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Week 17 Rushing Matchups

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

Jump to Passing Matchups

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


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.


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Ravens’ one-two-three rushing punch remains solid, if unspectacular. The run game as a whole has managed to weather an anemic passing offense and the loss of guard Marshal Yanda, producing the NFL’s 14th-most ground yards and 9th-most touchdowns. Unfortunately, the true upside of each individual back is capped by the presence of the others. Alex Collins has been by far the most dynamic and productive, averaging an impressive 4.66 yards per rush and nearing 1,000 on the year. He’s been smothered in back-to-back weeks, gaining just 70 yards on 30 carries, but both have come against stout run defenses. Collins should find considerably more room against the Bengals’ porous front seven. Behind him, Javorius Allen and Danny Woodhead are generally no more than pace-changing specialists mostly used in the passing game. Collins is the only runner to target here.

The Bengals run defense continues its horrid slide to close out 2017. Only the Chargers have allowed more yards on the year, and 8 of their last 10 opponents have topped 112 yards on the ground. And last week, even undrafted rookie Tion Green managed to turn 7 carries into 43 yards – 5 of them went for 5+ yards – after showing little in 3 previous appearances. Vontaze Burfict’s Week 16 return from injury was important, but he can’t do it all; the Bengals line lacks space-eating play on the interior, and there’s little linebacker talent elsewhere. Besides, the oft-injured Burfict played just 27 snaps last week and may not be risked much in a meaningless finale. With or without him at full strength, though, this is a highly targetable unit whose opponents project as well as almost anyone.

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


Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Kenyan Drake has been exceptionally impressive as the Dolphins’ lead back, and the team’s decision to deal away Jay Ajayi is making sense. Since the trade, Drake has run for 69+ yards in just 5 of 8 games, but the previous month has been far more telling as to his outlook. With plodding complementary back Damien Williams sidelined, Drake has averaged 92.3 yards over the last 4 games, topping 114 twice and scoring twice. On the year, the explosive second-year runner has posted 4.78 yards per carry, breaking splash runs with regularity and opening up the Miami offense almost singlehandedly. This is still not a very fantasy-conducive offense, and he’s somewhat at the mercy of which Jay Cutler shows up from week to week. But Drake at least looks capable of maximizing opportunity and creating production – sometimes eruptive and week-winning – on his own.

The Bills continue to flail mightily as the league’s worst unit against the run. They opened the year with a stout in run defense, but since Week 8 they’ve allowed the league’s most ground yardage to run backs (141 per game, 15 more than second-worst Washington). They’ve had absolutely no answers for lead backs, as we’ve seen in recent dates with Melvin Gordon (80 yards), Mark Ingram (131), Alvin Kamara (106), Dion Lewis (221 over 2 games), Rex Burkhead (78), Frank Gore (130), and Kenyan Drake (78). With poor interior play and little talent at linebacker, this is the league’s most targetable unit for fantasy purposes, and Drake shouldn’t have much trouble beating it to the edges with regularity.

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


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara remain the 2017 gold standard for prolific NFL running back duos. Yes, they’ve had 3 straight uneventful weeks, but we can’t expect them to each threaten 100 yards every game. Rather, they’ve settled in as one of the league’s most dynamic and dominant run games – and that 100-yard-apiece upside is still very much in play. Working behind arguably the league’s best offensive line, and with Drew Brees’ arm to keep defenses honest, the pair boasts as strong a weekly outlook as any two backs in football, teammates or no. Their talents fit perfectly within the Saints offense and alongside each other. Ingram isn’t some electrifying runner, but he’s exceptionally smart and typically produces more than merely what’s blocked: he’s averaging a wild 5.83 yards per carry over his last 6 games. And Kamara’s explosiveness should never be in question, what with his ridiculous 6.16 average and ability to turn any opportunity into an uncontested touchdown. His last 2 games (12 rushes, 32 yards) have left a lot to be desired, but that certainly doesn’t change his eruptive down-to-down and week-to-week outlook.

The Tampa Bay run defense remains a true liability. They’ve allowed 115+ yards in 4 of their last 5 games, with 148+ in 3 of them. All told, they’ve given up the NFL’s second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, with lead runners routinely hosting clinics in this matchup. Tevin Coleman, Jamaal Williams, and Devonta Freeman all managed 97+ yards and 4 total ground touchdowns in recent meetings – and even Lions receiving specialist Theo Riddick ran for 2 scores 3 weeks ago. That’s to say nothing of the monstrous fantasy days posted by Adrian Peterson (134 yards and 2 touchdowns), LeSean McCoy (91 and 2), and this very Mark Ingram/Alvin Kamara duo (145 and 1) since midseason. Simply put, this has been one of 2017’s most targetable units, and the less of stud tackle Gerald McCoy all but ensures it will stay that way to close things out.

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


New York Jets Rushing Offense at New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Jets running game remains an up-and-down, hard-to-trust unit, but it’s one that certainly flashes signs of major life. They’re just few and far between. We saw it last week, with Bilal Powell shredding the Chargers for 145 yards and 1 touchdown on 19 carries. And we saw real productivity 2 weeks before that when Powell and Matt Forte combined for 106 yards and 1 score against Kansas City. In Week 17, they’ll face arguably an even softer run defense than those. Given the Jets’ improving front line and the Patriots’ sheer inability to stop runners of virtually any kind, we can project the New York run game to solid Week 17 efficiency. Powell could eviscerate New England on a diet of stretch and zone-read runs that escort him to the second level.

The Patriots remain arguably the NFL’s worst in run defense on a per-rush basis, and opposing lead backs are always capable of a field day in this matchup. Through 16 games they’ve given up the league’s seventh-most yards per game and second-most per carry, and they’ve allowed big recent lines to LeSean McCoy (15 carries for 93 yards and 17 for 71), Kenyan Drake (25 for 114), and LeVeon Bell (24 for 117 and 1 touchdown). This is a defense with no real space-eater up front and little talent or depth at linebacker; they’re vulnerable inside but especially so on stretch runs and outside bounces. The only thing keeping this unit from absolute bottom-of-the-barrel numbers is game flow; the Patriots often jump to big leads that disrupt (if not dismantle) opposing ground attacks. Still, they leave more than enough openings for backs to exploit. Talented runners – like the Jets’ underrated Bilal Powell, who missed their Week 6 meeting – can make them pay dearly while the offense is able to run the ball.

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


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Rams Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Carlos Hyde led the 49ers backfield with 21 touches last week, but he did not lead the team in rushing yards as Hyde was highly ineffective for much of the game. Hyde has seen impressive volume for much of this season, but he has now been quite unimposing in back to back games as both he and this 49ers offensive line are struggling. Backup Matt Breida ended up finishing as the leading rusher for the 49ers last week while also finding the end zone for the second time this season. Breida has been handily out-carried by Hyde this season, but he has seen over 10 carries in three of the last four weeks. With Carlos Hyde headed into free agency this offseason, don’t be surprised if Matt Breida sees his snap and carry shares increase again this week.

The Rams defensive front terrorized the Titans last week, shutting down their run-first offense as the pair of Titans running backs finished with just 73 rushing yards on 23 attempts and only one rush of more than nine yards. The Rams did give up a rushing touchdown last week though, as that has been something that has really limited their fantasy upside as opposing running backs have scored at least one rushing touchdown in all but six of their 15 games so far this season. In standard scoring formats, the Rams have given up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to running backs with over 100 rushing yards per game allowed to the position. The Rams have decided to rest their All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald which is a big blow for this rush defense.

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


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense at Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

It’s hard to pin down a week-to-week RB1/2 candidate from the Carolina backfield, but this is indeed an upper-tier unit, one capable of controlling a game and posting dynamic stat lines. Running behind a line that our Matt Bitonti rates No. 1 in football, this run game sits 4th in the league in raw yardage and 6th in touchdowns and has averaged a whopping 176.3 yards since Week 9. Their strength tends to come in numbers, though, from piecing together production from three complementary sources. Jonathan Stewart continues to muddle along with relative inefficiency but has topped 100 yards twice over the last 6 weeks. Rookie Christian McCaffrey has looked far more confident and decisive down his rookie stretch, averaging 4.90 yards per carry over the last 7 games, topping 62 yards in 3 of them. And of course, Cam Newton has begun to run the ball with an unprecedented volume of late, and it’s resulted in a per-game average of 60.5 yards dating back to Week 6.

Atlanta’s run defense has gradually come on as a solid unit. It boasts a strong set of interior linemen in Dontari Poe and Grady Jarrett, plus a Pro Bowl-caliber season from second-year linebacker Deion Jones, whose track-and-pursue skills are elite. As a result, the Falcons have allowed 105 ground yards or fewer in 5 straight games, and only 3 teams have given up fewer to running backs over that span. Granted, some of that success has come against poor rushing teams, and they’re fairly vulnerable to lead-back efficiency, giving up the league’s 13th-most yards per rush. But their tendencies to control game flow and choke off big runs are impressive, and it’s become iffy to target backs against them. Where they’re most susceptible is against running quarterbacks: they’ve been scorched by Dak Prescott (42 yards), Russell Wilson (86 and 1 touchdown), and this week’s opponent, Cam Newton (86 and 1).

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


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Just like last year, Isaiah Crowell is outperforming his role. The inconsistent yet semi-electric runner has averaged 4.59 yards per rush dating back to last season – 5.45 over his last 8 games – but simply isn’t prioritized much in this offense. Inexplicably, Hue Jackson tends to keep the ball in the air via DeShone Kizer’s erratic arm, and Crowell is often rendered a bystander. Regardless, he’s maximizing his opportunity and taking great advantage of his favorable matchups (90+ yards in recent matchups with the Lions, Bengals, and Packers). He’ll never boast a great touchdown outlook in this offense, but is a strong enough weekly threat for 90+ scrimmage yards that he’s an elite RB3/flex option. Kizer eats his way into the running game as well, with 5 games of 35+ ground yards. But Duke Johnson, who sees a near-equal snap share as the passing down specialist, hasn’t chimed in more than 23 yards in over a month.

Suffice it to say that the Pittsburgh run defense has fallen on hard times. After a dominant start to the year, the Steelers have allowed 130+ ground yards in 3 of their last 4 games – and it hasn’t exactly been a Murderer’s Row of a schedule. Alex Collins, Dion Lewis, Alfred Blue, and the Bengals’ two-man duo of Giovani Bernard and Joe Mixon have all racked up strong recent stat lines. With top linebacker Ryan Shazier sidelined, this has become a much easier group to target; the front seven is packed with big names but constructed more to defend the pass than the run.

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


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

It seems almost every season that C.J. Anderson has played week 16 and 17 he has had monster games and we saw it last week where he had 88 yards rushing and seven receptions for 45 yards through the air as the team utilized him more than they had earlier in the season. This is the same trend that he had in 2014 and 2015 when he last played the end of the season. Anderson had success earlier this season against the Chiefs with 5.2 yards per carry and 78 yards rushing on just 15 carries. If the trend continues, expect him to have close to 20 carries in this game which should give him an upside that is very strong this week.

The Chiefs are likely to rest their veterans which if they rest Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson this would be a major hit to the rushing defense of this Chiefs team as would Bennie Logan who is dealing with a knee injury. This is a run defense that has been about league average on the season allowing 99 yards per game. This is a defense that is not overly deep especially at the linebacker position so if Johnson were to miss this game, Reggie Ragland is going to have to have a tremendous game or it could open up an opportunity for the Broncos in this game.

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


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Lions continue to have little to no resemblance of a rushing offense as a trio of running backs each had between six and eight attempts last week with rookie Tion Green leading the pack at 43 rushing yards. Green is a powerful runner, but he will continue to be limited by this running back rotation and lack of commitment to the ground game as the Lions rank near the bottom of the league in rushing attempts (340, 30th) and at the very bottom in rushing yards per game (78.0) and yards per attempt (3.4). Their offensive line has been decimated by injuries, as that unit was not even spectacular even before the injuries to their center and right-side linemen.

The Packers defense has been decimated by injuries at various points throughout this season, and their last game was a tough one as both Clay Matthews and Nick Perry sat out due to injuries. Even without two of their better defenders, the Packers still did a decent job holding off the Vikings on the ground despite a very run-heavy game script with virtually no support from their offensive teammates to give to sustain drives and allow for a breather. While the Packers have given up some yards with 114 rushing yards per game allowed over their last five games, they have not allowed a single rushing touchdown to the running back position over that span. Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark have done a great job on the interior of that line, but even they have been known to have an off game specifically in run defense at times this season. The Lions should not have a huge challenge this week, but they do not bring much to the table in terms of a rushing offense nor offensive line (ranked 32nd last week per Matt Bitonti) to contend with even a mediocre Packers run defense.

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


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense at Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Packers offense was abysmal last week as they were shut out by the Vikings. Their ground game was the only part of their game that could have been deemed as mildly effective, but that was mainly due to Brett Hundley running for his life on a number of plays as he totaled 48 rushing yards on the day. Jamaal Williams led the backfield with 15 carries, but Aaron Jones suffered a knee injury in the first half that knocked him out as he is considered questionable coming into this week. If Jones is out this week, Williams should be the feature back again for the Packers. Brett Hundley will enter this week’s game averaging just under 50 rushing yards per game over his last three starts, so look for him to also contribute on the ground against a Lions offense that let him rush for 22 yards and a touchdown in their last meeting. Offensive line injuries will be something to watch here as right tackle Jason Spriggs was carted off the field last week, causing them to majorly shift things around on that line as there was no further depth behind Spriggs (who was replacing Bryan Bulaga) at right tackle.

The Lions run defense was manhandled by Giovani Bernard the Bengals last week as this was the fourth time this season they have allowed over 100 rushing yards to an opposing running back. While the Lions are allowing just 113 rushing yards per game, they have given up the second-most rushing touchdowns (18) with 15 of those going to opposing running backs. The high scoring rate combined with their lack of defense against pass-catching backs helps explains why opposing running backs have scored the second most fantasy points per game when facing the Lions this year. The second half of the season has not been good at all to this Lions run defense as their front seven has been going downhill ever since giving up nearly 200 rushing yards and two touchdowns to the Saints running backs before their Week 7 bye. A banged-up Packers offensive line may be a break for the Lions here, but overall, the Packers should have a decent shot at opening up some holes for their ground game to be effective this week.

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


Houston Texans Rushing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Houston’s offense had a tough time against the Steelers last week, but their running backs actually had a field day with 163 combined rushing yards between Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue. Lamar Miller had led the Texans all season long, however, the past two weeks have belonged to Alfred Blue from a workload perspective as he has outplayed Miller on all fronts in their last two games. Blue had an impressive 48-yard run last week as he has now averaged over 4.5 yards per attempt with 55 rushing yards in Week 15 and 108 rushing yards last week. Neither running back has much of an offensive line to run behind with the Texans ranking near the bottom of Footballguys offensive line specialist Matt Bitonti’s list, but it looks like Alfred Blue should continue to get an opportunity in this backfield for the final game of the season.

The Colts run defense has been effective in most of their games this season with fewer than 60 rushing yards allowed to a running back in nine games, but they have been obliterated on multiple instances by an opposing running back rushing for over 120 yards in four games thus far on the year. In large part due to their few blow-up games, the Colts have given up the 27th most rushing yards per game and the fifth most fantasy points per game to running backs. The middle of their defense, particularly at inside linebacker, has been the big weakness for the Colts as they cannot stop opposing running backs that reach the second level. The Colts have been strong on the defensive line with Johnathan Hankins having a solid season along with veteran defensive end/linebacker Jabaal Sheard also having a great season in run defense. This line has been about their only strength on defense though, and opposing offenses have certainly found ways to avoid their key defensive linemen and bounce plays to the outside in an attempt to take advantage of the Colts’ weak run-defending secondary.

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


Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense vs Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Frank Gore had a solid day rushing the ball last week with his third-highest yardage total of the season, amassing 68 rushing yards on 17 carries. Gore has been grinding out tough yards all season long as he has been one of the most consistent (albeit, consistently average) players on this Colts offense. He has not found the end zone many times with just one rushing touchdown since Week 3, but Gore remains the go-to option in this backfield despite the prospect of rookie Marlon Mack, who has rushed for over 30 yards in just one game since Week 5.

The Texans run defense did a decent job considering the extremely poor game flow last week as they held the Steelers to just 104 rushing yards on 28 attempts, including holding LeVeon Bell to 69 yards on 14 carries. The Texans did give up two rushing touchdowns though, including one to Bell and one to the Steelers’ fullback. Rushing touchdowns have been a huge issue for this defense in recent weeks as they have given up the league’s most rushing touchdowns to running backs since Week 12, allowing eight over that span of five games. Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is about all the talent the Texans have left on their defensive line as three starters have suffered season-ending injuries throughout the year. The Colts do have a weaker offensive line, but based on how the Texans have played against the run in recent weeks, this has to be a matchup the Colts are at least slightly looking forward to.

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


New England Patriots Rushing Offense vs New York Jets Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

This August, the fantasy world watched Bill Belichick yo-yo Dion Lewis, fresh off a knee injury, in and out of the preseason and assumed he’d be little more than a cog in another wild Patriots backfield. Now, we see him as the workhorse stud he is. Lewis has definitively outpaced the likes of Mike Gillislee and James White in this backfield, and with partner-in-crime Rex Burkhead sidelined, he’s a dominant bell cow who catches passes and sees plenty of red zone work. Last week, Burkhead sat and Lewis racked up 129 yards (and 1 touchdown) on 24 carries as the feature, and he’s shown no signs of slowing down. He’s averaged a whopping 5.33 yards per rush since his Week 5 promotion, topping 4.70 in 8 of those 11 games. Gillislee will spell him for the time being, but he’s no real threat to Lewis’ role – or to your fantasy opponents. He’s produced just 3.68 yards per carry on the year and is no longer a short-yardage hog.

The Jets run defense has been as up-and-down as they come throughout 2017. They’ve mixed strong games with egregiously bad ones, alternately shutting down and being gashed by lead backs seemingly from week to week. Watching former stud lineman Muhammad Wilkerson tail off into nothingness – he’s likely underperformed his way right off the roster – has been truly sad. Nose tackle Mike Pennel is a capable space-eater and blocker-neutralizer, but the linebackers aren’t nearly consistent enough to shut down a running game for 60 minutes. As a result, we’re likely to see Tom Brady and the Patriots spread this front seven even further apart and send Dion Lewis onto the second level with frequency. This isn’t the NFL’s most exploitable matchup by a mile, but it’s a vulnerable one that can absolutely cave to a strong offense and shaky game flow.

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Peyton Barber has cemented himself as the top runner in the backfield, likely spelling the end of the line for Doug Martin in Tampa Bay. Barber is a low-ceiling guy, so his fantasy utility is marginal. The real story here is the fall of Martin, who looks wholly unexceptional in all facets of the game. An inefficient receiver to boot, he actually brings less to the table than the undrafted Barber, so his demotion makes sense. Even so, Barber doesn’t look deserving of even flex attention. He struggles for production behind the shoddy Tampa Bay line (ranked 29th by our Matt Bitonti) and picks up little that wasn’t blocked for him. Since his impressive Week 13 (102 yards), Barber has averaged just 4.26 yards per rush and 54.0 per game in the featured role.

The New Orleans run defense certainly showed up in Week 16 to stifle Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, but don’t be fooled. The Saints have kept the lid on many opposing run games by jumping to sturdy leads and shortening games, but on a carry-by-carry basis, this remains one of the league’s weakest run units. They’re allowing the sixth-most yards per rush, and they’ve been worked over by their share of lead backs, including Freeman (back in Week 14), Jordan Howard, Aaron Jones, and Samaje Perine. Relatively light on the interior and sorely lacking talent on the second level, this is a unit that can absolutely be beaten, and even the Buccaneers’ shaky run game should find opportunity if/while the game stays close.

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


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Redskins running attack been largely non-existent the last four weeks as Samaje Perine has been playing at less than 100%, but has been forced to play largely due to the Redskins not having anyone else who can carry the ball 15 times per game. Perine over his last four games is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry as part of it is on his inability to create his own yardage coupled with the offensive line that has been ravaged by injuries this season.

The Giants run-defense continues to be one of the more interesting units in football as their defensive line has played well on the season, but their linebacking group is one of the worst in recent memory. This creates the opportunity for running backs when they can get past the defensive tackles Tomlinson and Harrison to get big yardage. Samaje Perine torched this defense the first time that they met as he had 100 yards on 24 carries as the team was content giving him the ball consistently wearing down the defensive front.

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


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense at Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

LeSean McCoy continues to do what he can, shouldering an ineffective, one-dimensional offense, and the week-to-week results have been generally solid but rarely explosive. He’s spent the year integrating into a new blocking scheme, with turnover on his front line, which certainly slowed him early in the year. And the passing game’s general inability to frighten defenses has kept defenders in the box, keeping the sledding tough all season. As a result, McCoy has produced 110+ yards in 4 games this year but been held to 50 or fewer in 6 others, and his 4.09 yards per carry is a career-low mark. Week to week, we can rely on his volume but little else in this run game; McCoy is a no-brainer fantasy RB1, though not as sturdy of one as a LeVeon Bell type. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor remains a strong rushing threat: he’s topped 27 yards in 8 of his last 9 games.

The Miami run defense has generally underachieved after a strong start to the year. They allowed just 82.3 ground yards per game over the first 6 weeks, but 127.6 over the next 9, including absolute shreddings by the Panthers (294) and Patriots (196). Stud tackle Ndamukong Suh can only do so much, and the Dolphins linebackers have vacillated from mediocre to atrocious for most of the year. Still, there’s been an upturn of late, as they’ve held LeSean McCoy and Kareem Hunt in check over the past two weeks. This is not an easy unit to project week-to-week, but we know it’s one that can absolutely be had.

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


Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Offense vs Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

This is a must-win game for the Chargers in order to get to the playoffs and the injuries are starting to pile up for their offensive line which is impacting their rushing offense. Both tackles Joseph Barksdale and Russell Okung are questionable for this game. The bigger injury news is Melvin Gordon is questionable with an ankle injury it is looking like he is on the doubtful side of questionable. This could cause all sorts of problems for the run game as Branden Oliver would likely be the only healthy running back that the Chargers have. Oliver has not been able to get much going in his brief work this season as he is averaging just 2.5 yards per carry on the season and last week had eight carries for just nine yards, this is not a great situation for the Chargers to be in where they are fighting for a playoff position.

The Raiders rushing defense is an improved unit compared to where they were earlier in the season and a big reason for that is the continued improvement of Navarro Bowman’s play after he struggled in San Francisco, but it looks like he is rejuvenated across the bay in Oakland. Prior to acquiring Bowman, the team averaged allowing 113 yards rushing per game and since they signed Bowman, they are allowing just 88 yards per game which is a staggering improvement. As part of this run defense Denico Autry has also improved his play as of late and while this defense still has holes in it particularly with rookie Nicholas Morrow, it is still a much-improved unit compared to where it was earlier in the season.

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


Los Angeles Rams Rushing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Todd Gurley is playing on another planet right now as he had yet another monster game against a great Titans run defense last week, rushing for nearly 120 yards while adding another 158 yards through the air with two receiving touchdowns. Gurley has now rushed for over 100 yards in back to back games with six outings of over 100 rushing yards this season. Unfortunately, it appears that the Rams will be without Gurley this week as they rest him in preparation for the playoffs, so Malcolm Brown who has shown flashes at times as a capable running back will likely handle the volume this week.

The 49ers defense did a great job against the Jaguars last week as they held Leonard Fournette to just 48 rushing yards and one touchdown on 48 carries—good for just 2.7 yards per attempt. Going into last week, the 49ers had been looking much improved against opposing running backs with no rushing touchdowns and 70 or fewer rushing yards allowed to a single back in each of their last five outings. Both Reuben Foster and DeForest Buckner continue to be about all this defense has to stop the run—both have been playing at very high levels and really carrying this run defense as they have settled in as the season progressed. The Rams have a solid offensive line and unstoppable running back though, so do not discount them at all in this matchup unless the majority of the Rams offense ends up resting.

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


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Marshawn Lynch has shown a late season emergence as the team utilized him heavily last week against the Eagles giving him 25 carries in a windy game on the road against the league-best rush defense. This is an offensive line that lost Donald Penn, but David Sharpe surprisingly played left tackle this week after many thought that Marshall Newhouse would slide over to the left tackle position. The guards are still very strong on this offensive line and when they are able to create a push, Lynch has shown

The Chargers have allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers after having been very strong against the run for most of the second half of the season since Denzel Perryman returned. With Perryman having been out due to injury for the last two weeks (he got hurt early in week 15), this defense has struggled as Hayes Pullard is forced into action as his replacement. Perryman returned to practice this week and it appears he should be able to go which would be a significant upgrade as when Perryman is in the lineup the Chargers are allowing 93 yards rushing to opposing running backs while when Perryman is out of the lineup they are allowing a league-worst 120 yards on the ground.

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


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

LeVeon Bell remains a usage monster, but his efficiency has dipped markedly from his magical 2014-16 stretch and has left the fantasy world wanting this year. Yes, he sits second in the league in raw yardage (and stretches fantasy box scores majorly with his receiving prowess), and yes, he’s a bona fide RB1 almost in perpetuity. But he’s also been inconsistent, posting his lowest per-carry average (4.02) since his rookie year and just 6 games of 80+ ground yards all season. His offensive line has been banged up, which hasn’t helped, but solid right tackle Marcus Gilbert has returned to the lineup and should help escort Bell onto the second level at a solid clip. And at least he’s on an active upswing, notching 186 yards on just 38 attempts (a 4.89 mark) over the last 2 weeks. And regardless of Bell’s efficiency outlook, he’s always a top-of-the-board choice, especially when the Steelers are projected to roll through with a positive game script.

The Browns run defense, which erupted early in the year as a dominant force under new coordinator Gregg Williams, has come back to Earth somewhat. They’re still best in the league in yards allowed per carry (3.28) and 7th in yards per game (96.1), but they’ve folded a bit since midseason, letting a handful of lead backs post solid-to-strong games against them. Joe Mixon, Melvin Gordon, and Javorius Allen – certainly not a list of the NFL’s most efficient producers – have all recently run for 70-114 yards in this matchup, and those backs who haven’t found ground success have found ways to contribute elsewhere (on the goal line, in the pass game, etc.). This isn’t a specifically-targetable unit, but it is one that doesn’t make fantasy owners pause the way it did six weeks ago.

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


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Kerwynn Williams led the Cardinals backfield last week for his fourth straight week with at least 15 carries, but he was limited to just 51 yards from his 16 rush attempts last week as Williams did nothing outside of a 21-yard run despite a game script that would have warranted some nice productivity from the ground game. The Cardinals have had a tough season rushing the ball as their offensive line woes have not stopped with multiple injuries plaguing them this year. They rank last in the league with just 3.4 yards per rush attempt and near-last with 84.7 rushing yards per game. Williams had a great debut as the starting running back, but he has been relatively lackluster in the last three games with an average of just 3.5 yards per attempt over this three-game span. He had been working through a quadriceps injury recently, but did not appear to suffer any setbacks last week—so look for Williams to continue leading the Cardinals backfield.

The Seahawks looked like a new defense last week compared to their Week 15 blowout to the Rams. Having linebacker Bobby Wagner appears to be healthy once again certainly helped this unit as they held Ezekiel Elliott relatively in check with just four yards per carry with no single rush attempt of more than nine yards on the day. Despite allowing him to run for 97 yards, this outing should be considered a win considering the talent from both Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line. The Seahawks have been a slightly above average rushing defense on the season as a whole, looking atrocious in some games and elite in others. Overall, this is a unit that has the ability to win at the line of scrimmage and backs up their front seven with a secondary that does contribute against the run. The Cardinals do not have an offensive line capable of matching up well here, so look for Arizona to struggle against a Seahawks defense inspired to keep their playoff hopes alive.

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


Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Coach Jason Garrett came out and said that the Cowboys are not planning on resting their starters so it will once again be Ezekiel Elliott for the Cowboys this week running the ball. Elliott in his first game back from suspension last week and he was good in the first half, but he struggled in the second half as the team fell behind and abandoned the run. The offensive line injuries continue to be a problem as Tyron Smith who was active seldom played this past week and is unlikely to play this week as coach Jason Garrett stated clearly that if you’re healthy then you’ll play which would put La'el Collins at risk as well.

The Eagles rush defense continues to be one of the better units in football as they are only allowing 56 yards rushing this season to opposing running backs on the year but did struggle earlier this season against Alfred Morris while Elliott was suspended allowing 91 yards rushing to Morris and have allowed a 90+ yard rusher in three of their last five games. The Eagles continue to have one of the best defensive lines in football led by Timmy Jernigan, Fletcher Cox, and Brandon Graham and if Collins and Smith are out this week the defensive line could cause havoc in this game if the defensive lineman for the Eagles play which is a big question at this point. One thing to keep an eye on is that the Eagles have nothing to play for so they could bench these defensive linemen which would open up an opportunity for this running game.

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


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense at Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The playoff-bound Jacksonville Jaguars operate the most run-heavy offense in the league as they are the only team with over 500 rushing attempts, leading the league at 145.3 rushing yards per game. With just 29 more rushing yards this week, Leonard Fournette could finish his rookie season with over 1,000 rushing yards despite averaging less than four yards per carry. He has been very much a volume-based running back as Fournette has averaged over four yards per carry in just three games this season, yet still has managed to score in all but four games as he is having a very impressive rookie campaign. Fournette did struggle again last week with just 48 rushing yards on 18 carries before being shut down in the fourth quarter despite the Jaguars trailing in what would end up being a loss. Left tackle Cam Robinson has been banged up with an ankle injury but suited up last week only to suffer an additional injury to his abdomen that will likely keep him sidelined for Week 17. The Jaguars offensive line had been playing better as the season progressed, but no Robinson this week will definitely be a downgrade. With the playoff picture locked in for the Jaguars, keep an eye on pre-game news as there is a good chance they look to rest some starters in this meaningless game.

The Titans run defense had all they could handle last week as Todd Gurley continues to trample opposing defenses. Up until last week, the Titans had been giving up just the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. While they still kept Gurley out of the end zone with his legs (maintaining their league-lead in fewest rushing touchdowns allowed to running backs with four), the Titans let Gurley go wild through the air with nearly 160 receiving yards and two touchdowns to combine with his 118 rushing yards. Last week was the first time a running back facing the Titans had surpassed 80 rushing yards this season. They still own one of the league’s better run defenses from a personnel perspective, as Jurrell Casey has been playing at a high level for this entire season as one of the best defensive linemen in the league.

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


Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense vs Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Vikings run game did what was needed again last week despite their inefficiency with just 112 rushing yards from 33 attempts by the team combined. Latavius Murray had another high-volume outing with his second straight week of 20 or more carries, but he managed just 69 yards on 21 attempts in last week’s game. Despite his inefficiency, Murray has one of the highest workloads of any running back in the league over the second half of this season and should remain firmly in control of the backfield as Jerick McKinnon continues to see snaps primarily on passing downs. The Vikings offensive line has played well this season and is currently ranked in the top tier by Footballguys offensive line guru Matt Bitonti. They had left tackle Riley Reiff back on the field last week, but they did lose their starting left guard Nick Easton for the remainder of the season with an ankle injury. This should not be a huge loss but is still a loss nonetheless for a unit that had been meshing relatively well over the second half of the season.

The Bears defense continued what has been a solid overall season last week as they held the Browns to just one field goal. This run defense has been playing very well in recent weeks, giving up just the second-fewest fantasy points to running backs since Week 11. Over that six-game span, the Bears have not allowed a single rushing touchdown to running backs with just one player exceeding 55 rushing yards against them. Their defensive line has been outstanding with both Akiem Hicks and Mitch Unrein having great seasons in run defense. Linebacker continues to be an issue, but Adrian Amos at safety has been a massive help to the weaker linebacker group in Chicago. The Vikings should pose a challenge for this Bears defense, but they have been playing so well against the run as of late that it will be tough to count the Bears out early.

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


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Jay Ajayi appears to have won over this rushing attack as he has led the running back group in snaps for four consecutive weeks diminishing LeGarrette Blount’s role in the offense down to just 20% of the snaps. The open question for the Eagles is what they will do since they have nothing to play for this week and one would expect that they would still want Ajayi to get reps at the running back position behind this offensive line before the playoffs, but listen carefully to what the Eagles coaching staff has to say as it sounds like they will potentially rest some players in this game. Even if Ajayi is active, there is a possibility that they run Corey Clement more in this game as the team looks to prepare for the playoffs.

The Cowboys rushing defense has been one that has been one of the best units in football when Sean Lee is in the game as since his return they are only allowing 71 yards per game, while in the three games that he missed they allowed 133 yards rushing. Lee is the heart and sole of this defense, so keep an eye on whether he will play this week as Jason Garrett said that all of their healthy starters will play, but Lee has been dealing with a back injury for a significant part of the season which is not a new injury. If Lee does not play this week, Jaylon Smith who has really struggled in run defense would be forced into having to play near 100% of the snaps as he did earlier this season with Lee out which could open up opportunities for the Philadelphia offense.

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


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Titans ground game has really struggled for the past few weeks as their offense has been underperforming as a unit overall. The offensive line play has been lacking in recent weeks with Jack Conklin playing below his potential while center Ben Jones struggles to hold the middle of the line. Demarco Murray continued to dominate the snaps last week, but his game ended early with a knee injury that will keep him sidelined for the season finale. Derrick Henry should be expected to take over, which will be an exciting game for his future prospects as we have yet to see Henry as the workhorse back for an entire game this season. Marcus Mariota has been rushing far less since his hamstring injury, but he had over 20 rushing yards on three attempts last week and has shown no signs of limitation in terms of mobility in recent weeks.

The Jaguars run defense has been solid for most of this season, but they had a lapse last week as they allowed three rushing touchdowns—the most they have given up in a single game this year. Leading into last week, the Jaguars had a six-game streak no rushing touchdowns and fewer than 80 yards allowed to a single running back. We have seen this talented front seven dominate on a few occasions this season, but overall, they have been just a mediocre unit against the run with just over 116 rushing yards per game allowed. The talent on this defensive line is unquestionable with Malik Jackson as their best interior defender while Calais Campbell plays next to him on the end of that line, but they are certainly better at selling out against opposing quarterbacks than they have been in stopping running backs this season. If the Titans offensive line can get back to how they played earlier in the season, they would be a solid matchup against this stout Jacksonville front that may see some starters rested at some point during the game this week.

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


Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Despite their Week 16 faceplant, the Falcons still boast one of the NFL’s premier rushing attacks. The line is among the league’s elite as a run-blocking unit, and there’s plenty of depth and diversity of talents in this backfield. Devonta Freeman has underachieved a bit in 2017, but still averages a solid 4.55 yards per rush and 69.9 per full game. Tevin Coleman chimes in with 4.17 and 3.47 alongside a healthy Freeman and both see plenty of short-yardage opportunity. And their dreadful Week 16 wasn’t quite as bad as it seems; they were doomed by game flow from an uncharacteristic Freeman fumble on the goal line. Typically, we can depend on this unit to produce solidly each week.

Carolina’s run defense remains truly elite, and a suffocating obstacle for opponent production. Anchored by an elite pair of tackles and All-Pro middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, this is an extraordinarily difficult unit to target fantasy runners against. Only 3 backs have reached 70 yards against it, after all, and none have hit 90. On the year, only 2 teams have allowed more ground touchdowns or standard fantasy points. Devonta Freeman has a fine outlook as always, but there’s little reason to ever project a back anywhere near his ceiling in this matchup.

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


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Bears and Jordan Howard struggled on the ground in a tough matchup last week, amassing just 97 total rushing yards with 44 of them coming from Howard. He did score a couple times, but Howard averaged only 2.0 yards per rush attempt form his 22 carries. The Bears offensive line remains banged up as guard Josh Sitton was inactive last week while right tackle Bobby Massie suffered a knee injury but played through it. This was a big part of why Howard could not find room to run last week, and this banged-up offensive line has contributed to Howard’s inconsistency all season long. Howard has been the clear volume running back for the Bears, but he now has rushed for fewer than 45 yards in four of his last five games. Howard has had some rushing explosions throughout the season, but his floor has also been about as low as they come with a number of sub-60-yard rushing games with no touchdowns to speak of. Mitchell Trubisky did show his wheels last week though as he rushed a season-high seven times for 44 yards and a touchdown—his second rushing touchdown in the last three weeks. Trubisky now has rushed for over 30 yards in four games this season as the young quarterback has certainly shown some athleticism and willingness to make plays with his legs when needed.

The Vikings run defense has been one of the best in the league this year, giving up the second-fewest rushing yards per game (87.1) and the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. While they have allowed opposing quarterbacks to get loose for over 40 rushing yards in two of the last three games, the Vikings had allowed just one 20+ rushing yard outing by a quarterback (Mitchel Trubisky in Week 5) through the first 13 weeks of the season. The Vikings had both linebacker Anthony Barr and lineman Everson Griffen elected to the Pro Bowl this season, as each has played admirably in both run and pass defense this season. Linval Joseph on the interior has also been a huge reason for the Vikings’ success against the run. With everyone healthy and playing for a first-round bye, look for them to give the Bears fits at the line of scrimmage.

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


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Joe Mixon returned in Week 16 from his concussion, but quickly injured his ankle and left. And thus likely ends his exceptionally up-and-down rookie year, which would put the onus squarely on last man standing Giovani Bernard to head the backfield. Bernard looks up to the task: he’s still explosive, averaging 4.67 yards per carry (with 2 touchdowns) over his last 4 games of heavy usage, despite a poor front line and a toothless passing game. Bernard has served an important reminder that he was once the young Mixon in this backfield and that he’s capable of spinning a ho-hum fantasy outlook into real production.

The Baltimore run defense remains one of the league’s strongest. After a mid-season slump without space-eating tackle Brandon Williams, it’s come back together nicely into a truly elite unit. Since Week 8, the Ravens have allowed the league’s 6th-fewest yards to opposing runners, neutralizing the likes of Lamar Miller (17 carries for 51 yards), LeVeon Bell (13 for 48), and the DeMarco Murray/Derrick Henry duo (17 for 45). In fact, the only recent back to post any production of note was Isaiah Crowell – with 59 of his 72 yards coming on one play. This a strong, suffocating unit, one that’s almost entirely prohibitive for fantasy purposes.

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


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense at Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Chiefs have not come out and made a formal announcement regarding whether Kareem Hunt will play this week or how much he will play, but with the Chiefs announcing that they will be starting Patrick Mahomes as their starting quarterback it appears that they will likely not be playing Kareem Hunt the entire game if at all. If the Chiefs are looking at their young players, they could look past Charcandrick West who is number two on the depth chart and look at Akeem Hunt who is the third running back on the depth chart to get a significant amount of work in this game. Keep a close eye on this one as the week progresses as unless we hear something significant from Andy Reid expect that it will be a messy situation as Andy Reid in the past has played his starting running back but limited their workload.

The Broncos have very nothing to play for, but their run defense is playing with tremendous pride to finish off this season as they have been tremendous over the last four games allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs and holding running backs to just 78 yards per game. This generally is in line with their overall season numbers as this unit has been tremendous for most of the season as it is led by Shelby Harris, Shaq Barrett and Von Miller on the defensive line who have all three played terrifically for most of the year. This is a tough spot for the Chiefs this week even if all of their starters played as the Broncos held Kareem Hunt to just 46 yards on 22 carries the first time these two teams met.

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


New York Giants Rushing Offense vs Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Wayne Gallman has taken over the Giants rushing attack although it remains a relative committee as Gallman had 10 of the team’s 19 total carries this past week with Paul Perkins and Orleans Darkwa both getting carries in this offense. This is a team that has struggled for most of the year establishing a consistent running attack and a big part of that has been the offensive line as Matt Bitonti the offensive line expert at Footballguys has the Giants ranked as his 30th offensive line on the season. The Giants are the fourth-worst rushing attack in football as they are averaging just 85 yards per game.

The Redskins rushing defense is one that started the year as a very strong unit but is quickly deteriorating as over their last four weeks they are allowing 136 yards per game which is the third worst in football. The biggest problem for the Redskins is that Ziggy Hood has either quit on his team or he is injured, as his play at nose tackle has been horrendous to the point where he saw just 11 snaps last week. The loss of Zach Brown on this defense has also been a significant blow to their rushing defense as Martrell Speight who has filled in has struggled against the run so far this season. This is a completely different defense than the one that held the Giants to just 23 yards rushing in week 12.

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


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense vs Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Seahawks again struggled on the ground, as they have all season long. Mike Davis could not even manage two yards per carry as he squandered his 15 carries while playing a season-high 80% of the snaps. Davis had been proficient in a couple games this season, but he has struggled in the past two and has yet to score a touchdown in five games played. Thomas Rawls saw the field again last week for his highest snap share since Week 10 (19%), but he only was allotted five carries with minimal production to speak of. J.D. McKissic did not record a single touch last week as he was on the field for only two snaps in what was a confusing turn of events as McKissick had previously been spelling Davis on over 50% of the snaps in the last two weeks. Russell Wilson led the team in rushing again last week as he remains the primary threat on the ground for the Seahawks.

The Cardinals smothered the Giants last week, giving up just 43 yards on the ground to a team that has struggled to rush the ball all season long. This marks three games in a row with fewer than 40 rushing yards allowed to a running back for the Cardinals. They have been proficient against the run for most of this season with just the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game allowed to running backs. Cardinals linebacker Haasan Reddick was forced out of last week’s game in the second quarter with a foot injury, but the extraordinary Cardinals safeties helped make up for Reddick’s absence as both Antoine Bethea and Budda Baker made a number of outstanding plays in run defense. This safety combination has been excellent against the run with Baker proving to be a solid replacement for the injured Tyvon Branch. Having Corey Peters back from injury certainly helps the Cardinals chances against the run as well as they are back to a full strength defensive line. This unit is now ranked atop the league against the run using DVOA, so it should be a tough outing for a nearly non-existent Seahawks rushing offense.

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