P
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
P1
P2
P3
P4

Week 3 Rushing Matchups

by Mark Wimer and Joe Bryant, Exclusive to Footballguys.com

[ARI] [ATL] [BAL] [BUF] [CAR] [CHI] [CIN] [CLE] [DAL] [DEN] [DET] [GB] [HOU] [IND] [JAX] [KC] [MIA] [MIN] [NE] [NO] [NYG] [NYJ] [OAK] [PHI] [PIT] [SD] [SEA] [SF] [STL] [TB] [TEN] [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 Peyton Manning is playing the toughest pass defense in the league, that just means he's got a tough matchup that week. He's also your starter unless you're loaded at QB. In the same way, if the worst QB on your roster has a "great" matchup that week, it doesn't necessarily mean he's your starter. It means we think he'll fare better than normal that week.

Bottom line is that the cheatsheets are the final say.


Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Michael Turner (14/42/0 rushing with 1/6/0 receiving) and Jerious Norwood (6/18/0 rushing with 1/8/0 receiving) ran smack into Tampa's stern defensive front last week, and couldn't replicate their strong showing from week 1 (when the team exploded all over Detroit for 22/220/2 on the ground). A higher-quality opponent made things rough on the young team in week 2.

Kansas City handed over 28/126/1 to New England, a 4.5 yards allowed per carry average, in the season opener 2 weeks ago, and followed up by laying down for Oakland. The Raiders jammed 47/300/2 rushing into the Chiefs' "defense" last week, for a 6.4 yards per carry average. Enough said.

Fortunately for Turner and Norwood owners, the Kansas City Chiefs' defenders are really far from a high-quality bunch, currently ranking 31st in the NFL averaging 213 rushing yards allowed per game. Advantage, Atlanta.

Weather: Inside the Georgia Dome, weather won't be an issue for either team.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Denver's committee of backs is getting the job done this year, with 24/145/1 as a team vs. San Diego last week and an average of 143 yards rushing per game to date. Selvin Young has been the between-the-20's back, with 8/78/0 last week rushing (1/8/0 receiving), while Andre Hall (7/31/0 rushing) and Michael Pittman (7/30/1) handled the rest of the duties. Pittman is the goal-line specialist 2 weeks in, with 14/43/3 to his credit (17th best fantasy back in points per game).

The Saints started off the season allowing 20/146/0 to the Buccaneers (a 7.3 yards-per-carry average), and then followed up with 31/149/2 surrendered to Washington's backs. They are 26th in the NFL entering this game averaging 147.5 rushing yards allowed per game - not too good, folks.

Denver enjoys the home field advantage this week and has a big edge on their competitors in week 3.

Weather: The forecast for Mile High Stadium calls for a high of 75F with a low of 54F and a 20% chance of rain - perfect fall weather is on tap for this matchup as long as the rain stays away.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New York Giants Rushing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Brandon Jacobs (15/93/0), Derrick Ward (8/58/0) and Ahmad Bradshaw (5/52/1) tore apart the Rams' defensive front last week, ending the day with 31/200/1 as a team. Over the first 2 games, the NYG have averaged 177 rushing yards per contest (5th in the NFL) - this unit is on a huge roll entering week 3.

Expect the Giants to keep rolling when the limp Bengals get to town - Cincy has averaged 203 rushing yards allowed per game to date, with 3 rushing scores allowed so far. Tennessee torched them for 41/177/1 on the ground last week.

At home, the Giants have a significant advantage over the visitors this week.

Weather: Giants Stadium expects nice fall weather on Sunday, with a high of 74F and a low of 56F and a 20% chance of rain. Weather shouldn't be an issue for either team this week.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense vs St. Louis Rams Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Julius Jones became the featured Seattle RB by default last week (Maurice Morris is out for a few weeks with a knee injury) - Jones responded with a fine effort vs. San Francisco, gaining 26/127/1 (a 4.9 yards per carry average) and adding 3/14/0 receiving, while FB Leonard Weaver added 5/27/0 rushing and T.J. Duckett made a rare appearance with 2/3/1. The Seahawks found a life line in their RB stable, which amassed 34/169/2 (a 5.0 yards-per-carry average) and took the game to OT before losing to their divisional rivals.

The Rams' defense is in shambles, having given up 79 points in 2 weeks. They've handed over 308 rushing yards and 2 rushing scores in 2 games, and allowed 655 net passing yards and 6 TD passes in 2 games - almost 1,000 combined yards given up in 120 minutes of football. There really isn't anything else to say.

This would be a great week to start Julius Jones - matchups don't get better than this for a double-threat back like Jones.

Weather: Qwest Field expects a high of 67F with a low of 54F and a 20% chance for rain - weather shouldn't be a big factor in this matchup.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense vs Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Frank Gore continues to be the main weapon of the 49ers offense, posting 19/61/1 rushing and 5/38/0 receiving last week to run his season totals to 33/157/2 rushing and 9/93/0 receiving (5th best fantasy RB in the land). He's a fantasy stud.

The Lions' rush D averages 220.5 yards allowed per game to date (the league-worst mark through 2 games), and has coughed up 4 rushing TDs in 2 weeks. Green Bay posted 30/123/1 vs. Detroit last week (and that was an improvement over their humiliation at the hands of Michael Turner in the season opener).

Gore has a great matchup against a soft defense this week.

Weather: Walsh Field expects a high of 74F with a low of 55F and a 20% chance of precipitation on Sunday - it should be a great day to play and watch pro football.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Willis McGahee suited up but couldn't play vs. Cincinnati during week 1 (the team wanted to let him get closer to 100% healthy), so youngsters Le'Ron McClain (19/86/0 rushing with 2/24/0 receiving) and Ray Rice (22/64/0 rushing with 3/19/0 receiving) got their chance to shine. Rice was workmanlike in his time on the field, while McClain added some sizzle to the attack when given the chance. With rookie Joe Flacco guiding the offense, look for McClain and Rice to see a lot of carries whether or not McGahee can play during week 3 (obviously, they'll see more if he's sidelined, but during week 1 the team rushed the ball 46 times so McGahee could see 25ish carries and still leave around 10 each for the younger guys). The team averaged 5.0 yards per carry vs. Cincy (46/229/2 - Joe Flacco and Mark Clayton scored the TDs, Clayton on a 42 yard double-reverse). McGahee did practice fully on Wednesday, an encouraging sign for his fantasy clubs. We'll see how his knee reacts to the work as the week goes along.

Cleveland managed to pare back their losses in the rushing department last week, giving up 31/117/0 to the Steelers one week after handing over a whopping 31/167/3 to Dallas in the season opener. They enter week 3 the 24th ranked rushing D in the land, averaging 142 rushing yards allowed per game, with 3 rushing TDs given up to date. They improved incrementally last week, but are still a very suspect unit.

Baltimore enjoyed an unexpected bye week thanks to Hurricane Ike - the break may help them field a "full-house" RB stable headed by Willis McGahee. Keep an eye on Footballguys.com players in the news later in the week to see how the lineup is shaping up during Thursday/Friday practices. In any case, the Ravens have a good matchup to work with when their 0-2 division rivals roll into town.

Weather: The forecast calls for a high of 74F and a low of 58F on Sunday, with a 20% chance for rain falling on M and T Bank Stadium - weather shouldn't play a big role during this game.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense vs Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

So far, Marshawn Lynch is the 13th ranked fantasy back in the land (points per game), with 37/135/2 rushing and 4/26/0 receiving to his credit. He's punched in 1 score per game during the young season - not too shabby. Backup Fred Jackson led Buffalo in receiving last week, snagging 7/83/0 while grinding out 6/17/0 rushing. All told, the Bills managed 26/75/1 rushing vs. the Jaguars - enough to win the game, but not enough to qualify as a breakout fantasy performance.

Oakland did a great job defensing the Kansas City backs last week, holding Larry Johnson and company to 19/55/0 on the ground. After 2 weeks, the Raiders are 13th in the NFL averaging 98 rushing yards allowed per game - they have given up 3 TDs to date, though. Oakland's defense has been up and down in this phase of the game so far.

Lynch has been solidly productive through 2 games, while Oakland's defense remains suspect. This looks like a good matchup for Buffalo.

Weather: Ralph Wilson Stadium expects a high of 71F with a low of 52F and a 20% chance of rain on Sunday - near perfect football weather, in other words.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense at Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Marion Barber dueled Brian Westbrook in the Monday Night Football game to see which back was more all-around (Westbrook edged Barber by a TD), with Barber gaining 18/63/1 rushing and 4/51/1 receiving in the narrow Dallas victory. Barber is the 2nd-ranked fantasy RB through 2 weeks in points per game, with 34/143/3 rushing and 7/72/1 receiving to his credit, so far. The Cowboy's offense is on fire, folks.

The Packers started off 2008 by allowing a single rushing TD to Adrian Peterson on Monday Night Football (33/187/1), though they gave up several long runs to Peterson in the opener. Last week, against the Lions' crew, the rush D fared better, with 12/49/0 allowed to Detroit, leaving Green Bay at 22nd in the NFL through 2 games averaging 118 rushing yards allowed per game. They are moving in the right direction entering week 3, though.

Barber is at top speed entering week 3, while the Packers have been up and down in this phase of the game so far - we give a slight edge to Barber in this matchup despite the Lambeau home field advantage.

Weather: Lambeau Field expects a high of 73F and a low of 53F with a 20% chance of rain on Sunday - it should be a nice day to watch and play football.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Kevin Smith is doing what he can with limited opportunities - to date, Smith has posted 26/88/1 rushing and 8/53/0 receiving to land at 22nd among all fantasy RBs. The Lions are 30th in the NFL averaging 55.5 rushing yards per game so far - not too good, as you can see. The defense has been terrible through 2 games, putting the offense in chase mode early in the contests so far.

San Francisco's rush D isn't the greatest, averaging 139 yards allowed per game so far, with 3 rushing TDs given up to date. Seattle hit them for 34/169/2 last week, a 5.0 yards per carry average - the 49ers are heading in the wrong direction entering week 3.

Smith hasn't been able to star for the Lions yet, but against the soft-and-squishy 49ers defensive front he may get his chance this week - advantage, Detroit.

Weather: Walsh Field expects a high of 74F with a low of 55F and a 20% chance of precipitation on Sunday - it should be a great day to play and watch pro football.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Jaguars' RBs have struggled to open 2008, in part due to a sudden injury plague along the offensive line. To date, they are 28th in the NFL averaging 65.5 rushing yards per game, with a 3.0 yards-per-carry average. Maurice Jones-Drew (12/30/1 rushing with 7/62/0 receiving over 2 games, 38th fantasy RB in the land) and Fred Taylor (23/67/0 rushing with 2/14/0 receiving, 54th fantasy RB in the land) have vastly underperformed for their fantasy owners to date. The team added veteran guard Chris Naeole (who has been with Jacksonville before) to the mix along the OL on Wednesday - hopefully he can help the depth along the line this week.

Indianapolis handed over 35/180/0 to the Vikings last week, and currently average 181.5 rushing yards allowed per game (they laid down for 39/183/2 to the Bears in week 1). Right now, this is one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL, friends.

The Jaguars have been putrid so far, but the Colts have played even worse. In this battle of the bad, we think the Jaguars have a chance to get on the right track - advantage Jacksonville.

Weather: Inside Lucas Oil Stadium, weather won't be a worry for either team on Sunday.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


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

Adrian Peterson put the Vikings on his back and carried them last week (29/160/0 rushing with 4/20/0 receiving), which is exactly what his fantasy owners expect to see week in and week out. To date, Peterson is the 6th best fantasy RB in the land, with 48/263/1 rushing and 5/31/0 receiving through 2 contests. Chester Taylor was quiet last week with 4/18/0 rushing and 1/-2/0 receiving in a bit role. A worrying note came from practice on Wednesday - Peterson was limited due to a tweaked hamstring - something for his owners to watch later on in the week and when the official injury report is released. Also, there has been a change at QB (Gus Frerotte is in, Tarvaris Jackson is out) which may help open up some running room if Frerotte can increase the threat to pass vs. Carolina.

The Panthers' defense arrives in the Metrodome ranked 19th in the NFL vs. opposing rushers, allowing an average of 110.0 yards per game, with 1 rushing TD handed over to date. Last week, they gave up 29/115/1 to Matt Forte and company - not terrible, but a far cry from a shut-down performance, too. This is an average unit so far during 2008.

Peterson is an all-world back - he and his compatriots on the OL have an edge over the so-so Panthers this week.

Weather: Inside the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, weather won't be an issue for either team.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New York Jets Rushing Offense at San Diego Chargers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Thomas Jones led the Jets to a respectable 21/104/0 on the ground last week, posting 17/70/0 rushing and 2/5/0 receiving during the contest vs. New England, while Leon Washington chipped in with 2/28/0 rushing and 4/22/0 receiving. However, Jones failed to punch in the ball vs. the stalwart Patriots on 3 straight goal-line attempts during the game, highlighting that the new-look OL still has some distance to go before the rushing attack is among the league's elite.

San Diego currently ranks 25th in the NFL averaging 143.5 rushing yards allowed per game, with only 1 rushing TD handed over to date, though. Denver posted 24/145/1 vs. the Chargers last week, marking the second week in a row that a team hung 140+ rushing yards on this unit. Entering week 3, the Chargers' defensive front is very suspect.

Jones and Washington have a good matchup to work with this week.

Weather: Qualcomm Stadium expects typical, near-perfect Southern California weather for Monday Night Football, with a night-time low around 62F and a 10% chance for rain - weather shouldn't be a factor in this matchup if the forecast holds up.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense vs Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Chris Johnson has made a big splash in his first 2 games, with 34/202/0 rushing and 5/46/1 receiving to rank 9th among all fantasy RBs in points per game, while LenDale White has managed 33/99/2 in his time on the field (20th fantasy RB to date). The Titans bring the 6th ranked rushing attack in the league to the table, averaging 157 rushing yards per game to date.

The Texans ranked 19th in rushing yards allowed per game last season (114.1 on average), and were 25th in the league with 15 TDs given up. Dallas posted 27/111/1 rushing against Houston in the 3rd preseason game, which was a walk in the park for the Texans compared to what Pittsburgh had in store for them during week 1 of the regular season. Pittsburgh ran over Houston in week 1 amassing 39/183/3 on the ground. Houston didn't have any answers in this phase of the game during the season opener, folks.

This is a good matchup for the powerful duo of Titan rushers.

Weather: The forecast for LP Field calls for a high of 82F with a low of 59F and a 20% chance for rain on Sunday - weather shouldn't be a big factor in this contest.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense vs Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Clinton Portis made the Redskin's offense go last week, with 21/96/2 rushing and 2/3/0 receiving vs. the Saints (one week after a 23/84/0 rushing performance vs. the Giants). As a team the Redskins rang up 31/149/2 rushing last week (a 4.8 yards-per-carry average) with 6/25/0 belonging to LaDell Betts and 1/27/0 to Santana Moss' credit. The Redskins' offense looked much more impressive in week 2 than it did during week 1.

The Cardinals opened the season allowing a 5.4 yards per carry average on the way to 20/108/1 given up to Frank Gore and the 49ers, but clamped down on the Dolphins in week 2 to limit Ricky Williams and company to 24/72/1 (a 3.0 yards per carry average). The currently rank 10th in the NFL averaging 90 rushing yards allowed per game - they've been mediocre in this phase of the game during 2008.

Portis got a head of steam up last week, and will enjoy home field advantage this week - against the so-so Cardinals, Washington enjoys an edge.

Weather: FedEx Field expects beautiful weather on Sunday, with a high of 75F and a low of 55F with a 20% chance for rain.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense at Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Edgerrin James hasn't been a fantasy powerhouse so far, with 44/155/0 rushing and 1/0/0 receiving to his credit (33rd RB in the land on a points-per-game basis to date). Tim Hightower has jammed in 1 TD in each of the first 2 games, with 18/37/2 rushing and 4/41/0 receiving, landing him at 23rd fantasy RB in the land overall on a points-per-game basis. It looks like James has a serious problem with a "TD Vulture" on his hands from a fantasy perspective. In real NFL terms, the Cards are 2-0 and cruising atop the NFC West, but their running game is lacking substance for fantasy owners due to the way the carries are being assigned right now.

The Redskins are currently 17th in the NFL averaging 104.5 rushing yards allowed per game, with 2 TDs handed over so far. Last week, New Orleans could only scrape up 19/55/1 rushing (a 2.9 yards-per-carry average) - a significant improvement over the week 1 game vs. NYG, when they handed over 32/154/1 in this department. To date, Washington has been up and down in this phase of the game.

The Cardinals are currently 19th in the NFL averaging 95 rushing yards per game - against the up-and-down Redskins, they should be able to crack 100 yards on the ground. This is a neutral matchup between 2 so-so units in our eyes.

Weather: FedEx Field expects beautiful weather on Sunday, with a high of 75F and a low of 55F with a 20% chance for rain.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Matt Forte has come on strong since the start of regular season, with 23/123/1 in the season opener (3/18/0 receiving) and then added 23/92/0 rushing with 3/21/0 receiving in the week 2 contest vs. Carolina. He has grabbed the top job in Chicago (Kevin Jones only toted the ball 1 time for 0 yards last week and didn't catch a pass). It looks like Forte is the featured back entering week 3.

During week 1, Reggie Bush and company posted 27/101/0 rushing against the Buccaneers, and Bush turned eight short passes into big numbers (8/112/1 receiving). Last week, the Bucs clamped down on Atlanta, limiting Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood to 28/105/0 as a team. Right now Tampa is tied for 15th in the NFL averaging 103 rushing yards allowed per game, but have yet to hand over a rushing TD.

Forte has done well to start the season, but will be challenged by a solid Buccaneer defense this week - this matchup looks pretty even as of midweek.

Weather: Soldier Field's forecast for Sunday calls for a high of 77F with a low of 58F and a 20% chance for precipitation - if the forecast holds up, weather won't be an issue for either squad on Sunday.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense vs Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Ryan Grant was limited in effectiveness vs. Detroit, with 15/20/0 to his credit on the ground. Brandon Jackson was the back who got the job done, with 7/61/1 rushing and 1/2/0 receiving - while Grant tries to get his sore hamstring straightened out, it would be no surprise to see Jackson carry more of the load in week 3. We'll see how Grant is able to perform in practices later in the week - right now, Jackson is the back doing the most for the Packers.

Cleveland managed 18/91/0 rushing vs. Dallas inn the season opener (a good 5.1 yards-per-carry average for the Browns), which was followed up by a 23/78/2 performance by Brian Westbrook and company in their Monday Night game this week. Dallas is the 9th ranked rush D through 2 weeks, averaging 84.5 yards allowed per game.

Green Bay is currently 11th in the NFL averaging 131 rushing yards as a team - their RB stable is carrying the load even if Ryan Grant is struggling at the moment. Against the solid Cowboys, this looks like a fairly even matchup.

Weather: Lambeau Field expects a high of 73F and a low of 53F with a 20% chance of rain on Sunday - it should be a nice day to watch and play football.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense at Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Kansas City's offense is in shambles. The team has rushed for 78.5 yards per game on average to date, and hit a new low with 12/22/0 rushing for Larry Johnson last week (1.8 yards per carry) with 19/55/0 as a team. Johnson lashed out in the media following the game, claiming that the team is "phasing him out" and calling for more work. However, given the 3.4 yards per carry average that K.C. sports, more carries may not equate to more fantasy production. Look at your other options until K.C. sorts out their offense, folks.

Atlanta hasn't been stellar in this phase of the game through 2 contests, averaging 113 rushing yards allowed per tilt (20th in the NFL) with 3 rushing scores handed over to date. Tampa pumped in 28/164/2 last week, for a 5.9 yards per carry average. Ouch.

K.C.'s offense is reeling, as is Atlanta's rush D. In the Georgia Dome, this has the feel of a fairly even contest, with neither squad holding an edge over the other.

Weather: Inside the Georgia Dome, weather won't be an issue for either team.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense at Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

New Orleans had a hard time moving the ball against Washington last week, eking out 19/55/1 as a unit (Pierre Thomas had the score, 6/8/1, while Reggie Bush posted 10/28/0 and Deuce McAllister had 2/10/0 in limited action). To date, the Saints are 25th in the NFL averaging 78 rushing yards per contest - they haven't gotten much room to maneuver from the big guys upfront so far.

Denver contained the Chargers to 18/80/0 last week, partly due to LaDainian Tomlinson's toe injury, after being blasted by Oakland for 31/150/0 on opening day. The Broncos have been up and down in this phase during 2008 (and weren't very good during 2007, either).

Denver showed some improvement last week, but they are still far from a shut-down type defense. Two sub-par units clash in this matchup, with neither enjoying a clear edge over the other.

Weather: The forecast for Mile High Stadium calls for a high of 75F with a low of 54F and a 20% chance of rain - perfect fall weather is on tap for this matchup as long as the rain stays away.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense at Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

"At halftime, I told the team, 'Michael Bush is going to win this game for us. Michael Bush is going to be pounding them in the end, and we're going to win this thing running the ball with Mike,' " Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said after the win on Sunday. "And he did it. Pretty good story." The rest of the story is that Justin Fargas was sidelined by a groin injury during the game, and Darren McFadden suffered from turf toe at half-time and was off of the field for the final drive of the game. It's likely that Fargas will miss several weeks recovering from the groin injury, while McFadden's ability to recover from the turf toe is still and open question - McFadden owners will want to monitor his practice participation later in the week. During the game, McFadden posted 21/164/1 rushing and Bush notched 16/90/1 - the Raiders gained 47/300/2 on the ground last week as a team. Assuming Fargas is down this week, McFadden and Bush should be able to carry the load (or just Bush, if McFadden is limited). McFadden was on the sidelines in a protective boot during the Wednesday practice, raising the probability he'll be limited on Sunday.

The Bills have been firm in this phase of the game through 2 contests, averaging 91.5 rushing yards allowed per game and handing over only 1 rushing TD to date. Last week, they contained the Jaguar's talented duo of backs, keeping Jacksonville under 100 yards rushing (27/98/1) with a 3.6 yards per carry allowed average. Buffalo's defense is playing well, folks.

Oakland showed their explosiveness last week - if they can bring 2 of their 3 backs to the party on Sunday, they'll be a handful for the Bills' D. On balance, this looks like a fairly even matchup between high-performing units.

Weather: Ralph Wilson Stadium expects a high of 71F with a low of 52F and a 20% chance of rain on Sunday - near perfect football weather, in other words.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Brian Westbrook continues to be a premier fantasy back this season, currently ranking #1 among all fantasy backs after 2 contests with 37/149/3 rushing and 8/46/2 receiving to his credit. Against the hated divisional rival, Dallas, Westbrook pumped in all 3 of the teams' offensive TDs, with 18/58/2 rushing and 6/45/1 - he is their "money man".

The Steelers are currently 3rd in the NFL averaging 64 rushing yards allowed per game, with 1 rushing score given up to date. Cleveland sputtered to 25/53/0 rushing vs. Pittsburgh last week (a 2.1 yards per carry average). Pittsburgh has one of the elite defensive fronts in the NFL.

Two elite squads clash in this contest - the Steelers are on the road, so home field advantage evens the matchup to "neutral".

Weather: Lincoln Financial Field expects a high of 75F with a low of 54F and a 20% chance of rain on Sunday - weather shouldn't be a big factor in this matchup.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


San Diego Chargers Rushing Offense vs New York Jets Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

"We need to get LT back at full speed, but we do have more playmakers than we had a year ago," coach Norv Turner said on Sunday after the tough loss to Denver. "Mike Tolbert gives us an added dimension inside. Our wide receivers are playing at a high level." Unfortunately for LaDainian Tomlinson's fantasy clubs, his readiness to play this week isn't something we'll know until after he tests his tender toe (much like last week, when he posted 10/26/0 rushing and 2/14/0 receiving in an abbreviated appearance). Darren Sproles (7/53/0 rushing and 2/72/1 receiving) figures to be the man if Tomlinson is unable to perform again this week. As a team, San Diego averages 92.5 rushing yards per game through 2 weeks, 21st in the NFL.

New England managed 33/104/1 rushing vs. the Jets' defensive front last week, bringing the Jets' season average to 76.5 rushing yards allowed per game (6th in the NFL), with 1 rushing score given up to date. The Jets have been up and down in this phase of the game to open 2008.

Neither San Diego or New York has the edge in this contest - we'll see if the Jets' rush defense is for real or not after facing the Chargers on Monday Night Football.

Weather: Qualcomm Stadium expects typical, near-perfect Southern California weather for Monday Night Football, with a night-time low around 62F and a 10% chance for rain - weather shouldn't be a factor in this matchup if the forecast holds up.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense at Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Earnest Graham (15/116/1) and Warrick Dunn (12/49/1) are providing a nice 1-2 punch for the Bucs right now - as a team, the unit is averaging 155 rushing yards per game through 2 weeks, making the Bucs one of the top 10 rushing attacks in the NFL entering week 3. With Brian Griese under center again this week, look for the rushing game to be a big part of the game plan to help Griese manage down and distance.

The Bears coughed up 31/114/2 to the Panthers last week, mostly in the second half, and enter week 3 averaging 83.5 rushing yards allowed per game (with 2 TDs given up in 2 contests). They slipped from their week 1 performance vs. Indy when they held Joseph Addai and company to 15/53/0.

Graham and Dunn are the engines that drive Tampa's attack - against the up and down Bears at Soldier Field, this looks like a neutral matchup between solid teams.

Weather: Soldier Field's forecast for Sunday calls for a high of 77F with a low of 58F and a 20% chance for precipitation - if the forecast holds up, weather won't be an issue for either squad on Sunday.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


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

"Jonathan ran hard," coach John Fox said after Stewart's second half showing vs. Chicago on Sunday (14/77/2 rushing). "It's a guy who we are just learning about. Last week he did some good things. We didn't get a chance to look at him a whole lot in the preseason. I think he'll get better every week. He's a very powerful guy and a hard runner." Stewart powered the Panthers after a tough first half for the squad in which DeAngelo Williams had a hard time getting traction (he finished with 11/31/0 rushing and 1/-6/0 receiving). All told, the Panthers gained 31/114/2 vs. the Bears - a very solid showing when it was all said and done. Currently, the Panthers are 12th in the NFL averaging 128 rushing yards per game.

The Vikings defense found their usual intensity in week 2, stuffing Joseph Addai and company (19/25/1 as a team vs. Minnesota) after opening the season allowing 27/139/1 to the Packers in week 1. The strong showing boosted the Vikings to 7th in the league averaging 82 rushing yards allowed per game to date, more in line with what we've come to expect from Minnesota.

The Panthers' youngster Jonathan Stewart got going last week, but he and DeAngelo Williams have a big test ahead of them in the hostile confines of the Metrodome.

Weather: Inside the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, weather won't be an issue for either team.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Chris Perry bounced back from a weak debut in the season opener to post a respectable 21/64/1 rushing (2/-8/0 receiving) vs. the hard-nosed Titans in week 2. It wasn't an outstanding fantasy performance, but Perry was the only player worth starting from Cincy last week. The Bengals passing attack is seriously bad as of week 3, leaving the team few options but to hand off to Perry often.

The Giants kept Steven Jackson under wraps last week, limiting him to 13/53/0 on the ground (St. Louis managed 16/68/0 as a team). To date, the Giants average 76 rushing yards allowed per game, and have surrendered 0 rushing scores - this is a very solid defensive front, folks.

Perry showed improvement in week 2, but he's got an uphill battle in front of him at Giants' Stadium this week.

Weather: Giants Stadium expects nice fall weather on Sunday, with a high of 74F and a low of 56F and a 20% chance of rain. Weather shouldn't be an issue for either team this week.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Colts' offensive line woes have definitely spilled over onto the field, as Joseph Addai has had little-to-no room to roam over the first 2 games. The Colts are dead last in the NFL averaging 39 yards rushing per game, with a 32nd ranked yards-per-carry average of 2.3. Addai is the 42nd overall fantasy RB, with 27/64/1 rushing and 3/16/0 receiving to his credit so far. That's ugly, folks. Some good news came at mid-week as the team says C Jeff Saturday is ready to get back on the field: "If I were guessing I would say they're [Saturday and TE Dallas Clark, a solid run blocker in his own right - MW] going to play," coach Tony Dungy said Wednesday afternoon. "Jeff is ready to go and kind of felt like he was ready to go last week." We'll see if Saturday and Clark can help open some better holes for Addai and company.

Jacksonville is in the middle of the NFL so far, averaging 106 rushing yards allowed per game, with 2 TDs handed over to date. The Bills ground out 26/75/1 vs. the Jags last week after the stumbled in the opener vs. Tennessee with 32/137/1 allowed to the Titans (a 4.3 yards-per-carry average).

The Colts' rushing attack is in disarray, while the Jaguars' rush defense is just so-so. That still equates to a tough matchup for the disappointing Addai and company.

Weather: Inside Lucas Oil Stadium, weather won't be a worry for either team on Sunday.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


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

24/72/1 represented the combined efforts of the Dolphins' RB stable last week - Ricky Williams eked out 11/28/0 rushing (1/1/0 receiving) while Ronnie Brown posted 11/25/1 rushing and 2/19/0 receiving. The team is currently 29th in the NFL averaging 60.5 rushing yards per game - split between 2 backs, as things were last week, those numbers mean "not much to get excited about" in fantasy terms.

The Patriots allowed 21/104/0 rushing last week, bending but not breaking as is their style - so far this year they average 103 yards allowed per game, but have given up 0 rushing scores to date. When this D gets in the red zone, they hunker down and get stubborn.

Miami has a ho-hum rushing attack, while the Patriots bring a solid unit to the dance - this is a tough matchup for the visiting Dolphins.

Weather: Gillette Stadium should be on the cool side on Sunday, with a high of 66F and a low of 49F and a 20% chance of rain forecast. Neither team should have much trouble due to the weather this weekend.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


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

New England has gone to a complete committee approach this season so far - last week, 5 backs ran the ball vs. New York, with LaMont Jordan leading the team (11/62/0), drastically out-performing Laurence Maroney (8/16/0) and Sammy Morris (8/0/1). As a team, the Patriots managed 33/104/1 (a 3.4 yards per carry average) - they are 19th in the NFL currently averaging 3.8 yards per carry through 2 weeks. Kevin Faulk had 3/16/0 rushing and was second on the team with 4/50/0 receiving in his usual 3rd-down back/change of pace role.

The Dolphins currently 12th in the NFL averaging 96.5 rushing yards allowed per game, with 31/81/1 handed over to the Cardinals last week. Miami isn't making it easy to rush the ball so far, as you can see.

The Patriots have a multi-headed monster that is currently not up to snuff on a per carry basis, while the Dolphins are actually pretty respectable in this phase of the game. Advantage, Miami.

Weather: Gillette Stadium should be on the cool side on Sunday, with a high of 66F and a low of 49F and a 20% chance of rain forecast. Neither team should have much trouble due to the weather this weekend.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Willie Parker ground out 28/105/0 on the way to an old-style 10-6 Pittsburgh victory over Cleveland. No other running back attempted a rush in week 2 (sorry Rashard Mendenhall enthusiasts) - it looks like Parker is firmly back in the saddle as the Steelers' featured runner. He's the 3rd ranked fantasy RB through 2 games, with 53/243/3 rushing to his credit.

The Eagles are currently 1st in the NFL averaging 52 rushing yards allowed per game. They held Marion Barber and company to 24/68/1 on Monday Night Football this week, Barber's TD being the only rushing TD allowed to date. In this phase of the game, Philadelphia is stout.

On the road, Parker and company will have a tough row to hoe in Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.

Weather: Lincoln Financial Field expects a high of 75F with a low of 54F and a 20% chance of rain on Sunday - weather shouldn't be a big factor in this matchup.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


St. Louis Rams Rushing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

"At this point, it's strictly a mindset," Steven Jackson said after the loss on Sunday. "Because I think everyone agrees, I think the New York Giants agree, that they were in a fight for three quarters. (But) I think that in the back of our minds, somewhere in our subconscious, we just feel like we can't pull it off. That's not how it works, and that's not how it needs to be. You have to have that confidence that we can fight and we can play with anybody."

Jackson did what he could to keep the Rams competitive with New York on Sunday, posting a respectable (very respectable, behind his awful OL) yards per carry average of 4.1 (13/53/0) and adding 7/37/0 receiving to his effort. To date, he's been a major disappointment to his fantasy owners, however, ranking 30th in the NFL with 27/93/0 rushing and 10/71/0 receiving. The Rams' offense is really struggling to maintain drives entering week 3.

Seattle is in the middle of the NFL when it comes to rush D, averaging 99.5 yards allowed per game (14th in the league) with 2 rushing TDs handed out in 2 games. Frank Gore and company posted 23/93/1 against the Seahawks last week, right on pace for this so-so unit.

Jackson is a great back who is hampered by personnel problems elsewhere on the squad - on the road in Qwest Stadium, even the Seahawks' middle of the road defensive front is likely to form a tough challenge for the Rams' team.

Weather: Qwest Field expects a high of 67F with a low of 54F and a 20% chance for rain - weather shouldn't be a big factor in this matchup.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Where has the offensive juggernaut of 2007 gone? The Browns have dropped 2 straight games with a mere 16 points scored over 120 minutes of football. Jamal Lewis was limited to 19/38/0 rushing vs. Pittsburgh last week (he added 3/28/0 receiving), and the team could only muster 25/53/0 on the ground. Nothing went well during week 2 for Cleveland. Lewis was limited in practice due to the sore ankle he's been fighting through early in the season - an item to keep an eye on in the late-week practice/injury reports.

The Ravens destroyed Cincinnati's offense during week 1, holding their backs to 23/65/0 on the ground. That showing just continues the usual theme of dominance Baltimore grinds out year after year in this phase of the game - they gave up an average of 79.3 rushing yards per game during 2007 (2nd best in the NFL) with only 9 rushing TDs given up (7th best in the NFL).

Cleveland's team is in disarray entering week 3, and doesn't look ready to deal with the Ravens at home - advantage, Baltimore.

Weather: The forecast calls for a high of 74F and a low of 58F on Sunday, with a 20% chance for rain falling on M and T Bank Stadium - weather shouldn't play a big role during this game.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Houston Texans Rushing Offense at Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Texans' running back by committee was decent in week 1, with 20/75/1 as a unit against the hard-nosed Steelers. Steve Slaton led the way with 13/43/0, while Ahman Green chipped in 5/28/0. Matt Schaub handled the scoring himself, punching in a TD with 2/4/1 rushing. They weren't world-beaters in fantasy terms, but the Texans' backs weren't awful in real-world terms. However, fantasy football is what we care about, and this committee doesn't look inviting from that perspective. In news that will shock no one, Texans' RB Ahman Green was still in a protective boot for his sprained ankle as of last Wednesday, and was not expected to be ready in time to play in the team's week 2 game, cancelled due to Hurricane Ike. With an extra week of rest, Green may perhaps be able to get back in the saddle vs. Tennessee - but then again, he may not. Keep an eye on Green's practice status if you are unfortunate enough to need him in week 3.

Tennessee is the 2nd-ranked rush D after 2 weeks, averaging 60.5 rushing yards allowed per game with only 1 rushing TD given up. Cincinnati managed 28/88/1 last week (a 3.1 yards per carry average) - it isn't easy to rush the ball against this front 7.

The Titans are one of the best rush defenses around this year, while the Texans sport one of the weakest rushing attacks - advantage, Tennessee.

Weather: The forecast for LP Field calls for a high of 82F with a low of 59F and a 20% chance for rain on Sunday - weather shouldn't be a big factor in this contest.

The official NFL injury report with Probable, Questionable, Doubtful and Out designations will be available by Saturday. Please refer to the week 3 injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.