Week 2 Rushing Matchups

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

Jump to Passing Matchups

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

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.

Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense vs New York Jets Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Marshawn Lynch looked terrific in his return to the NFL and in his first game in Oakland. Facing a very difficult matchup against Tennessee, Lynch continued with his physical running style to run for 76 yards on 18 carries. This is a great spot for Lynch to be in as he has the second best run-blocking offensive line according to Matt Bitonti and is in a passing offense where he is not the focal point of the defense.

The Jets struggled in week one against the run as the Bills were able to run all over the Jets in this game. The loss of Sheldon Richardson may be having an impact as the Jets allowed 190 yards rushing in this game which was the most in week one. This was against another very good run-blocking offensive line in the Buffalo Bills as the defensive line for the Jets and could see similar problems this week going up against Oakland. One of the big problems for the Jets was the play of the linebackers Darron Lee and Demario Davis as the Jets released David Harris in the offseason and appear to missing him. Lee is an undersized linebacker which could cause issues for the Jets in this game as he gives up almost 20 pounds to Marshawn Lynch.

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

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

Tarik Cohen was one of the bright spots in week one as the dynamic running back was used as a receiver and a shifty running back in what was a relative surprise. While it can not be expected that Cohen will average 8.6 yards per touch every week it shows his dynamic ability to change the game each week. Jordan Howard was the most impacted by Cohen’s breakout game as the 2016 second leading rusher saw only 13 carries in this game. This may have been a product of Kyle Long’s injury as the team wanted to run the ball outside the tackles instead of running up the middle with the three-time pro bowl guard.

Despite boasting two tackle-hungry vultures in their front seven, the Buccaneers were routinely gashed by opposing running games in 2016. Of their 16 opponents last year, 12 topped 100 ground yards, so Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen carry a strong Week 2 outlook. Tampa Bay’s front line is built for penetration and pass-rushing and lacks a true nose tackle to control gaps, leaving most of the run-stuffing burden on the linebackers at the second level. It doesn’t help that stud defensive tackle McCoy was slowed late in the preseason by a groin injury. The Bears offensive line may struggle in a vacuum, but even marginal play should create plenty of cutback lanes for Howard to use.

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

Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense at Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Packers rushing offense was held to only 84 yards on 28 attempts last week, with 21 of those yards coming from Aaron Rodgers. It was tough to find room to run, but the Packers did very clearly establish that Ty Montgomery is their lead back—affording him all but two of the 21 total carries while Montgomery saw the field on 74 of 82 snaps. Last week was a very difficult matchup for Montgomery against the Seahawks, which helps to explain why he only could muster 2.8 yards per carry.

This week, Montgomery draws a much-improved rushing match up against a Falcons team that ranked as one of the worst against the run in 2016. The Falcons allowed the Bears to average 6.6 yards per carry on their way to 125 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown last week, showing that we may expect more of the same in 2017. Falcons addition Dontari Poe played well on the interior, but Montgomery bounces quite a few runs to the outside, which will challenge the Falcons defensive ends and linebackers.

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

Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense vs Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Kareem Hunt is the talk of the fantasy world, of course, after shredding the Patriots to open the 2017 season. Hunt racked up 246 scrimmage yards on just 22 touches, averaging a silly 8.71 per rush. He’ll probably never be that good again, but why not? Hunt’s explosiveness and open-field speed last Thursday weren’t necessarily flukes. He averaged a stout 6.32 yards per rush as a workhorse at Toledo, with 44 touchdowns on the ground. The dual-threat dynamism wasn’t oddball, either – Hunt caught 41 passes for 403 yards as a senior. A quick, patient gap-shooter, he’s an ideal runner in Kansas City’s scheme, which incorporates plenty of zone blocking to create space. (Hunt looks like a sizeable upgrade in this sense on Spencer Ware, who was a fairly lumbering power back.) This offensive line is built for that type of blocking, so Hunt seems primed to keep rolling more weeks than not. It would be foolhardy to project a run at 250 scrimmage yards again, but fair to expect him to maximize his opportunity and produce alongside most of the top 10 fantasy backs.

The Eagles’ strong 2016 run defense carried over into Week 1 of 2017, so rookie sensation Kareem Hunt won’t have an easy time replicating his debut. The Eagles allowed just nine rushing touchdowns last year, and only nine teams allowed more overall fantasy points to backs. That said, they’re not invincible, and they can be beaten on the ground. Late last season, 3 zone-blocking teams (Washington, Baltimore, N.Y. Giants) posted consecutive successful games against Philadelphia, averaging 124.0 ground yards and running for 3 touchdowns. Granted, the Eagles shut down the Washington running backs just last week (34 yards on 13 rushes), so they’re certainly not some rock-solid opponent to target. It’s just worth noting that Kansas City’s blocking strength – and that of their dazzling new lead back – works against what the Eagles run defense typically offers.

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

Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Melvin Gordon’s Week 1 kicked off beautifully, with 21- and 5-yard runs off the left side of the line, where the team looks strong behind Russell Okung and Matt Slauson. But he stalled soon after, failing to generate anything of note up the middle. The Chargers’ interior line would be in better shape had second-round guard Forrest Lamp not torn his ACL during camp. As it stands, Gordon will need better line play to reach his true heights, but he’s a volume dominator who flashes plenty of dynamism. Dating back to the start of 2016, he’s forced missed tackles at a higher rate than Ezekiel Elliott and created more breakaway runs than David Johnson.

The Chargers run unit isn’t a particularly consistent group, but it could find easy sledding in Week 2. Last year’s Dolphins were thoroughly gashed by the run – 14 of their 17 opponents topped 100 ground yards (including 7 that topped 160), and only the 49ers gave up a higher per-rush average. They did clamp down nicely near the goal line, allowing just 4 of their opponents’ 17 rushes from inside the 5 to score. But overall, this was a unit to target weekly, and it’s hard to find an area that improves much entering 2017. Star safety Reshad Jones returns to action, which is nice, but likely too little to provide a massive boost. They’ll be forced to lean heavily upon 31-year-old Lawrence Timmons, who’s slowed noticeably over the years, on running downs.

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

Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jay Ajayi broke out in a big way in 2016, of course, averaging 105.0 rushing yards over his 11 starts. But it’s worth noting just how sporadic his excellence was. A whopping 49.1% of his rushing yardage came across his three 200-yard games, and he failed to top 4.0 yards per rush in 6 of his 15 contests. The Miami offensive line was extremely inconsistent and again looks a bit overmatched, and it’s worth noting that Laremy Tunsil, who excelled at guard last season, will kick outside to left tackle in 2017. That would again leave the line undermanned on the interior. Still, we can’t merely turn up our noses at Ajayi’s 2016 dynamism, and while the Chargers run defense is improving, it may be wise not to overthink this matchup. He’s probably locked into a floor around 65-70 ground yards, which would likely help make for a solid (if low-end) RB1 performance.

The Chargers run defense is generally stout: in 2016 they allowed the league’s seventh-lowest yard-per-rush average, and they held 9 of their 16 opponents under 100 yards. But it fell apart down the stretch and was simply caved in by six of its final seven, and it was ground down by C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles in the second half of Week 1. The absence of Denzel Perryman was felt in the opener, and the team will work to adjust without him for the better part of the season. Also troubling here is the fact that this unit can’t seem to keep opposing backs out of the end zone. Dating back to the start of last year, they’ve allowed the third-most rushing touchdowns (1.24 a game) in the league. Much of that stems from their goal-line defense, which has given up touchdowns from inside the 5-yard line at a high rate (54.8%, third-worst). The Dolphins don’t project to spend a ton of time at the Chargers’ goal line Sunday, but whenever they do, we have to like Jay Ajayi’s chances of scoring.

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

New England Patriots Rushing Offense at New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

There’s little “figuring out” the Patriots backfield in fantasy terms, but it was encouraging to see them commit so hard to the run in Week 1. Despite losing by 15 points, they registered 35 rushes – 49% of their offensive snaps. Their success was mixed – lead rusher Mike Gillislee managed just 3.0 yards per rush, but punched in 3 short touchdowns, while James White looked ho-hum while running from passing sets. It was nice to see them generate so many short-touchdown opportunities, but discouraging that they converted just five of their nine short-yardage chances overall. Still, this line remains solid, and there should be better days ahead. There will be more room on the weeks they’re able to stretch the field vertically and/or face tired defenses. When you’re forecasting this backfield, use Vegas for help – from 2014-16, LeGarrette Blount added 20% more yards per rush and saw a 10% higher touchdown rate when favored by 4.5 or more.

The New Orleans run defense is better than it’s given credit for. Still, the unit tends to suffer from the breakneck pace of Saints games, and like the pass defense it often gasses and falters late. That was never more apparent than in Week 1, when Vikings rookie Dalvin Cook rattled off 33- and 32-yard runs in the fourth quarter to essentially clinch the game. They tend to allow a lot of touchdowns on the ground as well, which bodes great fantasy-wise for opponents who find themselves in scoring position often. The Patriots likely won’t test their interior run defense much, but could find big lanes outside the tackle box – and find the end zone with regularity.

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

Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

LeVeon Bell was surprisingly erased from the Steelers’ Week 1 win over the Browns. Steelers backs in general have run roughshod over their rivals in recent years, but much of that dominance has been script-related, and this game stayed closer than expected. Bell’s actual performance, which was dicey, can largely be chalked up to rust or conditioning issues related to his holdout, and he’ll certainly bounce back from his 3.2-yard Week 1 average. His line is still elite, and he’s in no danger of a timeshare – on top of the fact that he boasts a 4.80 per-carry mark over 34 games since his rookie year. But expectations must be held in check while he works into game shape. Bell’s calling card – his otherworldly patience and flexibility into holes – probably needs a few weeks to re-assemble fully.

The improving Vikings run defense was on full display last Monday, thoroughly erasing Mark Ingram’s and Adrian Peterson’s early-down presences from the Saints’ game plan. This unit isn’t the most consistently dominant – 9 of their last 11 opponents have run for 94 yards or more – but they boast great personnel and took a sizeable step forward in Week 1. The defensive line is as stout as they come, and they hold elite athleticism at linebacker. They cede a decent amount of yardage, so LeVeon Bell’s production outlook is solid, but only two teams allowed fewer rushing touchdowns last year.

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

Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Seahawks running backs simply could not get anything going on the ground against the Packers in Week 1, rushing for a combined 53 yards on 15 carries, with Russel Wilson actually leading the team in rushing. With Thomas Rawls inactive, the Seahawks basically chose to avoid the run all together as they only afforded Eddie Lacy only five carries (for only 3 yards) while Chris Carson led the team with six carries for 39 yards. CJ Prosise was also involved, but largely ineffective. Much of this failure can be attributed to the Seahawks offensive line, who Matt Bitonti of Footballguys rightfully had ranked near the bottom of his list coming into Week 1.

The 49ers defense held Carolina rushers to only 3.1 yards per carry for 116 total rushing yards and zero rushing touchdowns in their losing effort last week. The yards per carry here is deceiving, however, as Carolina was simply maintaining their lead for most of this game with a ground and pound script. The 49ers defense saw a big blow come early in this game as rookie first round draft pick Reuben Foster was forced to exit in the first quarter due to a high ankle sprain. While his availability for Week 2 is likely to be doubtful, make sure to check the injury report as Foster would play a big part in the 49ers ability to stop the run. The 49ers defense is one that should continue to be targeted against as they were by far the worst defense in the NFL against the run last season allowing 165 yards per game and one performance should not change your opinion on who this team is. We will need to see a few more weeks of great performances to increase the sample size instead of changing the opinion based on one performance. The Seahawks may also get Thomas Rawls back for this matchup, which will significantly boost their rushing upside. However, behind this offensive line, it will still be an uphill battle.

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

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

Presumed lead back Doug Martin will open the year on a three-game suspension, but that doesn’t ding the Tampa Bay running game a bit. The Buccaneers didn’t miss a beat without him in 2016, averaging significantly more yards per game (108.3) and per carry (4.10) without Martin than they did with him (91.0 and 2.98). Jacquizz Rodgers will start the year in his place, and he posted his first whiff of productive running as a Buccaneer fill-in last year. In fact, Rodgers was downright outstanding – over his 7 games of 37 snaps or more, he averaged 92.4 rushing yards. That was more than any featured back in the NFL besides Ezekiel Elliott or LeVeon Bell could boast. He’ll lose much of the passing-game work to Charles Sims, but doesn’t have much competition for rushing duties. The Buccaneers’ offensive line may be a hampering issue, though – our Matt Bitoni ranks them 24th to kick off the season.

The Bears run defense was a significant improvement compared to the 2016 season in week one as this was a group that allowed the sixth most rushing yards per game in 2016 and in week one the Bears were able to hold the prolific rushing attack of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to just 64 rushing yards in week one. The Bears did have a significant injury as starting linebacker Jerell Freeman was placed on injured reserve after a pectoral injury derailed his season. Replacing Freeman is Christian Jones who has not played regularly since the 2015 season and could be a liability heading into this game. It remains to be seen whether this type of injury will revert the Bears back to the 2016 rushing attack where we saw them as one of the worst in the NFL, or if they will be able to keep up the impressive performance that we saw in week one.

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

Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Cardinals took a huge blow in week one as they lost All-Pro running back David Johnson with a dislocated wrist. Prior to the injury, Johnson had one of his worst career days as a running back as he just 2.1 yards per carry which was the lowest in his career in games that he had at least 10 carries. The biggest concern was the offensive line play which caused Johnson to average -0.5 yards per carry prior to his first contact with a defender. Johnson’s replacement will be a running back by committee led by Kerwynn Williams, but Andre Ellington and possibly newly signed Chris Johnson will see time at the running back position as the Cardinals try to fill the shoes of one of the best running backs in the league.

The Colts revamped defensive line looked to be strong in this game as the team held Todd Gurley to 2.1 yards per carry and -0.6 yards before first contact. 320-pound free agent Jonathan Hankins headlined the defensive line for the Colts and showed that the Colts made a good investment spending $10 million per year on the defensive lineman. The Colts still need to prove that they can have this type of performance consistently as Matt Bitonti had the Rams offensive line as the 26th offensive line in the NFL which is one of the easier matchups that the Colts will have all season. The Cardinals offensive line is significantly better than the Rams and will be a good test for the Colts to see who they really are.

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

Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Falcons struggled to rush the ball in Week 1 as the duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined to average only 2.9 yards per carry for 53 total rushing yards. While Freeman started as the lead back, he just narrowly out-snapped Coleman here (36 to 24) as the rushing workload was split fairly evenly. The Falcons offensive line would have had a solid outing if not for a very tough day by their right guard, first-time starter Wes Schweitzer. He allowed a significant amount of penetration against mediocre opposing defensive linemen. If Schweitzer gets the start again this week, look for the Packers front seven to have a field day.

The Packers defense dominated a weak Seahawks offensive line in Week 1, racking up nine tackles for loss with three sacks. Right tackle Mike Daniels had a very solid outing, accounting for 2.5 of those tackles for loss with seven tackles overall and four quarterback hits. The Packers defense has played well against the run in recent years, but the Falcons have a solid offensive line outside of one tough spot with Schweitzer.

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

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

Baltimore’s run game is predicated on grinding. It doesn’t produce fireworks, but it does a decent job of managing game flow with fall-forward running. The personnel is uninspiring: Terrence West is a one-speed guy, and Buck Allen simply appears to be running in quicksand. But together they can get what’s blocked, and the Ravens line held its own in Week 1. Marshal Yanda’s presence is absolutely essential to their success, and he appears healthy and dominant. It will be interesting to see how the backs fare without a fullback, what with lead blocker Kyle Juszczyk out of town and an offensive shift to a one-back base.

The Browns run defense, gashed extensively throughout 2016, showed fantastically in its 2017 debut. Danny Shelton’s return to the lineup was huge, as the Browns clogged lanes and finished Bell’s runs all day. But even more important to the equation is new coordinator Gregg Williams, whose defenses have finished top-six in four of his last six seasons in yards per rush. Of course, we’ll need to see more than one outstanding matchup to consider this a unit to outright avoid in fantasy. But things are trending up – and given Williams’ history, they’re trending toward the elite.

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

Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Panthers in their season opener showed that as expected they are going to be a run heavy offense this season running the ball as they ran the ball 38 times in the season opener against the 49ers. What was disappointing is that they had an ideal matchup against the worst run defense in the NFL and were only able to run for 3.1 yards per carry in this game. Neither Christian McCaffrey or Jonathan Stewart separated themselves from one another and both should expected to have a similar role in this game as they both averaged 3.6 yards per carry while McCaffrey was more utilized in the passing game, Stewart had more carries. McCaffrey greatly outsnapped Stewart 47 to 29 which is not a surprise as McCaffrey is the more versatile back of the two.

The Buffalo Bills showed much improvement in week one compared to where they were at a season ago, as they allowed just 38 yards rushing last week to the Jets who have one of the worst offensive lines in football. The Bills last season were the fourth worst defense against the run in terms of yards per game allowing 133.1 yards per game. The truth lies somewhere in the middle here as the Bills are not as bad as last season and part of that is due to Marcell Dareus being injured throughout last year, but they are not a top five run defense at this point until they can prove otherwise.

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

Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense at Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Ezekiel Elliott had a successful Week 1 amidst all of the recent controversies, rushing for 104 yards on 24 carries as he helped secure the Cowboys victory. Elliott was the clear leader of this backfield as he out-snapped Alfred Morris 60-to-8. Darren McFadden was surprisingly inactive for Week 1. The Cowboys offensive line also looked as dominant as usual, even against a stout Giants defensive line.

The Cowboys will be in for yet another challenge in Week 2 as they face the elite Broncos defense. Last week, the Broncos held Melvin Gordon to 54 yards on 18 carries with no touchdowns. After some early success with his first two carries, the Broncos defensive front proceeded to limit Gordon to only 28 yards on 16 carries. While the Broncos were vulnerable to the run last season, they looked solid in the season opener with Von Miller looking as elite as ever. This will be a big challenge for the league’s top rushing offense.

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

Denver Broncos Rushing Offense vs Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Broncos rushing attack looked great in Week 1 with C.J Anderson in the lead role. Anderson rushed 20 times for 81 yards compared to Jamaal Charles with 10 carries for 40 yards. Combined, they averaged over four yards per carry—a very solid showing. Anderson out-snapped Charles 48 to 21. Anderson’s day could have been even more successful had a touchdown run in the third quarter not been called back due to a penalty.

The Cowboys did not have much of a rushing threat to defend against when facing the Giants in week 1, so the Broncos more balanced offense should present the Dallas’ defense with more of a test. The Cowboys defensive line suffered some losses during the offseason, and their one addition in Taco Charlton did not have the best of games in Week 1 as he failed to record a tackle despite playing 26 snaps. We are still in wait and see mode on this Dallas run defense due to their lack of a true test in Week 1.

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

Houston Texans Rushing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Lamar Miller remains locked in as the Texans’ featured back, taking 19 of the team’s 30 targets-plus-carries in Week 1. But the sledding will be tough as long as Houston is incapable of generating a passing game. Miller is a fine outside runner who can bounce off-tackle runs into solid gains, which bodes well for his chances against stacked boxes. He was solid in a tough rushing matchup last week, averaging 3.8 yards per rush behind an incomplete line. His weekly prospects for success should be looked at critically; this offense isn’t set up to provide him with much running room at the line, so his efficiency will wane. But he’s generally dynamic enough to turn positive game scripts into big stat lines. He’s spelled by Tyler Ervin, a quick-footed dual threat who will run the ball occasionally from passing sets. Ervin has intriguing athleticism, but will also contend with crowded defenses unafraid of the Texans’ passing “attack.”

Cincinnati struggled against the run throughout 2016, with 7 opponents reaching 120 ground yards and 5 topping 150. And in last week’s opener, they struggled with the Ravens’ mediocre rushing attack, allowing Terrance West and Buck Allen to fall forward for positive, clock-killing runs. With Vontaze Burfict and Shawn Williams out, the Bengals’ pursuit and playmaking chops are uninspiring, and the first and second levels can be won by offenses.

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

Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense vs Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

We still don’t know what the Colts rushing attack is going to be this season as their week one contest against the Rams got out of hand quickly changing the game script due to turnovers and an inability to move the ball. The team lost one of their best offensive linemen in Denzelle Good to the injured reserve who had a great week one. This was an offensive line that offensive line expert Matt Bitonti already had ranked as the 25th offensive line and to lose one of their best linemen is a concern as Le’Raven Clark who lost the right tackle job in the preseason will now be forced into being the starter.

The Cardinals defense held up pretty well against the Lions as the Lions ran the ball 27 times for just 82 yards in week one. This is a defense that had some questions coming in after being the 9th best defense in 2016, but the loss of Calais Campbell and Kevin Minter left some holes in the defense heading into the season. While the Lions do not have a prolific run defense holding any NFL team to just 3.0 yards per carry was a nice start for a team that was also without starting linebacker Deone Bucannon and starting defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche. If Bucannon is still out, this defense could have a hole at the linebacker position as Bucannon comes in when the team goes into the nickel due to his ability to cover the running back.

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

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

In his NFL debut, Leonard Fournette was a volume workhorse as he rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown. Fournette was very heavily utilized as he led the NFL with rush attempts (26) in Week 1. Fournette was also involved in the passing game, hauling in three catches on three targets for 24 yards. The game script in Week 1 was very favorable Fournette and crew, as the Jaguars got out to a 19-0 lead by halftime which yielded to quite a few run plays later in the game. While Chris Ivory spelled Fournette at times, rushing nine times for 42 yards, Fournette clearly appears to be the lead back for this offense.

The Titans played a solid game overall on the defensive side of the ball, however, they did not look as sharp as expected against the run, allowing Marshawn Lynch to break off a number of chunk plays with his powerful running style. Jurrell Casey uncharacteristically struggled while the Titans linebackers had to gang tackle Lynch on multiple occasions. This week, the Titans defensive draws a much more favorable matchup than the Raiders elite offensive line. The Jaguars offensive line was ranked near the bottom coming into the season by Footballguys offensive line specialist Matt Bitonti. Despite enabling Fournette to rush for 100 yards, most of that production came from the sheer volume as Fournette still only managed 3.8 yards per attempt.

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

Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

That was quite a second half from Dalvin Cook. Over the final 31:43 of the Vikings’ Week 1 win, he gathered 120 yards on 16 rushes and essentially clinched things down the stretch. Now, let’s not lose sight of the fact that 49% of his yardage came from 2 fourth-quarter runs – he gained 2 yards or less on 45% of his carries. And this eruption did come against a Saints defense that’s mediocre against the run. Cook looked awfully impressive, but there are still question marks as to his week-to-week effectiveness. His rebuilt offensive line looked impressive in Week 1, but it’s still a brand-new unit that should experience ups and downs. Cook is clearly an NFL-caliber runner, which is a great Week 1 takeaway for the Vikings. It’s just a bit too early to expect weekly dominance.

The Steelers won’t be easy to run against in 2017 – but the going got a little easier in the aftermath of Week 1. Emerging stud end Stephon Tuitt was dinged and looks week-to-week, but closer to the doubtful side. With early 2014 picks Tuitt and Ryan Shazier paying off majorly as run-stoppers, this has become an elite unit. They’ve held 9 of their last 13 opponents (playoffs included) under 80 ground yards, with some strong rushing offenses in the mix. And they overwhelmed the Browns’ elite line in their 2017 debut, holding Isaiah Crowell to just 33 yards on 17 carries. With Tuitt out, the dynamic should shift a bit, but this remains a generally strong unit.

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

New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense vs New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Neither Mark Ingram nor Adrian Peterson was able to find any running room in Week 1. They combined for just 35 yards on 12 carries as the Saints abandoned the run early – a reminder of not only their inconsistency, but also that the wrong game scripts can doom their early-down outlooks. It doesn’t help a bit that both tackles, Terron Armstead and Zach Strief, are currently missing from the offensive line. There’s still plenty of value in Saints backs, though. Their pace and touchdown outlooks are elite virtually every week, and their receiving capabilities always provide a projection boost. Last year they produced seven RB2 weeks (and five RB1s) despite finishing middle-of-the-pack in rushing efficiency. In a high-paced matchup with scoring opportunity everywhere, all Saints runners get an appreciable boost in value – with attention paid to the fact that a game script gone awry can be disastrous.

On the whole, New England is stingy from a fantasy standpoint; they allowed the third-fewest rushing yards and the fewest rushing touchdowns in football last year. But a degree of that success has been dictated by game flow. The Patriots tend to lead their games comfortably for long chunks of time, erasing opponents’ desires to pound the ball. Furthermore, with their shaky secondary a liability, they rely on a lot of backloaded sets, with extra defensive backs replacing linebackers and linemen on the field. That’s a Bill Belichick trademark – in Super Bowl XXV his Giants defense famously “ignored” Thurman Thomas’ rushing attack in favor of slowing Jim Kelly’s electric passing game. Kareem Hunt took this advantage to the max in Week 1, ripping off 148 yards on just 17 rushes against little front-seven resistance. The Patriots retain a generally strong run defense, with a stout nose tackle in Malcom Brown and capable pursuers. But they’ll abandon all semblance of run-plugging when the situation demands it, so they’re always susceptible to big plays and big stat lines. Dont’a Hightower injury is something to watch in this game as if he is unable to go, the linebacking group of this team gets weak pretty quickly.

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

New York Giants Rushing Offense vs Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Giants rushing offense was, as expected, non-existent in Week 1 against the Cowboys. With only 12 rush attempts to 38 pass attempts, the Giants struggled to move the ball on the ground behind relatively poor offensive line play, especially on the edges. Paul Perkins led the team in carries with seven for only 16 yards, while Orleans Darkwa chipped in with three runs for 14 yards. Perkins played the majority of snaps in the first half until the Giants had to completely abandon the run, yielding to Shane Vereen since virtually every play became a passing down. Paul Perkins is the lead rushing back in this offense and is expected to contribute on first/second downs.

The Lions defense looked very sharp against the run last week against the Cardinals. The big story from that game was David Johnson’s injury, but in over two-quarters of play leading up to the injury, the Lions actually held Johnson to only 23 rushing yards on 11 carries while forcing two fumbles. This is a very small samples size though, as the Lions defensive line still has a lot to prove based on their mediocre performance last season. The Giants are favored at home, which could imply a more favorable game script for establishing some resemblance of a rushing game.

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

Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense vs Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Bengals backs never got off the ground in their shutout Week 1 loss, abandoning the power-running game early. As a result, Jeremy Hill was a bit player and rookie Joe Mixon was a low-impact x-factor. Giovani Bernard cashed in on the hurry-up skew, racking up 40 yards on 7 rushes. There’s lots of dynamism in this backfield, but in a more neutral game script, we can’t expect much rushing production from these Bengals. Their line is among the league’s worst, averaging a subpar 4.0 yards per rush in 2016 and having lost its two best blockers in the offseason. It’ll be hard to project the backfield’s distribution all season, and even harder to project them to huge weeks.

The Houston run defense is generally strong. Before last week, it hadn’t allowed a rusher to reach 100 ground yards or an opposing offense to hit 110 over its last 11 games (playoffs included). Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory combined for 142 yards in Week 1 behind a shoddy line, but that was aided by the game’s blowout flow. Fournette managed just 3.44 yards per rush before the score hit 12-0 – essentially out of hand for the Texans’ quarterback-less offense. Still, it must be noted that much of their 2016 success was inflated by way of not facing many elite running games. All told, we can’t regard this run defense as one to target or one to avoid, though we should probably lean more toward “avoid” when a mediocre rushing offense is on the slate.

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

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

Cleveland’s line lost overall in Week 1, and Isaiah Crowell wasn’t left with much room to operate, managing just 33 yards on 17 rushes. That’s not the kickoff the Browns were expecting after adding two strong interior linemen (Kevin Zeitler and J.C. Tretter) to an already-elite unit. But any group with two new starters will need time to gel, and Crowell himself could run more decisively upfield; plenty of the running game’s inconsistency is on him. After all, he’s been held below 4.0 yards per rush in 10 of his last 13 games. He’ll carry lots of volume appeal in virtually every matchup – Duke Johnson’s rushing role certainly isn’t on the rise – but he’s not yet a strong bet for efficiency.

The Baltimore run defense has posted elite numbers on the whole for quite some time. Stout along the line and at inside linebacker, they’ve been great against power rushers. Still, quick-footed guys have found a lot of recent success bouncing outside the box. Over the last three weeks of last season, we saw three huge rushing lines from the likes of Ryan Matthews (20 carries for 128 yards), LeVeon Bell (20 for 122), and Rex Burkhead (27 for 119). And just last week, Giovani Bernard mustered 40 yards on just 7 rushes. This defense is definitely imposing, but Isaiah Crowell (and to a lesser extent Duke Johnson) – both quick, east-west runners – could find intriguing room, but it is a tough matchup up the middle for these running backs.

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

Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

In what was a tough matchup against the Cardinals, the Lions running backs predictably struggled last week as they averaged only 2.3 yards per attempt for 51 combined rushing yards. Ameer Abdullah led the team in carries with 15, while Dwayne Washington spelled Abdullah on 14 snaps with six carries. Theo Riddick was of course involved primarily on passing downs. Left tackle Greg Robinson and the rest of the Lions left side really struggled in tough matchups against Corey Peters and Chandler Jones.

The Giants struggled against the run last week, but that was to be expected when facing the Cowboys elite offensive line and one of the best running backs in the league. Things do not get much better for the Lions offensive line this week, as they will be facing one of the top defensive lines in football with a pair of the best defensive ends in football. The Giants have great run stoppers at every level of their defense Dalvin Tomlinson, Damon Harrison and Jason Pierre Paul on the defensive line, B.J. Goodson at linebacker and Landon Collins at safety.

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

Los Angeles Rams Rushing Offense vs Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Todd Gurley had a solid fantasy day due a rushing touchdown and contributions in the passing game, but he was extremely inefficient rushing the ball in what should have been a very favorable matchup against a Colts team that typically struggles against the run. Going into Week 1, the Rams offensive line was ranked 26th by Matt Bitonti of Footballguys. Their performance in Week 1 solidified that ranking, with particularly bad play on the interior. Even with a game script very favorable to rushing the ball, the Rams as a team could only manage an average of 1.9 yards per attempt (33 total rush attempts).

The Redskins rushing defense was one of the worst in the league in 2016, allowing the fifth most fantasy points to running backs. During the offseason, the Redskins did make some moves to address this weakness by bolstering their front seven. One of those additions was inside linebacker Zach Brown, who had a spectacular debut in Week 1 against the Eagles. Brown consistently plugged holes at the line and gained penetration into the backfield, racking up seven tackles—two of which were for a loss. While the Redskins defensive line still turned in a mediocre performance, Brown’s solid debut combined with the weak Rams offensive line could make for a tough day rushing the ball on Sunday.

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

New York Jets Rushing Offense at Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Jets had a hard time moving the ball in the passing game and the rushing game in week one as the Jets had just 38 yards rushing in week one and neither Bilal Powell or Matt Forte had a lot of running room. The biggest issue with the Jets is that their offensive line ranks as the 30th offensive line in football according to our Matt Bitonti, so it is no surprise that the Jets struggled in week one and unless their offensive line improves should continue to struggle throughout most of the season.

The Raiders did a tremendous job in week one shutting down one of the best rushing attacks in football as DeMarco Murray had just 44 yards in this game and while Marcus Mariota was able to run for 26 yards on three carries, that should not be an issue this week as Josh McCown is not a mobile quarterback. The Raiders last season struggled against the run as they allowed the 10th most rushing yards per game, part of their issue was their consistent defensive line play which appears to be improved by the addition of Eddie VanderDoes who had a very good opening game alongside nose tackle Justin Ellis.

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

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

The Titans running backs got off to a slow start in 2017, averaging only 3.8 yards per carry for a total of 69 yards between both Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry. The Titans offense had an uncharacteristically pass-heavy game script against the Raiders with 41 pass attempts to only 21 rushes as they failed to secure a lead at any point. Murray out-snapped Henry 47 to 18, as Henry was brought in primarily for short yardage situations with only one complete series to himself. While healthy, Murray is still the primary running back for this offense.

The Jaguars defense dominated the Texans on all fronts last week, holding them to only 203 yards of total offense and one touchdown. The Jaguars defensive line clearly won the trenches here, putting consistent pressure on the quarterback while holding Lamar Miller to only 65 yards on 17 carries. New addition Calais Campbell was very impressive in his Jaguars debut, albeit much more via his pass rush than his run stopping ability due to his presence on the outside. Both Abry Jones and Dante Fowler Jr also played large roles in defending the run, while linebacker Myles Jack accounted for eight tackles and three run stops. To the Texans credit, they were without star left tackle Duane Brown, which caused a severe downgrade to that unit as a whole. The overall game script was not at all conducive to rushing the ball either, as they were down 19-0 at halftime. This week, the Jaguars face a much tougher test against the top-rated Titans offensive line, which should give us a true picture of how this team really stacks up against the run.

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

Washington Redskins Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Rams Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Rob Kelley got the start for the Redskins in Week 1, however, he split snaps almost evenly with Chris Thompson (33 to 30). With only 10 carries to work from, Kelly only managed 30 yards. Kelly is more of a volume back than a playmaker, so he requires much more volume than 10 carries to prove his worth. Chris Thompson was allotted three carries, but he is definitely the team’s passing down back. Kirk Cousins actually led the team in rushing efficiency, rushing for 30 yards on four carries. This is not something to be expected though, Cousins has rushed for 20 or more yards only three previous times in his career.

The Rams defense performed very well against the run last season, ranking second in the league allowing only 78.3 yards per game. They were right on that mark in Week 1, limiting limited Frank Gore and company to only 75 rushing yards last week while the defensive front put consistent pressure on the Colts offensive line. While Washington has a talented offensive line, they did not play well at all in Week 1. This Rams front seven along with a talented run-defending secondary will be tough to deal with.

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

Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense at Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Bills rushing attack got off to a great start to the season in week one as they ran all over the Jets rushing for 190 team yards in this game on 42 attempts. LeSean McCoy left this game with a hand injury, but did return and should be fine going forward to see his normal workload. The coaching change to Sean McDermott and Rick Dennison raised some questions, but these have been answered that the Bills will have one of the highest volume week to week in terms of running the ball. LeSean McCoy is as close to matchup proof as it comes in the NFL as McCoy last season had over 100 total yards in 10 of his 15 games last season.

Carolina continued to show that they are not a team that you want to run against in week one as they held the 49ers to just 51 yards rushing in week one. The Panthers defense is one of the best in the NFL as they have one of the best linebacking group in the NFL led with Shaq Thompson, Luke Keuchly and Thomas Davis. Kawann Short could cause issues up front particularly if he lines up opposite of Richie Incognito as he will be going up against John Miller which should be a nice matchup for Short.

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

Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Doug Pederson’s background as a run-dominant coordinator is still being defied here in Philadelphia. Over 17 games, his Eagles have run the ball on just 40.5% of their snaps, markedly less often than his Kansas City offenses ever did. That’s probably due to necessity, and probably for the best; this group of runners looks as sluggish and uninspiring as they come. There’s plenty of volume, as Pederson’s Eagles run at a higher snap pace than Kansas City did, but not much dynamism at all. LeGarrette Blount mustered just 46 yards on 14 Week 1 carries and converting on only 1 of his 4 short-yardage rushes. As preseason whispers suggested, perhaps he may not be long for this offense. Still, Wendell Smallwood was somehow even less impressive, turning his 4 rushes into all of 4 yards. The fact that this lack of production has come behind this elite front line is unacceptably bad – and star left tackle Jason Peters may be limited this week by a groin injury. Blount will likely lead this middling group for the foreseeable future, but regardless of the pecking order here, the weekly floor looks exceptionally low.

Aside from allowing three short touchdowns, the Kansas City defense held its own beautifully against the Patriots in Week 1. New England lead back Mike Gillislee managed just 3.0 yards per carry, far below the norm for Tom Brady’s offense, as Kansas City’s athletic, attacking front seven had its way. Against Philadelphia, they’ll deal with a stronger line than New England’s but a far less dynamic backfield. In other words, the gaps caused by Kansas City’s aggressiveness will be less exploitable with LeGarrette Blount wheezing through them.

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

San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Carlos Hyde looked very solid against the Panthers last week despite his lack of rushing opportunity due to the game script. Hyde carried nine times for 45 yards while hauling in all six targets for 32 receiving yards. This 5.0 yards per carry is very encouraging, in addition to what was rare usage in the passing game considering Hyde has averaged less than two receptions per game in his career. The 49ers offensive line was not highly ranked coming into the year, but they afforded Hyde with some solid holes to hit in Week 1—particularly when running to the right behind tackle Trent Brown. Repeating that in Week 2 against the Seahawks front seven is an entirely different story though.

The Seahawks rush defense was solid last week against the Packers. Despite allowing a rushing touchdown, they held Ty Montgomery to only 2.8 yards per carry without allowing Montgomery to rush for more than eight yards on any of this 19 attempts. Seattle’s linebackers and secondary were large contributors in their ability to stop the run, with both Bobby Wagner and Earl Thomas making play after play in this game with a combined 20 tackles. With the Seahawks as heavy favorites at home, this will be a tough test for Carlos Hyde and company.

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