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Week 10 Rushing Matchups

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

Jump to Passing Matchups

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


PLEASE NOTE: This does NOT replace the Cheatsheet ranking. The Cheatsheet rankings are the final say on where we see a player for that week. The Matchup Breakdowns are simply one more tool in the box when it comes to helping choose your lineup.

Also note, just because a player has a "bad" matchup, it does NOT mean he's not a starter in your league. If Tom Brady is playing the toughest pass defense in the league, that just means he's got a tough matchup that week. He's also your starter unless you're loaded at QB. In the same way, if the worst QB on your roster has a "great" matchup that week, it doesn't necessarily mean he's your starter. It means we think he'll fare better than normal that week.

Bottom line is that the cheatsheets are the final say.


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Cardinals rushing offense continues to disappoint as David Johnson put up a similar stat line in his recent game. Johnson has yet to rush for more than 71 yards while averaging fewer than 4.0 yards per rush in seven straight outings. The volume is there for Johnson, who is averaging nearly 18 rush attempts per game over his last five outings. The playcalling simply continues to handcuff him as Johnson is still being used too frequently between the tackles despite the shift in the offensive coordinator. The bye week may give them time to work up different ways to get Johnson involved, as this rushing offense is ranked last in the league and certainly needs a change in direction. The offensive line has been banged up, but they recently returned left guard Mike Iupati while right guard Justin Pugh looks to finally be healthy and free from a hand cast that had been hampering his effectiveness. While this offensive line is still below average, a pair of healthy starting guards will certainly improve their effectiveness.

The Chiefs own one of the league’s softest and fantasy-friendly rushing defenses. This unit is allowing nearly 125 rushing yards per game and is one of only five teams to have allowed double-digit rushing touchdowns halfway through the season. Opposing running backs are scoring the most fantasy points per game in PPR formats against the Chiefs as they have allowed at least one running back to rush for at least 50 yards in all but one of their nine games this season. Interior defender Chris Jones has done a decent job against the run, but these Chiefs linebackers have been the key to their problems against opposing running backs. While Justin Houston’s expected return will definitely help, the Chiefs look to still be without Anthony Hitchens--who was terrible against the run, to begin with. It doesn’t help that the secondary has been tackling terribly, allowing extra yards after contact. The Cardinals ground game has certainly been abysmal, but if there ever was a chance for David Johnson to get back on track, this week will be his best opportunity of the season.

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


Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense at Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Falcons rebuilt rushing attack with Devonta Freeman out has been one in which has been inconsistent, but weeks like last week where Ito Smith and Tevin Coleman ran for 148 yards against a very good Redskins defense shows what type of upside that these two running backs have. Ito Smith continues to get most of the goal line work for this offense behind an offensive line that has been a strong point of this team as Matt Bitonti has them as his sixth-best offensive line. This is a week where the Falcons are going to want to run the ball against Cleveland as center Alex Mack who spent seven seasons in Cleveland will be coming back to play the team that drafted the Pro Bowl Center.

The Browns rushing defense is quickly turning into the equivalent of the Tampa Bay passing defense in that it is by far the worst in the league. Over the last four games, the Browns are allowing an average of 128 yards and two touchdowns per game to opposing running backs and the issue continues to be a lack of talent on the defensive line and linebacker injuries. The Browns have real problems on the defensive line and one has to wonder if it is fatigue related at this point as the Browns are one of the few teams that do not rotate defensive lineman nearly as much as other teams. After a relatively strong start to the season as Trevon Coley, Emmanuel Ogbah and Larry Ogunjobi have all fallen apart. At the linebacker position, the Browns may get Joe Schobert back which would be a significant help, but they lost Christian Kirksey for the season as he was placed on IR this past week. This should be a tremendous opportunity for the Falcons this week.

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


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Packers have pared down their crowded backfield, sending Ty Montgomery out of town and trotting out a sensible one-two punch of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. The move made sense: Jones has been electric all year in a part-time role (6.03 yards per rush), while Williams provides plenty of dependability in Montgomery’s passing-down role. Going forward, Jones should lead if not dominate the ground game for as long as he’s able to hold onto the ball. He’s racked up 162 yards on just 26 attempts over the last 2 weeks, running circles around the plodding Williams. Whenever the Packers are able to feature him, he projects as a high-efficiency, high-impact runner with weekly 100-yard potential.

The Dolphins’ much-maligned run defense got a nice breather last Sunday against the Jets’ low-impact run game. They rose to the task, but they’ve been simply awful for most of the season, giving up the league’s fifth-most ground yards per game. Four of the last 6 lead backs they’ve faced have racked up 93 or more, averaging 5.90 per rush in the process. The front line has actually impressed, routinely eating up space inside, but big problems have cropped up behind it. The linebackers are struggling to track and tackle, while run-support safeties Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald have been inconsistent. That’s allowed runners to break off chunk gains left and right, and it’s hard to project an end to that. If given any room, the quick, dynamic Aaron Jones has a fine matchup on the second level.

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


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense vs Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Kareem Hunt is putting together a very solid season in the shadow of this prolific Chiefs passing offense. Hunt has rushed for at least 50 yards in six straight games, averaging over five yards per rush attempt in four of those six games with five rushing touchdowns over that span, including two in last week’s game against a decent Browns run defense. With double-digit carries in each game this season, averaging just over 16 carriers per game, Hunt is the clear workhorse of this rushing offense. The offensive line has not been great for the Chiefs, playing without both their starting and backup centers for the past couple weeks after losing their starting left guard in early October. While this offensive line is a bottom tier unit, the Chiefs coaching staff certainly helps overcome it with smart play calling to get Hunt in space which has allowed him to maintain such a high level of productivity on the ground despite the shaky front five.

The Cardinals rushing defense has been one of the worst in the NFL throughout the first half of this season. They have given up a dozen rushing touchdowns and the second-most rushing yards per game, driven primarily by the run-heavy game script of opposing offenses that have rushed a league-high 268 times against Arizona. Their last game before the bye was this unit’s best outing against the run of the season, holding the 49ers running backs to just 98 rushing yards and no touchdowns. Prior to that game, running had have rushed for more than 125 yards in four straight games with five rushing touchdowns over that span. Josh Bynes has been their best run defender this season, while Corey Peters continues to disappoint on the defensive interior. There have been no significant injuries to note, but this Cardinals unit has simply underperformed given some of the talents they have available both on the defensive line and secondary. They should at least be an average run defense on paper, but they simply have not put it all together through tough game scripts during the first half of this season. Kareem Hunt should be set up to run wild in this one.

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


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

Entering this season, Melvin Gordon was assailed as a low-efficiency, one-speed runner who couldn’t be trusted to carry a productive run game. But anyone following his film could see a true breakout coming, and here it is. Saddled for years with a weak front line, Gordon is taking advantage of newfound creases to the tune of 5.41 yards per rush. He’s always produced breakaway runs at a strong level, but it’s been much easier with competent blocking up front. Gordon did a number on Seattle’s stout defensive front last Sunday, needing just 16 attempts to rack up 113 yards and a touchdown – his third 100-yard day over the Chargers’ last 4 games. A big reason for his success has been the explosive play of Austin Ekeler in the change-of-pace role. Ekeler averages 5.82 yards a carry himself and allows Gordon plenty of downtime to keep fresh. The Raiders shut these two down back in Week 5, but there’s little reason to care about that. With this blend of speed and athleticism, opposing defenses are always on notice.

The Oakland front seven, despite a bevy of early-round picks spent on it, remains wildly undertalented and porous. The loss of Khalil Mack exposed what a low-impact group this is, struggling to contain speedy backs who are able to find a crease. On the year they’ve allowed runners to average a stunning 5.13 yards per carry, and 6 have been able to top 80 yards on the day. The unit isn’t bad up front, where veterans Jonathan Hankins and Frostee Rucker form a stout block-eating presence. But the ends often lose contain on the edges, and the linebackers are mostly special-teams types who offer little resistance on the second level. It’s worth noting that they did shut down these very Chargers in Week 5, allowing Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler just 73 yards on 25 attempts. But if either is given a lane or two Sunday, they should produce chunk runs on the same level as the typical Raiders opponent.

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


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Saints have gone the unconventional route and lean on Alvin Kamara as their lead runner. Kamara isn’t big or powerful, but he’s lightning-fast and one of the league’s most dangerous players in open space. He routinely weaves through traffic and exploits small creases, making him a solid lead dog and a fair interior runner, if a non-traditional one. And that’s especially important with Mark Ingram looking so gassed. Ingram has managed just 181 yards (3.62 per carry) over 4 games back from suspension. He’s faced a host of tough run defenses, to be fair, but simply hasn’t looked like the creative grinder he was in 2017. The Bengals are a fine canvas to engineer a turnaround, and Sunday’s matchup does project as somewhat of an Ingram breakout. But this is now predominantly Kamara’s backfield, so expect him to reap the most benefit. His explosiveness and diverse abilities should give the Bengals’ shaky linebacking corps fits, and he’s always a threat to break chunk runs and outdo his 61-yard season average.

The Bengals defense has become an awfully fertile ground for opposing runners to produce on. On the year they’ve allowed backs to rack up a stunning 5.57 yards per attempt, while each of the last 3 lead runners has topped 85 and found the end zone. The tackles are generally strong, though Geno Atkins has made his name much more as a pass rusher than a run defender. The real issue lies in the second and third levels, where poor fundamentals and a lack of athletic edge has doomed them. With star linebacker Vontaze Burfict out, there’s very little dynamism in pursuit, and shoddy tackling has run rampant throughout this defense. With the likes of Frank Gore and Peyton Barber churning out chunk gains left and right, it’s safe to expect production from virtually any runner in this matchup.

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


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense vs Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jordan Howard continues to underwhelm with consistency as the hammer-back in Matt Nagy’s scheme. With this dominant defense, Nagy would love an efficient power runner to grind out clock and ice games late. But Howard is sitting on just 3.48 yards a carry, offering almost zero elusiveness or creativity. Howard does little more than slam into the line, and even that outlook is threatened with top blocker Kyle Long now on injured reserve. All told, the Bears’ only effective running thus far has come from Mitchell Trubisky scrambles (7.95 yards per attempt) and Tarik Cohen’s dual-threat explosiveness. Cohen is averaging 4.69 per rush, and his dynamism as a short-area receiver often serves as an extension of the run game. Nagy has to get innovative, after all, to make up for Howard’s deficiencies.

Just like that, the Lions now field a competent run defense. Their trade for tackle Damon Harrison was a game-changer – he’s both a dominant gap-plugger and a dynamic penetrator, and he singlehandedly reinvents one of the league’s leakiest units. After giving up a whopping 5.53 yards per attempt to opposing runners (and 94 per game to lead backs) to open the season, they tightened up nicely last Sunday with Harrison on board. Aside from Dalvin Cook’s 70-yard scamper, he and Latavius Murray managed just 50 yards on 19 rushes for the Vikings. Those chunk runs will still happen against this shaky linebacking corps, as middleman Jarrad Davis still looks lost and his teammates are often blown out of position. But with Harrison on board, it will be much tougher to grind the Lions up the gut. Power backs like Chicago’s Jordan Howard, who rely upon strong interior blocking, take on a notable downgrade going forward, but this is a defense that could be exploited out wide with Tarik Cohen.

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


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

The Jaguars are in a tough spot in this game coming off of four straight losses and sit now at 3-5 on the year. While it appears Leonard Fournette is still not 100% healthy, the Jaguars are likely going to have to play him this week as he has been practicing in a limited capacity. The issue continues to be on the offensive line for the Jaguars as they really have not been able to find a replacement for left tackle Cam Robinson after he was injured at the start of the season. This is a unit that has lacked any consistency on the ground game as Blake Bortles has been their leading rusher the last two games and they have not had a player go over 58 rushing yards all season. Do not expect Fournette to come in immediately and get the full set of carries in this game as even when he has played earlier this year he averaged 10 carries per game.

The Colts rushing defense is one that has struggled this year compared to their competition. Since Week 3, the Colts have allowed 107 yards rushing to opposing running backs per game which is the 9th most in the NFL which on the surface does not seem that bad, however when you look at their opponents it tells a different story. The Colts did not face a top-10 rushing offense during this stretch. The issues for the Colts are that they play a lot of Nickel defense, and their defensive line is not good enough to keep the offensive lineman from getting to the second level which forces a lot of pressure onto the linebackers to shed blocks or the safeties to come up and make a play. This could be an area that the Jaguars exploit in this game.

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


Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense at Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Dolphins seem committed to 35-year-old Frank Gore as their offensive engine, and the results have been predictably mixed. Gore has scattered good performances with bad ones, averaging 5.79 yards per carry over his 4 best games but 2.86 over the other five. All in all, he’s looked surprisingly fresh for his age, routinely forcing missed tackles and grinding out tough yardage. But the Dolphins’ porous front line (currently ranked 28th by our Matt Bitonti) isn’t opening many creases, so Gore’s week-to-week upside is always tightly capped. It’s a wonder the Dolphins don’t want more contribution from Kenyan Drake, who’s averaging 4.78 yards per run but just 8.1 attempts a game. Drake isn’t a complete back, but he always offers explosiveness on the edges, and he did rack up 46 ground yards or more in 4 straight games prior to last Sunday.

The Packers’ porous run defense dodged a bullet when top linebacker Blake Martinez returned to last Monday night’s game. Martinez had rolled his ankle and been carted off the field but came back to help stabilize a unit that simply can’t afford to lose him. The Packers have been gashed by the run of late, allowing big and efficient fantasy days left and right over their last 6 games. The loss of Muhammad Wilkerson in Week 3 has had a noticeable impact. There’s no shame in allowing a big week to Todd Gurley, but altogether 6 different runners have topped 60 yards over that span, averaging 86 at 5.52 per carry. The line, led by underrated nose Mike Daniels, is generally stout, but there are real holes along the edges. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry are pass rushers at heart and often struggle to hold contain. The silver lining here is that the trade of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix opens up a full-time role for second-year man Josh Jones. Jones is a limited player but has been fantastic as a hybrid in run support, serving as an extra linebacker on the second level.

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


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Rams Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Seahawks ground game continued to roll last week despite injury news swirling around Chris Carson up until game time. Carson suited up despite a hip injury and had a relatively effective first half with 40 rushing yards on eight carries coming mostly in the first quarter. Carson would not return after halftime though and will remain questionable with what is being called a hip and groin injury. Mike Davis ended with 15 carries for 62 yards as he took over the workload throughout the second half. This Seahawks coaching staff proves week in and week out that they will run the ball no matter who is in the backfield. Russell Wilson even got involved in the action last week as he put together a few nice runs for 41 total rushing yards, his most in a game this season. The offensive line has done a great job thus far and had a solid game against a stout Chargers defensive line last week.

The Rams showed again last week that they can be susceptible to plays on the ground as they allowed a running back to rush for over 80 yards and a touchdown for the second straight week. This group has now given up multiple rushing touchdowns to running backs in two straight games after allowing just three total rushing touchdowns to running backs through their first seven contests. The Seahawks running backs Davis and Carson gashed the Rams for a combined 184 rushing yards in their Week 5 meeting--the most rushing yards any team has amassed on Low Angeles this season. When Aaron Donald is contained and running backs can get beyond this stout defensive line, the Rams linebackers and secondary have struggled to make quick and efficient tackles. With the Seahawks offensive line playing even better now than they were earlier in the season, this run-heavy offense has a good chance to amass over 100 rushing yards for the second time this season against the Rams.

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


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense vs New York Giants Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The 49ers rushing offense continues to battle through injury woes as Matt Breida led the backfield last week with 12 carries for 44 yards despite a nagging ankle injury. Breida has been an iron man for the 49ers this season, playing in all nine games despite being carted off the field on multiple occasions while dealing with a plethora of injuries. Breida’s toughness has not been matched with productivity though, as he has rushed for just 101 yards over his last three games with zero touchdowns to show for it. Raheem Mostert had looked spectacular when given the opportunity this season, and he was on his way to the best game of his career after scoring his first touchdown until suffering a gruesome arm injury that has landed him on the season-ending injured reserve. Matt Breida will continue to fight through injuries to lead this backfield while Alfred Morris remains a steady change of pace option who could take over the backfield entirely if Breida goes down again. Center Weston Richburg returned last week after missing Week 8, which brings this borderline top-10 unit back to full strength.

The Giants defense has been ineffective against the run for most of this season, giving up 4.5 yards per carry and 122.4 rushing yards per game--10th most in the league. Things will not improve for the Giants either after trading away Damon Harrison to the Lions in Week 7. In their first game without Harrison, the Giants were ravaged by Adrian Peterson as he amassed 149 yards and a touchdown, basically picking up yards at will as he wore down this defense. The Giants defensive line still has some talent, but Harrison was a huge loss on the interior while they have a clear weakness at the linebacker position whether Alec Ogletree is healthy enough to suit up or not. The 49ers have the edge in the trenches here, so as long as they can find a healthy body to consistently get carries, this rushing offense should have a chance at solid production.

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


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

The Colts rushing offense is one in which has been a surprise so far this season as the offensive line has been a bright spot on this team. This was a rushing unit that was largely expected to be one of the worst in the league but is right in the middle of the pack in terms of rushing yards per game as Marlon Mack has been a big reason for this rushing for an average of 129 yards over his last two games. The one thing to keep an eye on for Mack this week, however, is that prior to the bye week, he did leave the last game with an ankle injury and while he is practicing, he is a limited participant with the same ankle injury. All signs point for him to be able to go, but keep an eye on it in case any bad news comes out between now and game day.

The Jaguars rushing defense is one that has performed extremely well against teams in which do not have a solid rushing offense but have struggled against good running teams. The Jaguars on the year have faced Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott, Lamar Miller, and Saquon Barkley and averaged allowing 100 yards to those running backs, but in their other four games have largely held opposing running backs in check. The issue for the Jaguars has been that if you can get past this elite defensive line which is still as good as they come in the NFL, you can have success as Telvin Smith has really struggled this season and the safeties are better pass defenders than run stoppers.

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


New York Giants Rushing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Giants come out of their bye on the heels of a terrible rushing performance as Saquon Barkley whiffed on his much-needed big play, rushing 13 times for only 38 yards with a long run of only nine yards. It has not been pretty for Barkley and this rushing offense when he can’t bust a long run, as Barkley has now rushed for fewer than 50 yards in five of eight games to start the season. Barkley remains productive though, as he has five rushing touchdowns and is still averaging 4.7 yards per attempt to go along with his heavy usage in the passing game. He has played over 90 percent of the snaps in back to back games, so no other Giants running back will be challenging Barkley for work as long as he remains healthy. The offensive line in New York has proven to be a challenge though, as this unit grades out as a bottom-tier group according to Footballguys offensive line specialist Matt Bitonti. The bye week may help with the likes of right tackle Chad Wheeler recovering from an ankle injury. The Giants also picked up guard Jamon Brown from the Rams to help contribute to this underperforming unit.

The 49ers didn’t have to defend against a ton of rushes last week, but they still allowed the stagnant Raiders offense to amass over 100 rushing yards driven mainly by a few flukey runs to bump up their total rushing total. Lead running back Doug Martin was still held under 50 yards on the ground as the 49ers have not allowed a running back to cross 70 yards since Week 4, in which Melvin Gordon was the only running back to do so against this unit on the year. The 49ers have given up multiple rushing touchdowns on 3 separate occasions to elite running back talents, which bodes well for the likes of Barkley who ranks among the top backs in the league. Barkley will be running behind a terrible offensive line though, which does not match up well against this above average 49ers defensive line anchored by Deforest Buckner. Injuries need to be watched here though, as two of San Francisco’s main run-stoppers outside of their defensive linemen--Reuben Foster and Jaquiski Tartt--were both injured leading into the bye week and remain questionable for Monday nights game.

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


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

Surprisingly, 29-year-old Doug Martin is running well in Jon Gruden’s lead role. Marshawn Lynch’s injury left the Raiders with precious little in terms of ground-game experience, and Martin took over the job by default. But he’s looked great, racking up 121 yards on 24 attempts (5.04 per) over 2 weeks as top dog. Martin ran all over the 49ers’ underrated run defense last Thursday, and he likely would’ve posted a big line had game flow not doomed him. It’s early to call this a comeback, of course, and Martin did average just 2.93 yards a carry over 2016-17 in Tampa Bay. But at least he’s looking spry and taking advantage of a front line that’s much better in run blocking than pass. The return of top lineman Kelechi Osemele was a huge boon last week; with him on board, this is a solid group that can keep opening creases. Martin doesn’t boast much upside, and his touchdown outlook is always poor in this shredded offense. But he’s at least as fantasy-relevant as Lynch was.

The Chargers run defense continues to be a moderate sore spot here in 2018. There have been a few successes, but opposing runners keep finding room, averaging a healthy 4.42 yards per rush. Tennessee’s Dion Lewis racked up a season-high 91 yards 2 weeks ago, and both Mike Davis and Chris Carson were efficient (23 for 102) for Seattle last Sunday. Poor tackling has been the main culprit of late, with linebackers Denzel Perryman and Jatavis Brown in particular simply bouncing off too many ballcarriers. The Chargers are doing a great job of controlling game flow and keeping runners disengaged, but this remains a fairly porous unit that determined backs can exploit.

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


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

The Titans may not have been efficient on the ground last week, but they got the job done as a team, amassing 125 total rushing yards in a tough matchup with the Cowboys. Dion Lewis saw the majority of snaps and carries in this game, out-touching Derrick Henry 19-to-6 on the ground. Lewis has not been efficient with his touches this season though. Outside of Week 7 in which he averaged 7.0 yards per carry, Lewis had not cracked 3.5 yards per attempt since Week 1. He often finds himself in trouble trying to make something out of nothing in the backfield, scampering around trying to slip through a crease before being tackled for big losses that hurt his overall productivity. Derrick Henry remains the bruiser here, and he has been used as just that in back to back games, seeing limited but meaningful carries with a goal-line touchdown in each of his last two games. Marcus Mariota continues to shine on the ground as well, rushing for over 30 yards in his second straight game as he has now surpassed that mark four times this season with two rushing touchdowns on his resume.

The Patriots rushing defense saw itself exposed by the Packers last week as they gave up over 100 rushing yards to running backs for the first time since Week 3. This defense had performed well over their five games leading into Week 9, allowing an average of just 63 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs over that span. Both Lawrence Guy and Trey Flowers continue to play at a high level while their defensive backs have been proficient tacklers for most of this season. This matchup in the trenches should be fairly even with the strength of the Titans offensive line coming from the left to square off against both Guy and Flowers. However, if right tackle Jack Conklin can’t make it out of the concussion protocol in time to suit up, the Titans will certainly have a much tougher time finding room to run here.

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


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense at New York Jets Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

LeSean McCoy isn’t producing much of anything at this point. Over his last 3 games, he’s turned 24 carries into just 24 yards, and he’s averaging just 33 per game for the year. It’s hardly his fault, though, trapped in the NFL’s most anemic offense. McCoy runs behind one of the league’s worst front lines (our Matt Bitonti ranks it 24th), and with the world’s worst passing game in play, he’s swarmed on nearly every snap. Amazingly, he’s been stopped for 2 yards or fewer on 40 of his 85 runs thus far. McCoy has some juice left in his legs – he posted two strong games against the Titans and Texans – and he’d have made a great acquisition for a buyer like Philadelphia. But in his current spot, he’s no more than a low-ceiling flex play in fantasy. There’s just no reason to ever project him for efficiency or touchdown opportunity in this offense.

The Jets continue to field a generally sound run defense, but it’s an inconsistent one. They’ve been strong against power runners, holding Leonard Fournette, Jordan Howard, and Frank Gore to a combined 3.05 yards per carry. But they tend to come unglued against speedy backs, so guys like Marlon Mack, Kenyan Drake, and Tarik Cohen have produced plenty of efficiencies. The linebacking corps sorely misses Demario Davis, lacking in athleticism to cover gaps and to pursue. It’s hard to call this a targetable unit for fantasy purposes, considering how well they tend to neutralize lead runners. But there are often plenty of opportunities for speedier backs to break into the second level, so there’s always upside in this matchup.

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


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Even with a shaky front line in place, the Panthers continue to produce well on the ground. Their running personnel, namely Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton, is suited beautifully for the team’s option game. McCaffrey is an agile, explosive runner for sure, but he’s an underrated presence between the tackles. He frequently ground down college defenses at Stanford, even against stacked boxes, and he’s showing the same potential on the NFL stage. No longer a mere novelty back, McCaffrey has averaged 13.6 rushes per game this year, with 4.57 yards per carry over his last 17 appearances. Newton remains one of the league’s toughest open-field tackles, consistently shaking through traffic and bullying defenders up the middle. It’s an unconventional one-two punch, but one that’s combined to produce 90 yards a game thus far, with 7 touchdowns on the year.

Last year’s Steelers were an enigma in run defense, alternating suffocating games with extremely porous ones. But it’s been all good news thus far in 2018. Only a single runner (Kareem Hunt in Week 2) has topped 65 yards in this matchup, and lead backs are averaging just 3.89 yards per rush. With solid anchors up front in Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward, they’re capable of controlling the line in just about any matchup. And the linebackers have been a pleasant surprise themselves in a period of transition. Ryan Shazier's serious neck injury cast a lot of doubt on this group, but journeyman Jon Bostic has been stout in run support, and the run-stuffing safeties offer a great hybrid presence on the second level.

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


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Nick Chubb and the Browns rushing attack continues to impress this season as the Browns are fully committed to Chubb giving him 18 or more carries in each of his three games so far this season as the starter. While Chubb has yet to break a long run as he did against Oakland earlier this season in which he had 105 yards on just three carries, he possesses the skills to do so and it’s only a matter of time before Chubb has a carry longer than 21 yards which is his longest in his three games as a starter. The offensive line for the Browns continues to be an everchanging unit as Greg Robinson is now the left tackle for the Browns after undrafted rookie Desmond Harrison missed time last week due to illness and it appears Robinson will once again get the start.

The Falcons run defense is one that goes as Grady Jarrett goes, as the defensive tackle continues to be one of the best at the position in 2018. In games that Jarrett has played, the Falcons have allowed an average of 70 yards rushing to opposing running backs (Philadelphia, New Orleans, Carolina, New York Giants, Washington). When Jarrett was out or left the game early, the Falcons allowed 94 yards per game including 82 yards to Peyton Barber which was a season-high for the running back. The issue for the Falcons issues remains at the linebacker position as they have shifted their players around this season trying to integrate sixth-round pick Foyesade Oluokun after Duke Riley has largely struggled this season.

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


Los Angeles Rams Rushing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Todd Gurley and the Rams rushing offense had their toughest game on the ground this season last week, amassing just 92 rushing yards despite averaging nearly five yards per rush as a team. The game script played a big factor in the lack of touches on the ground for Gurley last week, rushing a season-low 13 yards for 68 yards but yet another rushing touchdown. Gurley has been the most dominant player in all of fantasy football this season, and last week was clearly a floor game for him. The offensive line should remain atop Footballguys offensive line specialist Matt Bitonti’s rankings headed into this week, while Gurley remains near the top of all rankings as the top fantasy running back available.

After back to back impressive outings against the run allowing just 73 rushing yards to running backs over two games, the Seahawks defense caved last week as they allowed Melvin Gordon to average 7.1 yards per carry on his way to 113 rushing yards and a touchdown. Seattle now ranks near the middle of the pack in run defense this season, as they have been quite inconsistent depending on the opponent. The common theme is that this defense has struggled when the opposing offense has a decent ground game. See games against the Chargers, Rams, and Cowboys as examples. Todd Gurley amassed three touchdowns in his last meeting with the Seahawks, but he was not very efficient on the ground. The Seahawks were also without linebacker K.J. Wright in that matchup, who made his season debut in Week 8. With two games under his belt, Wright will certainly help make a difference for this run defense. Even with both Wright and Thomas to help keep tabs on Gurley, the Rams offense sports the best offensive line and running back combination in football and will be very tough to stop.

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


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

The Patriots have employed a mixed bag strategy to keep their rushing offense afloat as an above average unit despite some tough injuries throughout the season. With the loss of Rex Burkhead and injury to Sony Michel, James White continues to lead the Patriots backfield in playing time with the absence of Sony Michel as White has seen over 70 percent of the snaps in three straight games with three rushing touchdowns over his last two outings. White has been far from efficient with his touches though, averaging just 2.8 yards per attempt over his last three games. It was actually Cordarrelle Patterson who led the team in rushing for the second straight week though, finding his way to 66 yards from 11 carries with an impressive rushing touchdown. With Sony Michel on track for a return this week, look for both White and Patterson to take a back seat on the ground to Michel, who should lead this backfield handily as he was averaging 22 carries and 105 rushing yards per game in the three games leading up to his injury. With what Patterson has shown in limited snaps at running back though, he may still have a role in this backfield--at least enough to carve out a few carries per game.

The Titans run defense did a great job bottling up Ezekiel Elliott last week, holding him to just 3.6 yards per attempt with seven of his 17 rushes going for 1 or fewer yards. Tennessee continues to be tough on opposing running backs, allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game and just two rushing touchdowns by running backs this season, both coming from Alex Collins in Week 6. While they have allowed a few committees of running backs to put up over 100 combined rushing yards, no one running back has posted a massive stat line against the Titans this season. Jurrell Casey continues to dominate, but that is about all the Titans have on the interior as Austin Johnson and DaQuan Jones have been average at best. Wesley Woodyard is a force against the run and had a great game last week while safety Kevin Byard has also looked to be a far above average run-defending defensive back. Depth outside of these key playmakers is shoddy, which begs the question of when the dam could break against these Titans. With the Patriots rolling out a banged up and deficient offensive line along and Sony Michel in his first game back from injury, the Titans defense should have the edge this week.

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


New York Jets Rushing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

With Bilal Powell shelved, the Jets could definitely use a backfield jolt from the recently-activated Elijah McGuire. His season debut was impressive, totaling 30 yards on 7 rushes, and he looks more capable of creating his own yardage than Isaiah Crowell. Lacking real burst and athleticism, Crowell is enormously dependent upon his blocking to produce anything of note. And his line (currently ranked 20th by our Matt Bitonti) is far too inconsistent to rely upon week-to-week. Crowell’s 2018 resume boasts a pair of enormous games, but they look like major outliers. Over the other 7, he’s averaged just 30 yards at 2.59 a run. McGuire doesn’t excel in any area, but he brings more dynamism to the table and should claim at least Powell’s role, if not more.

Buffalo’s run defense has been an occasional bright spot during this 2-7 campaign. It’s been beaten up several times but has also risen to the occasion here and there. They’ve thoroughly shut down 3 of the last 4 running games they’ve faced, holding the Texans, Patriots, and Bears to a combined 214 ground yards. Kyle Williams and Star Lotulelei make for a strong if not dominant interior and the linebackers have been fairly solid.

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


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

The Eagles appear to be moving on from Corey Clement as he had just four carries in London for six yards. This was the second straight game in which Clement struggled as he had eight carries for six yards in the previous game, so over the last two games he has had 12 carries for 12 yards. Clement came out and said this week that the lack of consistent touches has been a part of his struggle, but it is a chicken or the egg dilemma as the coaching staff is not going to continue to give him touches in the hopes that he will improve. Meanwhile, Josh Adams has been impressing the coaching staff and provided a burst to this offense as the 6’2’’ 225-pound rookie looked like he has the ability to continue to grow in this offense. The strength of this Eagles team continues to be the offensive line as Footballguys Matt Bitonti has them as the second best offensive line, and we know Doug Pederson is going to continue to ride the hot hand this season and at the moment it appears to be Adams and Wendell Smallwood leaving Corey Clement as the odd man out.

It’s no surprise, but Sean Lee is hurt again for the Cowboys and will likely miss 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury which means that the Cowboys will once again look to Leighton Vander Esch to play a significant role for the Cowboys. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as Vander Esch has been spectacular for the Cowboys as he has been one of the best rookie draft value picks on the year. All-in-all, the Cowboys defense is one that has been relatively untested, but outside of allowing 99 yards to Adrian Peterson and 102 yards to Chris Carson has stood up to their schedule this year allowing just Dion Lewis on Monday night to run for over 50 yards and the Cowboys have allowed the 7th fewest rushing yards to opposing defenses on the year. It is by no means a perfect unit as the defensive line is inconsistent at times, but it is an above average run-stopping unit.

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


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Simply put, the Steelers probably don’t miss LeVeon Bell much, if at all. It sounds strange out loud, but James Conner has been roughly just as productive – and a better touchdown scorer – at a mere fraction of Bell’s cost and headache. Conner currently sits third league-wide in yards per game (88), and he’s already matched Bell’s career-high in rushing scores (9). Last Sunday, Conner became the first back all year to top 84 yards against Baltimore’s top-notch defense – and he actually reached 107 (on just 24 attempts). He’s now reached the century mark in 4 straight games, averaging 119 per contest and 5.39 per run over that span. Conner isn’t quite the agility monster Bell is, but is a no-nonsense runner between the tackles, always looking to churn upfield and fall forward. Operating behind an elite front line that routinely opens wide lanes, he’s a perfect fit. The team would love to have right tackle Marcus Gilbert back, but Matt Feller has been adequate in his stead. Given Conner’s all-around ability and the team’s trust in him as a workhorse, he projects well weekly, regardless of matchup.

After a rough stretch to open the year, the Panthers run defense is finding its dominant stride. They haven’t allowed a runner to reach 50 yards since Week 6, and backs in general have averaged just 3.63 per carry over that span. That’s been aided a bit by game flow, and Baltimore’s Alex Collins did run well (11 for 49 and 1 touchdown) just 2 weeks ago. But overall, this is a swarming unit that makes life difficult on opposing run games. The return of linebacker Thomas Davis from suspension has been key; he’s 35, but still well ahead of where young Shaq Thompson is. Luke Kuechly hasn’t been his dominant self this season, but still swallows up inside runs, and the group benefits from a stout front line that controls the point of attack well.

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


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Adrian Peterson’s comeback has indeed been impressive. The 33-year-old sits eighth leaguewide in rushing yards per game (76), topping 95 in 5 of 8 thus far. Peterson posted a dud last week (17 yards) in a cake matchup with Atlanta, but game flow was what doomed him most, as the Falcons ran away with the lead. That’s less of a concern against the Buccaneers, but Peterson is now working behind a severely banged-up line. Washington has now lost both guards to injured reserve and left tackle Trent Williams for 3-4 games, and right tackle Morgan Moses may not suit up Sunday. It’s a nightmare scenario for Peterson, who still has plenty of burst but typically needs a crease to erupt through. Peterson will remain the engine of the offense, but his efficiency looks poised to take a hit.

The Tampa Bay run defense is getting closer to full health, with Gerald McCoy back on the field and rookie tackle Vita Vea returning immediately from a knee injury. But it’s still trending downward after three bad performances in a row. The last 3 lead runners to take on the Buccaneers racked up 80, 123, and 79 yards, averaging 5.04 per rush and scoring 5 times. McCoy makes a big difference to this unit, and there’s reason for optimism as he recovers from a 2.5-game absence. But these linebackers were ho-hum even before Kwon Alexander was lost for the year, and second-level breakdowns are fairly common here.

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


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Flying squarely under the radar, Joe Mixon has been one of the 2018’s most consistently explosive runners. Mixon has run for 64 yards or more in each of his 6 games thus far, averaging 4.85 per rush along the way. That’s quite a leap from his ho-hum rookie year, which saw him average 3.52 and only top 64 twice. Mixon is a certified stud, boasting a scary blend of burst, elusiveness, and power. His 43-yard scamper in Week 8 was a perfect snapshot of his block-following, ankle-breaking ability. Mixon is enjoying the Bengals’ gradually-improving offensive line, particularly on the left side, where new tackle Cordy Glenn has been a solid upgrade. First-round center Billy Price should be set to return this week, but he’s no guarantee to step into a starting role, with backup Trey Hopkins playing at a high level. He’s already produced solid games against stout run defenses, so he’s essentially a matchup-proof option with ever-present upside for huge rushing lines.

Against all odds, the New Orleans run defense has shone brightly as one of 2018’s stingiest. After allowing 4.40 yards per rush and 112 a game in 2017, they’ve tightened to just 3.39 and 76 this year (both best in the league). Only 2 backs (Peyton Barber in Week 1 and Todd Gurley last Sunday) have registered more than 56 yards, and none have topped 70. Some of that has been related to game flow, as the Saints tend to race up and down the field and take opposing run games out of the plan. But they’ve been simply suffocating on a per-play basis, with former first-round nose Sheldon Rankins coming into his own as a run-stuffer. His stout play in the middle has freed up the team’s mediocre linebacking corps to make easier plays than ever.

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


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

After getting off to a tremendous start this season, the Cowboys rushing attack has struggled in three of the last four weeks with consistency. The issues for the Cowboys continue to be two-fold as the first is that their offensive line is not as dominant as it has been the past couple of seasons as Matt Bitonti still has them as the 10th best offensive line, but it is a far cry from them consistently being the best offensive line in football for the past several seasons. The other issue the Cowboys have is that teams just do not respect the passing game for the Cowboys, often loading the box and trying to take away Elliott and the rushing attack.

This Eagles defense for the second straight season continues to be as good as they come in the NFL. Outside of a Saquon Barkley game in which Barkley dominated running for 130 yards, the Eagles have not allowed an opposing running back to run for more than 42 yards on the year. The defensive line continues to be the best in the NFL led by Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham and looks to be getting even stronger as they may get Timmy Jernigan back this week who will likely rotate along with Chris Long and Haloti Ngata. This defense should cause some issues for the Cowboys this week.

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


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Rookie Kerryon Johnson has cooled a bit after a mammoth breakout, managing just 59 yards on 21 attempts over the last 2 weeks. But context is important as both of those games came against the stout run defenses of Seattle and Minnesota, and both had scripts that took the rhythm right out of Johnson’s game. Prior to them, Johnson had averaged a wild 7.27 yards per rush in his NFL debut, already topping 70 yards 3 times in just a part-time role. He’s a significantly better ground option for the Lions than LeGarrette Blount (2.74 a carry) and keeps dominating snaps, and a return to dynamism is likely coming. With guard T.J. Lang back in action, Johnson runs behind one of the league’s better run-blocking lines, and he’s electric when given a crease. He won’t be high-volume or even very projectable all season, but he’ll always be a strong candidate to maximizes his carries and produce at the high end of his outcome range.

The Bears have benefited from a fairly weak schedule, but it’s still been impressive to watch them dominate opposing run games. They’ve been gashed just once all year which was in a long, overtime slugfest back in Week 6 and have simply dominated all other comers. Apart from that game, no opposing runner has topped 50 yards, averaging just 3.20 yards per carry along the way. Underrated nose Eddie Goldman sets the tone up front, and the active linebackers, led by super rookie Roquan Smith, are fantastic in flow and pursuit. Kerryon Johnson has been a dynamic weapon for the Lions, but he’ll be facing his toughest test yet by far. This front seven tends to control the line of scrimmage and dictate the run game to its own liking.

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense vs Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Peyton Barber continues to look like a thoroughly league-average runner, at best. He’s topped 69 yards 3 times thus far, yet fallen below 34 in each of the other 5 games. A relatively slow, plodding runner for a 225-pounder, Barber isn’t very powerful or elusive, and he doesn’t add much to the Tampa Bay offense. He’s merely better than Jacquizz Rodgers (and rookie Ronald Jones, when he’s healthy). This offense revolves around huge pass plays, and all it asks of Barber is to rumble ahead for three yards or so at a time. He’s coming through, barely (3.62), but carries almost no reason to expect upside. His line is shaky (graded at a C in run blocking by our Matt Bitonti), and his talent level doesn’t suggest he’d necessarily erupt through big holes anyway.

You’d never know it from last week, but Washington’s run defense has been among the league’s stingiest here in 2018. From Weeks 5-8, they’d faced a Murderer’s Row of top runners (Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley) but allowed them a paltry 168 yards combined (2.90 per carry). Then, Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith of the Falcons combined to rip off 148 last Sunday (on just 23 attempts). That’s no reason, though, to discount that tremendous run of success. Washington controls the line well with its young tackles, who border on the dominant, and a set of fast, athletic linebackers. Zach Brown is enjoying possibly his best season as a pro and could earn All-Pro recognition for his dizzying play in pursuit.

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