Week 15 Rushing Matchups

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

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


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 Aaron Rodgers 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.


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Cardinals' rushing attack continues to flourish with David Johnson carrying the load - he posted a second solid effort against Minnesota last week, gaining 19/92/0 rushing and 5/31/0 receiving, while Kerwynn Williams struggled to 6/2/0 rushing in a bit role. Over the past two weeks, Johnson has gained 41/191/0 rushing and 7/52/1 receiving in the lead role as the Cardinals' offense continues to win games despite losing Chris Johnson to IR/designated to return and Andre Ellington to a lingering turf toe injury.

This week, Johnson has a dream matchup against the collapsed Philadelphia defensive front. Over the past four weeks, the Eagles have averaged 29.3 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs (second-most in the NFL). Buffalo ran for 32/152/1 at Philadelphia last week; the Eagles allowed 25/103/1 rushing to New England two games back.

This is a great matchup for Johnson and the Cardinals.

Weather: Lincoln Financial Field expects a low of 37 F on Sunday night, with no chance of rain and gentle winds (under 10 MPH). It should be a fine evening for football.

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 (Great Matchup)

Houston lost to Indianapolis back in Week Five, 20-27, but back then Arian Foster was still in action (19/41/0 rushing with 9/77/0 receiving) - since then Foster has been sent to IR and the Texans operate with an extensive committee of backs.

Last week against the Patriots, the committee combined for 22/87/0 rushing, led by Jonathan Grimes' 7/53/0 rushing (and 2/9/0 receiving) while Chris Polk handled 11/34/0 rushing and 2/14/0 receiving). Nobody else on the team got over 5 yards rushing - Alfred Blue was active but is nursing a sore back and didn't log a carry.

The Colts' rush D got stomped for 29/154/2 rushing in Jacksonville last week, after 32/158/0 rushing given up to the Steelers two weeks ago. This is a rush D in crisis, folks. They've been terrible during December.

Advantage, Houston's committee of backs.

Weather: Inside Lucas Oil Stadium weather won't impact either team.

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


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Jaguars took a big bite from the injury bug last week as T.J. Yeldon was forced out of the game vs. Indianapolis with a knee injury, and in an ominous sign for Yeldon owners head coach Gus Bradley refused to update Yeldon's injury status at Monday's press conference. We'll see how Yeldon is classified on Wednesday's injury report, but initial indications are not good here. Denard Robinson did some time as the Jaguars' starting running back last season (135/582/4 rushing with 23/124/0 receiving during 2014 over 13 games played) and had a decent outing in relief of Yeldon vs. Indianapolis (14/75/1 rushing with 1/12/0 receiving), so there is a quality backup to step in here if necessary. This is a developing situation which fantasy owners will want to monitor in Footballguys.com's Players in the News as the weekend approaches.

The Falcons' rush D has averaged 28.1 fantasy points to opposing running backs over the past four weeks - third-most in the NFL during that time span - and gave up a whopping 32/142/2 to the Panthers last weekend even though starter Jonathan Stewart only played one half of football. Tampa hung 37/166/2 rushing on the Falcons two games back - they are very vulnerable in this phase of the game entering week 15.

Advantage, Jacksonville (and Robinson owners).

Weather: Everbank Field expects a high of 70 F on Sunday, with a clear sky and gentle winds (around 5 MPH) - it should be a fine day to play pro football.

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


Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense at San Diego Chargers Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

And here we are once again, with the Dolphins finding an effective running game with Lamar Miller (a 14-yard and a 38-yard TD run in the first half, and then a mere five carries after half-time to wind up with 12/89/2 rushing during the game) but a mysterious reluctance to capitalize on their best offensive weapon. Miller didn't have an explanation when asked why he was under-utilized in the second half, either. Miami wound up with 28/122/2 rushing after handing carries to Jay Ajayi (5/15/0 rushing) and seeing 4/24/0 from Ryan Tannehill.

The Chargers' demolished team lost in K.C.'s sloppy conditions 3-10, allowing 25/150/0 rushing to the Chiefs. This after Denver had 39/134/0 rushing at San Diego. Over the past four weeks, the Chargers' rush D is averaging 16.6 fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs (17th in the NFL), while this year they've averaged 126.5 rushing yards allowed per game (27th in the NFL) and almost one rushing score per game with 12 surrendered over 13 contests.

Advantage, Miami.

Weather: San Diego expects a high of 64 F on Sunday, with clear skies and winds around 5 MPH during the game - near-perfect football weather, in other words.

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


New York Jets Rushing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Chris Ivory ground out 22/101/0 rushing and added 1/6/0 receiving as the counterpoint to Ryan Fitzpatrick's passing last week - Bilal Powell scored a TD in his pass-catching-back role with 3/36/0 rushing and 5/46/1 receiving on the day. These two form a very effective 1-2 punch for the Jets out of the backfield. Look for both to continue in similar roles going forwards.

The Dallas offense held the ball for 22:12 last week, leaving the defense to Aaron Rodgers' tender mercies for 37:48 last week. Yup, they lost, 7-28. Don't blame it on the defense who are playing under very adverse circumstances (and weighed down with mail-it-in performances like Dez Bryant's six targets for 1/9/0 receiving last week). Over the past four weeks, they've averaged 18 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs (12th-most in the NFL), and Green Bay trampled them with 44/230/2 rushing last weekend. Enough said.

Advantage, Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell and the Jets.

Weather: Inside AT&T Stadium weather won't impact either team.

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense at St. Louis Rams Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Doug Martin continued his banner year against the Saints last week, with 11/81/1 rushing and 1/5/0 receiving to his credit. He's one of the most valuable, dual-threat running backs in the NFL entering the stretch run into the playoffs. Start him if you've got him.

The Rams' rush D has averaged 21 fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs per game over the past four weeks (seventh-most in the NFL), giving up 20/111/0 to the Lions' muddled backfield last week and Arizona had 36/175/1 rushing against the Rams two games ago. This is not the stout D we all thought of during August drafts, friends.

Advantage, Tampa Bay.

Weather: Inside the Edward Jones Dome weather won't impact either team.

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


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Carolina ran roughshod over the grounded Falcons last week, with 32/142/2 as a team - Jonathan Stewart ran for 10/75/1 rushing and added 1/14/0 receiving in the first half, but sat out the second stanza due to tweaking his left foot. Mike Tolbert (6/17/0 rushing with 2/13/0 receiving) and Fozzy Whittaker (8/34/1 rushing with 1/-6/0 receiving) toted the rock in the second half while Stewart chilled on the sidelines during a 38-0 rout of Atlanta. Stewart has been wearing a walking boot early this week and his status for this contest at New York is in doubt. Stay tuned to Footballguys.com's Players in the News for the latest information on Stewart's practice status as the weekend approaches.

Speaking of the Giants - they are giving up fantasy points to opposing running backs at a clip of 21.5 points per game over the past four weeks (sixth-most in the NFL), and have averaged 110.2 rushing yards allowed per game this year (16th in the NFL) with 10 rushing scores handed out over 13 games played. Last week, Miami had 22/128/2 rushing against this soft defensive front.

Advantage, Carolina, although it may be Whittaker and Tolbert in a committee for the Panthers at running back this weekend.

Weather: MetLife Stadium expects a high of 47 F and clear skies with mild wind (around 6 MPH on Sunday) - that should be a great day to play some football!

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 (Good Matchup)

Minnesota eked out a 23-20 win over the Bears back in Week Eight, at Soldier Field - Matt Forte had 10/41/0 rushing and 4/28/0 receiving during the contest, while Jeremy Langford posted 12/46/0 rushing.

Last weekend, Forte (10/45/1 rushing with 1/8/0 receiving) and Langford (11/37/0 rushing with 3/27/0 receiving) once again split touches on the football - Forte came out with a TD making his fantasy score superior to what Langford owners received, despite Langford actually having a few more touches on the ball. Get used to this split, folks, as it is here to stay unless one of these guys gets injured.

The Vikings' rush D has averaged 16.9 fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs over the past four weeks (14th in the NFL). Last week, they gave up 29/97/0 rushing to David Johnson and company; two games ago they allowed a whopping 36/173/2 rushing to the Seattle backs. As you can see, this mediocre unit has wobbled up and down the NFL range over the past two weeks - to date, Minnesota is ranked 20th in the NFL averaging 114.4 rushing yards allowed per game, with seven rushing scores given out.

This is a good matchup for the Bears' tandem of backs.

Weather: TCF Bank Stadium expects a high of 31 F on Sunday, with mild winds (3 MPH) - that's really nice weather for Minnesota at this time of year.

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


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Cincinnati's offense ran into a major problem last week, as starting quarterback Andy Dalton fractured the thumb on his throwing hand - he's out for the foreseeable future, and certainly will be on the sidelines for this non-conference game. What that means is that inexperienced A.J. McCarron (22/32 for 280 yards passing, two TDs and two interceptions thrown last week vs. Pittsburgh) will be under center as the starter for Cincinnati this week. Look for the 49ers to stack the box against Jeremy Hill (7/16/0 rushing and 2/8/0 receiving last week at Pittsburgh) and Giovani Bernard (6/40/0 rushing with 3/27/0 receiving in the last game) as they dare McCarron to try and beat them throwing the ball this week.

Usually the 49ers are really good to opposing running backs - they are dead last in the league averaging 30.7 fantasy points allowed to opposing runners over the last four weeks, and are ranked 31st in the NFL averaging 133.2 rushing yards allowed per game, with 16 rushing scores handed out over 13 games played.

However, this isn't a usual week with an inexperienced quarterback getting his first regular-season start.

This looks like a good matchup on paper, but it may be a disaster if McCarron can't pass well enough to push the D back off the line of scrimmage. This is a high-risk matchup for fantasy owners here in Week 15.

Weather: Santa Clara expects a high of around 55 F with cloudy skies and winds under 10 MPH on Sunday - it should be good football weather.

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


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Lions' rushing attack posted 20/111/0 at St. Louis last week - Joique Bell (7/50/0 rushing and 2/25/0 receiving) and Ameer Abdullah (7/23/0 rushing with 2/21/0 receiving) had an equal number of touches on the ball in this running-back-by-committee that has disappointed fantasy owners consistently throughout the year. Try to look somewhere else for your playoff starters as the Lions' stable is A). inconsistent and B). unpredictable.

The Saints' dumpster-fire season had a bright spot last week as they played spoiler to the young Buccaneers' squad - Tampa Bay had 19/115/1 rushing in this phase of the game, though, so it's not like New Orleans shut down Doug Martin and company. Two games ago Carolina piled up 34/175/1 rushing at New Orleans. Over the past four weeks, the Saints were fourth-most-generous in fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, averaging 24.7 given out per contest.

Advantage, Detroit, but see the disclaimer above if you consider any one of their individual running backs this week.

Weather: Inside the Louisiana Superdome weather won't impact either team.

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)

Indianapolis won at Houston back in Week Five, 27-20, posting 30/110/1 rushing as a team. Gore went 22/98/1 rushing during that contest.

Since then, Gore has been up and down in performance - two games ago he had 13/45/0 rushing and 3/49/1 receiving against Pittsburgh, followed up by 16/60/0 rushing with 1/-1/0 receiving at Jacksonville last week. Dan Herron chipped in 4/16/0 rushing and 2/5/0 receiving at Jacksonville in a change of pace role. The Colts' offense has been sputtering of late.

The Texans' rush D gave up 31/116/1 to the Patriots last week, after allowing Buffalo to grind out 36/187/1 rushing two weeks ago. To date, Houston is ranked 19th in the NFL averaging 114.2 rushing yards allowed per game, with 10 rushing scores handed out. They've been sub-par in this phase of the game most of the year.

Advantage, Indianapolis.

Weather: Inside Lucas Oil Stadium weather won't impact either team.

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 (Good Matchup)

Minnesota eked out a 23-20 win over the Bears back in Week Eight, at Soldier Field - Adrian Peterson gained 20/103/0 rushing with 2/6/0 receiving during the victory.

Peterson hasn't gone over 100 yards combined for two straight games now, but did find the end zone last week (23/69/1 rushing with 1/17/0 receiving) after his embarrassing 8/18/0 rushing with 4/6/0 receiving effort vs. Seattle two weeks ago. Against the top defenses in the NFL, Peterson is looking like an ordinary NFL back.

Luckily for Peterson owners still in the fantasy playoffs, Chicago is not a top rush D. They have averaged 20.1 fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs over the past four weeks (eighth-most in the NFL) and last week Chicago coughed up 33/99/2 rushing to the Washington committee of backs - San Francisco posted 23/121/2 rushing at Soldier Field two games ago.

This looks like a good matchup for Peterson and the Vikings (by extension, as their offense flows through Peterson).

Weather: TCF Bank Stadium expects a high of 31 F on Sunday, with mild winds (3 MPH) - that's really nice weather for Minnesota at this time of year.

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


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense vs Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Tim Hightower proved he has something left in the tank against the Buccaneers last week, posting 28/85/1 rushing with 1/10/0 receiving to his credit. C.J. Spiller proved that not even a golden opportunity to re-establish himself as a credible NFL running back would be seized upon as he had more rushes (three) than yards rushing (two). Hightower is the guy going forwards here - Spiller is a lost cause for this year (and perhaps his career is nearing an end).

The Lions' rush D gave up the game to Todd Gurley last week (29/203/2 rushing by the Rams last week, with 16/140/2 allowed to Gurley). They had been solidifying as a unit up until the second half last week, but the Lions' losing ways re-asserted themselves. We'll see if they can bounce back now that they are officially eliminated from playoff contention at 4-9.

This looks like a good matchup for the hard-driven Hightower.

Weather: Inside the Louisiana Superdome weather won't impact either team.

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


Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

These deep South teams are moving in opposite directions this season - the Jaguars are bootstrapping themselves into contention in the AFC/AFC South, while the Falcons are plummeting out of contention in the NFC. Atlanta's sputtering offense stalled out in Carolina last week, as the team was shut out by the Panthers 0-38. As a team, the Falcons ran for 16/54/0 rushing, while Devonta Freeman managed 12/40/0 rushing and 3/22/0 receiving as the 'lead' back. He's struggled to run the ball consistently since returning from his concussion (14/47/0 rushing with 10/56/0 receiving against Tampa Bay two weeks ago) as the Falcons' offense has stalled out.

The Jaguars' rush D has allowed the eighth-least fantasy points per game in the league to opposing rushers over the past four weeks, averaging 13.6 given up per contest. To date, Jacksonville is 13th in the NFL averaging 102.4 rushing yards allowed per game, with 11 rushing scores handed over, but they got back on top of this phase of the game against the Colts last week, holding Indianapolis to 23/95/0 rushing one week after Tennessee embarrassed this unit with 35/210/2 rushing. The Jaguars have been up and down against opposing running backs of late.

This looks like a neutral matchup for the crumbling Atlanta offense.

Weather: Everbank Field expects a high of 70 F on Sunday, with a clear sky and gentle winds (around 5 MPH) - it should be a fine day to play pro football.

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


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense at Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

LeSean McCoy is on a tear - he's handled between 19-21 rushes in each of the last four games, with 80/338/1 rushing and 13/107/1 receiving during that time span, while his backups Karlos Williams and Mike Gillislee have combined for 18/81/1 rushing and 2/11/0 receiving. Fantasy owners of McCoy will be quick to remember last week at Philadelphia when Gillislee (3/24/1 rushing with 1/6/0 receiving) was handed a TD in lieu of McCoy (20/74/0 rushing with 4/35/0 receiving), but hand offs to the backups have been relatively rare during the past month. This is McCoy's rushing attack, folks.

The Washington rush D is ranked 24th in the NFL this season, averaging 121.3 rushing yards allowed per game, with seven rushing scores given out. Over the past four weeks, this unit is in the middle of the NFL (20th) averaging 16 fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs per game - last week, Chicago managed 22/87/1 rushing when Washington came calling at Soldier Field.

This is a neutral matchup for the visiting Bills.

Weather: FedEx Field expects a high of around 46 F on Sunday, with clear skies and winds around 5 MPH - near perfect football weather!

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


New England Patriots Rushing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Patriots took another blow to their running back stable when LeGarrette Blount was lost for the rest of the season last week due to a hip injury. The team is down to Brandon Bolden (35/110/0 rushing with 10/127/2 receiving) and James White (16/41/2 rushing and 26/248/2 receiving over the course of the season), though they did sign Montee Ball to the practice squad (but he's reportedly way out of football shape at over 240 pounds). There are rumors as of Wednesday that the Patriots might take a look at Steven Jackson, but nothing is a done deal there as of press time. Keep an eye on Footballguys.com's Players in the News as the week goes along as this is a developing and fluid situation, but if no major signings are reported then it looks like Bolden will be the first- and second-down back with White remaining in the change-of-pace/pass-catching back role.

The Titans' rush D has averaged 17.8 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs over the past four weeks (13th-most in the NFL), with 34/183/0 rushing given out to the Jets last week after giving up 21/81/1 rushing to Jacksonville two games ago. They are moving in the wrong direction in this phase of the game right now.

This looks like a neutral matchup between two sub-par units.

Weather: Gillette Stadium expects a high of 40 F with clear skies and winds around 10 MPH on Sunday - as long as the winds don't gust too high, it should be a fine day to play some football.

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


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Latavius Murray hit the wall known as the Denver rush D last week (16/27/0 rushing during the game) and has been up and down markedly over the past four weeks with two games under 30 yards rushing but also two near 100 yards combined. He's dependent on playing a vulnerable opponent for decent fantasy outings at this point in the season.

The Packers have allowed an average of 16.7 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs over the past four weeks, ranking 16th in the NFL during that time span. To date, the Packers are 23rd in the NFL averaging 116.4 rushing yards allowed per game, with 11 rushing scores handed out so far. Last week, they gave up 20/171/1 rushing to the Cowboys; two weeks ago Detroit rang up 25/101/0 rushing against this defense.

This is a neutral matchup for the sputtering Murray.

Weather: Oakland's Black Hole expects a high of 50 F on Sunday, with overcast skies and gentle winds (under 10 MPH). It should be a fine day to play some football!

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


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The return of Ryan Mathews from concussion heralded the return of an extensive running-back-by-committee in the Eagles' backfield. Mathews led the team in rushing attempts with 13/38/0 and added 2/4/0 receiving; DeMarco Murray posted 11/34/0 rushing and 2/3/0 receiving; and Darren Sproles scored the rushing TD with 7/41/1 rushing and 2/4/0 receiving. It looks like the Eagles aren't going to settle on a featured back, at least not in time for it to matter to fantasy owners (if ever).

The Cardinals rush D is in the middle of the NFL range, averaging 16.9 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs over the past four weeks (15th in the NFL). They are fifth in the NFL to date, averaging 87.7 rushing yards allowed per game, with eight rushing scores handed out over 13 contests. Last week, Adrian Peterson and the Vikings managed 24/72/1 rushing at Arizona.

This looks like a neutral matchup for the entire committee of Eagles' backs, but none of them looks terribly attractive from an individual standpoint.

Weather: Lincoln Financial Field expects a low of 37 F on Sunday night, with no chance of rain and gentle winds (under 10 MPH). It should be a fine evening for football.

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


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Thomas Rawls went down to a broken ankle last weekend; Marshawn Lynch remains sidelined due to sports hernia surgery; and Fred Jackson (7/15/0 rushing with 1/8/0 receiving last weekend vs. Baltimore) will remain the change-of-pace back in Seattle according to the coaching staff. That means that newly-signed Bryce Brown (226/1,004/6 rushing and 37/316/0 receiving during this NFL career) will be the 'featured' running back for Seattle during the final weeks of regular season. The question is, how 'featured' will he be with Russell Wilson throwing an incredible 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions over the past four games? Time will tell, but it looks like Brown will not have to face any stacked boxes.

The Browns' rush D is in the middle of the NFL range over the past four weeks, averaging 16.2 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs (19th in the NFL). They limited the off-again 49ers to 17/71/0 rushing last week, while Cincinnati blasted them with 33/144/2 rushing two games ago. This is an up-and-down unit that checks in at 29th in the NFL for the 2015 season averaging 131.3 rushing yards allowed per game, with 11 rushing scores handed out over 13 contests.

This looks like a neutral matchup for a newly-signed running back still learning the offense in Seattle.

Weather: Seattle expects temperatures of around 45 F with light drizzle and winds around 8 MPH on Sunday - that's nice weather for this venue in December!

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


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

In aggregate, the Washington rushing attack was in a good place last week, with 33/99/2 as a team. Unfortunately for Matt Jones owners (18/62/0 rushing with 2/24/0 receiving vs. Chicago), the committee system in place meant that the ineffective Alfred Morris (11/24/1) garnered the rushing TD that the running backs generated - Kirk Cousins snarfed up the other one with 4/13/1 to his credit. As usual, the fantasy points were unpredictably spread out among the Washington ball carriers last week.

The Bills' rush D has been unusually generous over the past four weeks, averaging 20 fantasy points per game given out to opposing running backs (ninth-most in the NFL during that time span). To date Buffalo is 14th in the NFL averaging 104.9 rushing yards allowed per game, with nine rushing scores given up. Last week, Philadelphia posted 34/116/1 rushing vs Buffalo; two games ago Houston managed 26/126/0 rushing at Buffalo.

This is a neutral matchup, but the committee approach in place for Washington this season makes Jones and Morris a dice throw from week to week.

Weather: FedEx Field expects a high of around 46 F on Sunday, with clear skies and winds around 5 MPH - near perfect football weather!

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


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

C.J. Anderson's ankle wouldn't let him play last weekend (he was active but only as an emergency option) - Ronnie Hillman was uninspiring as the lead back posting a mediocre 12/20/0 rushing but saved his PPR-league owners with 7/41/0 receiving. Juwan Thompson was a non-factor with 5/8/0 rushing and 4/28/0 receiving. Stay tuned to Footballguys.com's Players in the News for the latest on Anderson's practice participation as the weekend approaches - Hillman and Thompson didn't show us much during Week 14.

The Steelers have been in the middle of the NFL over the past four weeks, averaging 16.5 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs. Last week, Cincinnati managed 16/64/0 rushing vs Pittsburgh; they held Indianapolis' banged-up stable to 18/54/0 rushing two games ago.

This is a tough matchup for the Broncos - downgrade it to bad if Anderson can't go.

Weather: Heinz Field expects a high of expects a high of around 43 F on Sunday, with partly-cloudy skies and winds around 5 MPH - that's nice weather for mid-December in Pennsylvania.

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


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense at Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Eddie Lacy (24/124/1 rushing with 1/24/0 receiving) and James Starks (11/71/1 rushing with 4/32/1 receiving) destroyed the Cowboys with 44/230/2 rushing last weekend. The entire Green Bay offense seemed re-energized with Mike McCarthy resuming the role of play-caller on game-day. He's got the 'secret sauce' that few other coaches have at this level. We'll see if the outburst continues here in Week 15 now that Lacy has played his way out of the coaches' doghouse.

The Raiders' D somehow engineered an upset victory of Denver last weekend, despite an offense that only generated eight first downs and held the ball 24:02. Now that's some Defense, folks! Denver could only eke out 21/34/0 in this phase of the game; Kansas City posted 22/89/2 rushing at the Raiders two games ago, though. This up-and-down unit has averaged 12.7 fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs over the past four weeks (fourth-least in the NFL) - the K.C. performance looks like an outlier here.

This is a tough matchup for the visiting Packers.

Weather: Oakland's Black Hole expects a high of 50 F on Sunday, with overcast skies and gentle winds (under 10 MPH). It should be a fine day to play some football!

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


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Spencer Ware took a hard shot to his ribs last weekend, and enters Week 15 'bruised, swollen, and in pain.', according to reports out of K.C. - this despite avoiding any fractures to his rib cage. It looks like Charcandrick West (10/54/0 rushing vs. San Diego last week in miserable, wet-and-muddy conditions) will be back in as the 'featured' running back for K.C. during Week 15 unless Ware has a sudden and dramatic improvement between now and Sunday's game.

The Ravens' rush D has averaged just 11.7 fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs over the past four weeks (third-least in the NFL during that time span). Seattle posted 36/123/0 rushing at Baltimore last weekend; two weeks ago Miami managed 26/137/0 rushing vs. Baltimore. Note the lack of rushing TDs, friends - the Ravens have given out just six rushing scores over 13 games, while averaging 99.5 yards rushing allowed per game this season (11th in the NFL). This is one tough defensive front to crack.

Advantage, Baltimore.

Weather: Baltimore expects a high of expects a high of around 46 F on Sunday, with clear skies and winds around 8 MPH - nice football weather for Maryland this weekend.

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


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense vs Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

DeAngelo Williams continues his 'Don't You Forget About Me' tour 2015, posting 23/76/2 rushing and 2/15/0 receiving against the Bengals quality D in last week's win. He's punched in five rushing scores over his last five games (two Week Nine, one Week 12, and two last week) and is a threat to score in any contest. He's a quality fantasy starter also due to his good receiving skills (17/204/0 receiving during that same five game span).

The Broncos' rush D has allowed the fifth-least fantasy points per game to opposing running backs over the past four weeks (12.7) - last week, Oakland had 23/27/0 rushing; San Diego managed just 23/93/0 rushing vs. Denver two games ago.

This is a tough matchup, even for a quality fantasy back like Williams.

Weather: Heinz Field expects a high of expects a high of around 43 F on Sunday, with partly-cloudy skies and winds around 5 MPH - that's nice weather for mid-December in Pennsylvania.

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


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Shaun Draughn led the 49ers in rushing last week, but unfortunately he only got 11 carries to test the Cleveland defensive front (11/43/0 rushing with 2/8/0 receiving). This is still a cobbled-together offense using other team's spare parts, folks, and that makes it variable in results from week-to-week. Draughn is still the lead back here (Travaris Cadet had 2/6/0 rushing and 2/28/0 receiving in a change-of-pace role last weekend).

The Bengals' D will need to elevate their game this week with an untested new starter, A.J. McCarron, at quarterback. They allowed 28/84/2 rushing to the Steelers last week; two games ago Cleveland managed 19/68/0 rushing as a team against Cincinnati. Over the past four weeks, the Bengals average 13.7 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs, ninth-least in the NFL.

This looks like a tough matchup for the journeyman Draughn.

Weather: Santa Clara expects a high of around 55 F with cloudy skies and winds under 10 MPH on Sunday - it should be good football weather.

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


St. Louis Rams Rushing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Todd Gurley got his groove back against the Lions, rewarding his fantasy owners with 16/140/2 rushing and 1/7/0 receiving during the game as the Rams posted 29/203/2 rushing during the 21-14 win. Tavon Austin helped out with 4/40/0 rushing, and backup running backs Benny Cunningham (3/14/0 rushing with 1/8/0 receiving) and Tre Mason (4/7/0 rushing and 2/1/0 receiving) also made cameo appearances. We'll see if Gurley can keep up the good work for his fantasy owners here in fantasy playoffs.

The Tampa Bay D is averaging 15.3 fantasy points allowed to opposing fantasy backs over the past four weeks, 12th-least in the league during that time-frame. New Orleans managed 35/87/1 rushing at Tampa last week, while Devonta Freeman and company were limited to 18/64/0 rushing two games ago. This is a hard-nosed defensive front as of Week 15.

This looks like a tough matchup for Gurley and company.

Weather: Inside the Edward Jones Dome weather won't impact either team.

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


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Ravens' offense was shut down by the Seahawks, especially in the rushing phase of the game - you don't win many games with 14/28/0 rushing as a team. Javorius Allen was completely stymied with 8/14/0 rushing (he did add 5/44/0 receiving) while Terrance West eked out 5/16/0 rushing in a change-of-pace role. We'll see if Allen can bounce back, but the team looks likely to stick with Jimmy Clausen at quarterback if newly-signed Ryan Mallett isn't up to speed in the offense (Matt Schaub's chest injury is likely to keep him on the sidelines again this week). We all saw how well this offense functioned with Clausen at the controls last weekend.

The Chiefs' defense has averaged 13.5 fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs over the past four weeks (seventh-least allowed in the NFL during that time span) - for the season, K.C. has averaged 92.2 rushing yards allowed per game (seventh-best in the NFL) with just six rushing scores allowed all year. Last week, San Diego eked out 18/44/0 rushing as a team at Arrowhead Stadium.

This is a bad matchup for the home-team Ravens.

Weather: Baltimore expects a high of expects a high of around 46 F on Sunday, with clear skies and winds around 8 MPH - nice football weather for Maryland this weekend.

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


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Cleveland found their rushing attack with Johnny Manziel presenting a legitimate threat to throw the ball - head coach Mike Pettine awkwardly explained the sudden burst of productivity on Isaiah Crowell's part (20/145/2 rushing with 1/9/0 receiving) after the game: 'We felt good about the run plan and the matchup. Thought we matched up and then there were some thing schematically we thought we could take advantage of, especially in some of the spread run game. The drawings on paper only go so far. The guys executed. I thought we blocked well. I thought our backs ran hard. They kind of set the tempo. First couple runs of the game, they werenít blocked for much. They were breaking tackles and our guys ran hard.' Crowell now has run for 31/207/2 rushing and had 2/11/0 receiving over the past two games - too little, too late for most fantasy owners but there is hope for dynasty owners next season. And Crowell comes into Week 15 hot for those teams still rostering him. HOWEVER -

This week the Browns clash with the blistering hot Seattle Seahawks. Seattle has allowed a mere 9.8 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs over the past four weeks (second-least in the NFL) and stuffed Baltimore's journeymen in this phase of the game last week (14/28/0 rushing as a team). There is no team playing stronger right now, and this week Seattle is at home in the ThunderDome (aka. CenturyLink Field). It is hard to execute your offense at the decibel levels on the field in Seattle.

This looks like a bad matchup for a suspect rushing attack, despite the good game last week against the tarnished gold-and-red players from Santa Clara.

Weather: Seattle expects temperatures of around 45 F with light drizzle and winds around 8 MPH on Sunday - that's nice weather for this venue in December!

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


Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense vs New York Jets Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Darren McFadden has had some nice runs sprinkled into his two-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust collisions with the opposing defensive fronts over the past two weeks (but he's scored exactly one rushing TD over his past seven games), posting 14/53/1 rushing and 1/6/0 receiving against Washington, and then 9/111/0 rushing at Green Bay.

However, this week Dallas hosts the Jets' top-ranked rush D. The Jets average 13.5 fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs over the past four weeks (sixth-least in the NFL) and are ranked first in the NFL averaging 78.9 rushing yards allowed per game, with TWO rushing scores given up over 13 games (that's the least in the NFL by far). Tennessee had 13/24/0 rushing at the Jets last week.

This is a bad matchup for the mostly-dysfunctional Dallas offense.

Weather: Inside AT&T Stadium weather won't impact either team.

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


New York Giants Rushing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

New York managed 32/92/0 rushing at Miami. They FINALLY handed the ball off to Rashad Jennings a majority of the time, and he posted 22/81/0 rushing and 2/21/0 receiving to go over 100 yards combined for the first time this season (but he still has just one rushing score and one receiving score to show for his 162 touches on the football this year). If the Giants have truly settled on a starting/featured running back then Jennings may help out a fantasy team that got bit by the injury bug last week - but be cautious as they've preferred an ineffective committee over trusting Jennings for the bulk of the year.

The Panthers bring the league's most-stingy rush D to this party - over the past four weeks, the Panthers are least-generous in the NFL averaging 8.4 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs. Last week, Atlanta was blanked 0-38 and had a mere 16/54/0 rushing. The Panthers' defense is operating at a shut-down level here in December.

This is a bad matchup for the Giants' backs, whoever actually gets handed the football here in Week 15.

Weather: MetLife Stadium expects a high of 47 F and clear skies with mild wind (around 6 MPH on Sunday) - that should be a great day to play some football!

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


San Diego Chargers Rushing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Chargers' offense was mired in the mud at K.C. last week, and only managed a field goal to go with 18/44/0 rushing as a team. The wheels have come off and the engine has fallen out of this team during the past few weeks - they've lost three of their last four games and only scored a single field goal in all three of those losses. YIKES fantasy owners! Stay away from here during fantasy playoffs. None of these backs are worth plugging in right now - Melvin Gordon led the team with 14/35/0 rushing and 4/28/0 receiving last week, while Danny Woodhead saw 3/5/0 rushing and 3/8/0 receiving (and dropped the potentially game-tying TD at the buzzer).

The Dolphins' rush D has averaged 19.5 fantasy points allowed per game over the past four weeks (10th-most in the NFL) and gave up 32/92/0 rushing to the Giants last weekend. But this matchup really isn't about Miami.

The Chargers' injury riddled team is just about impotent in this phase of the game right now, friends.

Weather: San Diego expects a high of 64 F on Sunday, with clear skies and winds around 5 MPH during the game - near-perfect football weather, in other words.

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


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense at New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Titans' running backs didn't get much chance to run vs the Jets (13/24/0 rushing as a team) - Antonio Andrews had 4/8/0 rushing and 1/6/0 receiving. The team lost Dexter McCluster to a broken wrist, so they are down to Andrews and David Cobb (two rushes for one yard last week) and the already-rejected Bishop Sankey (didn't touch the football last week). This is a dire situation entering Week 15. Stay away in your league playoffs!

The Patriots' rush D is ranked 10th in the NFL this season averaging 98.6 rushing yards allowed per game, with eight rushing scores given up to date. Last week, they allowed 22/87/0 rushing in Houston; two weeks ago they held Philadelphia to 33/128/0 rushing. They had a bad game at Denver three weeks back, but the Patriots have tightened down their defense considerably since then.

This is a bad matchup for the Titans.

Weather: Gillette Stadium expects a high of 40 F with clear skies and winds around 10 MPH on Sunday - as long as the winds don't gust too high, it should be a fine day to play some football.

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