-up potential in a young athlete like Mixon, of course, but this situation is not very conducive to it at all. Expect some combination of Mixon and Bernard to continue to produce on a modest level, entirely at the mercy of game flow for fantasy-start value.

The Lions run defense, a strength early in the year has collapsed mightily down the 2017 stretch. Rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis has been up-and-down and taken his share of the blame, but poor tackling has plagued the entire unit of late. Over the past 6 weeks, they’ve allowed 111 yards per game to running backs – sixth-most in the league – while allowing 4 of those lead backs to rack up 75+ yards. Perhaps most disturbingly, they’ve given up seven ground touchdowns over that span, second-most in the league. Their strong Week 15 notwithstanding, this is no longer a unit that makes us think twice about the fantasy matchup.

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


Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Cowboys backfield will be back to semi-normal this week as Ezekiel Elliott makes his return from suspension. The combination of Alfred Morris and Rod Smith did a decent job filling in as they, but this will be a different backfield with Elliott in action. Elliott averaged just under 100 rushing yards per game before his suspension, rushing for 80 or more yards in all but one outing with four games above 100 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. He may, unfortunately, be without left tackle Tyron Smith though. Smith was forced to leave last week’s game with a knee injury, and he was already dealing with a back injury that sidelined him a few games prior. Smith is the best offensive lineman on this squad, and the Cowboys offense has shown to be weaker without him on the field.

The Seahawks defense was obliterated by Todd Gurley and the Rams rushing offense last week. There is absolutely no sugarcoating that statement as they gave up 244 rushing yards and three touchdowns—one of the worst defensive performances against the run by any team this season. While it is tough to attribute this to any one player, it likely didn’t help that Bobby Wagner was playing through an injured hamstring while Earl Thomas had also been dealing with a foot injury. With back to back weeks allowing over 150 rushing yards, this Seahawks defense is definitely trending in the wrong direction. They will see another extremely talented running back in Ezekiel Elliott this week. While the last two weeks were pretty bad, this is still a talented unit as long as Bobby Wagner is in the lineup. They are not as stout of a matchup as we are used to seeing, but this would definitely be upgraded to a Good matchup were Wagner to sit with his injury.

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


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense at Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Broncos offense had it’s best rushing game of the season last week as they fed C.J. Anderson a season-high 30 carries which he took for 158 rushing yards in a soft matchup against the Colts. Each time the Broncos have given Anderson 20 or more carries in a game (five times), they have won. Maybe they are finally figuring this out as Anderson now has over 20 carries in back to back games while the Broncos have put together back to back wins after losing eight straight. Anderson had some nice runs last week with four runs of over 10 yards, but most of his productivity just came from sheer volume and chunk gains on almost every play as 50% of his carries went for six or more yards. Devontae Booker remained mildly involved as he saw 11 carries, but he was ineffective for the second straight week as Booker is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry on the season and has exceeded 10 rushing attempts in only two games.

The Redskins had another tough week defending the run as they gave up 141 rushing yards to the Cardinals last week. The Redskins have now allowed over 140 rushing yards in four of their last five games, helping drive them up to the fifth-worst rushing defense on the basis of yards per game (123.4 rushing yards allowed per game). Their dismal second half of the season against the run continues as this unit is getting gashed on a weekly basis by opposing running backs, allowing the sixth-most fantasy points per game to the position since Week 8. The Broncos running backs are behind what is one of the worst offensive lines in football according to Footballguys Matt Bitonti, but that obviously did not matter for them last week against the Colts. While the Redskins have some nice pieces on the defensive line, they too are weaker at linebacker and have dealt with injuries all over their defense this season.

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


Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Offense at New York Jets Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Melvin Gordon remains a volume king, drawing 22.9 opportunities (carries plus targets) per game, and he’s always a threat to break a long, splashy play. Dating back to 2016 he’s registered 52 runs of 10+ yards – as many as Todd Gurley, despite missing 4 games along the way. That said, there’s still no consistency to his production; running behind a bottom-tier front line, he’s fighting to churn out even modest efficiency. His 3.75 yards per rush actually improves upon his career mark. Fantasy owners, however, are generally fine with his inconsistency – he tends to boast a steady floor and sexy upside thanks to his volume, pass-catching dynamism, and ever-present touchdown upside. He’s taken 32 carries from inside the 5-yard line since the start of last year, second-most in football only to LeGarrette Blount. With impressive rookie backup Austin Ekeler done for the year, ho-hum veteran Branden Oliver will take over in spelling Gordon, but he’s a mediocre player and no threat to the workload.

The Jets run defense continues to underperform, and aside from a brief midseason stretch, it’s been a relatively easy unit to grind down all season. They’ve allowed 112+ yards in 9 of their 14 games, including 3 of the last 4, with the Saints’ duo of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara being the latest to gain easily in this matchup (24 rushes, 118 yards, 2 touchdowns). This defense is in serious need of a gap-closing replacement for the disappointing Muhammad Wilkerson, as well as some stability at the outside linebacker spots; holding contain has been a big challenge this season. As it stands, with Wilkerson benched for the remainder of the year and such inconsistent play on the second level, this is a unit to target in fantasy with a solid degree of confidence.

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


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense at Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

LeVeon Bell hasn’t been quite as eye-popping dynamic in 2017 as we’re used to seeing. His 3.98 yards per carry is his lowest since his rookie year, and as a result, he’s actually been held below 70 yards 5 times. Still, we can’t quibble with the fact that Bell remains an absolute bell cow in a powerful offense, leading the league in both attempts and rushing yardage. And with Antonio Brown out for Week 16, Bell’s role as the offensive engine could even increase. It will also help to get back right tackle Marcus Gilbert from suspension. Simply put: no Week 16 back boasts an outlook that quite matches Bell’s.

The Texans run defense, dominant for much of the season, has shown major cracks of late. There’s only so much poor game flow a unit can handle, of course. This group is extremely talented, boasting a strong, space-eating nose tackle in D.J. Reader and a stout linebacking corps led by Benardrick McKinney and impressive rookie Zach Cunningham. On the season, they’re allowing just 3.98 yards per rush, good for eighth-best in football. However, saddled with an offense that can’t keep the ball moving and often trailing through the second half, they can only do so much. In recent weeks they’ve watched Alex Collins, the Derrick Henry/DeMarco Murray duo, Carlos Hyde, and Corey Grant build strong-to-eruptive rushing lines, grinding out easy wins down the second-half stretch. This once-proud unit is in grave danger of giving up 138+ ground yards for the fourth time in 5 games.

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


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Browns rushing game is an enigma as Isaiah Crowell simply is not getting enough touches for the recent production that he has had. Last week, Crowell had just five carries for 72 yards and was on the field for 74% of the plays. It seems that the Browns have given up trying to run the ball as the second that they fall behind they begin throwing the ball every play. Crowell has 5.0 yards per carry or more in five of his last seven games but has only broken 100 yards once all season which is simply amazing for a running back who is able to have such a high yards per carry number. The Browns offensive line as of late has been playing much better as Joel Bitonio and Kevin Zeitler at the guard positions lead the way.

The Bears run-defense has generally been solid for most of the season as they have allowed the 10th fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs on the year. A big part of that is due to their defensive line which has been led by one of the bright surprises for the Bears in nose tackle Mitch Unrein and Akiem Hicks who once again is playing at a high level. This is a defense that has allowed just one rushing touchdown in their last five games and while they can give up yardage this is a defense that will hold firm near the goal-line.

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


Houston Texans Rushing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Lamar Miller remains a generally strong bet for volume – he’s registered 15+ carries in 10 of 14 games, and as a result he’s fallen below 50 yards just twice all year. The problem comes from his sheer lack of dynamism in this offense, which has yet to find a passable post-Deshaun Watson quarterback and offers Miller little chance to truly shine. Often engulfed by stacked front sevens and game flow in general, Miller hasn’t topped 75 ground yards in a game all year, and his 3.62 yards per rush point to an overall slogging fantasy option. Obviously, there’s limited touchdown opportunity in play – and the Texans tend to throw near the goal line anyway – so it’s hard to pinpoint a reason for week-to-week optimism here. Miller looks like a clear-cut fantasy RB2/3, but one who would need wild, unforeseen plot twists to present any value beyond that.

Here in 2017, the Steelers run defense has been as wildly variant as just about any in football. They’ve been borderline-dominant for much of the season, but that success has been mostly volume-deflated: they’re allowing 4.29 yards per rush (eighth-most in football) and have been gashed thus far by the running games of Chicago, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, and Baltimore. Week 15 saw more of that trend, with Dion Lewis managing 67 yards on just 13 carries; had the Patriots’ game script been positive, he likely would’ve posted a bigger, RB1-level line. Many of their woes can be traced back to key injuries (Stephon Tuitt early in the year and Ryan Shazier today), and opposing run games are generally having success wiping out what’s left at the point of attack. This is simply not the same matchup it was around midseason, and opponents are now able to take advantage and stockpile yardage against them.

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


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Leonard Fournette continues to be questionable for this game as of Wednesday, but it appears that he is likely to give it a go this week as he is scheduled to practice this week after dealing with a quad injury. Outside of two games against the Steelers and Rams, Fournette has garnered most of his value through volume as he has under 4.0 yards per carry in seven of his eleven games this season and has gone for under 3.0 yards per carry in three of his last five games. If there are any signs that he may not be 100% healthy, it may cut into his productivity. The offensive line continues to be a weak spot for the Jaguars particularly at the guard positions as A.J. Cann and Patrick Omameh have both really struggled thus far this season.

The 49ers on the season have been one of the worst run defenses in football, but over their last five games, they have a new found energy that has actually turned this defense into one of the best in football albeit on a weak schedule. The 49ers have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs over the last six weeks and have not allowed a touchdown during that span. The 49ers run defense is basically an elite player on the defensive line in DeForest Buckner and a great run stopper and potential defensive rookie of the year candidate in Reuben Foster. Outside of these two players, the 49ers front seven is relatively weak and can be exposed, but you can not discount what this team has done recently which is simply shut down opposing rush offenses.

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


Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Kenyan Drake has been one of the breakout players of the second half this season as the running back is doing everything for this team whether it is running the ball or catching the ball. Over the last three weeks since the injury to Damien Williams, Drake has 22 carries per game, is averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and has 22 targets in the passing game. This is a running back who is performing at a level that is elite in nature and all of this with having a below average offensive line as Matt Bitonti has this team ranked as the 23rd offensive line in football.

The Chiefs run defense this season has been similar to their personnel in that they’re either really good or that they’re really bad in a given week. This team is led by the good in Jones, Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson, or really bad in safeties Daniel Sorensen and Ron Parker, and linebacker Frank Zombo. This is a team in which outside of last week to Melvin Gordon has done a really nice job shutting down receiving backs once they catch the ball preventing them from making big plays. The one area that they have struggled with is on the ground at times as they are allowing 4.1 yards per carry on the season and in the red zone as they have allowed a touchdown to running backs in eight of their last nine games.

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


Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense at Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Vikings rushing offense got back on track behind a very favorable game script last week as Latavius Murray rushed 20 times for 76 yards and a touchdown while Jerick McKinnon pitched in with nine carries for 24 yards. It was not the most efficient of outings for either running back, but this was a nice bounce back in terms of both usage and yardage for Murray after a tough week against the Panthers in Week 14. Murray continues to be out-snapped by McKinnon, but this is no worry as Murray is still seeing the volume of a true workhorse running back. The Vikings offensive line saw their right tackle Mike Remmers and center Pat Elflein return from injury last week, but they played without their left tackle Riley Reiff for the first time this season as he was inactive due to an ankle injury. With the Vikings safely in the playoffs, they may elect to rest Reiff even further to make sure he fully heals, in which case it would be a slight downgrade for the rushing offense as a whole.

The Packers defense was lit up for 151 rushing yards by a Panthers offense pumping on all cylinders last week. This unit has actually looked good against the run for most of the season despite allowing the ninth most fantasy points per game to running backs. They have, however, been woefully inefficient in recent weeks against the run, giving up over 120 rushing yards in four straight games despite not allowing a single rushing touchdown to running backs over that span. The interior of their line continues to play at a high level with Kenny Clark making plays on a weekly basis, but their secondary and linebackers need to help step up against the run to limit the chunk plays that have plagued them recently. Latavius Murray managed just 28 yards on 15 carries against the Packers earlier this season as Jerick McKinnon was still having his hot streak since taking over for Dalvin Cook. Expect for Murray to see most of the carries here and have a bit more success than he did earlier this season as the Vikings offense is playing at a very high level right now.

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


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

Since the Saints’ Week 6 trade of Adrian Peterson, there simply hasn’t been a more explosive or productive running game in all of football. They’ve outrushed everyone on a per-carry and a per-game basis, averaging 155 yards between the eruptive pair of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. And fantasy owners generally don’t need to sniff the tracks to start the right guy: both boast top-tier RB1 upside every week, and they’ve achieved it simultaneously several times. Running (and catching) in a high-paced, high-powered offense with an elite offensive line up front, this is a unit that can be trusted strongly regardless of defensive matchup.

The Falcons run defense has been surprisingly stout for much of 2017, picking up steam as the season has rolled along. After a shaky start and a few gashings early on, they’ve settled down to allow just 83.3 yards per game over the past 4 weeks, neutralizing 2 of the league’s hottest ground attacks (Minnesota and New Orleans) in the process. This unit isn’t perfect, and it can certainly be beaten by running quarterbacks – we saw major success from Cam Newton, Dak Prescott, and Russell Wilson around midseason. But Drew Brees boasts no such rushing chops, and it’s been encouraging to see the Falcons shutting down lead backs – including Mark Ingram himself – in recent weeks. Linebacker Deion Jones may have locked down a Pro Bowl bid with his across-the-field play during this stretch; his sideline-to-sideline speed is a major boon against speedy Alvin Kamara and the Saints.

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


New York Jets Rushing Offense vs Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Jets run game remains an up-and-down one, but it’s definitely producing well in spurts. It’s still a three-headed monster, but at least we can peg Bilal Powell as its lead runner with some degree of confidence – he’s averaged 14.7 carries for 42.3 yards over the past 3 weeks. Of course, those aren’t fantasy-usable numbers, and even with a touchdown thrown in here and there, we can’t rely much on this unit for dependable, projectable production. This offense simply doesn’t create consistent scoring opportunity, and will likely continue to slide even further from its solid mid-season form with Josh McCown out for the remainder of the year. With check-down addict Bryce Petty under center, there’s little to keep defenses out of the box and Powell’s gaps, so he’s hard to project beyond 45-50 yards in a given matchup. With such muddied and limited productivity, there’s not much fantasy use for this crew as 2017 winds down.

Since the full return of linebacker Denzel Perryman from a preseason injury, this Chargers run defense has morphed from one of the league’s worst into a fairly stout unit. Once Perryman stepped back into a full-time role, they promptly and thoroughly shut down their next three opponents, allowing just 77.7 yards per game to the Cowboys, Browns, and Redskins. That said, the dam just burst last week as Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt snapped his long funk with a 24-carry, 155-yard, 1-touchdown masterpiece. All told, this looks like a lesser unit but one capable of neutralizing less-than-dominant run games. It’s easy to like their personnel matchup in Week 16 against the Jets’ hit-or-miss front line, especially with defensive captain Perryman back firmly entrenched.

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


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Eagles backfield was led by Jay Ajayi for the second straight week as Ajayi finished with 12 carries for 41 yards compared to just seven carries by LeGarrette Blount and four by Corey Clement. The snap split was relatively consistent with recent weeks as Ajayi played just over half the snaps while Clement and Blount saw the field 15% and 26% of the snaps respectively. Ajayi broke off a few nice runs last week, but he was not very effective outside of those couple of big plays. With the way Doug Peterson splits the workload between his running backs, it is hard to predict or rely on any single running back in this offensive scheme even after Ajayi has led the backfield for two straight weeks.

The Raiders run defense is an average matchup for most opposing backfields. They have done a great job at limiting touchdowns for most of the season, but that has been their weakness in recent weeks as this defense has now given five rushing touchdowns in their last three games—nearly half of what they have allowed all season. They did do a decent job bottling up Alfred Morris for much of last week’s game against a stout Cowboys offensive line, but the Raiders get no break this week against another great offensive line of the Eagles. With game script on the Eagles’ side as more than a touchdown favorite, sheer volume very well could overwhelm this rushing defense on the road in Philadelphia.

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


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Seahawks offense was absolutely shut down last week, and lead back Mike Davis got the blunt end of that beating as he saw just six carries for 19 yards and disappointed numerous fantasy owners last week. Davis did not see a single touch in the second half as the Seahawks found themselves down 34-0 at halftime. J.D. McKissick was on the field for much of this game due to the pass-heavy game script, rendering the services of Davis all but useless. In their few opportunities, neither running back managed to be effective on the ground in this game. Russell Wilson ended up leading the team in rushing last week, as he has done for many of the weeks this season. He did lose a fumble in the process though, just the third fumble Wilson has lost all season.

The Cowboys run defense gave up 122 rushing yards in their win over the Raiders last week as they let Marshawn Lynch average nearly five yards per carry. Last week, however, was against a top-tier offensive line in Oakland. This week, the Cowboys see a Seattle offensive line that is playing better but has been beatable for this entire season as they have failed to establish any resemblance of a rushing game outside of Russell Wilson. Sean Lee has played well since his return from injury, recording four run stops as he looked good against the run last week. While Dallas’s weakness does lie within the interior of their defensive line, they have solid defensive ends with Demarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford along with Lee to help stop up the middle. While game script should be much better on the Seattle running game this week, their offensive line may still struggle with the Dallas defensive front that has been playing better with their best linebacker back in the mix.

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


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense vs Los Angeles Rams Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Titans had yet another week of an ineffective rushing attack as the combo backfield of Derrick Henry and Demarco Murray rushed 25 times for 78 yards last week, good for an average of just 3.1 yards per attempt. Murray continues to see the majority of touches in the backfield despite averaging fewer than 3.4 yards per rush attempt in eight of his last nine games. Henry was on the field for just one whole offensive series last week as he played only 26% of the snaps, marking the first time this season Henry has played below 30% of the snaps in back to back weeks. Marcus Mariota has also been staying away from the ground game since his hamstring injury, as he has rushed for over 20 yards in a game just two times since his Week 4 injury.

While this Rams defense has given up the sixth-most fantasy points per game to running backs on the season, they have been hot in recent weeks as they are allowing just the fifth fewest fantasy points to the position in their last three games. They did a great job shutting down the Seattle offense as a whole last week, but that isn’t saying a ton as their offense helped shut down Seattle by nature of game script just as much as the defense in that game. The talent undoubtedly exists on this defensive line, it is just their linebackers that have been the question mark for much of the season. We did see the Rams give up over 75 yards to an opposing running back in four straight games leading into last week, along with a three-game streak from Weeks 11-13 with at least one rushing touchdown allowed to a running back in each week. The Titans offense as a whole has definitely been struggling lately, but they have the offensive line to match up against this stout Rams unit that will put either running back in a position to have some success.

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


Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Talk about an outlier. Gore’s 36-carry, 130-yard Week 14 was a fun flashback, but almost certainly came as a one-week eruption against one of the league’s worst run defenses. He’s still only topped 62 yards twice all year, with a season-low 31 last week against the Broncos. Gore no longer compiles much yardage that isn’t blocked for him, so he’s an exceptionally tough sell against quality run defenses. The fact that his receiving and touchdown outlooks of yesteryear have flown away in this toothless offense just cements his status as a low-end, desperation flex play at best. He’s a poor weekly bet to top 50 yards or so on a given week. Rookie Marlon Mack offers real upside but has hit a major wall, which we can’t hate him for, considering the line – especially without center Ryan Kelly – and the state of the offense in general. He’s generated 30+ yards just once since his impressive Week 5.

The Ravens defense remains a generally dominant unit, one that’s allowed 94+ ground yards in just 5 of 14 games. Since the Week 7 return of ascending star tackle Brandon Williams, they’ve given up the league’s sixth-fewest yards per game (75.0) to running backs. With Williams eating space and blocks on the interior, the Ravens’ mediocre linebackers are more able to roam and pursue Last week they allowed little aside from a 59-yard Isaiah Crowell scamper, and it’s hard to envision them struggling against the Colts’ ho-hum front line.

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


Los Angeles Rams Rushing Offense at Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Todd Gurley shifted it into another gear last week as he had his best fantasy performance of the season, rushing for a season-high 152 yards and three rushing touchdowns while also adding in three receptions for 28 yards and another receiving touchdown. Three of Gurley’s touchdowns all came within the first half as the Rams absolutely torched the Seahawks defense. He is now coming off back to back multi-touchdowns games on the ground in addition to back to back games averaging over seven yards per carry. The Rams offense runs through Gurley, and while they have a couple banged up tackles on the offensive line, that has not seemed to slow this rushing offense down at all.

The Titans did an excellent job in run defense last week as they shut down Carlos Hyde, limiting him to just 1.6 yards per attempt on 16 carries while also holding backup Matt Breida to just 16 yards on five carries. Jurrell Casey was absolutely dominant against the run with five-run stops last week, now ranking him near the top of the league in that category amongst his position group. Both Titans linebackers have also been very effective against the run as this front seven has led the Titans to own the 10th ranked run defense using DVOA. While Todd Gurley has to be a matchup-proof running back at this point, the Titans run defense will certainly give him a challenge.

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense at Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Buccaneers could not get much going on the ground last week as they were constantly playing catch-up to the Falcons. Doug Martin was a healthy scratch after weeks on weeks of extremely poor performances, ceding to Peyton Barber for lead back duties. Barber saw similar volume as he did in Week 14, finishing last week with 13 carries for 53 yards. While Barber has averaged over four yards per carry in three straight games, he has looked rather unimpressive in large part due to this bottom tier Tampa Bay offensive line that now also may be without their starting right guard J.R. Sweezy after he exited with a lower-body injury from last week’s game.

Outside of a couple chunk runs and allowing Aaron Rodgers to rack up 43 rushing yards, the Panthers actually played well on their limited run-defense snaps last week. The Panthers have been one of the best teams in football against the run as they are allowing just 91.6 rushing yards per game and the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs. Only three running backs have rushed for over 70 yards against the Panthers this season with no running back exceeding the 90-yard mark in a single game. Outside of the Saints, they have given up only three rushing touchdowns and held opposing backfields out of the end zone in back to back games. Thomas Davis will miss this week due to suspension, but he has actually been more impactful in pass coverage than run defense this season. Doug Martin did amass 71 rushing yards against the Panthers in Week 8, but he has gone downhill fast and was a healthy scratch last week with Peyton Barber suiting up as the starter. Look for Martin to remain out of the mix and Peyton Barber to lead this backfield again, but struggle in this tough matchup due to both game flow and his poor offensive line play.

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


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Packers backfield struggled for the most part last week as we saw an odd dynamic with Aaron Jones leading the team in rushing with 47 yards from just three carries while Jamaal Williams managed only 30 yards from 10 attempts. Williams saw the majority of snaps for the sixth straight week, but Jones saw a big uptick in his snaps with 39% last week—his highest share since Week 7. Despite the few big plays by Jones, it still appears that Williams is the lead back in this offense. They were quite dysfunctional behind a rusty Aaron Rodgers last week while Williams saw his lowest number of carries since taking over as the starter. Now that Rodgers is out of the picture as he has been placed back on injured reserve, look for the touches to ramp up slightly for Williams in this week’s very daunting matchup against the Vikings as long as the Packers don’t fall behind to an early deficit.

The Vikings run defense got back on track after a tough couple of games on the ground as they shut down the Bengals running backs, giving up just 42 rushing yards and a lone rushing touchdown—which was the only score they allowed all day. Linval Joseph had another great game while linebacker Eric Kendricks also stepped up his play last week. Kendricks had been one of the weaker spots for this defense, so if he continues to play like he did against the Bengals last week, opposing rushing offenses stand little chance against this run defense giving up just 85.3 rushing yards per game on the season (2nd fewest).

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


New York Giants Rushing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

It appears that the Giants are going to make a change as Wayne Gallman for the second week in a row has out snapped Orleans Darkwa. Gallman is the more versatile of the two running backs as he has shown over the last two games with 13 receptions in those two contests. This is critical for the Giants due to the struggles they have had on the offensive line to have a running back who can get involved in other ways instead of the traditional power running back that Darkwa is. With the Giants having nothing to play for over the next two weeks this could be a situation where they see what they have in the rookie and give him, even more, snaps than what he has had over the last two weeks which makes him really exciting heading into this week.

The Cardinals are a team that has been extremely strong against opposing running backs on the year as they have held opposing running backs to just 73 yards per game on the season which is the fourth-fewest in the NFL thus far this year. Even more impressive is that over their last six weeks they have held opponents to just 64 yards per game rushing which is the second-best in football. The Cardinals are a defense that tends to stack the box leaving their defensive backs in one on one situations and making it difficult to run the ball on and they are made up of a front seven that while they do not have the superstar in Calais Campbell like they did last season, they do not have a weakness either.

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


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Raiders had a tough time getting Marshawn Lynch going last week as he had just 26 yards in the first half, but he came around later in the game as he finished with 76 yards. This was actually a down game for Lynch from a fantasy perspective, as he had consistently been scoring with a touchdown in each of his last three games. Lynch has been productive for most of this season though, averaging 4.3 yards per carry on the year with over 60 rushing yards in five straight games. The Raiders offensive line took a big hit last week though as left tackle Donald Penn suffered a season-ending foot injury. While the Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in football, the injury to Penn most certainly drops them down a notch as they do not have a solid replacement to fill that gap.

The Eagles defense was picked apart by Eli Manning last week, but they did a pretty solid job on the ground as they held the Giants backfield to just 75 rushing yards and 3.3 yards per attempt. Fletcher Cox was a big part of their success last week as he clogged up the interior for most of the day while consistently getting into the backfield. This defensive line is a unit that should be feared by even the best of opposing offensive lines and backfields. With the Raiders now missing their starting left tackle with nothing left to play for this season, look for them to struggle in this very difficult matchup.

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


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Carlos Hyde is really struggling since Jimmy Garoppolo took over as the 49ers starting quarterback. Hyde who from a rushing standpoint has not had a great year often times disappearing for the 49ers has really found himself not included in the passing game either as Kyle Juszczyk has seen his snap count grow over the past few weeks particularly coming in on passing downs. From a rushing standpoint, Hyde is a player who has really struggled with consistency as he is often relying on chunk plays to get going and when there is nothing there he has disappeared. The offensive line has not helped Hyde as outside of Joe Staley, the 49ers offensive line has struggled against some of the tough defensive lines that they have gone up against this season.

The Jaguars simply do not have a weakness on this defense and they got even better last week as their star linebacker Telvin Smith returned from injury and played 91% of the snaps last week. This is a defense that top to bottom is filled with elite players as this defensive line led by Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, run-stopper Malik Jackson, and Abry Jones is one of the better units in the NFL. At the linebacker position, Myles Jack and Telvin Smith head up this unit which could turn into one of the better units in football and then the secondary is the best in football. This is a team that is built to stop whatever you try to do and has only allowed one rushing touchdown over their last 10 games.

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


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense vs Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Redskins backfield continues to struggle behind one of the most injury-laden offensive lines in football. Left tackle Trent Williams was inactive last week while right tackle Morgan Moses continues to play through a couple of bad ankles. Samaje Perine has looked atrocious in his last three starts, averaging just under 2.9 yards per attempt with no games over 50 rushing yards and zero rushing touchdowns. Perine had those couple of good games in Weeks 11-12 with over 100 rushing yards, but for lack of a better term, he has been a bum since then. The Redskins continue to feed him as they have already lost too many running backs this season and are pretty shallow at the position, so expect Perine to continue to see volume this week against the Broncos.

The Broncos run defense has been up and down this season, but for the most part, they have been up as they still rank as a top-5 unit against the run using DVOA. They have given up just the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs over the last three games while holding both Bilal Powell and Frank Gore to under 40 yards in the last two weeks. We have seen running backs get the best of this unit on occasion, but the Broncos have the talent to shut down an opposing running back on any given week. The Redskins offensive line, in their current state, is no match for Von Miller and company.

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