Week 8 Rushing Matchups

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

Jump to Passing Matchups

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


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.


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Denver’s rushing offense got back on track in a prime matchup last week, posting 131 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns against the Cardinals. Phillip Lindsay led the backfield in snaps and carries as he averaged 6.4 yards per attempt with a touchdown. Lindsay has averaged at least 4.5 yards per rushing attempt in every game this season, looking spectacular as long as the Broncos continue giving him the ball. This backfield remains a pure committee though, as Royce Freeman had just one fewer carry than Lindsay last week despite looking significantly worse with just 2.8 yards per attempt. Freeman did suffer an ankle injury that landed him on the injury report as questionable, so his status will be worth monitoring. If Freeman were to miss, Lindsay will immediately see a huge opportunity.

The Chiefs have struggled against the run this season, giving up the third-most rushing yards per attempt (5.2) and tied for the third-most rushing touchdowns (9) on the season. While a plus game script helped them shut down the Bengals offense last week, the Chiefs were taken to the bank by Sony Michel in Week 6 and allowed both Broncos running backs to put up solid numbers with just under 70 rushing yards and a touchdown a piece in their Week 4 meeting. Using DVOA, this unit ranks dead last against the run coming into Week 8. The linebacker position is a serious liability while the defensive line continues to sell out against the pass instead of improving against the run. Even counting last week’s dreadful showing from the Bengals, the Chiefs have allowed an opposing running back to amass at least 50 rushing yards in five straight outings. The Broncos backfield will look for a repeat of their Week 4 performance, if not even better, in this week’s matchup--especially if the Chiefs remain without Justin Houston here.

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


Houston Texans Rushing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Lamar Miller and the Texans rushing offense is coming off of their best performance of the season as Miller broke the 100 yard mark for the first time in 2018 against a good Jaguars front seven. Miller has been the far more productive of the two backs as Alfred Blue has struggled so far this season as he is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry and only has two carries longer than ten yards so far this year. The offensive line continues to be an issue for the Texans although did play better last week and is a much better run blocking unit than a pass blocking unit.

The Dolphins run defense has struggled for most of the season and struggled once again last week allowing Kerryon Johnson to run for 158 yards. This is a unit that is still very inexperienced at the linebacking position in Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker who are playing alongside Kiko Alonso. The defensive line is primarily made up of pass rushers who have never been great at stopping the run in Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn. The one advantage that the Dolphins could have is if the Davon Godchaux who has improved over the last week can cause issues up the middle against the offensive line of the Texans it could cause issues this week.

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


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The San Francisco rushing offense managed just over 100 yards on the ground in a blowout loss last week. Matt Breida aggravated his ongoing ankle injury on his first carry of the game and was forced to exit by halftime. Breida has run well this season despite playing through multiple injuries, but it is doubtful he continues to play through this ankle sprain as he is expected to sit this week. Raheem Mostert has been the most effective 49ers running back for the second straight week as he averaged over eight yards per carry last week on just seven attempts. Alfred Morris, on the other hand, rushed for just 25 yards on nine carries--two more attempts than Mostert with fewer than half the rushing yards to show for it. Mostert has 146 rushing yards on only 19 attempts in the past two weeks, and with Breida likely sitting this week, it appears to be Mostert’s backfield for the taking.

The Cardinals defended their title of worst rushing defense in the league last week as they have now allowed a league-leading 148.3 rushing yards per game on the season, with 137 of those yards coming from opposing running backs who are also averaging a league-best 1.4 rushing touchdowns per game when facing the Cardinals. This defensive line has been more focused on the pass rush than the run this season as the interior continues to struggle. Middle linebacker Josh Bynes remains a bright spot, but he can’t do it all alone as the secondary has struggled to contain running backs despite allowing a long run of only 34 yards. The Cardinals offense must take some blame here as they often put this defense in terrible spots, but this defense as a whole should be playing better against the run considering their talent and lack of injury woes this season.

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


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Adrian Peterson so far this season has been the MVP of the Redskins offense. Outside of two games in which the Redskins fell behind early and abandoned the run, Peterson has run for 96 yards or more in each of his four other four games. He remains a running back that will wear down your linebackers and secondary as the offensive line for the Redskins has been tremendous opening holes and allowing him to get down field. Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, and Brandon Scherff continue to lead this offensive line which Matt Bitonti has as a top-five offensive line this season.

The Giants rushing defense took a big hit as they traded Damon “Snacks” Harrison to Detroit this past week. While Harrison was not only their best run stopper he was one of the veterans on the defensive line which could have a crushing morale impact on the remaining defensive lineman of the Giants. Expect a bigger workload for B.J. Hill and Mario Edwards who will be the direct replacement for the Giants for Harrison. This is a big test for the Giants as if their defensive line allows the Redskins offensive line to get up field, it could cause issues for Alec Ogletree who has really struggled at the linebacking position which could lead to a big day for Adrian Peterson.

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


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense vs New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

LeSean McCoy’s prove-it season is humming along as much as possible in this utterly toothless offense. At age 30, McCoy isn’t quite as fast or elusive as he once was, but he remains a shifty, fundamental runner capable of maximizing his awful circumstances. Saddled with a poor front line (our Matt Bitonti currently ranks them 26th) and the league’s worst passing game, McCoy is producing a respectable 3.87 yards per rush. But after leaving Week 7 early, he’s still in the concussion protocol and no lock to suit up Monday night. If he can’t go, lead duties will again fall to Chris Ivory, who hung 81 yards on the Colts last Sunday. But Ivory has been atrocious all year, averaging just 2.53 yards per carry before last week’s perk-up. He’s no longer a very powerful or creative runner, and the line doesn’t open many holes on most weeks. Change-of-pace back Marcus Murphy offers a spark, but without McCoy, this backfield looks like a poor fantasy play – even in a soft matchup.

The Patriots run defense tightened up last week, holding the Bears’ Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen to just 53 combined yards. But this is still one of the NFL’s most exploitable matchups. Game flow often dings the fantasy output of opposing runners, but there’s almost always a ton of efficiency in play. Thus far in 2018, running backs are averaging a healthy 4.45 yards per rush against this group. That’s a big improvement from their horrendous 2017, but still a fairly sieve-like number. Whenever an opposing run game can gain any traction on the script, its lead runner can pile up yardage on the Patriots’ subpar front seven. The edges are routinely brushed aside to create big creases, and the linebackers are miscast as run-stuffers. It’s never easy to project big overall fantasy lines in this matchup, but ground efficiency tends to come easily.

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


Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense at Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Perhaps Marlon Mack is talented enough to be exactly what the Colts have thirsted for. Mack underwhelmed as a 2017 rookie, averaging just 3.85 yards per rush. But it’s important to note that he spent most of the year playing through a torn labrum. Here in 2018, he’s returned from a nagging hamstring injury to rack up 215 yards (6.94 per carry) over the past 2 weeks. He’s put to bed any backfield competition whatsoever, juicing up the league’s ninth-weakest ground game with frequent chunk runs (22 of his 41 carries have gone for 5+ yards). Mack is an explosive second-gear guy through the holes, which have been copious from the Colts’ blossoming front line. Rookie left guard Quenton Nelson looks like a keeper, and center Ryan Kelly remains a powerful force up the middle. This isn’t the league’s most dependable attack, but it keeps proving a dynamic one.

The Oakland defense remains generally weak against the run. Through 7 weeks, they’ve allowed the NFL’s sixth-most yards per game and per attempt. It’s true they’ve tightened noticeably over their last 3 games, holding Carlos Hyde (22 for 82), Melvin Gordon (19 for 58) and Chris Carson (14 for 59) in check. New Raider Jonathan Hankins, one of the league’s most underappreciated run-stuffers, has made his presence felt of late. But it’s difficult to trust in a big turnaround for this group. After all, that 3-game stretch included solid days by Nick Chubb (3 for 105) and Rashaad Penny (9 for 43). This is a severely talent-starved group that struggles in pursuit and the open field. Fantasy rushers can be trusted just fine in this matchup.

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


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense vs Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Kareem Hunt was spectacular again last week, albeit with most of his fantasy production coming through the air. Hunt has led this rushing offense with at least 80 yards on the ground in five consecutive games and five rushing touchdowns in his last five outings. With the big lead last week, Spencer Ware managed to mix in with eight carries for 59 yards--his biggest workload since Week 1. Hunt remains the clear top option here though, as he is running and catching the ball about as well as any other running back in the league right now. The offensive line in Kansas City also continues to play at a high level despite mounting injuries. They have been without center Mitch Morse since around halftime of Week 6, lost right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to a season-ending leg injury in Week 5, and have now lost backup center Jordan Devey for the season with a pectoral injury. Things will certainly have to shift around to keep this line afloat, but strong play by their tackles should continue to carry them to at least an average performance.

The Broncos shut down a struggling Cardinals ground game last week after getting thrashed by opposing running backs for three straight weeks, giving up 677 rushing yards over that span from Weeks 4 thru 6. Linebacker Todd Davis played much better while the defensive line stepped up in a big way. Context must be added to this performance though, as the Cardinals have the worst rushing offense in football by a large margin with a terrible offensive line while suffering from an even worse game script. That outing was really set up on a tee for the Broncos, whereas this week should be much more of a challenge against a better Chiefs offensive line and a ton of offensive weapons with Hunt and the mobile Mahomes both playing at very high levels.

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


Los Angeles Rams Rushing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Few words are needed to describe Todd Gurley and this Rams rushing offense. Gurley is having a historic season, on pace for 32 touchdowns--the most by any player in a single season. He leads the league in rushing yards with nearly 100 per game while averaging just under five rushing yards per attempt. The offensive line continues to play at a high level while the ground game overall benefits from spectacular playcalling and a multi-dimensional offense capable of spreading the field at will. Malcolm Brown has been a more than competent backup here as well with 89 rushing yards on 18 carries in the last two weeks, further proving how well this offensive line is playing.

Despite a strong interior defensive line and relatively low total rushing yardage numbers, the Packers have still struggled against the run at times this season. A poor showing from the Vikings offensive line in Week 2 and the abysmal Bills offense from Week 4 help boost the numbers here, but outside of those games, the Packers have given up at least 70 yards to a running back in every game. Having Aaron Rodgers slinging the rock on the other side of the ball has also helped to force opposing offenses into more pass-heavy game scripts to keep rushing attempts down. On the season, the Packers are allowing 4.7 rushing yards per attempt, which screams towards a good situation for Todd Gurley, who is bound to get his typical workload regardless of game script.

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


New England Patriots Rushing Offense at Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Just when the Patriots had discovered their coveted bell cow, Sony Michel immediately joined the ranks of the injured. Michel was carted off with a twisting knee injury last Sunday, and while the early word is positive, he looks unlikely to suit up Monday night. If he can go, he’ll bring a truly dynamic presence to the New England backfield. He’s benefited from a soft run of opposing defenses, but is exceptionally skilled and has showcased burst, elusiveness, and power in racking up 4.56 yards per rush as the lead dog. Without Michel, the Patriots would lean on either journeyman Kenjon Barner (10 carries last week) or a midweek free agent pickup like Mike Gillislee. Neither of them, nor change-of-pace runner James White, would offer the early-down ability of Michel, though. Even with an improved run-blocking line and honest defenses playing back, this run game will lose most of its appeal if Michel can’t suit up.

Buffalo’s run defense remains a sore spot on most weeks. Marlon Mack’s 19-carry, 123-yard eruption last Sunday was a showcase of just how far this group has to go. There’s been improvement, and they’ve held a handful of talented backs (Melvin Gordon, Lamar Miller, Alex Collins) firmly in check. But this is still a unit short on both athleticism and discipline on the second level. The linebacking group is one of the league’s weakest, frequently way out of position and slow-footed in pursuit. Speedy, quick-cut runners (Mack, Aaron Jones, Austin Ekeler) have found success jumping into the wide creases often left available. Rookie middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds has shown promise, but keeps trading a solid game for a bad one. Until this front seven shows any kind of consistency, this will remain a shaky unit always capable of handing over big stat lines.

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


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Steelers will once again be without Le’Veon Bell and with no assured date of him coming back, this team remains James Conners team in terms of the running game. Conner prior to the bye week had back to back phenomenal games as he went for 110 yards or more in each of those two contests. Conner has shown a bit of inconsistency on the ground as while he has three games where he has gone over 110 on the season, he does have two games in which the Steelers fell behind and he had less than 10 carries and less than 20 yards. Look for Conner to continue to have success this week against the Browns and while we should not expect 31 carries that we saw last time these two teams played in the down pouring rain, he should see a significant volume this week.

It remains to be seen what the loss of Joe Schobert will have on this Browns rushing attack as they were able to stop the anemic Tampa Bay rushing attack last week, but will be faced with a sizeable test against James Conner who had previously rushed for 135 yards against this unit. On the season, the Browns have struggled with consistency as they have allowed 130 yards or more to running backs. Rookie Genard Avery will be facing a tough test in this game and while he played well against Tampa last week, it could make for a tough week for the Browns as the right side of the offensive line for the Steelers in David Decastro and Marcus Gilbert should have no problem with Trevon Coley and Emmanuel Ogbah which will leave Avery in some tough positions having to shed blockers.

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


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense at Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Seahawks ground game has been effective to start the season, averaging just under 130 rushing yards per game and 4.3 yards per attempt leading into their bye last week--ranking them within the top-10 among rushing offenses. Chris Carson has led the backfield in each of his last three starts, rushing for over 100 yards in two of those outings. Mike Davis has mixed in ever since amassing 101 rushing yards in relief of Carson in Week 4, but his workload has decreased week over week, especially in Week 6 when Rashaad Penny made it back from injury to mix in for 20 percent of the snaps. While Carson appears to be the top option, this backfield still presents a high level of uncertainty as it appears the Seahawks are willing to mix in all three running backs at any given moment depending on the situation. What has been clear this season, however, is that Russell Wilson is not running as often as usual. Now six games into the season, Wilson is on pace for less than a third of his rushing yardage total from 2017 as he simply has not needed to scramble as often with a better backfield and improved offensive line.

The Lions rushing defense remains one of the most exploitable units in the league, giving up nearly 140 rushing yards per game and a league-leading 5.3 rushing yards per attempt. The Lions have allowed the league’s fewest rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks through six games this season. They kept Frank Gore of the Dolphins in check last week for most of the game, but Kenyan Drake was allowed to get loose for a 54-yard touchdown run where the linebackers showed poor vision to crash into the offensive line while Darius Slay took a terrible angle as Drake blew past him. The Lions did make a significant trade going and getting one of the best run-stopping defensive tackles in football in Damon Harrison. While a possible return of Ezekiel Ansah is not out of the question, even his presence would not move the needle to bump this run defense to an average unit based on what we have seen thus far.

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

For a number of reasons, the Tampa Bay running game simply can’t get off the ground. Up front, the line is mediocre at best, currently sitting 22nd in Matt Bitonti’s rankings. But the real problem is in the backfield, where there’s strikingly little talent. Peyton Barber simply looks like a reserve option as he lacks athleticism and is too small for a big-back role. Through 6 games he’s producing just 3.51 yards a carry, and even as the featured back he’s landed south of 34 yards 4 times. Barber has missed practice so far this week and is highly questionable this week. Rookie Ronald Jones (2.65) has somehow been even less effective, and it’s not yet apparent what the Buccaneers saw to trigger their draft trade-up. Shaky in both aspects of the offense, Jones could probably use the seasoning, but simply doesn’t give the Buccaneers their best chance to win at the moment. It’s safe to expect more low-impact plodding from Barber until the light switches on.

The Bengals’ defensive collapse hasn’t stopped in its barely-there secondary. The run unit has also been shredded all season, giving up a whopping 5.07 yards per rush to opposing backs. The last 2 weeks have been especially bad, with James Conner, Kareem Hunt, and Spencer Ware combining for 256 yards on their 42 attempts (6.10 per). That’s objectively awful, and it won’t get any better if Vontaze Burfict loses time to his hip injury. Burfict represents virtually all of the playmaking ability on the second level; without his tenacious pursuit, the lanes up front become pathways to daylight. If there’s a run defense that Peyton Barber can slip past, or underwhelming rookie Ronald Jones can cut his teeth on, it’s this porous unit.

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


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Cardinals rushing offense continued to struggle last week with yet another unsightly performance. This offense has failed to exceed 100 rushing yards in a game this season, averaging more than 20 rushing yards per game fewer than the next best rushing offense as they bring up the rear as the worst in the league. The offensive line continues to be a big problem here, particularly at the guard position with their three top guards all battling injuries. Even at full health though, this unit was 30th in Footballguys’ offensive line guru Matt Bitonti’s Week 1 ranking. The talent simply is not there to contend with a typical NFL defensive front. One would think the Cardinals coaching staff would realize this by Week 7, but they continued to run David Johnson between the tackles play after play last week. Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was finally fired as a result of these continues missteps, so one can only hope Johnson finally gets his chance to make plays in space this week with Byron Leftwich taking over.

The 49ers defense cannot catch a break with injuries. Already down a couple linebackers since the start of the season, their top linebacker Reuben Foster suffered a shoulder injury late in the game last week. Foster has a history of injury to his right shoulder, so his status will require monitoring as Foster’s absence would most certainly downgrade this rushing defense. The interior defensive line remains strong here despite their shortcomings against the Rams top-tier rushing offense and offensive line last week. They see a polar opposite matchup this week against one of the worst offensive lines in the game, so expect a bounce-back for this run defense and continued tough sledding for the Cardinals ground game.

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


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense vs New York Jets Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Jordan Howard continues to look like a plodding, one-gear runner not suited for Matt Nagy’s creative offense. The Bears’ run blocking has improved, but Howard has averaged just 3.46 yards over 90 carries thus far, finishing at 3.3 or below in 4 of 6 games. Week 7 might have been his low point, racking up just 39 yards on 12 attempts against a Patriots defense that’s routinely gashed by the run. Howard’s only value to this backfield is as a grind-it-out inside runner, and if he’s not producing in that role, he’s of little use to Nagy. Explosive dual threat Tarik Cohen also underwhelmed on the ground last week, but is the far more dynamic option. Cohen has a tremendous initial burst and becomes a blur in the secondary when he’s schemed open. His usage is never very projectable, but his splash-play potential is ever-present, and Nagy loves to get him into space.

The Jets run defense, solid to open the year, has shown noticeable cracks of late. Over their last 3 games, they’ve allowed running backs to rack up 5.38 yards per carry. Two weeks ago they allowed the Colts’ Marlon Mack to run wild (12 for 89) in his first game back from injury, and last Sunday they let Minnesota’s Latavius Murray snap out of a horrid slump himself (15 for 69 and 2 touchdowns). There are bright spots in this unit, from inconsistent yet dominant lineman Leonard Williams to impressive second-year safety Jamal Adams. But gap coverage and tackling are still issues, and holes still open up on the second level, as seen on Murray’s untouched 38-yard scoring run. This isn’t a deterring matchup for fantasy purposes at all.

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


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Joe Mixon continues to shine, even if he’s hovering a bit under the radar. Without a 100-yard game to his credit this season, Mixon isn’t dazzling with big fantasy totals. But he’s running great and consistently maximizing his opportunities. After an inefficient rookie year (3.52 yards per rush), Mixon is generating 4.60 as a sophomore, and he’s already produced more 80-yard finishes this season (3 of his 5 games). Exceptionally fast and nimble for his size (an elite 118.40 speed score at his combine), he’s essentially what the Bengals tried to manufacture a few years ago by pairing Jeremy Hill with Giovani Bernard. The Bengals’ isn’t a high-volume offense, and game flow will always tell the tale on Mixon’s fantasy week. But it’s clear he’s dynamic enough to spin big workloads into gold, even behind a shaky offensive line.

The Tampa Bay run defense has stabilized itself nicely after a nightmarish 2017. The pass unit remains a disaster, but up front, the team’s hefty offseason investments are paying dividends. They’ve stifled most opposing runners, including Alvin Kamara (8 for 29), James Conner (15 for 61), and Tevin Coleman (10 for 35). Still, they’re moving forward without two lynchpins: Gerald McCoy, who looks doubtful for Week 8, and linebacker Kwon Alexander, who was lost Sunday to an ACL tear. Alexander is a solid defender and team leaderwill be missed in the middle. And McCoy remains an absolute terror against the run, commanding double teams and often blowing up plays at the line anyway. It’s a shame to see the group’s turnaround stunted, but it’s hard to be bullish with those key pieces missing. This unit could again slip toward the bottom of the league, if only for the short term.

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


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Lions rushing offense came alive in a big way last week with a 248-yard explosion against the Dolphins. Kerryon Johnson posted career highs in multiple categories last week, sparked by a big 71-yard run near the start of that game to set the tone for his 158-yard outing. Johnson has out-snapped LeGarrette Blount in nearly every game this season, but their workloads had been quite similar until last week where Johnson saw 19 carries compared to only 10 for Blount. Blount did look good last week with a season-high 5.0 yards per rush attempt while punching in another goal-line touchdown--his third in the past two games. Blount will remain involved as the primary goal-line option, but he has come nowhere near showing the explosiveness of Johnson.

Seattle’s run defense had a solid outing in a plus game script against the Raiders before their Week 7 bye, holding Oakland to just 79 rushing yards while limiting Marshawn Lynch to just 3.5 rushing yards per attempt. The Seahawks have held opposing starting running backs to 3.5 or fewer yards per rush attempt in three straight games now. Aside from the 127-yard outing from Ezekiel Elliott in Week 3, this defense has done a decent job against the run. With a lack of playmakers on the interior of this defensive line, they employed more of a rotation against the Raiders which proved to be effective to keep a fresh body on the field. The Seahawks did not, however, rotate out one of the best run-defending linebackers in the league as Bobby Wagner remains a force to be reckoned with. This defense still has some holes though, as their depth at linebacker behind Wagner is questionable, so the Lions’ revived ground game has a chance to hold its own here.

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


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Marshawn Lynch’s trip to injured reserve isn’t exactly surprising – he was already expected out at least a handful of games, and the 32-year-old doesn’t add much to the rebuilding Raiders. The team will move forward with Doug Martin and Jalen Richard as its lead runners. There’s some intrigue to Richard, in case he ever takes a big rushing stake – he’s a career 5.32 yard-per-carry runner. But he’s only seen 11 carries thus far, so he doesn’t look like much of a ground-game priority for Jon Gruden. Martin looks only a hair better than in his plodding Tampa Bay days, managing just 99 yards over his 27 attempts. And unlike Lynch, he doesn’t boast road-grading power to finish tough runs. In a punchless offense that won’t scare any safeties, the deck looks stacked here. Martin won’t beat many defenses to the edge, either, and it’s hard to project him much efficiency. This offense has become a vacant lot, and Richard represents the only calculable upside here.

Contrary to public opinion, the Colts run defense is actually a fairly strong unit. Here in 2018, it’s held up nicely against the likes of Adrian Peterson (11 for 20), Lamar Miller (14 for 49), and the Jets’ duo of Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell (29 for 99). Rookie middle linebacker Darius Leonard has been a revelation in all aspects of his game, and the rotation of tackles are stout in eating up space. If top-down lineman Denico Autry can return after missing the last two weeks, this underrated matchup only grows tougher.

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


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense at Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Surprisingly, after a solid 2017 without the services of All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda, the Baltimore run game has taken a big step backward. Through 7 games, they sit 24th league-wide in yards per game and 31st per attempt. Lead runner Alex Collins’ breakout hasn’t carried over – he’s averaging just 3.55 yards per carry, and he’s only topped 59 in a game once. A big-play dynamo last year, has managed just 2 breakaway runs (15 yards or more) over his 87 rushes. Javorius Allen continues to plod along behind him, sitting at just 2.63 himself. It doesn’t help that the offensive line has struggled with injury and inconsistency. They should get right tackle James Hurst back this Sunday, which helps a bit, but will likely remain without left guard Alex Lewis. A struggling ground attack behind a shaky, beaten-up line is rarely a recipe for fantasy success. Collins’ mediocre 2018 looks set to continue against the Panthers’ formidable front.

The Carolina run defense has underachieved thus far in 2018, allowing opposing runners to average 4.61 yards per attempt. That’s a far cry from last season’s 3.80, but may be on the verge of turning around. The return of linebacker Thomas Davis from suspension may not seem like much, but he still brings a stabilizing presence against the run. With Davis and Luke Kuechly patrolling gaps and pursuing ball-carriers, it’s safe to expect at least noticeable improvement going forward. After all, a very close facsimile of this unit checked in 11th in the league last year in per-carry rushing, and 3rd on a per-game basis.

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


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Browns rushing attack looked much improved last week as Nick Chubb provides a burst that Carlos Hyde simply does not have. Going up against a good defensive front in Tampa Bay, Chubb was able to average 4.4 yards per carry which was a vast improvement compared to Hyde who averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in his time with the Browns. The most encouraging news for Chubb was that he alleviated the concern around pass protection as he was on the field for 66% of the snaps last week showing that he is a versatile back who the coaching staff trusts to be on the field for significant periods of time.

The Steelers rushing defense has been a tough unit to run on so far this season as they have not allowed a running back to go over 75 yards this year and have only allowed 67 yards rushing on average to opposing running backs in total on the year which is the fourth best in football. The defensive line of the Steelers led by Cameron Hayward and Stephon Tuitt continues to be a crew that will give the offensive line trouble for most of the day and prevents them from getting up to the second level which has allowed Vince Williams and Jon Bostic to clean up a lot of the tackles this year.

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


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Rams Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Packers roll out a low volume rushing attack that continues to perplex fantasy owners with split usage between their three running backs. Aaron Jones has been the most talented runner they have, averaging over five yards per attempt in all four games he has appeared in this season. Jones has yet to receive more than 11 carries in a game though, which significantly reduces the upside he can offer on a weekly basis. While Jones got the start in his last outing, he actually saw the least number of snaps as Jamaal Williams led the way for the second straight week. Williams is used as the primary pass-blocker while also mixing in for a few rushing attempts, but is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry. Ty Montgomery continues to see between 4-5 carries per week just to keep defenses on their toes. The Packers have both a cohesive and talented offensive line, consistently ranking amongst the top-5 in Matt Bitonti’s weekly rankings. With health on their side, this line should set up all Packers running backs for success.

The Rams defensive front should pose a challenge even for the top tier Packers offensive line this week. The Rams have allowed just two running backs to cross the 70-yard mark against them this season with only one forgettable outing against the Seahawks back in Week 5 They have allowed only three rushing touchdowns to running backs, with only one of those coming from inside the 10-yard line and none of them from within the 5-yard line. Aaron Donald leads this stout defensive line as one of the best in the game at his position and an absolute stalwart against the run. Cory Littleton is improving at linebacker while the Rams defensive backs are tackling well against the run. With two impressive lines squaring off against each other in the trenches, it will take some creative playcalling and smart usage of Packers three-headed backfield for them to find success this week.

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


Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense at Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Dolphins rushing attack continues to be a unit that has been productive over the last three games as they are averaging 132 yards per game in those three games. The issue for the Dolphins has been determining which running back will have the success as last week it was Kenyan Drake who had 72 yards on just six carries, while for much of the season it has been Frank Gore who has continued to get more volume in this offense and is averaging 4.6 yards per carry so far this season. The issue for the Dolphins has been the inconsistency of the offensive line as while Laremy Tunsil and Ja’Waun James at the tackle positions have played well, the interior of this line has really struggled with veteran Ted Larsen and Jesse Davis at the guard positions.

The Texans run defense is rounding into one of the best units in football this season as they have allowed just one rushing touchdown on the season and are only allowing 75 yards rushing to running backs per game which is the seventh best in football. J.J. Watt is once again having a tremendous season along with the outside linebackers in Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus make it difficult to get outside which funnels the rushing up the middle to Brandon Dunn who is a space eating nose tackle. This is a tough unit that with no real flaws making it difficult to exploit the matchup and with the Dolphins weak spot on the offensive line being up the middle, this could lead to issues this week for the Dolphins running the ball consistently.

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


New York Giants Rushing Offense vs Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Saquon Barkley on the ground continues to be a boom or bust type running back as his running style combined with the poor offensive line play is that he has a lot of no gain type runs and then will pop a run for 20+ yards. Barkley has a run longer than 20 yards in five of his seven games so far this season and has struggled in the two games in which he did not accomplish this which we saw last week. The offensive line remains a big problem for the Giants as the right side of the line is with John Greco and Chad Wheeler have both struggled so far this year.

The Redskins rushing defense continues to be one of the most improved units in football this season and it showed in a big way last week against the Cowboys in which they held Ezekiel Elliott to just 33 yards. The Redskins have held running backs to just 63 total yards on the season which is the third fewest in the NFL this season and have not allowed a single running back to go for more than 61 yards. This is a unit that has held David Johnson to 37 yards, Alvin Kamara to 24 yards, Mark Ingram to 53 yards, Christian McCaffrey to 20 yards, and Elliott to 33 as mentioned earlier. This is a unit that has faced every test and succeeded as their front seven is one of the best in football led by defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, and Matt Ioannidis.

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


New York Jets Rushing Offense at Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Bilal Powell left Week 7 with a neck injury, and his status going forward is up in the air. And without him, the Jets’ 15th-ranked rushing attack should sink dramatically. Lead dog Isaiah Crowell boasts gaudy numbers (5.67 yards per rush and 66 per game), but they’re fairly hollow, built on a pair of massive games. He’s been held below 3.2 per carry in each of his other 5 contests, failing to top 40 yards in any of them. Crowell is a build-to-speed runner without much power or elusiveness, and he rarely picks up yardage that isn’t blocked for him. Operating behind a below-average run-blocking line, his outlook is wildly unpredictable from week to week, but with a low floor for a featured guy. If Powell can’t go, Trenton Cannon will see a few snaps, but very little rushing opportunity. It would be Crowell’s backfield, for better or worse, and it wouldn’t project to much efficiency. This unit needs Powell, whose 4.29 per rush have come fairly consistently.

Chicago’s run defense is a stout unit, but the last two weeks have brought a small degree of pause. After allowing running backs just 2.93 yards per carry over their first 4 games, they’ve given up 4.83 over the last two. Frank Gore gashed the tired Bears in the fourth quarter and overtime of Week 6, and Sony Michel found plenty of room before leaving week 7 with an injury. It’s not much of a sample size to read from – the Dolphins game was a long, grinding affair in near-100 heat, and Michel’s replacements didn’t do much after he left – but it’s worth noting the recent dip. There’s still little reason to doubt this talented group altogether, though it might not be quite as suffocating as it once looked.

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


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Since the loss of Jay Ajayi, the Eagles rushing attack does not have an identity as both Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement have struggled so far this year. The Eagles are playing the hot hand approach with their running backs and we saw them bring Josh Adams into the mix last week. Smallwood is still the guy who has out touched Clement in the last two weeks, but the clarity of this backfield makes it still highly unpredictable and will likely depend on who gets out to a good start each week.

The Jaguars defense is more of a name that you want to fear compared to the actual results over the last three weeks. Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott and Lamar Miller over the last three weeks have rushed for an average of 98 yards against this defense in which they seemingly are playing as individuals instead of a cohesive unit. Telvin Smith who was one of the best linebackers in football last season has not been the same player he was last season which has been the story for most of the defense as they just do not possess that fear that they brought last season. The defensive line remains the strength of this team as Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and Marcel Dareus are all still playing at a high level, but if you get past the front line, there are results that can be had.

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


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Panthers are clearly placing their run game into the collective hands of Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton. The two have been quite successful to open the year – McCaffrey has averaged 4.85 yards per carry, while Newton remains a quintessential bully in the open field (and on the goal line). Between the two, there’s little need for the low-impact additions of C.J. Anderson. Still, for all their dynamism, they remain limited by an inconsistent front line. McCaffrey has been adept since his Stanford days at working through stacked boxes and creating yardage, and Newton is legendary at it. But when the edges are washed away, the option game suffers, which caps McCaffrey’s and Newton’s best attributes. There are talent and dynamism to spare in this unit, but the results aren’t always easy to project.

Baltimore’s run defense remains one of the league’s more suffocating units. Thanks to a stout front led by underrated run-stuffer Brandon Williams, they’re simply shutting down every running game they face. Opposing lead backs are averaging just 3.42 yards per carry, and only one (Joe Mixon) has topped 64 in a game. The linebacking corps isn’t the league’s most intimidating, but is led by sure tackler C.J. Mosley and a pair of run-focused safeties. It’s hard to project any run game to much efficiency against them, though the nimble Christian McCaffrey has a better outlook than most. Speedy change-of-pace runners Marcus Murphy, Phillip Lindsay, and Duke Johnson have found success, combining for 5.73 yards per rush over their smattering of attempts. If he’s given any creases at all, McCaffrey could conceivably test the Ravens’ so-so second level and produce a few chunk runs.

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


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense vs Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Jaguars traded for Carlos Hyde and while he did not play last week is expected to begin to be integrated into the offense this week against Philadelphia. While Hyde is a welcomed addition to the backfield after the team appears to continue to be without Leonard Fournette for a while, it adds some uncertainty to the offense as it will likely be a split backfield scenario where both Hyde and T.J. Yeldon split touches with Hyde getting more of the early touches and Yeldon seeing most of the work on third-downs and passing situations. The biggest issue for the Jaguars so far this year has been their offensive line which was expected to be one of the top units in football has struggled as Andrew Norwell is not playing at the caliber we had seen him play and left tackle Josh Walker who is replacing Cam Robinson who was lost for the year earlier this season has really struggled.

The Eagles rush outside of an anomaly performance by Saquon Barkley has been just as good as they were last season in which they were the best unit in football. This is a team that has not allowed an opposing running back to go over 42 yards (besides Barkley) and is made up of one of the best front sevens in football. Fletcher Cox is a contender for defensive player of the year this season and he leads this scary defensive line with Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, and even Treyvon Hester who has been filling in for Haloti Ngata and Timmy Jernigan is playing at a high level. This is a defense that you do not want to try to run against which is a matchup nightmare for newly acquired running back Carlos Hyde.

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


Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Dalvin Cook continues to nurse his nagging hamstring issue, but it’s yet to doom the Vikings ground game. Latavius Murray has shown new life over the last 2 games, churning out 224 yards and 3 touchdowns. Murray is running hard and decisively, and he’s benefiting from a front line that’s improving week by week. His 38-yard scoring scamper last week was a great snapshot of the runner/line connection growing stronger. Cook could conceivably return any week now, and he offers a notable talent upgrade. And Murray’s floor isn’t very attractive – he’s disappointed mightily in a few juicy starts thus far. But at the moment, he’s one of the league’s hottest runners, and this entire Minnesota offense is tough to keep out of fantasy lineups.

The Saints run defense just continues to neutralize opposing lead runners. Through 6 games they’ve allowed only a single back to top 44 yards, and that came back in Week 1. Some of that can be chalked up the game flow of Saints games, which can get out of control and force offenses to abandon the run. But they’ve stifled not just volume, but their efficiency, too. Among lead backs, only Saquon Barkley has produced more than 3.6 yards per carry. And outside of garbage time, only Barkley and one other have found the end zone. With a burgeoning front line anchored by rising star nose tackle Sheldon Rankins, there’s no reason to assume this is a short-term anomaly. They may not be quite this dominant going forward, but this is looking like a fairly prohibitive unit.

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


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Saints run game hasn’t shown its 2017 dominance yet. That’s to be expected – Mark Ingram lost the first four games to injury, and Alvin Kamara is a bit miscast as a grinding runner. It may take time for this unit to shake out fully, but it projects well going forward, so patience is key. Last season, Ingram and Kamara averaged 101 yards per game (4.56 per carry) together down the stretch as football’s most lethal tandem. Ingram is a deft inside runner with patience and underrated juice in his legs, while Kamara is arguably the NFL’s most explosive backfield weapon. And both operate behind an elite front line, graded fifth overall (with a B+ run-blocking grade) by our Matt Bitonti. With Drew Brees spreading the offense, the onus is on Ingram and Kamara to produce. Last season’s devastating run suggests they’re fully capable of it, even in tougher matchups.

There’s still very little success to be found against Minnesota’s run defense. Armed to the teeth with athletic, engulfing linemen capable of making plays in the backfield, the Vikings simply don’t allow big fantasy days. Through 7 weeks, only Todd Gurley has topped 59 yards, and all runners (Gurley include) are averaging just 3.71 per attempt. Along the way, they’ve allowed just a single touchdown on the ground. Sheldon Richardson continues to excel at both penetration and containment, and middle linebacker Eric Kendricks is fast and active in pursuit. Fantasy players target opposing runners at their own risk.

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