Week 14 Rushing Matchups

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

Jump to Passing Matchups

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


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.


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Browns rushing offense was all but shut down last week against the Steelers as they suffered a critical loss which essentially derails their playoff aspirations. Chubb struggled with just one carry longer than 10 yards last week which was a 12-year gain. The problem for the Browns has been consistency over the second half of the season as Chubb has 3.6 yards-per-carry or less in three of his last five contests after being below 4.0 yards-per-carry just once in his first seven games to start the year. The problem has been that teams are selling out to stop the run and the passing game is just not gaining enough traction to keep the defenses honest. Kareem Hunt has been a nice addition to this offense as he is showing what fresh legs can do this time of year as he is averaging 5.0 yards-per-carry over his first four games.

The Bengals run defense for the better part of two years has been one of the worst defenses in the league. On the year, the Bengals are allowing the most rushing yards per game at 157.6 and are allowing the fourth-most yards per attempt at 4.8. The issue for the Bengals is that while Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap are stars on the defensive line, their linebackers and safeties are some of the weakest in the NFL. Rookie Germaine Pratt and Nick Vigil have both struggled mightily at the linebacker position and Shawn Williams and Jessie Bates at safeties have provided no run support for most of the season. This is a team that has allowed nine players to rush for 75 yards or more on the year and what would have been much more if teams had not pulled their players due to game scripts. This should be a big day for Nick Chubb and the Browns offense.

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


Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense vs Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Minnesota's offense is a run-heavy attack predicated around feeding Dalvin Cook the football early and often in games. Backup Alexander Mattison's usage is typically dependent on the score of the game, seeing increased work in blowouts and very little action in close games, but Week 14 is shaping up to be one of his highest-usage games of the season. Dalvin Cook exited last game early with an apparent shoulder injury, and while head coach Mike Zimmer said he is "fine," it would not come as a surprise to see his workload decreased significantly if he is even able to play this coming weekend. The safe option would be to rest Cook, the team's number-one running back, in a game where the Vikings are heavily favored, which would immediately prime Mattison for a bell-cow-like role in Minnesota's run-heavy offense. Even if Cook does not rest, however, it makes little sense to give him his normal allotment of touches and playing time while he recovers from an injury that was enough to keep him from playing almost half of last week's Monday night showdown against the Seahawks. Expect a heavier dose of Alexander Mattison than anyone has seen yet this season here in Week 14 against the Detroit Lions.

Detroit's run defense is one of the worst in the league this season as they have faced high volume and allowed above-average efficiency on the ground. The Lions have defended the 11th-most rushing attempts in the NFL while allowing over 4.4 yards per carry, which ranks as the 15th-highest total in the league. On the season, Detroit has allowed 3 100-yard rushers, and they rank 2nd-to-last in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. This is a team with very little to play for at this point in the season, and aside from edge rusher Trey Flowers, almost the entire defense has underperformed in 2019. Along the defensive line, A'Shawn Robinson and Damon Harrison, two previously-elite run-stoppers, have tailed off and now grade as approximately average interior run-defenders this season. This regression has exposed Detroit's weakness at linebacker, where Jarrad Davis and Christian Jones both struggle against the run. Davis has already missed 10 tackles this season, displaying his struggles even when he does put himself in the right position to make a play and stop the run. Lastly, the Lions traded away safety Quandre Diggs earlier this season, one of their best run-defenders, leaving their defensive backfield exposed if and when running backs breakthrough to the second and third levels. Overall, Detroit's weak run defense will likely struggle to shut down Minnesota's high-volume and high-efficiency rushing attack, regardless of whether it is Dalvin Cook or Alexander Mattison carrying the football for the Vikings. If Cook is unable to play this weekend, Mattison will be poised for a career day on the ground against Detroit's 31st-ranked run defense.

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


New England Patriots Rushing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

For the third time in four games, the Patriots have gone away from the running game and Sony Michel in particular as he now has 10 carries or less in three of his last four contests. What is interesting about this is that the Patriots did not abandon the running game as their running backs ran the ball a total of 27 times last week it was just that James White had 14 of those carries which was the first time that White has had double-digit carries in a game in over a year. While this could be game script dependent as the Patriots fell behind early, it does mark a shift that the Patriots are ultimately looking for playmakers to step up in this offense.

The Chiefs rushing defense has been a problem all season. Even in a game that they won 40-7 last week, they allowed Josh Jacobs to rack up 104 yards which was the seventh time that a running back has rushed for 99 yards or more on the season. The issue for the Chiefs is that they are a team designed to stop the pass as they have one of the worst run-stopping front sevens in football as linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson have both struggled with gap discipline and the defensive ends in Frank Clark and Tanoh Kpassagnon specialize in the pass rush. This is a team that on the year has allowed the second-highest yards-per-carry to running backs at 5.1.

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


New York Jets Rushing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Even in generous matchups, Le’Veon Bell seems stuck in quicksand and incapable of breaking out. The $35 million Bell has been in on 83% of Jets snaps, but somehow has yet to reach the 600-yard mark through 12 games. He’s averaging an anemic 3.2 per rush and 49 a game, lending a ton of credence to the “don’t pay running backs” refrain. His low point came last week, with just 32 yards on 10 attempts against the Bengals’ laughingstock of a defense. Of course, it doesn’t help that Bell is working behind one of the league’s weaker front lines, currently ranked 22nd by Footballguys’ Matt Bitonti, or that the Jets passing game has been so shaky. But Bell has shown virtually none of his trademark agility or creativity, and he can’t be counted on to get much more than what’s blocked. The Jets rotate in Bilal Powell and Ty Montgomery for a handful of opportunities, but neither has found much room themselves. It’s hard to project more than baseline production for Bell, even in favorable spots like this weekend’s meeting with the Dolphins.

The Dolphins defense continues to flail badly against the run. Just about every opponent that commits itself at all to the ground game finds plenty of success in this matchup. On the year, lead runners have produced 5.0 yards per carry and 92 per game. With no real difference-makers along the line, the Dolphins’ subpar linebacking corps is tasked with virtually all of the pursuit and playmaking. Middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan has enjoyed something of a breakout season, but he gets very little help on the second level. As a result, workhorse backs can generally be trusted to produce at or near the top of their ranges in this matchup. The Jets’ Le’Veon Bell churned out close to four yards per carry when these teams met in Week 9 - not very impressive on its face, but resulting in 66 yards, Bell’s third-highest total of the year.

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


Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Falcons have welcomed Devonta Freeman back from injury, as he remains a foundational piece of their offense in general. But as a runner, he’s yet to provide anything of note here in 2019. The 27-year-old Freeman has looked closer to 37, stuck in mud and floundering, and he’s gotten no help from a battered, inconsistent line. He’s producing just 3.4 yards per rush and 42 per game, and 42% of his yardage has come from his 2 best weeks. Apart from those, he’s averaged just 2.8 and 31. There’s very little talent behind him, with just Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison as mix-in options, so Freeman’s three-down role is cemented well. But even with the Falcons offense so high-volume and productive, Freeman is one of those rare workhorse backs that doesn’t boast much fantasy value.

Despite a bevy of talent up front, the Carolina run defense has been one of football’s worst throughout 2019. They’re giving up the league’s most yards per rush and fourth-most per game, with 8 opposing runners topping 80 yards and several others falling just short. Last week, Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson combined for 228 and 3 touchdowns in Washington’s stunning win. The Panthers front line has been generally solid, with Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe holding their own on early downs. But the linebacker play has been shaky at best, with Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson contributing drastically up-and-down play. Tackling has been a huge problem on the second and third levels, with even franchise icon Kuechly often struggling the make plays. Altogether, this is still one of fantasy’s most beatable units. These Falcons couldn’t find any room when they squared off three weeks ago, but Devonta Freeman is looking at his best get-right matchup in quite awhile.

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


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense at Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Baltimore Ravens top the charts in virtually every rushing metric available through 12 games this season, leading the league in both measures of volume and efficiency, thanks to their diverse rushing attack. Lamar Jackson is perhaps the most prolific rushing quarterback of all time, and in the offense that offensive coordinator Greg Roman has designed, his rushing talents are maximized. Jackson has eclipsed 60 rushing yards in 10 out of 12 games this season, including at least 70 rushing yards in 8 straight games. In the backfield, Mark Ingram leads the way with about 13 carries per game while playing about 50-percent of the team's offensive snaps. Baltimore rotates personnel on and off of the field at all offensive skill positions, limiting Ingram's weekly production, but he is nearing in on a 1,000-yard season, as he averages nearly 70 rushing yards per game. The Ravens' offensive line is one of the best in the league, fostering an elite rushing environment for any and every player to carry the ball for the team.

Buffalo's run defense has rarely been tested, defending the 8th-fewest rushing attempts in the NFL. However, their efficiency numbers are less-than-stellar, allowing 4.5 yards per carry, good for the 21st-best mark in the league, while allowing the 16th-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. Since the Bills have played an exceptionally easy schedule and played with a lead for the majority of the season, opposing rushing attacks have seldom pushed the limits of Buffalo's run defense in 2019. The Bills' defensive personnel resembles merely an average run defense, aside from their pair of elite run-stopping safeties. Throughout the front-seven, Buffalo fields very few top-end run-defenders. Perhaps more important than the lack of elite talent is the lack of especially poor run-defenders throughout the front-seven, leaving no glaring weakness within the unit. Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, Buffalo's starting safety duo, both have a nose for the football in run support. Hyde and Poyer grade as the team's top two run-stoppers, helping to prevent chunk plays on the ground throughout the first 12 games of the 2019 season. The Bills' defense will have its hands full in Week 14 against Baltimore's top-ranked run defense that has seemingly shredded every defense in their path thus far this season. Expect Baltimore to continue to move the ball down the field via their top-ranked rushing attack this weekend in a matchup between two likely playoff teams.

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


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense at Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Broncos rushing offense struggled to put up points and yards as their running backs have been kept out of the end zone and failed to exceed 80 rushing yards for the second straight week. This rushing offense does rank around the league average with 108.3 rushing yards per game (16th), but there hasn’t been much of a ceiling with anyone in this rushing offense as a runner has crossed the 100 rushing yard mark just once this season. Phillip Lindsay has led the backfield pretty much all year, but he has been the decisive leader on the ground over the past three weeks with 46 carries to just 15 from Royce Freeman. With that said, Lindsay still has averaged a meager 3.9 yards per rush attempt with no touchdowns in those three games in which he has been given the reigns. Poor play from this offensive line continues to plague Lindsay and Freeman, to the point where left tackle Garrett Bolles may be in danger of losing his starting job if Ja’Wuan James can make it back into the lineup this week. An addition of James back from injury would be an upgrade, but this offensive line would remain a below-average unit that fuels a very mediocre rushing offense.

The Texans run defense has been dreadful since their Week 10 bye. This team has given up an average of 192 rushing yards per game in the past three weeks. To caveat, that does include a 256-yard performance from the league’s top rushing offense (Baltimore). However, quarterbacks aside, the Texans have given up at least 130 rushing yards to running backs in all three games while couching up the most fantasy points per game to the position over that span. In contrast, this defense had allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs through Week 9. There were no notable personnel changes or injuries that sparked the change, just lackluster play from an otherwise talented defense. D.J. Reader is a top-notch run-stopper while both linebackers Zach Cunninnnngham and Bernardrick McKinney are team leaders in tackles with range and ability to make big plays against the run. The Texans also got starting safety Justin Reid back from injury last week, which helps out a secondary that was otherwise weak (and still relatively weak) at tackling opposing runners. It is tough to ignore the past few weeks, but this Texans defense does have the talent to turn things around and stop a mediocre Broncos ground game.

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


Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Melvin Gordon continues to perform well with a heavy workload in this Chargers backfield, averaging 19 carries and 76 rushing yards per game with three rushing touchdowns over his last four games. Austin Ekeler remains involved, but primarily in the passing game as he is seeing limited carries and doing very little with those rushing attempts. What has been big for Gordon is his per carry productivity, which has been a question mark for most of his career. Gordon has averaged nearly five yards per rush attempt in three straight games after mightily struggling to start his 2019 campaign. He is showing some great speed and tackle-breaking ability while running behind what has been a very shaky offensive line that is rarely making space for him. The Chargers did get both starting tackles back last week though, which should be a big boost for this unit that was otherwise ranking near the bottom of the league.

The Jaguars may have allowed just 2.4 rushing yards per carry to Tampa Bay last week, but they still gave up a pair of rushing touchdowns in what was a blowout loss to the Buccaneers. This defense has really struggled against running backs in the past four weeks, giving up the most fantasy points per game to the position since Week 9. While these past few weeks have certainly been hard to watch, this defense actually did show the ability to shut down opposing backfields a few times earlier in the year--as they held opposing running backs to 75 or fewer rushing yards in five of their first eight games. However, they are still allowing the second-most rushing yards per attempt (5.1), the second-most rushing touchdowns (17), and more runs of 40 or more yards (6) than any other team in football. With inconsistent play from their talented defensive line and flat out terrible play from the linebacker position, regardless of who has been playing, this defense will offer a good opportunity for Melvin Gordon to continue his success in Week 14.

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


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Saints ground attack has been the league’s gold standard for the better part of two years, but has struggled a bit of late. They sit just 17th in raw yardage and 13th per attempt, with just 7 rushing touchdowns on the season. Alvin Kamara remains a shifty, dynamic runner, and one of football’s most dangerous weapons in open space. But it appears his rushing volume has officially been scaled back. Kamara took on 72% of running back carries before his Week 6 injury, but has dipped to 59% since returning. His efficiency has gone up in the decreased role, though, with 5.5 yards per carry over the past 4 games. But he hasn’t topped 75 yards since Week 1, and he hasn’t found the end zone since Week 3. This attack has fully shifted back into the two-back mold of the past few years, with Latavius Murray running serviceably in the old Mark Ingram role. He doesn’t produce enough for fantasy consideration, but siphons enough work to ding Kamara’s upside.

For all of their pass-game dominance, the San Francisco defense has struggled for most of 2019 against the run. Through 12 games, they sit 25th league-wide in yardage allowed per rush (4.7) and 22nd per game (117). That said, they’ve shown noticeable improvement over their past three games. There’s no shame in allowing a big day to Lamar Jackson, but they’ve done a fine job of containing Mark Ingram (15 carries for 59 yards), Aaron Jones (13 for 38), and Kenyan Drake (16 for 67) over that span. Perhaps the biggest factor has been top linebacker Fred Warner, whose play has trended upward after a rough start to the season. There are still plenty of liabilities, though. Rookie Dre Greenlaw has been inconsistent next to Warner, and the cornerback-heavy secondary provides little help in the box. Last week, Jackson was able to use his instinct and suddenness to create room against the 49ers’ light front seven. It’s safe to assume Alvin Kamara, who’s similarly tough to track in the open field, has taken notes.

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


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense at Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Redskins under Bill Callahan appear to be a reinvigorated team that is relying heavily on the running game to help rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins develop in the NFL. The Redskins celebrated the return of Derius Guice this past week as Guice was dominant, rushing for 129 yards on just ten carries while Adrian Peterson added 99 yards on 13 carries. All told, this is an offensive line and running game that has been much better in the second half of the season since they seem to have accepted that Trent Williams was not returning as the same five offensive linemen have played together every game this year. That will be tested this week as right tackle Morgan Moses left last week early with a back injury, but Moses has come out and said that he will play this week. Expect the Redskins to continue to rely on the run splitting the carries between Peterson and Guice to control the game for much of the rest of the season. When Peterson is finding room to run, he has been dominant over the last seven games as he has rushed for 75 yards or more in five of those contests averaging 5.5 yards-per-carry in those games that he has rushed for over 75 yards.

The Packers run defense on the year has been a unit that continues to struggle as they have now allowed eight running backs on the year to rush for 80 yards or more and have allowed six rushing touchdowns over the last five games. On the year, the Packers have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs as they are allowing 112 yards per game (6th-most) and 1.1 touchdowns (2nd). The issue for the Packers has been that they play primarily a Dime defense designed to stop the pass which has put immense pressure on Blake Martinez who has struggled mightily this year even with Kenny Clark and Za’Darius Smith playing strong at defensive tackle. When the Packers are in Dime, they also bring Ibraheim Campbell down to linebacker from safety which has been an issue against the run. If there is good news here it is that this week while facing a run-heavy offense, they may play more base 3-4 due to the lack of success of the Redskins passing game which should help the run defense.

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


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Since returning from injury in Week 8, Devin Singletary has assumed the starting role in Buffalo's high-volume rushing attack already in just his rookie campaign. Since returning to action, Singletary has played at least two-thirds of the Bills' offensive snaps in every game, totaling at least 14 carries in 4 out of 6 those games. Buffalo's offense as a whole has tallied the fifth-most rushing attempts in the NFL, which is partially a product of quarterback Josh Allen's propensity to scramble on designed passing plays, but it also represents the team's general offensive strategy. Frank Gore, now in his 15th professional season, typically hovers around 10 carries per game, poaching a significant amount of work away from Singletary and keeping him from true bell-cow status. Overall, Buffalo's rushing attack is a high-volume unit led by an uber-efficient rookie running back, Devin Singletary, who averages over 5.5 yards per carry thus far in the 2019 campaign.

Baltimore's defense has faced the least rushing volume in the NFL, as they typically drain the clock with their high-volume rushing offense that lights up the scoreboard. The lack of volume has preserved the sixth-best defense in the NFL in fantasy points allowed per game to opposing running backs, but their efficiency totals have been unimpressive. The Ravens have allowed over 4.5 yards per carry this season, the 22nd-best mark in the league, while also allowing 11 touchdowns, ranking 18th in the league. Along the defensive line, Brandon Williams dominates along the interior as one of the league's best run-stoppers. Then, at the second-level, Josh Bynes, who has been limited by some injuries this season, has returned to the Ravens and continued to be one of his team's most-valued run defenders. On the season, the Ravens have allowed 3 different 100-yard rushers, including 2 in their last 4 games. When the opposition has attempted to establish a rushing attack early, they have found success against Baltimore's susceptible run defense. However, that is easier said than done, as teams frequently find themselves playing from behind with little time to spare before they get the chance to try to run the football. Expect Devin Singletary to lead the way in the backfield for Buffalo, as their run-heavy offense attempts to keep up with Baltimore's league-leading attack. Overall, it will likely be a comparatively low-volume day on the ground for the Bills' running backs, stacking the odds against Buffalo's rookie running back posting his second career 100-yard game.

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


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense at Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Christian McCaffrey isn’t quite 2019’s league MVP, but he certainly belongs at the figurative ceremony. The explosive workhorse has turned 20 rushes per game into averages of 97 yards (second in football) and 12 touchdowns (tied for first), to say nothing of his pass-game contributions. He’s struggled on the ground in back-to-back weeks, but that can be forgiven in tough matchups against the Saints and Redskins. McCaffrey continues to show off the most dynamic skillset in football, with dazzling quickness and a decisive, physical running style. When given the open field, he’s never an easy tackle and always a threat to turn three-yard gains into breakaways. He’s also the Panthers’ engine near the goal line, with 18 carries from inside the 5-yard line (second-most in the league). Working behind a stout front line that’s deep enough to overcome some recent injuries, McCaffrey always projects to big opportunity and efficiency. He still represents the biggest tilt on any given fantasy week.

The Atlanta run defense isn’t impenetrable, but it continues to make strides overall. Dating back to Week 5, they’ve allowed just 4.0 yards per carry and 4 touchdowns to running backs, with only a single one topping 70. They boast an All-Pro talent up front in Grady Jarrett, who’s among the NFL elite in both tying up blockers and blowing up runs himself. And behind him, Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell have both graded near the top of the league in run support. That said, there’s still some vulnerability here to the occasional chunk run; only 7 teams have allowed more breakaway runs (15+ yards). Of course, that’s a byproduct of facing such a daunting schedule of runners, and this group has held tight otherwise. But when these teams squared off 3 weeks ago, Christian McCaffrey had little trouble creating yardage (5.0 yards apiece).

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


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense vs Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

David Montgomery is coming off of one of his best days as an NFL running back after a disappointing rookie season in Chicago as he was able to rush for 75 yards on 16 carries and was able to consistently find the hole and gain positive yards on nearly every run. Finding space to run through has been a consistent issue for the Bears offensive line that has struggled after losing its leader in Kyle Long for the year as Rashaad Coward has struggled to fill in at right guard, and Cody Whitehair has struggled at Center as more emphasis has been placed on him without his Pro Bowl leader next to him. The Bears will also be without right tackle Bobbie Massie who suffered an ankle injury that will force veteran Cornelius Lucas into the starting role in Chicago.

The Cowboys run defense has been a unit that has been the definition of league average. On the year, they have allowed 4.1 yards-per-carry which is the 13th best in the NFL, and the 14th most fantasy points to running backs on the season. There is some cause for concern as the Cowboys will be without second-year linebacker Leighton Vander Esch who while is not having the incredible season like he did last year, is still a speed linebacker who can contain the edge. With no Vander Esch, this will put an increased emphasis on Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee as the team will likely go with more of a Nickel defense as Vander Esch’s backup Joe Thomas typically only plays 15-20 snaps per game. This is a situation in which while Vander Esch is a significant loss if he is out for some time, with the Bears having an in-between the tackle running scheme will not play as significant of a role as it otherwise could have with a speed off-tackle running back. The Bears might try to take advantage of the Cowboys defense with Tarik Cohen off the edge but have shown that they will only give the small running back a few carries per game.

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


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense at Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

For as bad as the Bengals have been this season, they have remained consistent in giving volume to Joe Mixon. On the year, Mixon has seen an average of 15 carries per game, and over his last five games has seen an average of 20 carries per game. With the increased volume, Mixon has been slightly more productive and part of that has been changes on the offensive line as Billy Price replaced Michael Jordan, and Cordy Glenn returned. Unfortunately for the Bengals, Price suffered a back injury last week which will keep him out which will once again put rookie Michael Jordan at left guard who has been one of the worst offensive guards in football this season.

Over the last four games, the Browns have significantly improved their rush defense as they have not allowed a running back to rush for over 63 yards and are allowing just 62 yards per game with 3.6 yards-per-carry. This is a defense that before these last four games had allowed 113 yards per game and 4.9 yards-per-carry. So is this defense improving? The short answer is yes, but they have also faced a favorable recent schedule in Pittsburgh twice, Buffalo, and Miami. Even still, just to stop anyone after their early-season struggles is a step in the right direction as Sione Takitaki has been playing more as the Browns have started to move away from a nickel defense and more towards a traditional 4-3. While the Bills game was the one impressive performance, it remains to be seen how the Browns will perform moving forward and we likely won’t know after this week either as they are facing the Bengals who have the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game this year.

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


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense vs Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

On the season, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have both been productive rushing for a total of 1,022 yards combined. The rushing touches between the two backs have returned to a near 50/50 split after favoring Jones significantly for several weeks after Williams suffered a concussion earlier this season. Williams has been the more consistent reliable back this year, while Jones has been the boom or bust player as he has been more bust the past two weeks averaging just 2.3 yards-per-carry in those contests. The good news for the Packers moving forward is that right tackle Bryan Bulaga was able to return after suffering a knee injury in Week 12 which is a major relief that if the offensive line can stay healthy over the next few games will be a significant upgrade for this team that is looking to come together before the playoffs.

The Redskins on the surface are a team that has allowed the 7th most rushing yards per game however have held opposing running backs to just 4.15 yards-per-carry which is the 15th best in the NFL this year. This is a unit that has stood up well to the opposition and the only issue is that they have faced so many carries due to being behind for most of the games this year. The strength of this Redskins team is the defensive line as Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne are a tremendous run-stuffing lineman. The issue is when teams get to the second-level they often find success as the linebacking group of rookie Cole Holcomb and Jon Bostic have struggled with consistency. The Redskins have only allowed one 100-yard running back this season which was back in Week 2, so expect that the Packers run the ball at a high-volume and the overall yardage number looks better than the overall success that they had in the game.

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


Houston Texans Rushing Offense vs Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Texans rushing offense has been a top tier group for most of this season, ranking seventh in the league with 129.8 rushing yards per game. Last week, however, was one of their worst showings of the season as Carlos Hyde was held to just 17 yards from 10 attempts while Duke Johnson gained 36 rushing yards from nine attempts. The workload split between Hyde and Johnson was as close as it has been this year, but that mainly came from a pass-heavy game script with the Texans trying to keep up with New England. Hyde has dominated this backfield all year, averaging 4.6 yards per rush attempt and a steady 71.1 rushing yards per game. While last week was his worst game of the season, Hyde will continue to give this Texans backfield the best chance at success as he has shown the ability to shoulder the majority of this workload with relative ease and a high ceiling. Johnson has yet to see double-digit carries or more than 60 rushing yards this season, so his upside will remain limited barring a Hyde injury. Deshaun Watson has been quiet on the ground in recent weeks with fewer than 15 rushing yards in three straight games after exceeding 30 rushing yards in five straight outings from Week 5 to Week 9.

Denver’s defense has been pretty strong against the run for most of this season, allowing an opposing running back to exceed 85 yards just three times. However, two of those games came within the past two weeks as Devin Singletary ran for 106 while Melvin Gordon put up 99 rushing yards last week. Injuries have played a part in their recent lapses against the run, with interior lineman Shelby Harris getting banged up in Week 12 and Von Miller actually missing last week’s game with a knee injury. Harris is back on the field, but Miller’s status will be worth watching in case he also has to miss this week. If this group can field its entire starting front seven, they should match up well against most rushing offenses in football as they are stacked with talent--notably, linebacker A.J. Johnson who has been playing very well and had another couple of tackles for losses on running plays last week. Looking at quarterbacks, this defense did give up 56 rushing yards to Josh Allen two weeks ago and 34 rushing yards to Jacoby Brissett in Week 8. However, they have played pretty well against other mobile quarterbacks such as Marcus Mariota, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rodgers earlier in the season, and no quarterback has scored a touchdown on this defense to date.

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


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

Todd Gurley's playing time and involvement in Los Angeles' offense has ticked back up in recent weeks, and he is nearing in on his bell-cow-like usage of years past. Although the Rams' rushing attack is a low-volume unit, their propensity to run the ball in the red zone has led to 14 rushing touchdowns, the 5th-most in the NFL, in spite of their lackluster efficiency totals. Gurley neared in on his first 100-yard rushing day of the season last week, but in a 34-7 blowout of the Arizona Cardinals, he and many other starters exited the game early, leaving him with 95 yards and 1 touchdown on 19 carries, good for 5.0 yards per carry on the day. As the Rams fight for the final wild-card spot in the NFC, there is no need to preserve Gurley for the playoffs, as they do not know if they will ultimately make it there. Expect his playing time and usage totals to continue to trend upwards, although a weak offensive line will likely limit his production in tough matchups like this one against Seattle's top-tier run defense.

Seattle's run defense is littered with top-tier run-defending talent, and thanks to their run-heavy offense that eats away at the clock and puts opponents behind the proverbial eight-ball, they typically face very little rushing volume each week. The Seahawks have defended the third-fewest rushing attempts in the NFL through 12 games this season; however, due to a tough schedule of opposing run offenses, their rushing totals allowed are less-than-stellar. The Seahawks rank in the middle of the pack, allowing the 15th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, thanks to 13 rushing touchdowns, the 6th-most in the league on 4.6 yards per carry, the 10th-most in the league. The run-stopping talent throughout Seattle's defense resembles an above-average run defense, and they will likely trend in that direction down the stretch against the weaker rushing attacks of Los Angeles and Arizona in two of their last four games. Along the defensive line, Jadeveon Clowney sets the tone on the edge as one of the league's best all-around defensive linemen, while a plethora of interior linemen, including Jarran Reed, Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, and Poona Ford, do an exceptional job of clogging up the middle. At linebacker, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright more-than-make-up-for their shortcomings in coverage with their consistent and elite run-stopping production. Wagner grades as one of the NFL's best run-stopping linebackers year after year, and 2019 has been no different on that front. Lastly, in the secondary, a mid-season trade brought Quandre Diggs into town, a safety known for his run-stopping prowess. While he has struggled throughout his first three games for Seattle, expect positive regression out of the young defensive back, bolstering an already talented run defense. Todd Gurley and the Rams will have their work cut out for themselves in Week 14, attempting to mount a viable rushing attack against the Seahawks. Seattle's definitive advantage in the trenches could make for a long day at the office for Gurley, leaving the odds stacked against him notching his first 100-yard rushing day of the 2019 season.

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


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Josh Jacobs has been one of the top stand-out rookie running backs this season, serving as a focal point of this Raiders rushing offense. Jacobs has been productive on the ground all season long, averaging at least 4.3 yards per rush attempt in all but two games, including 10 of his last 11 games. He has also cleared the 100-yard mark in five of his last eight outings, including last week where he rushed for 104 yards on 17 attempts. Jacobs has minimal competition for touches in this backfield and is seeing consistent volume with at least 15 carries in eight of his last nine games, including four games with over 20 carries during that span. While touchdowns have come sporadically for Jacobs due to the inconsistency of this offense, he is more than productive enough with his touches to serve as a viable RB1 in this offense. His offensive line is also helping tremendously, as they are playing as a top-notch run-blocking unit with an A+ grade, ranking them well within the top-10 according to Matt Bitonti of Footballguys.

The Titans had been stingy against the run for most of the season, but they have faltered in recent weeks as this group has dealt with injuries and overall poor play which has led to some productive outings for opposing running backs. Since Week 9, this defense has given up the fourth-most fantasy points per game (non-PPR) to running backs. Prior to Week 9, they had limited running backs to the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game. The defensive line for Tennessee is strong, led by Jurrell Casey and Daquan Jones as their top run-stoppers. Both have played very well this season, while rookie Jeffrey Simmons also continues to get better as this unit should pose a stiff challenge for the top-tier Raiders offensive line. The Titans linebackers have been decent against the run, but Jayon Brown has struggled with injuries since Week 6 and has yet to appear 100% healthy since then. All-Pro safety Kevin Byard is a stalwart run-defending safety though, playing as one of the best in the league as he offers great support over the top. Josh Jacobs should be in store for a decent challenge in this one.

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


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

As has been the case for weeks, James Conner’s status is unlikely to be known until the weekend. Conner has missed most of the Steelers’ past five games with a shoulder injury, though he did seem closer last week. If Conner can’t go, rookie Benny Snell should continue to carry the load in this backfield. Snell has taken on 43% of the Steelers’ snaps over the past 2 weeks but 65% of the carries, totaling 161 yards at 4.4 per attempt. He’s the definition of a plodder, lacking impressive speed or quickness, but he churns out moderate production behind the Steelers’ dominant front line. He’s posted more rushing efficiency than Conner (3.8 per carry), in fact. They’ll get All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey back from suspension this week, which bodes well for the entire stable of backs. The surest thing here is Jaylen Samuels, though with just 34 carries in Conner’s absence, he’s settled firmly into a third-down role. It will be either Conner or Snell posting hefty rushing volume on Sunday; Friday’s injury report will tell the tale.

The Cardinals run defense has served as one of 2019’s most generous matchups. They’ve been fairly average from an efficiency standpoint, giving up 4.3 yards per carry, good for 17th in the league. But those numbers have largely been weighted down by a handful of favorable matchups. They’ve allowed strong rushing lines to a wide variety of runners, from the studs (Christian McCaffrey, Lamar Jackson) to the struggling (Devonta Freeman, Joe Mixon). Linebackers Jordan Hicks and Haason Reddick have served as one of the league’s worst duos, routinely missing tackles on the second level. Safety Budda Baker has developed into a run-support star, but he’s relied upon way too much by this shaky group. The Steelers will send tons of rushing volume at the Cardinals Sunday, and they project for solid efficiency to boot. Either James Conner or Benny Snell will boast a real shot at 25+ attempts and a 100-yard finish.

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


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense at Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Titans have one of the hottest rushing offenses in football over the past three weeks as they are simply rolling over opponents with an average of 201 rushing yards per game over that span. Derrick Henry has rushed for 149, 159, and 188 yards with five touchdowns in these past three games. He has broken at least one run of 30 or more yards in each of those games, but the big plays are only accentuating what has been a string of very dominant performances with consistently productive plays on behalf of Henry. He started the season as one of the least productive running backs on a per-carry basis, but Henry is yet again showing how he can excel late in the season as defenses are more worn down than they were to start the year. The Titans offensive line is playing tremendously as a run-blocking unit and ranks as one of the top tier offensive lines in the game according to Matt Bitonti of Footballguys.

The Raiders run defense has actually been a solid unit despite the shortcomings of their passing defense. They are giving up a below-average 4.0 yards per rush attempt and the 12th-fewest rushing yards per game (103.6). Running backs have struggled to be productive on a consistent basis against this defense, as only two running backs have cleared 50 rushing yards against Oakland in the past five weeks. However, this group has also given up four rushing touchdowns to running backs over that while allowing over 100 rushing yards to Melvin Gordon in Week 10. Both Johnathan Hankins and P.J. Hall are their top run-stoppers on the inside, but the linebacker position poses a liability here--especially considering the Titans offensive line should have the edge in the trenches while Derrick Henry requires elite tacklers to bring him down at the second level.

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


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

David Johnson is by all accounts healthy, but he appears to have settled into a change-up role in the Cardinals offense. It makes sense, as Johnson simply hasn’t been a very efficient runner since his rookie year of 2015. Over 43 games since, he’s averaged a modest 3.9 yards per carry and 59 a game. And in the meantime, Kenyan Drake has laid claim to the lead role, taking on 51 snaps last week to Johnson’s 15. (They shared the field twice.) Perhaps Johnson will pull that closer to even as he heals more, but Drake has been the more dynamic producer. Neither boasts a very strong fantasy floor - especially considering the sorry state of the Cardinals line - but the weekly leader always carries a high ceiling. At the moment, that’s clearly Drake, whose speed and quickness project nicely against the Steelers run defense.

The Pittsburgh run defense has made for one of the league’s stingiest matchups. They’re giving up just 3.8 yards per carry, fifth-best in football, and only 5 touchdowns on the ground (second-fewest). This isn’t a flawless unit, though, with long-standing problems against quick, speedy backs. It’s been a clear pattern for several years, and it’s been on full display here in 2019. They’re stout in the trenches, where Cameron Heyward and Javon Hargreaves lead a deep, powerful group of space-eaters. And Heyward is a special player, capable of blowing up runs at the point of attack on his own. But at linebacker, the Steelers still badly lack disciplined talent. Rookie Devin Bush is blazing fast, but frequently washed out of position, and veteran Mark Barron remains one of football’s weakest run defenders. Unfortunately for the Steelers, the Arizona ground game is built exclusively on speedy runners. But even so, this unit boasts such a strong advantage along the line that that may not matter. They have their liabilities, but have shut down more imposing run games than this one.

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


Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense at Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Cowboys rushing attack on the year has been disappointing, to say the least, particularly over the last four games as the Cowboys have averaged just 62 yards rushing per game from Elliott. While Elliott is still top-10 in attempts, yards, and touchdowns on the year, he has not been the dominant running back that we have gotten used to or had seen earlier this season where he was a consistent threat to run for over 100-yards. A big part of the recent struggles has been the interior of the offensive line as Travis Frederick and Xavier Su’a-Filo have both struggled over the last few weeks. Su’a-Filo has filled in for Connor Williams and has been an issue so far in his brief time starting. The bigger problem is Travis Frederick who just does not seem to be the same dominant threat that we saw before missing last season with an illness. This is still a good rushing offense, it is just not the elite offense that we had become accustomed to over the last few seasons. There is good news for Ezekiel Elliott this week as Tony Pollard will likely miss this week with an ankle injury.

The Bears run defense is still a very good unit as evidenced by allowing just 3.7 yards-per-carry on the season, but it is no longer the defense that it was in 2018 and even in early 2019 where it was almost impossible to run against this team. The reason for this is the injury to Akiem Hicks who was their space-eater that did not allow teams to put such an emphasis on stopping Khalil Mack who has mostly been neutralized this season with double teams. Teams are electing to try to beat this team on the ground as they have faced the 9th most rushing attempts on the year. This is a defense that struggles with downhill type runners as it is a defense that has great defensive ends in Mack and Leonard Floyd as well as great speed on the entire defense. Where they have struggled is with Roquan Smith and his ability to read the play and make the stop on plays between the tackles. This is evidenced by Latavius Murray torching this defense for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns, Josh Jacobs rushing for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns, Bo Scarbrough last week rushing for 83 yards, and Jordan Howard ran for 82 yards and a touchdown. When they faced speed running backs they shut down Melvin Gordon, Dalvin Cook, and Saquon Barkley holding them to an average of 42 yards in their three contests.

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


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense vs Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Jaguars offense has notably focused on their ground game with Leonard Fournette receiving a high volume of carries for most of the season. However, that workload has been put in question in recent weeks with Fournette seeing more than 14 carries in just one of his last four games after starting the season with more than 14 carries in seven of eight contests. While some tough recent matchups (Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Indianapolis) certainly play a part in Fournette’s lack of productivity, his increases usage through the air also plays a part in Fournette’s lack of reliability rushing the ball--as he has been targeted 23 times in the past two games along and is on pace to more than double his career highs for receiving. Fournette should remain the focal point for this offense, but it just may be tough to predict whether the touches come on the ground or through the air.

The Chargers run defense is a league-average unit that has actually done a great job at limiting rushing yards from running backs over their last four games, holding the position to just 64 rushing yards per game (third-fewest) since Week 9. That span included games against decent rushing offenses like the Broncos, Raiders, and Packers. Most fantasy points scored by running backs against this team have come through the air, but that is not to say rushing touchdowns are not to be found as they gave up a pair of touchdowns Chiefs running backs in Week 11. This recent success at limiting productivity has to be partly attributed to the defense getting healthier though, as the return of Justin Jones and Brandon Mebane to the interior of this defensive line has been huge. Having Derwin James back on the field starting last week was a big upgrade also, as he has shown the ability to make big plays against the run and should continue doing so this week against the Jaguars.

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


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense at New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Chiefs running back situation continues to be a revolving door as Darrell Williams was injured early in the game last week with a knee and hamstring injury that will likely keep him out this week. Damien Williams looks like he also is unlikely to play with a rib injury leaving just LeSean McCoy and Darwin Thompson as the two running backs for the Chiefs. This caused the Chiefs to go out and sign Spencer Ware this week. Ware who knows the offense after spending the last four years in Kansas City should be able to immediately come in and contribute after the Chiefs. It will likely be a rotating backfield as LeSean McCoy just does not look like he can handle a workload any longer after having just five carries for 10 yards last week, and Darwin Thompson has just 16 career carries with 11 of them coming out of necessity last week.

The Patriots run defense outside of a few performances has held opposing running backs in check as they have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs on the season. They did a tremendous job shutting down Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson holding the pair of running backs to just 53 yards on 19 carries. This has been a theme for the Patriots as they are near dominant against average to below-average run games as they have only allowed five running backs to rush for over 40 yards. When the Patriots want to sell out to shut down the run particularly in the red zone they are one of the best at it as they have only allowed one rushing touchdown on the season. This is by no means a dominant defense as they have allowed 4.4 yards-per-carry on the season, but where they have been vulnerable have been in games that they have in control such as the Jets, Bills, or Browns this season and teams committing to the run while the Patriots have their dime prevent defense to stop the pass.

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


New York Giants Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

After an incredible rookie campaign, poor offensive line play, coupled with a potentially-lingering ankle injury, has hindered Saquon Barkley's rushing production in 2019. Barkley's 2019 campaign has been one to forget, as he: hasn't registered a 100-yard game since Week 2, has just 2 rushing touchdowns on the year, and has seen his efficiency dip down to just 4.0 yards per carry. This lack of production is thanks to both a weak offensive line, which checks in at 21st in Matt Bitonti's offensive line rankings after last week and a lack of volume. The Giants' run offense is the 5th-lowest volume unit in the league, as they have frequently played from behind, leading to high-volume passing days. Overall, even Saquon Barkley's supreme talent level has been unable to overcome a lack of volume and poor blocking in the trenches. Week 14 shapes up as another tough matchup for the second-year back, as he faces off with Philadelphia's top-tier run defense.

Aside from Philadelphia's defensive line, their defense generally lacks top-end run-stopping talent. However, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's identity as a play-caller is to design and call a defense predicated around shutting down opposing rushing attacks, and he excels in this area. The Eagles, which have faced low volume rushing attacks, as their opponents have opted to pick on their weak pass defense, rank in the top-10 of most run-stopping metrics. The Eagles rank 9th in the NFL in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs a testament to their ability to limit raw rushing totals. They are also a very efficient run defense, allowing just 4.0 yards per carry, the 8th-best mark in the NFL through 12 games this season. Along the defensive line, Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox set the tone for the defense, doing a great job both against the run and the pass. Elsewhere, the Eagles lack significant weak links against the run, while the only other notable run-stopper is safety Malcolm Jenkins, who leads the team with 45 total tackles on the season. In total, the Eagles should give Saquon Barkley, and the New York Giants fits on the ground in Week 14 as they load the box to focus on shutting down New York's number-one offensive weapon with Eli Manning back under center.

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


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs New York Giants Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Jordan Howard, Philadelphia's original lead-back, has yet to be cleared for contact due to a shoulder injury that has kept him out since Week 9. Should he find himself inactive once again in Week 14, rookie Miles Sanders should continue on as the team's bell-cow running back. If he returns to action, expect Howard to play close to 50-percent of the team's offensive snaps while leading the team in carries and rushing yards, as he did for much of the start of the season. Overall, Philadelphia runs the ball in high volume, totaling the 7th-most rush attempts of any team in the league, but their efficiency totals lag behind where one may expect given their impressive personnel in the trenches. Philadelphia fields the league's strongest offensive line, according to FootballGuys' offensive line analyst, Matt Bitonti, yet their running backs average just 4.3 yards per carry, good for 18th in the league. If Howard is inactive, leaving Sanders in his bell-cow role from weeks past, the rookie running back could be in for a high-volume day on the ground, as the Eagles are heavy favorites come Monday night. However, if Howard is active, the requisite volume may not be available to support multiple viable fantasy backs, leaving Howard as the lone reasonable option from their backfield.

New York's defense, despite facing the third-most rushing attempts of any team in the NFL, has posted impressive efficiency totals this season, ranking 6th in the league in yards per carry allowed. The incredible rushing volume has led to 13 rushing touchdowns allowed on the season, the 6th-most in the league, which drags down the defense's overall rankings from a fantasy perspective. Through 12 games, the Giants allow the 19th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, which is certainly a respectable total given the number of rushing attempts this unit has had to defend. The definitive strength of this unit is in the trenches, where rookie Dexter Lawrence has made an immediate impact as one of the league's best run-stopping interior lineman. Alongside Lawrence, B.J. Hill also grades as an elite run-stopper in the trenches stuffing running lanes and stifling opposing rushing attacks before they can get going. Then, at the second and third levels, David Mayo and Antoine Bethea make up for their weaknesses defending the pass by contributing as top-flight run-stoppers. Both players rank amongst the league's best run-defenders as their respective positions, and their presence is vital to shutting down rushing attempts if they do break through the first level of New York's defense. In sum, Philadelphia's relatively-high-volume rushing attack is unlikely to see a spike in efficiency this weekend, even if they increase their volume if they gain a lead on the struggling New York Giants. Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard may tally a high number of carries on Monday night, but without a large chunk play on the ground, they are unlikely to post impressive efficiency numbers against the Giants' strong run defense.

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


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

It is looking increasingly likely that the days of Chris Carson as Seattle's bell-cow running back may be a thing of the past after recent issues with ball security along with Rashaad Penny's emergence as a viable running back finally late in year two. Carson's workload was one of the heaviest in the league earlier in the season, bearing the brunt of the work in Seattle's run-heavy offense that ranks third in total rushing attempts this season. Even after another 20-carry day against Minnesota on Monday night in Week 13, the underlying numbers are worrying for Chris Carson down the stretch, as he played approximately 50-percent of offensive snaps for the second consecutive weeks after his fumbling issues resurfaced in recent weeks. Rashaad Penny has registered his two highest-usage games of the season over the last two games, with 14 carries for 129 yards and a score against Philadelphia's stout run defense in Week 12, followed up by 15 carries for 74 yards and 1 score in Week 13 against Minnesota in Week 13. Penny has played nearly 50-percent of snaps in each of the two games, and his efficiency on the ground (5.7 yards per carry as opposed to Carson's 4.2 yards per carry this season) and ball security may lead to an increased role down the stretch this season. Overall, in a run-heavy offense like Seattle's may be able to support multiple viable fantasy producers, but Carson's value to close the season diminishes greatly as Rashaad Penny, the team's 2018 1st-round draft pick, eats into his playing time.

The Los Angeles Rams' defense has faced the sixth-most rush attempts in the NFL this season, and while that volume may lead to high raw rushing totals, their efficiency numbers rank amongst the league's best. The Rams have allowed just 3.7 yards per carry through 12 games this season, the 3rd-best mark in the NFL, and their defensive personnel matches this top-end ranking as well. Los Angeles fields one of the NFL's most talented defenses against both the run and the pass, and their strength starts up front in the trenches. Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers grade as two of the NFL's best interior defensive linemen against the run, and they do an exceptional job clogging up rushing lanes in the middle. Then, at linebacker, Cory Littleton's tackling is much-improved this season, as he has struggled in run-support in recent years. Through 12 games, Littleton has missed just 1 tackle while registering 57 total tackles, good for 21st in the NFL. Then, in the secondary, Eric Weddle and Jalen Ramsey are both willing run-supporters, helping round out one of the NFL's best defenses against the ground game. This matchup between NFC West foes is shaping up to be one of the season's best battles in the trenches, as the Seahawks will likely attempt to run the ball early and often against the Rams' strong run-stopping defensive front.

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


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense at New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The San Francisco offense is a decidedly run-dominant one, which is no surprise under coach Kyle Shanahan. And try as he might, he can no longer ignore the impact that Raheem Mostert has made on an attack that had stagnated by midseason. Over the past 3 weeks, with Matt Breida injured and Tevin Coleman running on fumes (2.1 yards per carry), Mostert has turned 31 rushes into 204 yards and 2 touchdowns. Dating back to last season, over 20 games in this offense, Mostert has posted a wild 6.3 yards a carry. This remains a multi-headed backfield, especially with Breida looking probable to return for Sunday. With the opportunity likely to be spread so thin, it’s hard to project much volume for any of the three. But for fantasy players not averse to risk, Mostert does look like the strongest option. His role may actually be the stablest right now, and there’s no denying his dynamism as a big-play magnet.

Due to a variety of factors, the New Orleans run defense remains one of fantasy’s toughest matchups. Game flow tends to favor the 10-2 Saints, keeping volume and production down for their opponents. And it’s a strong unit to boot, anchored by an underrated front line capable of controlling the point of attack. The second level is a bit inconsistent, but has a few run-stuffing stars, including potential All-Pro Demario Davis at linebacker. Altogether, they’ve allowed just 2 runners to top 70 yards in a game, stifling the likes of Christian McCaffrey (64), Ezekiel Elliott (35), and Chris Carson (53) along the way. The 49ers boast a dynamic ground game, but they’ll have to take control of the game early to reap the rewards in this matchup.

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Just when the Tampa Bay backfield was thought to have been settling out with Ronald Jones at the helm, they throw another curveball by giving Peyton Barber 17 carries to just six for Jones in last week’s blowout victory. The split between Jones and Barber has been rather unpredictable all season long as there have been games in which one out-carries the other by double-digits on multiple occasions. Neither running back has been particularly productive though, and this Tampa Bay rushing offense ranks 22nd in the league with 96.2 rushing yards per game and a below-average 3.7 yards per attempt. Barber has exceeded 4.0 yards per carry just one time this season, while Jones has done it only three times--including just one game of more than 3.7 yards per rush attempt in his last nine outings. While predicting who will have the hot hand in a given week remains a challenge, the Tampa Bay offensive line has been and will continue to be a concern that ultimately limits the upside of this rushing offense.

The Colts rushing defense had their worst game of the season against the run last week as Derrick Henry put up 149 yards and a touchdown. This was the first time any running back had exceeded 90 rushing yards against a Colts defense that has played excellently to have held running backs to just the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game on the season. Despite the stats from last week, this defense still played relatively well and has the personnel to shut down opposing backfields. Linebacker Darius Leonard, in particular, had a great game last week and has been a game-changer for this defense since returning from injury. This defensive line does have a lack of depth, but their starters have been solid and should have the edge over Tampa Bay’s mediocre offensive line. Look for the Colts defense to bounce back in this one as the Buccaneers running backs are in for a challenge.

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


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Since their number-one running back, Kerryon Johnson, made his way to the Injured Reserve earlier this season, the Detroit Lions have been in search of another running back to shoulder the load on the ground for them. It appears that Bo Scarbrough is that man after his last three outings. Although Scarbrough plays only about 50-percent of the team's offensive snaps, he has accounted for the hefty majority of the team's rushing attempts over this span, tallying 14, 18, and 21 carries across his 3 games, respectively. All three games have been losses, proving Scarbrough's workload to be somewhat-matchup-proof. However, his mediocre snap-share numbers limit his upside, as Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic frequently steal valuable red zone snaps from him. Overall, Scarbrough leads the Lions' mediocre rushing attack, as their offensive line grades as a perfectly average unit this season, supporting the 22nd-most efficient rushing attack in the NFL.

Minnesota's run defense is one of the toughest in the NFL to mount a strong rushing performance against, as they have allowed only 2 100-yard rushing days this season. Through the first 12 games of the season, the Vikings have allowed the 8th-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs in the NFL, and their impressive run-stopping personnel supports these numbers. Minnesota's defensive line features three above-average run stoppers, with Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter setting the edge and Linval Joseph clogging up the interior. Then, at linebacker, Eric Kendricks has grown into his role as one of the NFL's most well-rounded linebackers. Not only is Kendricks and elite pass-defender, but he also ranks 17th in the NFL with 59 total tackles to his name thus far in the season. Lastly, in the secondary, Anthony Harris has also emerged in recent seasons as one of the NFL's best safeties, both against the run and the pass. Harris has only missed two tackles this season, and his nose for the football is vital to his run-stuffing efforts from the defensive backfield. Overall, Bo Scarbrough and Detroit's committee of running backs are in for a long day at the office on the ground against Minnesota. Expect a low-volume and low-efficiency rushing day for the Lions' running backs here in Week 14.

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


Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Up until last week, the Marlon Mack-less Colts backfield seemed clear enough with Jonathan Williams leading the way after back-to-back 100+ yard outings. Things were certainly muddled last week though, as it was Jordan Wilkins who led the way with 11 carries, followed by Williams with eight and Nyhiem Hines with four. Wilkins looked like the better back as he saw a near-majority of the snaps in his first action since a Week 10 ankle injury. With Wilkins now back to full health, this backfield will remain a committee until the return of Marlon Mack, which could be as soon as this week pending his practice participation. Keep an eye on his status, as a return from Mack would immediately eliminate any upside coming from Wilkins or Williams. Regardless of who is running for the Colts, they will remain behind one of the top offensive lines in football that has been playing very well and remains healthy coming into the final stretch of this season.

Tampa Bay continued to prove last week why they may have the best rushing defense in football as they limited Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars to just 49 rushing yards and no rushing touchdowns, with Fournette averaging a meager 2.7 yards per attempt. Opposing running backs are averaging a league-low 60 rushing yards per game and just 3.1 rushing yards per attempt on the season. Since their Week 7 bye, Tampa Bay is holding running backs to the fewest fantasy points per game and has given up just one rushing touchdown to the position. With massive interior defenders like William Gholston and Vita Vea, it is no wonder teams have struggled to run effectively on this team. Linebacker Lavonte David has also been a big part of their success as he has been a consistent leader in tackles and playmaker against the run. The Colts offensive line is indeed an elite unit, but even they should have issues with this equally elite run defense.

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


Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense at New York Jets Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The 2019 Dolphins run game hasn’t merely been unproductive; it’s been difficult to watch such a display of ineptitude and bad injury luck. They sit dead last league-wide in attempts, yards per attempt, and yards per game, with their top three Opening Day backs all shelved or shipped away. Kalen Ballage is the latest to leave the lineup, landing on injured reserve to close out arguably the worst season in league history (1.8 yards per rush over 74 attempts). Going forward, it appears rookies Myles Gaskin (seventh round) and Patrick Laird (undrafted) will pair to lead the league’s most punchless running game. Last week, they combined to turn 10 carries into just 25 yards, and their outlook gets no better against the Jets’ smothering run defense. There’s a chance that journeyman Zach Zenner, who just signed this week, could stake a quick claim to some work. But with no upside to speak of and zero-point floors, there’s no reason to target anyone from this backfield in fantasy.

Amidst a truly lost season, the Jets can at least look to their run defense as a point of pride. They’ve faced the league’s 17th-most attempts, but have somehow given up the fewest yards. They haven’t let a runner reach 45 yards since Week 8, shutting down the likes of Saquon Barkley (13 carries for 1 yard), Josh Jacobs (10 for 34), and Derrius Guice (7 for 24) along the way. The Jets’ linebacking corps has been injury-ravaged and shaky at best, which highlights just how strong the play of the front line has been. Steve McLendon, Quinnen Williams, and Foley Fatukasi routinely control the gaps, leaving the second level clean to plug the gaps at least adequately. And they can always count on top-notch support from dynamic safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye - though Adams is legitimately questionable for Sunday with an ankle sprain. Overall, it’s never wise to project much success against this unit, and that goes extra for the Dolphins’ toothless attack.

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