Week 7 Rushing Matchups

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

Jump to Passing Matchups

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

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

Also note, just because a player has a "bad" matchup, it does NOT mean he's not a starter in your league. If 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 vs Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

David Johnson’s struggles continued last week as he managed just 3.1 yards per rush for 55 yards and a late goal-line touchdown to salvage his fantasy outing. Johnson had a nearly identical stat line in Week five as he has cracked four yards per carry just once this season behind what has been very poor play up front by this bottom tier Cardinals offensive line. Johnson has scored four times in his last three games though as he remains the most talented player the Cardinals have on offense--thus making him a very likely candidate for touchdowns if the Cardinals have any opportunities at all. As evidence, Johnson racked up six red zone looks last week and now has 19 red zone looks on the season. The next closest player, Larry Fitzgerald, has a mere three red zone looks through six games. Not a single running back other than Johnson has a red zone look as he is the sole focus of this ground game.

A big day on the ground for David Johnson is tough to imagine behind a suspect offensive line, but if he were ever to be set up for a big game, this is the week against a collapsing Broncos run defense. The Broncos have given up over 200 rushing yards to a single running back in two straight games. In their last three games, the Broncos have allowed four rushing touchdowns and an average of 226 rushing yards per game to running backs. This once feared unit has absolutely lost it recently as their interior lineman are missing gaps while the linebackers simply are not tackling. The one thing going for the Broncos here is that the Cardinals offensive line is the worst they have faced all season, which could make this a game for the Broncos to get back on track. David Johnson will be thinking the same thing here though, and it is tough to count out one of the game’s best running backs after seeing what this defense has been reduced to in recent weeks.

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

Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Joe Mixon continues to shine as the Bengals’ bell cow back. Far more explosive than any runner the Bengals have had in years, Mixon has peeled away with the lead role, averaging 4.73 yards per carry and 84 per game. His Week 6 trampling of the Steelers’ stout run defense (11 rushes for 64 yards, including the would-be game-winning touchdown) was impressive and actually his lowest ground total of the season. In a complete 180-degree turn from his so-so rookie season, Mixon has generated 4 yards or more on 51% of his runs thus far. That blend of dynamism and down-to-down grinding ability is exactly what coordinator Bill Lazor’s striking offense needs. Mixon still runs behind a ho-hum front line, one that’s relatively weak on the right side and still missing first-round center Billy Price. But the electric Mixon is producing as though he doesn’t care, and matchups mean less and less to his value each week.

There’s hardly a run defense more vulnerable than Kansas City’s right now. Through 6 weeks, they’ve allowed running backs to average a stunning 5.45 yards per carry, with 6 running for 67 yards or more. The root of the problem lies up front, where the line is capable of penetration but too often washed out of the play. That puts far too much responsibility on the linebacking group, which is average at best. Anthony Hitchens has taken a step back here in 2018, while Reggie Ragland remains a one-speed tackler who struggles in pursuit. Fantasy players are wise to prioritize runners in this tasty matchup.

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

Denver Broncos Rushing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Broncos dynamic duo of running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman struggled to get going last week as they failed to exceed 40 yards combined without a single run of double-digit yards. This was by far the worst rushing outing this offense has had all season as the Rams presented a stout matchup with a tough game script for running the football. It is worth noting that Freeman out-touched Lindsay last week for the first time when they both have been on the field for an entire game. Devontae Booker continues to be involved on a consistent third of the snaps though, primarily serving as a pass-blocking and pass-catching option as he has yet to exceed five rushing attempts in a game. The Broncos offensive line is a mess right now. Garrett Bolles continues his sloppy play while left Ronald Leary was lost for the season with a torn Achilles last week. Center Matt Paradis has anchored this unit though as one of the top run-blocking centers in football, and they have shown some great cohesion this season to still support a league-leading 5.3 rushing yards per attempt.

The Cardinals run defense was shredded by Latavius Murray last week as he rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown. This Cardinals squad has struggled against the run all season as they have given up double-digit fantasy points in non-PPR scoring formats to a team’s lead running back in all six games--helping to explain how this unit has given up the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season. Poor tackling and a lack of discipline on the defensive line help explain why this run defense has been so bad. They have not even been plagued by many injuries this season--this unit is simply performing well below expectations given the talent they have. Cardinals safety Budda Baker has been moved all over the field this season, playing between slot cornerback and safety depending on the situation. He has been one of the most effective defensive backs against the run this season, particularly when lined up at safety--but even with Baker over the top and Chandler Jones improving on the outside, the interior defensive line and linebackers have been consistently outmatched. While the Broncos offensive line is indeed a mess at the moment, they have enough talent to win matchups against this Cardinals front seven as the outlook is positive for Broncos running backs.

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

Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense vs Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Adam Gase seems fully satisfied to deploy the ageless Frank Gore as his marginal lead back, with dynamic youngster Kenyan Drake in a change-of-pace role. And it’s working: Gore has racked up 164 yards over the past 2 weeks, and he’s generating 4.89 per rush on the year. Drake should probably be involved more, but the coaches seem to love him in a niche. Their production is made even more impressive when the Dolphins’ anemic front line is considered. Missing its starting left guard and center for the season, and with both tackles juggled in and out of the lineup, the Miami line is in constant transition. Gore is polished and Drake is dynamic, and they’ve greatly overachieved their situations thus far.

The Lions run defense remains one of the NFL’s weakest. Before having a bye last week, opposing running backs are picking up an eye-popping 5.99 yards per rush, and 3 have reached 100 on the day. There just isn’t reliable play-tracking or tackling on the second level (and beyond). Second-year middle linebacker Jarrad Davis continues to struggle mightily, and there’s little by way of reinforcement. Coordinator Paul Pasqualoni’s unit is a prime fantasy target.

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

Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

In the Chiefs’ mile-a-minute offense, Kareem Hunt continues to fly under the radar. Patrick Mahomes is hogging the headlines, and rightfully so, but Hunt has picked up where he left off last year as a talented, productive runner. And he’s been especially great over the last three weeks, posting 288 yards over 51 attempts (a 5.65 average) and scoring twice. An instinctive, one-cut runner, Hunt is custom-built for the Chiefs’ zone-blocking attack; he’s adept at identifying the ideal gap and erupting through it. Last week, he embarrassed the Patriots by routinely bouncing off one blocker’s hip and into open space. With defenses preoccupied by the Kansas City pass game, it looks as though those gaps will remain present and open. Hunt’s usage isn’t always clear in the week-to-week gameplan, but his efficiency is trending way upward.

The Bengals run defense remains one of the league’s weaker units. They flash from time to time, especially up front, where nose tackle Andrew Billings has been an underrated cog. But poor angles and missed tackles continue to hamper the second level, as seen last Sunday, when Pittsburgh’s James Conner rumbled for 111 yards and 2 scores on just 19 attempts. Even top linebacker Vontaze Burfict looked rough last week, misplaying a handful of tackles. There simply isn’t enough foot-speed and dynamism in pursuit to make up for miscues. That’s the main reason they’ve allowed running backs to average a wild 4.84 yards per carry thus far.

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

Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Chargers own one of the best rushing offenses in football as they are averaging over five yards per rush attempt with 137.3 rushing yards per game through six games. Melvin Gordon is having a tremendous season as he has been one of the most consistent running backs in the game, rushing at least 15 times in five of six games while averaging just over 77 rushing yards per game with six rushing touchdowns. Gordon has even risen his 2018 yards per rush to over 5.0 now, compared to his career mark of below 3.8 yards per attempt. Austin Ekeler continues to remain a threat for this backfield as well despite the success of Gordon. While Ekeler hasn’t found the end zone on the ground with Gordon getting all carries near the goal one, he still has posted some decent yardage totals this season with three games of over 45 rushing yards while averaging over six yards per attempt. Even Keenan Allen got in on the fun with 41 rushing yards on four attempts last week--marking the second straight week Allen has received a carry. It was clear last week that a healthy offensive line along with Melvin Gordon firing on all cylinders can pay big dividends for this Chargers rushing offense going forward.

The Titans rushing defense finally gave up their first touchdown of the season last week--two to be precise--to Alex Collins of the Ravens. This unit had been tough opposing running backs from a fantasy perspective leading into their Week 6 matchup, and they actually played well to allow just 3.5 rushing yards per attempt despite the run-heavy game script against the Ravens. The Titans allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs after six games, but they have given up Overall though, the Titans have given up the ninth-most rushing yards per game to the position. The avoidance of rushing touchdowns is what has carried this defense thus far. Jurrell Casey continues to play very well up front, but running backs have been able to find room against the Titans linebackers on a relatively consistent basis despite the lack of any big games by a single rusher. While limiting touchdowns certainly is a big deal, it is not sustainable--especially against an improving Chargers offensive line with a hot ground game right now. The Chargers own the best backfield the Titans will have faced this season, so they will be a true test for this suspect rushing defense.

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

New York Giants Rushing Offense at Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Giants may be a mess right now, but don’t blame the run game. Between rookie Saquon Barkley’s otherworldly physical gifts and a line that’s being reconstructed to get out of his way, this has become an attack that can’t be boxed in by matchup. Any time Barkley is given an opening, he’s a threat to spin pure gold out of it. Thus far, Barkley has shredded two elite run defenses (Jacksonville and Philadelphia) and shown quite well against a third (Houston). It’s easy to see why: Barkley is blazing fast and wildly elusive, and with just a sliver of a gap he’s fired onto the second level like a cannonball. And the much-maligned front line did a great job last Thursday of providing that sliver, clearing Eagles All-Pro Fletcher Cox and company out of Barkley’s way. The guards in particular have shown major improvement over the young season, with Patrick Omameh and rookie Will Hernandez consistently using both chips and drive blocks to create room for Barkley.

When linebacker Deion Jones and strong safety Keanu Neal went down with season-ending injuries, the Atlanta run defense waffled, but remained a passable unit. But with star nose tackle Grady Jarrett on the sideline as well, this group has been downright putrid. Dominant run plugger Jarrett has missed the last 2 games, and the team has ceded 192 yards and 2 touchdowns on 34 attempts to lead backs. Without Jarrett to occupy the front, the Jones-less linebacking corps has struggled mightily, often winding up redirected or out of position entirely in the run game. All told, if Jarrett can’t return this week, Saquon Barkley’s outlook is exceptionally bright. The Giants’ improving front line would hold an enormous advantage over the Falcons’ injury-ravaged unit.

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

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Buccaneers have struggled mightily to get a consistent run game going throughout the season. The Buccaneers went back to Peyton Barber last week giving him 13 carries after reducing his workload before their bye week and Barber had the best game of his season. The biggest issue for the Buccaneers is that they have not been able to create holes for the running backs who are not good enough to succeed without a strong offensive line performance, but last week against Atlanta the offensive line looked better getting a consistent push against the Falcons. This is a unit that is designed to block the pass and Footballguys’ expert Matt Bitonti’s rankings reflect that as he has them tied for the 6th worst against the run. If they can get a performance like they did last week, expect that ranking to increase.

The Browns run unit which has already struggled so far this season will be without a key player at linebacker as Joe Schobert will miss this week with a hamstring injury. Schobert has been the team’s best linebacker on the season. This was already a thin unit, to begin with as Christian Kirksey has been up and down this year and not 100% healthy, the team cut Mychal Kendricks before the season, and Jamie Collins continues to struggle. To make matters worse, Schobert’s backup James Burgess will also miss this week’s game against Tampa Bay leaving no one on the active roster to play middle linebacker. This will force Kirksey to move inside, and likely the Browns will have to start rookie Genard Avery who is a 5th round pick out of Memphis at linebacker. This is a Browns unit that has already struggled this season stopping the run as they have allowed running backs to go for 130 yards or more in three of their six games as the defensive line has struggled outside of Myles Garrett and misses the space-eating defensive tackle that they had in Danny Shelton last season.

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

Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense vs New York Giants Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Falcons have struggled on the ground and had a big loss this week as Devonta Freeman will miss significant time as he was put on injured reserve this week. Some of the run game struggles are Coleman’s direct fault – he’s not an elusive back, with little power and wiggle, and he tends to need a well-sealed crease to erupt. But the offensive line, long on continuity but short on road-grading talent, has to step up its game. In general, this unit that will miss Freeman’s short-area burst and elusiveness for projectable success. Coleman is great in certain situations, but can’t carry the run game consistently as the lead man. Over 7 games without Freeman since last year, Coleman is producing just 3.93 yards per carry. That’s a far cry from Freeman’s 4.60 over that same span. Look for the Falcons to continue to try to get Ito Smith involved as they look for options without Freeman.

The Giants run defense is a so-so unit, but it’s stronger than the numbers suggest. They’ve given up the NFL’s ninth-most ground yards thus far, but it’s fair to note they’ve faced a handful of elite runners (Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey) along the way. And there’s been noticeable improvement of late. In Week 5 they held McCaffrey to just 58 yards on 17 attempts, and last Thursday they allowed the Eagles backs virtually no room at all. Damon Harrison is enjoying an All-Pro season as a run disruptor, frequently blowing up plays with either penetration or block-eating ability on the nose. Tackler extraordinaire Landon Collins looms on the next level, and his skills help paper over a subpar linebacking corps. They’re not flawless, but this is no longer a unit to target in fantasy.

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

Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Doing all he can to carry this atrocious Buffalo offense, LeSean McCoy looks too good for his situation. It was great to see him run roughshod over the Texans’ stout front last week. He’s 30 and not as explosive as he once was, but McCoy continues to run hard and generate extra yardage consistently. He’s typically forced to create all of his numbers by himself, working with an inept passing game and running behind one of the league’s worst front lines (our Matt Bitonti currently ranks it 26th). He’s definitely spry enough to turn a real workload into usable fantasy output, as he’s done over the last 2 weeks, averaging 3.95 yards per carry and 79 per game. McCoy remains an easy fantasy RB2 every week, and it’s not just for his volume. There’s still juice to be had there.

The Colts run defense isn’t quite as bad as it’s historically been. Last year’s unit showed real promise, allowing the league’s ninth-fewest yards per carry, and they’ve picked up decently here in 2018. They’ve at least assembled a nucleus in the middle: tackles Denico Autry and Al Woods are solid space-eaters, and middle linebacker Darius Leonard has been a rookie revelation. Injuries have hit this group almost as hard as the offense, with both Autry and Leonard missing time already. But Leonard has since returned, and altogether this has been an above-average group. Last week they neutralized the red-hot tandem of Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell, allowing just 99 yards over their 29 rushes. New safety signee Mike Mitchell was especially active, and the run specialist has likely worked his way into a starting role.

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

Chicago Bears Rushing Offense vs New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Jordan Howard for the fourth consecutive week has lost snaps in this offense as his snap count has decreased from 73% to 62% to 54% and last week was at 51%. While Matt Nagy says that it is not a concern, one has to wonder as Tarik Cohen and the speed attack he brings has been more efficient and Howard fumbled on the goal-line last week in the second quarter. There maybe a shift going on in as the Bears continue to move to a speed-focused offense that looks to beat you out wide. This is a running attack that really has been stagnant for a lot of this season as Howard is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry including three straight weeks where he averaged 2.5 yards per carry or less before his solid performance last week where he ran for 69 yards on 14 carries.

The Patriots have been an up and down rush defense that was down last week as they allowed 80 yards rushing on just 10 carries to Kareem Hunt. The method behind having a solid running game against the Patriots is having a quarterback that the Patriots game plan against. The Patriots struggled against the Texans, Chiefs, and Lions, while dominated the front of the Dolphins, Colts, and Jaguars which is indicative of the more dime that the Patriots play the more susceptible they are against the run compared to their base defense. The defensive line for the Patriots continues to be extremely strong as Trey Flowers and Lawrence Guy are both playing at All-Pro and when the Patriots are in their base defense, Danny Shelton continues to be a space eater that will prevent any holes from opening up as we have seen the impact Shelton leaving Cleveland has had on their run defense this season.

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

Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

For the first time in several years, the Lions boast an explosive young runner with elite upside. Kerryon Johnson is excelling on nearly every touch of the ball, though curiously, coordinator Jim Bob Cooter seems dead-set on a committee approach. Johnson routinely cedes 15-20 snaps and 8-15 carries to LeGarrette Blount, who produces just 2.49 yards apiece. For now, fantasy players have to rely on Johnson’s dynamism to generate RB2 upside. But that’s not a huge leap of faith: the rookie is averaging 5.72 yards on his 50 rushes, after all. His Week 4 performance against the Cowboys was pure dynamite, from his game-opening 32-yard scamper to his tackle-breaking 8-yard touchdown later on. Johnson may be tough to project right now, but he’s absolutely maximizing his opportunity, and his day is coming. Blount may keep the short-yardage role locked down, but the dirty secret is that he’s traditionally been a subpar runner on the goal line. The only real fantasy value in this running game belongs to Johnson.

Miami’s run defense isn’t terrible, but it’s still fairly vulnerable and in need of a playmaker or two. The defensive line has overachieved, drawing good marks in the wake of Ndamukong Suh’s departure. But there’s still not enough consistency on the second level to slow down runners. Linebackers Kiko Alonso and Raekwon McMillan have struggled, and the return of star safety Reshad Jones hasn’t been enough to paper over it. When runners cross the line, they’re too often shot into the Miami secondary with a full head of steam.

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

Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Colts run game finally showed a flicker of life last Sunday. After 5 weeks spent near the bottom of the league, averaging just 3.53 yards per carry from running backs, Marlon Mack’s return provided a genuine spark. Mack tallied 89 yards on just 12 carries, ripping off runs of 14, 25, 11, and 9 yards against the Jets’ solid run defense. The front line remains a concern – it’s a relatively soft unit, built more for pass protection than run blocking (though not especially good at either). Going forward, the team could definitely use continued health and explosiveness from Mack, who looks markedly more talented and prepared than rookie Jordan Wilkins. But that could be a tall order for Mack, who plodded to just 3.85 per rush last year. Most likely, the Colts will keep digging for productivity from Mack and change-of-pace rookie Nyheim Hines. It’s anyone’s guess as to what they’ll find, but Sunday was at least encouraging.

The Buffalo run defense is showing definite improvement. After a 2017 to forget, in which they allowed 12 different backs to run for 70 yards or more, this year’s version has tightened considerably. Only one runner (Austin Ekeler) has topped 65 yards against them, and they’ve held the likes of Melvin Gordon (9 carries for 28 yards), Dion Lewis (12 for 34), Alex Collins (7 for 13), and Lamar Miller (15 for 46) firmly in check. Still, they’ve been worked over a few times as well. Speedy, one-cut runners tend to give them fits, thanks to subpar linebackers who often wind up chasing from out of position. Missed tackles have also been an issue down the field, and all in all, this is still a ripe matchup for chunk runs, if not dominant fantasy days.

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

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

The Rams rushing offense continues to roll with Todd Gurley playing above and beyond any other running back in the game. The only knock on Gurley this season had been his lack of big plays on the ground with only one rush of over 20 yards leading into Week 6. Gurley blew that out of the water with his career-high 208-yard explosion last week, rushing for over 20 yards a whopping four times. Gurley now has five rushing touchdowns in his last two games and leads the NFL by a handy margin with nine rushing touchdowns through six games. With the best running back in football and arguably the best run-blocking offensive line in the game right now, this rushing offense will be tough to stop even when facing the toughest of defenses.

The San Francisco defensive front struggled to keep Packers running backs in check on the limited rushing attempts last week. Overall though, this defense has been relatively efficient against opposing running backs as only one rusher has amassed more than 60 yards on the ground against them. The defensive line has played well, anchored by the spectacular play of DeForest Buckner on the inside while edge defenders Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas have also been pulling their weight against the run. The Rams offensive line is blocking better than any other unit in football right now, while Todd Gurley is absolutely unstoppable. Even with the 49ers playing well, this is not a matchup any defense looks forward to as Todd Gurley has the edge on nearly any defense with how well he has played this season.

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

Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

In the aftermath of Jay Ajayi’s injury, the Eagles will almost certainly keep to a committee approach on the ground. None of their backs are complete enough to plug in as a workhorse, and coach Doug Pedersen has preferred a multi-headed backfield in Philadelphia throughout his tenure. Wendell Smallwood should start again, with Corey Clement as the change of pace. Smallwood is somewhat intriguing, with his 4.67 per-carry average on the year, but he produced little in the lead role last Thursday against the Giants (just 51 yards on 18 rushes). Clement hasn’t fared much better with heavy usage, going 16-56 and 11-43 (with a touchdown) over the last 2 weeks. And both will operate without the services of All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters, who could be done for the year. Game flow can always boost Eagles runners, but in a vacuum, they’re shaping up as low-end flex plays for the bye weeks.

Carolina’s once-vaunted run defense has slipped majorly here in 2018. They’re giving up the league’s 10th-most yards per carry, and lead backs alone are ripping off 5.09 against them. Missed tackles have been a problem, though the return of Thomas Davis could help that. And up front, Dontari Poe is proving a run-game downgrade from Star Lotulelei. This is a defense built to pursue and play the pass, and it lacks a dominant nose to keep the dynamic linebackers free. Even Luke Kuechly has played at a depressed level thus far. This is still one of the most talented groups, but the results thus far have been rough, to say the least.

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

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

The 49ers backfield was full of surprises last week. Matt Breida was trending towards inactive status all week until he was declared active only a few hours before game time and suited up to lead the team with 14 carries despite battling multiple injuries. Breida has now been carted off the field twice this season, but he continues to battle through injuries while putting up very respectable numbers, rushing for an average of at least 4.2 yards per attempt in every game this season. The other surprise last week was undrafted free agent Raheem Mostert coming out of nowhere to lead the team in rushing yards with 87 yards on 12 attempts. Mostert had rushed only 13 times in his career prior to Monday night, so this was an unexpected move by the 49ers coaching staff that appeared to have paid off as he looked quite effective out there. Alfred Morris played just one offensive snap last week despite appearing to be in line for the start if Breida had been inactive. With what we saw from Mostert, it is likely that Morris will lose significant playing time going forward.

The Rams rushing defense has been quite inconsistent in recent weeks. They shut down the Vikings in Week 4, allowed over 170 rushing yards to Seattle in Week 5, then limited one of the league’s more explosive running back duos in Denver to only 40 rushing yards last week. The talent in this defense is undeniable with Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald up front. Donald has been one of the top run defenders on a week-to-week basis. Where the Rams struggle is at linebacker, as they simply can’t get effective and consistent play out of these guys. Mark Barron has been terrible in the last two games while Cory Littleton is much more suited for coverage than defending the run. The 49ers have a top-tier offensive line capable of holding their own here, and if Breida or Mostert can make it to the second level, they can gain a few extra yards against these Rams linebackers.

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

Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Browns struggled in all facets of the game last week. Carlos Hyde struggled mightily as there was very little room for him to work as the Chargers defense was comfortable going one-on-one with receivers and loading the box against the Browns. Hyde still dominated the carries in the backfield as he had 14 carries but did not have a run longer than 9 yards and just averaged 2.4 yards per carry. While you should not expect Hyde and the rushing offense to be this bad every week, Hyde as a runner does not strike fear in opposing defenses as he is going to take what the defense gives you and has just one run longer than 20 yards this season which was a 22 yarder. Nick Chubb continues to be the running back who has more big-play potential but has yet to consistently see the field as he once again just had three carries last week.

The Buccaneers showed once again last week that their strength on defense is against the run as they are allowing the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game this season and have not allowed a running back to go for more than 61 yards. Last week, they held Tevin Coleman to just 35 yards rushing and Tampa has held number one backs to just 35 yards per game. The run defense strength is a combination of the defensive front by Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David, but also has everything to do with how the Buccaneers are against the pass that teams just do not try to run the ball against them.

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

Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense at Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Cowboys had one of their more impressive performances of the season this past week as they ran all over the Jaguars as Ezekiel Elliott ended up with 104 yards and Dak Prescott added another 82 yard with both scoring touchdowns. This offensive line which started the year with a significant amount of injuries, is coming together even without Travis Frederick who is still dealing with an illness. Elliott has now gone over 100 yards in three of his last four games and the workload has increased significantly as well as he averaged just 16 carries per game over his first three games and has now averaged 23 carries over his last three games. This is a Dallas rushing attack that continues to carry this team so look for Elliott to continue to play a significant factor in this offense.

The Redskins run defense continues to be the most improved unit in football after being the worst run defense in football a year ago, has rebuilt their defensive line which has been dominant so far this season with Da’Ron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Matt Ioannidis. This is a unit that has not allowed a running back to run for more than 61 yards in a game. This one drawback against this defense is that they are allowing 4.1 yards per carry which is 12th best in the NFL, but the longest run that they have allowed this year is just 18 yards which is the second shortest. The reason this is a concern is that there could be some regression coming from this unit if they allow a few long runs to opposing running backs as typically the team that allows the shortest long run is around 33 yards so even the best defenses give up a few long plays from time to time.

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

Houston Texans Rushing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Texans have yet to solve their offensive line woes, and they're still trotting out one of the league's weakest units. As a result, neither Lamar Miller nor Alfred Blue is able to accomplish much beyond running into the line and closed-off stretch lanes. Miller did return last week against Buffalo but was unable to have any sustained success as he had just 3.1 yards per carry for 46 yards.

The Jaguars run defense continues to be an up and down unit and last week was on the down side of things as they allowed 104 yards rushing to Ezekiel Elliott and another 80 yards to Dak Prescott. This is the third time they’ve allowed big games thus far in 2018 – 108 yards to Saquon Barkley in Week 1, then 87 to Kareem Hunt two weeks ago. None of the three performances are concerning, as they are three of the better rush offenses in football, but it is showing cracks in the defense that was thought of as an elite unit. Big games happen from time to time, as Blake Bortles' shakiness often sets up positive game scripts for opponents as we saw last week. But in a vacuum, this is still one of fantasy's toughest matchups to justify taking on.

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

Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense vs Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

At the moment, the Jaguars simply can't count on Leonard Fournette. Between his long-nagging ankle/foot woes and his recurring hamstring issue, Fournette's body simply isn't cooperating with his NFL plans. He'll almost certainly sit this Sunday, leaving T.J. Yeldon and Jamaal Charles in the backfield once again. Yeldon does not provide the same consistency that Fournette does and does not command the same respect that Fournette requires from opposing defenses which we saw last week as it put a significant amount of pressure on this offense not having a reliable running game. Jamaal Charles is just a name at this point, as he showed very little effectiveness on his five carries.

Houston's run defense has been fantastic through the start of 2018. They've faced their share of talented backs and strong offensive lines, but have yet to truly break. LeSean McCoy had moderate success last week running for 73 yards on 16 carries which was only the second time that we have seen a running back top 61 yards (Saquon Barkley). The line often borders on dominant, with J.J. Watt setting the edge like few can and underrated nose tackle D.J. Reader eating up inside space. They do a great job of freeing up inside linebackers Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham to flow to the ball without having to chase much outside.

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

Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense at New York Jets Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

With Dalvin Cook hobbled and out for much of the young season, the Vikings have struggled mightily on the ground. Latavius Murray finally showed up last Sunday, churning out 155 yards, which can’t just be dismissed. Murray looked explosive and physical, stiff-arming his way to a 21-yard touchdown. But it’s fair to wonder if the matchup wasn’t the driving force. The Cardinals are putrid in run defense, and were the first unit the Vikings have pushed around all year. Behind an injury-ravaged and underperforming line, the Vikings still sit 20th league-wide in yards per rush and 28th per game. Prior to last week’s outburst, Murray had racked up just 106 yards over 30 carries. Until further notice, this is an attack that should be viewed with skepticism – especially against a stout front like that of the Jets.

The Jets run defense remains an upper-tier unit, one that rarely allows big rushing performances. They bent a bit last Sunday, allowing the first real signs of life to the Colts’ anemic run game, and had a few lapses the week before. But in general, they’ve made for a consistently strong unit, one that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 1 of last season. In fact, over that 21-game span, running backs are averaging just 3.70 yards per carry against them. Leonard Williams isn’t the most consistent player, but is adept at disrupting and redirecting run plays. His occasionally-strong 2018 play has gone a long way toward making life easier for the Jets’ ho-hum linebacking corps. This isn’t exactly a matchup to shy away from in fantasy, but it’s anything but a pushover.

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

New England Patriots Rushing Offense at Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Don’t look now, but the Patriots rushing attack is one of the strongest in the NFL as Sony Michel over his last three games has been a workhorse for this Patriots team averaging 105 yards rushing as the team looks to be more balanced then they ever have been. The offensive line for the Patriots continues to be an issue as Matt Bitonti has them rated as the 27th offensive line in football and while it is a strong unit up the middle, it is a unit that has struggled at the tackle positions as Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon are both having down seasons.

The Bears rushing defense is one in which was gashed last week for 158 yards. This was an atypical performance and can likely be excused as an anomaly for a unit that has been very good up until this point. The temperature was 100 degrees in Miami and the Dolphins strategy was to wear the Bears down which is exactly what they did and it worked to perfection. Outside of last week, the Bears are a unit that has not allowed a running back to go over 50 yards and while they have not been tested, by a strong running game are still a very impressive unit led by defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mack at linebacker both who are playing at an elite level this season.

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

Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Titans remain unable to find any rhythm on the ground as they turned in yet another dismal rushing performance last week. The offense as a whole was about as dysfunctional as it has been all season long in a tough matchup with the Ravens though, which never bodes well for a rushing offense. Both Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis continue to split time as neither running back has impressed at all on the ground when given the opportunity. Marcus Mariota remains mobile despite his lingering elbow injury, but the Titans are not calling many designed runs, if any, to get Mariota consistently involved in the ground game. The offensive line in Tennessee had one of their worst games in the past couple of seasons last week despite a fully healthy starting unit until Quentin Spain exited early in the third quarter.

The Chargers rushing defense continues to look dominant as they held a lead running back to fewer than 40 rushing yards for the fourth time this season. Three of those performances have come in each of their last three weeks as this unit has not allowed a rushing touchdown to running backs since Week 3 while giving up just 61 rushing yards per game to the position over that span. The front four of this Chargers defense continues to anchor them with Melvin Ingram III having another great season while Darius Philon has come on strong to be one of their best run defenders. This is not a likely week for the Titans running backs to get going against this tough Chargers run defense, especially with the Titans’ offensive line coming off as bad of a week as this past one.

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

Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Based upon his breakout 2017, Alex Collins has been a massive disappointment thus far. He opened his tenure as the Ravens’ lead back with 478 yards over his first 80 carries, but here in 2018, he’s sitting at just 3.57 yards per. The Ravens are feeding him plenty of volume to succeed with; the yardage efficiency just isn’t there. Some of that blame falls on the typically-sturdy front line, which has underachieved a bit despite Marshal Yanda’s return. But Collins himself isn’t a particularly special runner, with middling speed and athleticism for a back around 220 pounds. As a result, he doesn’t create much when he hits traffic and will likely need better blocking to turn his season around. He’s still miles better than Javorius Allen (2.77 on the year), though, so he’ll continue to spearhead this attack.

The Saints run defense has exceeded all expectations thus far in 2018. Only one back (Peyton Barber in Week 1) has topped 44 yards in this matchup, and no team has allowed less per rush. Along the way, they’ve corralled both phenom Saquon Barkley (10 for 44) and the rejuvenated Adrian Peterson (4 for 6), as well. Ex-Jet linebacker Demario Davis is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season in run support, routinely making impressive plays in pursuit. And safety Vonn Bell has taken a noticeable step forward in his third year. There’s always the worry of sudden implosion once this group is faced with a strong run game, but the results are firmly on their side.

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

Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Panthers seem fully confident in Christian McCaffrey as their lead back. It makes sense – McCaffrey has the reputation of a marginally successful runner, but has averaged 4.68 yards per rush over his last 14 games. He carries a long resume of grinding, in-the-box running at Stanford, and can absolutely create his own difficult yardage. When game flow allows, he’s a weekly candidate to threaten 100 yards. Cam Newton is the change-of-pace runner, edging C.J. Anderson out of the rotation, and things are much more dynamic that way. Newton has averaged 42 yards a game this year and remains a constant bully, both in the open field and on the goal line. The Panthers’ option scheme fits Newton and McCaffrey like a glove, and both are readily able to overcome the ho-hum front line from week to week.

Last Thursday notwithstanding, the Eagles present one of fantasy’s toughest run matchups. There’s no shame in struggling to corral Saquon Barkley, who shredded the Eagles for 130 yards. Barkley has done that to good defenses all year, as in Week 1, when he hung 106 on the Jaguars. Prior to last week, the Eagles hadn’t allowed a single runner to top 42 yards in a game, and they’d averaged just 2.78 per carry along the way. There are vulnerabilities here, namely on the second level, where the so-so linebackers can be directed by zone-blocking attacks. The Giants, for instance, did a fabulous job of creating holes just big enough for Barkley to explode through. But in general, this Philadelphia line, led by elite penetrator and disruptor Fletcher Cox, is dominant enough to control most run games.

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

New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Saints are whole again, back to featuring a two-headed monster of wild rushing efficiency. Dating back to last season, when both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara suit up, this is a nearly unstoppable unit. Together, the pair has averaged 22 carries for 113 yards (a 5.14 average) over their 17 games, and both have been great even outside their prescribed roles. Ingram is more than just a bruiser – he’s adept at following blocks onto the second level and creating downfield yardage. And Kamara, unbound by convention as a small back, is actually one of the NFL’s more wily and elusive runners in traffic. Ingram paid dividends in his first game off suspension, even with middling usage. His value as a dynamic grinder definitely cuts into Kamara’s workload, but not into his explosive play-to-play potential. Kamara is no longer the bell cow, but he’ll remain plenty involved in the offense. Considering the firepower Drew Brees brings and the quality of the front line (our Matt Bitonti currently ranks it fifth with a B+ run grade), this is again the NFL’s most eruptive backfield. Even backup quarterback Taysom Hill (90 yards and 1 touchdown over the last 3 games) is contributing dynamically.

The Baltimore run defense remains among the NFL’s gold standard. They were thoroughly dominant last year once healthy, and they’ve (mostly) picked up where they left off. Through 6 weeks, they’ve allowed only a single runner (Joe Mixon) above 63 yards, and backs as a whole are producing just 3.58 per rush. Led by a stout interior core of Brandon Williams, C.J. Mosley, and a pair of run-seeking safeties, there’s rarely room to maneuver up the gut. They’ve been a bit vulnerable on outside runs, and fast change-of-pace backs have found success, but it’s mostly been situational. This is definitely not a matchup to test with much confidence in fantasy.

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

New York Jets Rushing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Jets run game came back to Earth in Week 6, with Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell managing just 99 yards over 29 rushes. If you take away their longest runs (21 and 16 yards, respectively), the pair averaged a woeful 2.14 per carry. Coming against the Colts’ injury-ravaged defense – just a week after a 320-yard eruption – it was quite disappointing. The crash reiterated just how average this ground attack is; it tends to require wide lanes and missed tackles to generate big production. The interior of the line often fails to get a push or open big holes, and lead runner Crowell isn’t elusive enough to create consistent yardage on his own. Powell is the more efficient runner, and he’s found his share of success, averaging 4.31 yards per attempt thus far. But neither has shown the dynamism to trust as a week-to-week RB2 in fantasy. They’re typically volume-based producers.

The Minnesota run defense remains among the NFL’s toughest to penetrate. Armed with a deep, talented front line that’s capable of consistently dominating the trenches, runners find little room in this matchup. Through 6 weeks, only Todd Gurley has topped 59 yards against them, and lead backs are averaging an anemic 2.94 per rush. It all starts with tackle Linval Joseph, who looks destined for his third consecutive Pro Bowl. Joseph and Sheldon Richardson keep absorbing entire interior fronts, allowing the ends to set the edges and the good-not-great linebackers to make plays on the ball. The Jets’ shaky interior has its work cut out for itself.

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

Washington Redskins Rushing Offense vs Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Redskins rushing attack continues to be an up and down unit that as Adrian Peterson has three games where he has run for 96 yards or more and then his other two games he has run for a total of 26 yards. The veteran at this point in his career is a guy who needs consistent volume to be productive and it is no surprise in the three games they won, he was productive and in the other two games, they fell behind he was largely taken out of the game. The issue for the Redskins is that both Peterson and Chris Thompson who missed last week are questionable heading into this week. It is likely that Peterson will play, while Thompson continues to be a mystery with both knee and rib injuries. On the offensive line, keep an eye on Shaun Lauvao as if he is able to go this week would be a significant upgrade for the 12th ranked offensive line according to Matt Bitonti.

The Dallas run defense continues to be a very difficult unit to run against as they are allowing just 3.5 yards per carry which is the second best in football. Even without Sean Lee who continues to be out but is making the progression to return, Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith are playing at a very high level. This is a unit that outside of allowing 100 yards to Chris Carson earlier this season has not allowed a running back to rush for over 55 yards in a game including holding Saquon Barkley to his worst rushing game of the season with just 28 yards rushing.

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