Week 15 Rushing Matchups

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

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

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

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

Bottom line is that the cheatsheets are the final say.

New England Patriots Rushing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Patriots may have made a shift away from Sony Michel this past week as the running back for the third time in four games had 10 carries or less and for the second week in a row, Michel had 20% or less of the snaps on the field. Some of this had to do with the game script with the Patriots falling behind early and Michel being limited as a receiver, but the larger story has just been the inability for Michel to consistently move the ball. Both James White and Rex Burkhead provide more skills as both blockers and receivers than Michel and with the Patriots struggling on offense, part of it has been predictability that they are likely going to run the ball with Michel in the game. It is not all Michel’s fault, as the offensive line since losing David Andrews to start the year has struggled with consistency leading the slashing running backs who have more speed in Burkhead and White more valuable to this team. Michel will still play a role when the Patriots have a lead as he is the better runner between the tackles and to push the pile forward.

The Bengals run defense continues to be one of the worst in the league as Nick Chubb torched them for 106 yards on just 15 carries last week and was a major factor in the Browns winning the game. On the season, the Bengals have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards to opposing running backs and have allowed eight running backs to rush for 75 yards or more on the season. The issue for the Bengals is that their linebacking group is one of the weakest in Nick Vigil and Shawn Williams have both struggled mightily which have led to the Bengals being susceptible to long plays such as the 57 yard run from Nick Chubb last week. The defensive line is the strength of this team with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, but if you can get past those two, there are big plays to be had.

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

Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Raiders went without lead running back Josh Jacobs last week as he was scratched just a few hours from game time due to a fractured shoulder that he has reportedly been playing through since Week 7. Without Jacobs, the Raiders leaned on DeAndre Washington to shoulder the load as he led the backfield with 14 carries for 53 yards against the Titans. Washington saw 63 percent of the snaps compared to 38 percent from pass-catching specialist Jalen Richard, who rushed a season-high seven times but remains an ancillary option on the ground. Washington offers what should be a relatively low ceiling based on his plodder running style that has led to him averaging just 3.2 yards per carry with four rushing touchdowns in limited action since the 2017 season. The Raiders did sign running back Rod Smith earlier in the week, however, mid-week reports are indicating that Jacobs could be ready to suit up on Sunday based on positive MRI results. Keep a close eye on this situation, but if Jacobs were to make it back into the lineup without any reported limitations, he would immediately be a fantasy-relevant option against this exploitable Jaguars run defense.

The Jaguars maintained their status as one of the worst run defenses in football last week after allowing the Chargers to put up 195 rushing yards and two touchdowns against them in the blowout loss. This came after Jacksonville gave up two touchdowns to a terrible Tampa Bay rushing offense in Week 13 and over 100 yards to four separate running backs in their three previous games from Weeks 9-12. This defense has now given up multiple rushing touchdowns in four straight games and has allowed over 100 rushing yards to six running backs on the season--five of which have come in the last five games. The stalwart of this defensive line has been Calais Campbell, but even he had a rough outing last week as he was manhandled at the line of scrimmage by a below-average Chargers offensive line. Backup linebacker Donald Payne, starting for the injured Myles Jack, played extremely poorly alongside the equally struggling Quincy Williams. Very poor play from these linebackers has been the top issue for the Jaguars run defense all season, and there is no improvement in sight as this defense should continue to be highly exploitable.

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

Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense at Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Chris Carson has spent most of 2019 as fantasy’s most dependable bell cows, and his outlook opens up even more with Rashaad Penny on injured reserve with a torn ACL. But it’s worth noting Carson’s ball security issues, and the possibility he sees his workload managed just a bit anyway. Penny had cut steadily into the ground game before going down, and those 33 snaps and 15 rushes per game won’t just be absorbed into Carson’s workload. Rather, it’s fair to project C.J. Prosise (and perhaps a mid-week addition) to take on some of that. For his part, Carson has been adequate throughout the year, averaging a workmanlike 4.3 yards per attempt and 81 a game. The runners - including quarterback Russell Wilson, who’s running five times a week - operate behind a good-not-great line, one built much more for road-grading than for pass blocking. All told, regardless of personnel or efficiency, it’s hard to bypass volume like this in fantasy football. Carson comes with his warts, but remains one of fantasy’s most dependable assets - and Prosise could work his way into Week 15 value as well.

The Panthers’ 2019 collapse hasn’t snuck past its run defense, which is close to rock bottom at this point. They’ve allowed 6 different runners to record 50+ yards over the past 3 weeks, averaging 7.3 per rush and scoring 6 touchdowns along the way. Last Sunday, even the Falcons’ anemic run game found success, with the plodding Devonta Freeman and Brian Hill consistently grinding through a front seven that looked winded. The root problem here is on the second level: linebackers Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson have been up-and-down in space, and the secondary has offered little run-stopping help in the box. Kuechly remains a great defensive quarterback, but he’s spent the year trading off strong games with shaky ones. Too often, he and Thompson are washed out of the lane, and even struggling runners have been able to capitalize. And they likely won’t get any Week 15 rest with the Seahawks’ run-focused attack on the docket. The Panthers line will need to dominate in the trenches to give Kuechly, Thompson, and the crew room to pursue and strike.

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

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense at Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Tampa Bay's medium-volume rushing attack typically splits work between Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber in a seemingly random fashion. In recent weeks, Bruce Arians has listed Ronald Jones as the team's starter, only to pull him from the game very early on due to a missed blitz pick-up. This extremely short leash for Jones, whose uninspiring 3.8 yards per carry somehow blows Peyton Barber's mark of 3.2 yards per carry out of the water, makes projecting the workload in the Buccaneers' backfield exceptionally difficult. Barber tallied the only 20-carry game of the season for either back in Week 2 against the Panthers, which also is the only game in which either running back played more than 60-percent of Tampa Bay's offensive snaps. Running behind the 30th-ranked offensive line in the NFL, according to Matt Bitonti, adds increased volatility to this running back situation. Neither Ronald Jones nor Peyton Barber can be relied upon for consistent fantasy production down the home stretch this season, as they will likely continue to split action in one of the league's least-efficient run offenses.

Detroit's run defense has faced the sixth-most rush attempts of any defense in the NFL this season, and their efficiency metrics are unimpressive to go along with the volume. In turn, the Lions have allowed the third-most fantasy points of any defense in the NFL to opposing running backs this season. Along the defensive line, Damon Harrison is dealing with an injury that may keep him out of this weekend's game. If he is unable to go, although he has not been the elite run-stopper he once was, it would be a significant loss for the unit as a whole, as A'Shawn Robinson has also regressed this season and he has not proven to be ready to be the number-one guy along the interior just yet. At linebacker, the Lions are plagued by tackling issues, as Jarrad Davis, Christian Jones, and Jahlani Tavai all grade as well-below-average tacklers this season. Lastly, in the secondary, the Lions traded away one of their top run-stopping defensive backs, Quandre Diggs earlier this season. The Lions have been unable to replace his production, and their run defense as a whole has suffered as a product of this loss. While the volume in Tampa Bay's backfield is extremely difficult to project, this weekend, whoever carries the rock for the Buccaneers is likely to see a significant uptick in efficiency, as the Lions' defensive front has proven incapable of shutting down opposing rushing attacks.

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

Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Cardinals' backfield has been one of the more perplexing situations in the NFL this season, as David Johnson opened the season with sky-high expectations for his first season in Kliff Kingsbury's offense. The Cardinals' offense has run the ball sparingly this season, tallying the 25th-most rushing attempts of any team in the league, but their efficiency has been strong when they do establish the ground game. In recent weeks, Kenyan Drake has emerged as the team's number-one running back, leading the team's running backs in snaps and carries almost every week since he was acquired from Miami. At this point in the season, David Johnson is an afterthought, and Chase Edmonds' health is too uncertain to plug him into the lineup over Drake. While the presence of these two backs prevents Drake from absorbing a bell-cow role in the Cardinals' offense, he remains the most valuable running back in Arizona's backfield down the stretch this season, even if this role does not accompany significant volume.

On the season, Cleveland's run defense grades as a below-average unit that has both faced high volume and allowed significant yardage totals on the ground. Leading up to last weekend, the unit was showing signs of improvement, holding four straight starting running backs to under 65 rushing yards. However, last weekend, Joe Mixon gashed this unit for 146 yards and 1 touchdown on 23 carries, reminding everyone what the true identity of this unit is. A soft schedule in recent weeks gave the illusion that Cleveland's run defense had made significant strides as a unit, but their poor performance against the Bengals has seemingly undone much of that work. The team's leading run-stoppers include defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, who has been a top-end interior lineman at most of his destinations throughout his career. Additionally, T.J. Carrie continues to be one of the league's strongest run-supporting cornerbacks. Overall, Arizona's low-volume and high-efficiency rushing attack may post an impressive yard-per-carry at the end of the day on Sunday. However, it is unlikely that the Cardinals provide any running back with the requisite volume to make for a top-tier fantasy option this weekend. In total, this grades as a neutral matchup, as Arizona's low-volume rushing attack should offset their expected advantage on the ground.

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

Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Devonta Freeman continues to suffer through a nightmare season in the Falcons’ up-and-down offense. He’s fresh off a solid 84-yard performance that saw him find the end zone, but it likely didn’t signal a breakout. Taking on the Panthers’ leaky defense, it was just Freeman’s fourth time over 11 games topping 50 yards, and the rushing touchdown was his first of the season. Freeman remains a fantasy consideration on his all-around volume alone - backups Brian Hill and Qadre Ollison offer very little - but he’s not an inspiring one. He simply isn’t showing much speed or wiggle, and it doesn’t help that he’s working behind one of 2019’s most disappointing front lines. The San Francisco run defense isn’t great, but it’s likely strong enough to control the trenches and force Freeman into an inefficient day. Simply put: anyone participating in their fantasy league’s playoffs probably has no need to chase his low-impact ceiling - and probably can’t stomach his devastating floor.

The San Francisco run defense has struggled throughout 2019. Through 13 games, they’ve given up the league’s seventh-most yardage per rush (4.6) and 11th-most per game (117). To be fair, this unit has faced several of the league’s top runners: Christian McCaffrey, Nick Chubb, Lamar Jackson, Chris Carson, and then Alvin Kamara just last week. Still, it’s concerning how often this front seven is simply brushed aside for chunk gains. The line is star-studded and packed with strong run defenders, but there are big issues on the second level. Linebacker Fred Warner is the only consistent body there, and even he’s been up-and-down in his second NFL season. Rookie Dre Greenlaw is more of a coverage guy than a run-stuffer, and the secondary, stocked to the brim with cover cornerbacks itself, provides little help in the box. This isn’t exactly a sparkling fantasy matchup, as the 49ers often push their opponents into a hole and out of their gameplans early. But when runners can get going, there’s often success to be found once launched into open space.

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

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

The Broncos backfield has underwhelmed for most of this season as this rushing offense ranks slightly below average with 106.9 rushing yards per game and 4.2 yards per attempt. The tandem of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman have not combined for over 100 rushing yards since Week 9, and neither running back has rushed for more than 92 yards in a game this season. Lindsay has been the clear leader from a workload perspective, out-rushing Freeman 62-23 since their Week 10 bye. However, Lindsay has averaged a mediocre 3.8 yards per carry with just one touchdown (last week) over those last four games. He is getting the majority of the goal-line work and even had five red-zone looks last week though, which is encouraging. However, it is clear by now that the floor for Lindsay seems to be capped based on what should continue to be a low-upside offense unless Drew Lock manages to have a repeat performance from the flashes he showed against Houston last week.

The Chiefs saw improved play from their otherwise bottom-of-the-barrel run defense last week as they limited the Patriots to just 94 rushing yards, of which running backs accounted for only 66 yards. Having a relatively healthy front seven certainly made this group look better in that game, but the game script also helped them as the Chiefs jumped out to a lead and had the Patriots into a pass-heavy script. Play from this defense throughout the season has been truly abysmal, as even with that nice game last week, they are still giving up the fifth-most rushing yards per game (137.7) and sixth-most fantasy points per game to running backs in their last four outings. Linebacker Reggie Ragland has been decent when given snaps against the run, but the rest of this linebacker group has struggled all season. The line has also been relatively porous beyond Chris Jones on the interior. This is a matchup in which even the lowly Broncos offensive line should contend enough to allow Phillip Lindsay to have a decent day.

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

New York Giants Rushing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Saquon Barkley's second NFL season has been a much rougher go than his rookie campaign, as he is seeing limited volume on the ground while posting extremely disappointing yardage and efficiency numbers. Saquon Barkley has not tallied a single 20-carry game yet this season, and New York's poor run blocking has hindered his production overall. Barkley has not eclipsed either 100 rushing yards or 4.5 yards per carry in any game since Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills. With just two rushing touchdowns on the season, Barkley's overall fantasy production has been extremely disappointing this season, especially considering he is the team's bell-cow running back, playing at least 80-percent of snaps in 8 out of his 9 games he has been healthy for. Overall, a soft matchup against the Miami Dolphins may be the perfect situation for Barkley to provide some fantasy value down the home stretch of the 2019 season, as their run defense ranks amongst the league's worst.

Miami's run defense has defended the third-most volume of any team in the league this season, which aligns perfectly with the fact that they have started the season 3-10 and almost always are playing from behind. The yardage and efficiency totals permitted by Miami's run defense have both been horrific, ranking in the bottom-10 of the league on both fronts. The Dolphins have allowed 6 100-yard rushers this season, and the 8th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. The lone bright spot in Miami's defensive front against the run has been linebacker Raekwon McMillan. McMillan, a second-year player out of Ohio State, has made an incredible jump this season, but he gets little support elsewhere in the team's front-seven. This soft matchup bodes extremely well for a struggling Giants' rushing attack. Expect Saquon Barkley to get back on track, potentially with just his 3rd 100-yard rushing day of the season, and first since Week 2, this weekend in as soft of a matchup as he will see all season. Much of Barkley's struggles this season have been a byproduct of an overmatched offensive line allowing penetration and contact in the backfield. This weekend, against one of the league's weakest front-sevens, if the Giants are unable to win the battle in the trenches, all hope may be lost for Barkley getting back on track at any point this season.

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

Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense at Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Philadelphia's run offense ranks seventh in the league in total rushing volume, but their metrics across the board rank right around league-average totals for yardage, touchdowns, and efficiency on the ground. In recent weeks, with Jordan Howard still not yet cleared for contact in practice due to a shoulder injury, rookie Miles Sanders has played a bell-cow-like role for the Eagles on the ground. Head coach Doug Pederson, however, has typically favored a running-back-by-committee approach in years past, and last week against New York, Boston Scott emerged as a potential candidate to spell Sanders in the Eagles' backfield. While Sanders missed some time due to cramps, Boston Scott posted 10 carries for a team-leading 59 rushing yards on the Giants' tough run defense. Moving forward, running behind one of the league's best offensive lines, if Jordan Howard remains sidelined, Miles Sanders should continue to play the majority of offensive snaps, but Boston Scott seems to have earned a share of the action in Philadelphia's backfield.

Much like Washington's pass defense, their run defense is headlined by a select few top-end run stoppers, but beyond that, there is little to get excited about. The Redskins have defended the second-most rushing volume in the NFL this season, allowing the 6th-most rushing yardage and over 4.3 yards per carry. They have allowed the 9th-most fantasy production to opposing running backs on the season, and aside from three premier run-defenders, they lack talent against the run this season. Along the defensive line, DaRon Payne's emergence as one of the league's strongest run-stuffers on the interior was one especially bright spot for Washington earlier this season. While some of that shine has faded in recent weeks, he remains a significant reason that they have allowed only 2 100-yard rushers on the season. Then, at linebacker, while Jon Bostic remains a liability, Cole Holcomb has picked up his slack as an above-average run stopper this year. Lastly, in the secondary, Landon Collins, who has disappointed in coverage, has not skipped a beat in run support. Collins is one of the most physical safeties in the league, and he makes great use of this hard-hitting ability when he comes down into the box against the run. Overall, the high rushing volume Washington's defense has been forced to deal with this season is the driving force behind their poor metrics against the run. However, if any of their top-three run-stoppers were to regress from their top-end levels of production (or get hurt) this could spell disaster for Washington's run defense.

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

Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

James Conner looks ready to return Sunday from his shoulder injury, and he’ll immediately slot in ahead of Benny Snell as the Steelers’ bell cow runner. Still, even over a full, healthy game, it’s hard to project Conner to much efficiency. He’s only topped 50 yards twice over his 7 full games, averaging an anemic 3.8 per rush. In fact, aside from his Week 8 eruption against the lowly Dolphins, his mark sits at just 3.1. And there’s no guarantee he’ll even finish Week 15 on the field after aggravating the injury in mid-Week 11. The Steelers boast one of football’s strongest front lines, headed by a pair of dominant interior blockers in Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro. But Conner and backup Snell (just 4.0 himself) are generally slow-footed plodders, and neither has picked up more than what’s been blocked. It’s puzzling as to why the Steelers seem to have given up on Jaylen Samuels as more than a complementary runner. With just 21 carries over the past 4 weeks, he looks locked into a third-down role. The team may need his dynamism, though, if they’re going to generate any difference-making runs Sunday.

The Bills defense has earned a strong reputation here in 2019, but it’s been built almost entirely against the pass. The run defense has been fairly beatable for much of the season, sitting 21st league-wide on a per-carry basis. To their credit, they do stand as the only Ravens opponent since Week 3 to hold Lamar Jackson under 60 yards (40 on 11 attempts last week). There are definitely impact players in this unit, such as first-round rookie tackle Ed Oliver, who has made a number of splash plays in the backfield over the past month. But overall, it’s a relatively soft group, one that’s been picked through efficiently by speedsters (Phillip Lindsay, Adrian Peterson) and power backs (Ezekiel Elliott, Nick Chubb, Jordan Howard) alike. The linebackers aren’t particularly strong in gap discipline and pursuit, so safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are relied upon heavily. They’re perfectly capable, but it’s never a good sign when the safeties are the unit’s best run-stoppers. The Steelers boast a strong front line, with a pair of pulling technicians in Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro. That could be deadly for a Bills defense that struggles to contain the run on the second level.

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

Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Christian McCaffrey remains a sheer fantasy monster on volume alone, though it’s worth noting that he’s mired in a bit of a rushing slump. He hasn’t topped 70 yards since Week 10, averaging just 3.8 per carry over that span. Still, it’s worth noting that he faced relatively strong run defenses in all four of those games. All things considered, he’s done quite well to produce what he has in the Panthers’ scattershot offense. Even with the passing game coughing up turnovers left and right - and the offense seeing less touchdown opportunity - McCaffrey remains fantasy’s top player week over week. He’s the absolute engine of the franchise, ceding just six snaps over the past five weeks, and he draws most of the high-leverage opportunity near the goal line. For many reasons, no matchup can truly contain him.

The Seahawks sit below league average in run defense, giving up 4.6 yards per rush and 15 touchdowns through 13 games. But it has to be noted how skewed those numbers are by a handful of chunk runs - and that this unit is currently on a major upswing. Since Nick Chubb ripped off a pair of long-gainers back in Week 6, lead runners have averaged just 3.5 per carry and 49 a game. That stretch has included impressive work against the likes of Mark Ingram (12 for 46), Dalvin Cook (9 for 29), and Todd Gurley just last week (23 for 79). Armed with a powerful rotation of interior linemen and sturdy linebacking, this front seven has morphed into one of the league’s most imposing groups. Still, the catalyst has arguably been new Seahawk Jadeveon Clowney, who’s long been a quietly dominant force against the run. His edge-setting ability makes life even easier for Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, both of whom continue to grade as solid run-stoppers. There’s no definitive answer for shutting down Christian McCaffrey, who’s always a massive threat when fed the ball, even in his current mini-slump. But the Seattle run defense presents yet another daunting task, and it’s hard to project much per-rush productivity for Sunday.

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

Chicago Bears Rushing Offense at Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

David Montgomery shouldered his highest workload since Week 8 last week as he carried 20 times for 80 yards. Some success from the Bears passing offense lightened up the box for Montgomery, who ran pretty well with his chances last week. Montgomery has now strung together back-to-back games with at least 75 rushing yards after crossing that mark just once prior in the season. Even with a couple of decent weeks strung together, however, this Bears rushing offense still ranks near the bottom of the league with only 84.8 rushing yards per game (29th) and an average of 3.5 yards per rush attempt (29th). It has been tough to run with such a flat passing game, so Trubisky will need to keep the pedal to the medal through the air for Montgomery to have a good shot at success. Trubisky himself has also added to this ground game in recent weeks though, rushing for two touchdowns in his past three games while amassing a season-high 63 rushing yards last week. He has not been active on the ground throughout the season, but last week flashed some of that rushing ability he showed from the 2018 season, and if Trubisky can maintain his confidence, we may see even more of it this week.

The Packers defense has given up the eighth-most rushing yards per game as they have struggled consistently against opposing ground games throughout the season. They have allowed at least 75 rushing yards to a lead running back in four of their last five games, giving up six rushing touchdowns to running backs and the sixth-most fantasy points per game (non-PPR) to the position over that span. Play from this defensive line has been decent with Kenny Clark anchoring the interior and Za’Darius Smith having a very nice year from the edge. The problem revolves around these Packers linebackers though, as the defensive scheme has simply more pressure on them than they can handle. Blake Martinez is a good player, but he has been subpar in run defense all season long. The Bears rushing offense is not a group to be feared, however, and these running backs managed just 37 total rushing yards in their last meeting Week 1. The Bears offensive line is a bottom-tier unit that could again be without their starting right tackle, so look for the Packers to win in the trenches here and create some issues in the run game against the Bears.

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

Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Cleveland Browns have one of the NFL's most efficient rushing attacks this season, and the recent introduction of Kareem Hunt, who missed the early part of the season due to suspension and injury, bolstered an already strong unit. The team's starter Nick Chubb leads the way with 1,281 rushing yards on over 5.1 yards per carry this season, while Kareem Hunt has been able to spell him occasionally, sparing the second-year back from a damaging workload. The Browns' offense is a middle-of-the-pack unit in rushing volume, attempting the 17th-most rushes of any team in the NFL, but their rushing production ranks in the top-10 across the board elsewhere. Expect Hunt and Chubb to continue to split work in the coming weeks, with Chubb tallying the bulk of the rushing work and Hunt working more on potential passing downs.

Arizona's run defense this season has defended the sixth-most volume of any team in the league, which accompanies their 3-9-1 record entering Week 15, as they have played from behind for the majority of the season. While they have capable run defenders throughout this unit, the volume of rushing attempts and 4.3 yards per carry allowed have fostered a fantasy-friendly environment for opposing rushing attacks. On the season, the Cardinals have allowed the 12th most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. The strength of the Cardinals' run defense is in the trenches, where Chandler Jones, Terrelle Suggs, and Corey Peters headline their formidable front line. All three players grade as above-average run stoppers, but unfortunately, their linebackers struggle to fill rushing lanes and finish plays. While Jordan Hicks has shown improvement on this front, Haason Reddick grades as one of the league's weakest run-stoppers at the linebacker position this season. Lastly, in the secondary, Budda Baker, the second-year utility defensive back out of Washington, is key to Arizona's run-stopping efforts. His run-stopping talent is unmatched on this defense. It is worth noting that Baker's status for this weekend's game is in question, and if he is unable to go, his absence would be extremely damaging to Arizona's run-stopping efforts.

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

Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense vs Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The past few weeks for the Packers rushing offense have yielded mixed results from the tandem of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, but last week was a clear picture with Jones at the center of it as he racked up a season-high 134 rushing yards and a touchdown from 16 carries. Williams saw just seven carries for 24 yards despite what was a nearly identical snap share from what he has seen over the past month. Part of the drop in usage could be explained by the knee injury that caused Williams to miss some practice last week, so keep an eye on his status coming into this game. Jones did look spectacular both as a runner and receiver in this last game as he made his case for an every-down workload. However, the poor performances from weeks past still loom on Jones’ resume, leaving the expectation that a healthy Williams should close that workload gap back up this week as the Packers look to preserve legs for the playoffs.

The Bears defense had a rough time against Ezekiel Elliott last week, giving up 81 yards and two touchdowns from 19 carries. This group has now given up 80 or more rushing yards to a team’s lead running back in four of their last six games, however, they still remain one of the more efficient run defenses in football with opposing offenses averaging just 3.7 rushing yards per attempt--third-fewest in the league. Strong play from the secondary has also helped limit big plays as they have yet to allow a run play of 31 or more yards and have given up only six runs of 20 or more yards on the year. With this week, however, comes a change for the Bears as they lost leading tackler Roquan Smith to a season-ending injury. While Smith wasn’t having a great year, he was the central figure to this Bears defense and will represent a loss that is felt within this front seven. This stout interior defensive line, led by Eddie Goldman, will be expected to pick up the slack--but they will have a tough time this week against a strong Packers offensive line.

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

Houston Texans Rushing Offense at Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Texans ground game has taken a step back in recent weeks with their combination of running backs failing to eclipse 90 rushing yards for three straight weeks. Carlos Hyde continues to lead the way with touches as he out-carried Duke Johnson 14-to-1 last week, but Hyde has failed to eclipse 75 rushing yards since their Week 10 bye and has visibly slowed since his hot start to the year. Workload also has a part to play in Hyde’s lack of success, as he has averaged just 12 carries per game in the last four weeks after starting the season with an average of just under 17 carries per game. Duke Johnson started gaining steam with more involvement on the ground in recent weeks, but last week’s one-carry performance reminded everyone of his lack of involvement as a rusher in this offense. Deshaun Watson found the end zone twice on the ground last week as he added 44 rushing yards, with almost all of it coming in garbage time. Watson cooled off for a few weeks with 12 or fewer rushing yards in each of his preceding three games, but he has now rushed for over 30 yards in seven of 13 games this season and is tied for the second-most rushing touchdowns (7) amongst quarterbacks.

The Titans run defense has softened up during the second half of the season, ever since they allowed 146 rushing yards and two touchdowns to Christian McCaffrey in Week 9. In those past five games, Tennessee has allowed opposing running backs to average 99 rushing yards per game with six rushing touchdowns, good for the fifth-most fantasy points per game since Week 9. While they have given up at least one rushing touchdown in three straight weeks, this defense has played better in their last two games as they have held backs to just 3.6 yards per rush attempt. Top run-defending lineman Jurrell Casey was banged up during part of that rough patch against the run, but he is now back to near full speed. Linebacker Jayon Brown has also picked up his play as the season has progressed, blossoming into an above-average linebacker in his third year with the Titans. The Texans offensive line has done a decent job in run-blocking, but they will be tested here in their first matchup of the season with the Titans. This Titans team has also yet to allow a rushing touchdown to quarterbacks with just one quarterback rushing for more than 30 yards against them this season. While Deshaun Watson remains an elite rushing threat, he at least shouldn’t be able to run wild with ease against this defense.

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

Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense at Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Leonard Fournette struggled for the second straight week as he led an uninspiring Jaguars rushing offense with just 50 rushing yards from 15 carries. After starting the season averaging 20.4 carries per game with four games of 20 or more rushing attempts, Fournette has dipped to just 14.4 carries per game since Week 9 with over 15 carries in only one game. Efficiency has also been an issue for Fournette in recent weeks, as he has averaged over 3.6 yards per carry in just one of his last five games while exceeding 50 rushing yards just once. His offensive line has not played as well in recent weeks due to excessive penalties and an ankle injury plaguing center Brandon Linder. Fournette remains heavily involved in the passing game, but this recent lack of usage on the ground certainly sheds doubt on the fantasy prospects of Jacksonville’s bell-cow back. On another note, the re-introduction of Gardner Minshew as starting quarterback now adds back in that extra dimension of upside on the ground. Minshew’s risk-taking playing style and athletic ability led to him rushing for 28 or more yards in half of his starts earlier this season, and he put up 31 rushing yards in last week’s game.

The Raiders faltered against Derrick Henry and the Titans last week, giving up over 103 yards and two touchdowns to Henry, who had the best fantasy day (non-PPR) any running back has had this season against the Raiders. Oakland also allowed a pair of rushing touchdowns to the Chiefs in Week 13, but they had done a decent job at limiting yardage from running backs in many of their preceding games. Limiting big plays has been a calling card of this rushing defense, as they are one of only a few teams in the league to have not yet allowed a run play of more than 40 yards. They are also giving up just 4.1 rushing yards per attempt, which is slightly better than league-average. Strong run-stoppers on the interior and decent play from their safeties have helped this team excel in spots against the run. Linebacker Tahir Whitehead, while questionable in pass coverage, has played relatively well against the run also. While not a slam dunk matchup by any means for Leonard Fournette, the Raiders do still offer some level of opportunity for him to get back on track.

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

Los Angeles Rams Rushing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Los Angeles Rams' rushing volume has spiked in recent weeks following head coach Sean McVay's acknowledgment that Todd Gurley's rushing volume was alarmingly-low earlier in the season. The Rams' rushing volume still ranks just 18th in the league, while the yardage and efficiency totals are no better, but Gurley's playing time and usage rate has spiked in recent weeks, inspiring hope for him to perhaps register at least 1 100-yard rushing day down the stretch. Gurley has carried the ball at least 19 times in 3 out of his last 4 games, coming within 5 yards of the century mark twice during that stretch. Running behind Los Angeles' horrific offensive line, Todd Gurley has had his work cut out for himself on the ground this season, but a handful of impressive performances have his stock and, in turn, the stock of the entire Rams' rushing attack trending upwards as they battle for a potential Wild Card spot in the playoffs.

Against the run, the Cowboys have faced medial volume this season, while posting middle-of-the-road run-stopping metrics across the board. They rank 19th in the league in rushing yardage allowed, 22nd in rushing touchdowns allowed, but 13th in yards per carry allowed on the season. Thanks to a strong defensive front seven, Dallas has only allowed 2 100-yard rushers this season. Headlined by defensive linemen Demarcus Lawrence and Christian Covington in the trenches and Jaylon Smith at linebacker, the Cowboys field ample run-stopping talent to stifle most rushing attacks. In the secondary, Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis contribute more in run support than practically any other group of cornerbacks in the league. This run-stopping strength in the secondary is paramount to the team's ability to limit big plays on the ground, and subsequently, big rushing performances. Expect the Rams to have their hands full in the trenches this weekend, as Todd Gurley is unlikely to post his first 100-yard rushing day of the season against Dallas' capable run defense.

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

New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Saints ground game struggled to get going in what was a pass-happy shootout last week against the 49ers. This struggle to get going on the ground is nothing new for the Saints backfield though, as Alvin Kamara has not scored since Week 3 and has seen 13 or fewer carries in five straight games since suffering the ankle injury in Week 6. That lower volume on the ground has led to Kamara failing to exceed 25 rushing yards in two of his last five games while not going over the 75 rushing yard mark in any of those outings. Part of the explanation for this lower volume from Kamara has been the increased usage of Latavius Murray, who looked spectacular in his two games filling in as the lead back while Kamara was injured. Murray’s usage has been somewhat erratic since Kamara’s return though, as he rushed for 64 and 69 yards in two games, but finished with 12, 27, and 2 rushing yards in the other three since their Week 9 bye. This rushing offense does sport one of the top offensive lines in football, and both Kamara and Murray have the talent to put up big numbers on the ground.

The Colts run defense got back on track last week as they shut down Tampa Bay’s ground game by giving up just 70 rushing yards and no touchdowns to Buccaneers running backs. Last week marked the seventh time this defense has limited a team’s lead running back to fewer than 60 rushing yards and the ninth time they have held all running backs out of the end zone, further solidifying how the 149-yard outburst from Derrick Henry in Week 13 was more of an outlier rather than a sign of this run defense weakening. Darius Leonard continues to anchor this defense with his spectacular play at middle linebacker while Justin Houston is locking down his side of the defensive line despite his reputation as more of a pass-rushing specialist. With as well as this front seven has played, however, they still yield the advantage to the top-notch Saints offensive line--particularly as Pro Bowl candidate right tackle Ryan Ramczyk should by all accounts be able to hold his own against Houston. This Saints offensive line is helping to generate the third-most yards before contact (1.99) in the league and should have minimal issues winning in the trenches here.

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

San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The 49ers boast the league’s second-most run-dominant offense, pounding the ball on 50% of their snaps; only the Ravens run it more. But that volume divvies up several ways each week, which works for coach Kyle Shanahan but limits the upside of all three relevant backs. Raheem Mostert has been a great story, running explosively (6.0 yards per rush) to the point of leading the backfield in snaps, carries, and yards over the past 2 weeks. Mostert’s usage is likely capped around 10-12 rushes a week, but he’s a flex consideration in fantasy with that wild efficiency. (It’s likely not a fluke, either: Mostert put up 7.7 per carry in a change-of-pace role last season.) Matt Breida returned from injury last week and ran well, opening the day with a 28-yard scamper and ending with 54 on just 6 attempts. Breida is quick and dynamic, but spent last Sunday as Mostert’s caddy and may stay in that role. He’s a bit fragile, and Shanahan has rarely used him heavily. At the moment, Tevin Coleman isn’t part of the festivities, with just 19 rushes for 51 yards over the past 3 weeks. Coleman drew just three carries in last Sunday’s shootout, and he didn’t do himself any favors by failing to convert a 3rd-and-1 chance. All told, this is one of football’s most productive attacks, but it’s never easy to nail down the distribution. That makes Mostert and Breida volatile, if high-upside, fantasy plays on any given week.

The Atlanta run defense remains a relatively weak unit, and it’s been beaten consistently on an efficiency level by good backs. But overall, there’s been notable improvement throughout this group, and this isn’t the cakewalk fantasy matchup it once was. Dating back to Week 5, only a single runner (Chris Carson) has cracked 70 yards against the Falcons, and they’ve done excellent work in bouts with Todd Gurley (18 for 41), David Johnson (12 for 34), and the red-hot Latavius Murray (9 for 14 over 2 games). Tackle Grady Jarrett remains a dominant force inside, routinely tying up blockers and blowing up plays in the backfield himself. And the linebackers are strong: Deion Jones has long been an active run-stopper, but De’Vondre Campbell has taken a big step forward this year. Overall, this matchup is nothing to fear for fantasy purposes, and Kyle Shanahan’s attack does project well for Sunday. But the days of blindly plugging any Falcons opponent into a lineup are over, or at least on hold.

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

Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense vs Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Titans rushing offense continues to play as one of the best units in the league as they have now exceeded 160 rushing yards in four straight games. Derrick Henry has been the top fantasy running back in football over the second half of the season, averaging 132 rushing yards per game, 6.7 yards per carry, and double the touchdowns (8) of any other running back since Week 9. He has exceeded 100 rushing yards in four straight games with two rushing touchdowns in three of those outings. The Titans offensive line has been blocking extraordinarily well down the stretch, especially as all starters have remained healthy. Ryan Tannehill also continues to show some upside with his legs as he ran for 19 yards last week and had exceeded 35 rushing yards in three of his last five outings. The one thing to watch for this week will be Henry’s hamstring injury, as it limited him in the second half last week to the point that Henry sat out the entire fourth quarter. His practice status may be murky as Henry has been on a game management plan necessitating very few practices, so keep an eye on his status late in the week and leading into Sunday morning.

Leading into Week 14, the Texans rushing defense had been uncharacteristically exposed. From Weeks 11 to 13, the Texans allowed 157.3 rushing yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry to running backs while giving up the most fantasy points per game in the league to the position over that span. This reeling run defense showed signs of improvement in Week 14 though, as they limited the Broncos backfield to just over 3.1 yards per rush attempt and 75 rushing yards despite facing an extremely negative game script after the Broncos jumped out to a huge 31-3 lead at halftime. This run defense had been one of the better groups in football prior to their Week 10 bye, and last week showed much of what we saw through the first half of the season. Zach Cunningham is an above-average linebacker against the run, while D.J. Reader is one of the better run-plugging defensive linemen in the league. With that, the rest of this Texans defensive line--notable Angelo Blackson on the right side--can be beaten in the trenches, particularly by a Titans offensive line that is playing very well. Derrick Henry is a stout matchup for nearly any defense in football right now, and he should have the edge in this one.

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

Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Promising rookie runner Devin Singletary returned fully from injury in Week 8, and he’s been Buffalo’s bell cow ever since. Over those 7 games he’s seen 69% of Bills snaps in the backfield and taken on 60% of running back attempts. And he’s been plenty efficient in the process, averaging 5.0 yards per carry over that span and 5.6 on the season. The Bills run the ball with solid volume, and while their run/pass ratio is skewed a bit by quarterback Josh Allen’s scrambling, there’s more than enough opportunity here to support a fantasy RB2. Singletary has cleared 60 yards in 4 straight games, and he’s topped 85 three times as the lead dog. Frank Gore (just 13 carries over the past 2 weeks) is little more than a strict backup at this point; Singletary’s main competition for fantasy value is the fearless, instinctive Allen, who takes on seven carries a game himself and most of the short-yardage work. Singletary has only taken two goal-line rushes all year, which does keep his ceiling fairly modest. But his floor at least looks secure, even in a tough matchup against the Steelers, who can be beaten by quick-cutting runners.

The Steelers continue to clamp down - for the most part - on opposing run games. Only 4 teams have given up fewer yards per attempt, and none have allowed fewer touchdowns. There have been a few minor hiccups along the way, as the Steelers have long struggled with quick-footed backs capable of exploding through a hole. That’s been exploited in recent matchups by Marlon Mack (21 carries for 89 yards), Todd Gurley (12 for 73), Joe Mixon (18 for 79), and Kareem Hunt (7 for 46). Still, on the whole, this isn’t an attractive fantasy matchup to test. There are issues at linebacker, where Mark Barron remains a huge liability and rookie Devin Bush is taking baby steps forward. But the Pittsburgh line controls the point of attack so consistently that they’re given plenty of leeway in pursuit, and there are supporting playmakers all over this unit.

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

Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense vs New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Say what you want about how bad the Bengals offense has been this season, but Joe Mixon continues to work hard every game as evidenced by last week’s 146 yards and a touchdown game against Cleveland on 23 carries. This marks the fourth time out of the last five games that Mixon has run for over 75 yards, which was something that he was only able to do once in his first eight games of the season. With the Bengals having limited options in the passing game, they seem to be committed to the run even in defeat as they have run the ball with Mixon an average of 21 times over the last five games while being outscored 115-74.

The Patriots run defense continues to be one of the better units in the NFL this season as they shut down the Chiefs last week holding the team to just 57 yards rushing on 20 attempts. For the most part this season, they have been a team of when they are on, they are the best in the league, but they have had a few hiccups throughout the season as they have allowed three running backs to top 100 yards this year which has played a role in the Patriots allowing 4.2 yards-per-carry which is 15th in the NFL this year while still allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. What is the most impressive about the Patriots is that they have allowed just one rushing touchdown on the season as this is a unit that when they want to sell out to stop the run have one of the best units in football behind Danny Shelton, Lawrence Guy to eat up space for Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins to clean up the tackle.

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 (Tough Matchup)

The Chiefs rushing offense continues to struggle amidst what is a volatile situation with starter Damien Williams sidelined from a rib injury and Darrell Williams recently placed on IR. Even before the recent injury woes, this rushing offense had struggled with consistency as they rank 27th in the league with just 93 rushing yards per game. It is tough to blame this lack of success on the offensive line, as while they have had some injury issues throughout the season, this is an overall solid group that firmly ranks in the top tier according to Matt Bitonti of Footballguys. The inconsistencies in who is running the ball combined with a sheer lack of rushing attempts (298, 27th in the league) can help explain the lack of numbers put up by this group. The status of Damien Williams will be worth monitoring coming into this week, as his return would add clarity to an otherwise murky backfield situation. LeSean Mccoy led the way last week and would be expected to do the same in this one, but new addition Spencer Ware also saw five carries while actually playing more snaps (40%) than any other running back in Week 14. Darwin Thompson also saw four carries and just over a quarter of the snaps. McCoy did have some success against Denver earlier this season (12/64) while Williams managed just seven yards on nine rushing attempts in one of his worst performances of the season. Given the rotation in this backfield, it will be tough to trust whoever is back there on Sunday.

The Broncos defense has put together an impressive body of work against the run throughout the middle of the season, but their play has been dialed back slightly in recent weeks. This group had a rough outing in Week 12 against the Bills and never fully recovered as they have given up an average of 121 rushing yards per game and 4.5 yards per rush attempt to running backs over the past three weeks. On a positive note, they have given up zero rushing touchdowns to running backs over that span--however, they did allow Deshaun Watson to run for two touchdowns and 44 yards last week--the second time in three weeks that a quarterback has run for more than 40 yards against them. They have talent up front in Mike Purcell and Shelby Harris, but the recent loss of Derek Wolfe and Week 14 injury to Dre’Mont Jones certainly hurts the depth of this defensive line. Linebacker A.J. Johnson continues to play well though, and safeties Justin Simmons plus Kareen Jackson pose stout challenges for any running back making it to the second level--playing huge parts in why this defense has given up over 100 rushing yards to just two running backs and allowed just six runs of 20 or more yards (T-8th fewest).

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

Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Chargers' rushing attack has been the weak link of the team's offense, especially since Melvin Gordon returned to the fold following an early-season holdout. Overall, the Chargers hover around 20th in the NFL in rushing volume, rushing yardage, rushing touchdowns, and yards per carry this season. Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon typically split action in the backfield, with Gordon as the team's preferred option on the ground, with 3 20-carry games over the team's last 5 outings. Gordon averages just 4.0 yards per carry, which is right on par with his career total but an unimpressive total overall. Austin Ekeler, on the other hand, sees far less volume on the ground, but his presence prevents Gordon from reaching the bell-cow status he attained in years past. Overall, with the 24th-ranked offensive line, according to Matt Bitonti, the Chargers' rushing attack, despite featuring multiple capable running backs, is one of the league's weakest units.

Minnesota's run defense ranks in the top third of the NFL across the board this season, defending the tenth-fewest rushing attempts in the league, allowing just five rushing touchdowns, the fewest in the NFL, and only 4.2 yards per carry on the season. The Vikings' strength against the run starts in the trenches, where Danielle Hunter, Linval Joseph, and Everson Griffen all grade as top-tier run-stoppers. Then, at linebacker, Eric Kendricks leads the team with 65 total tackles this season, the 19th-most in the NFL. Kendricks is one of the league's premier run-stopping linebackers, and he gets support from the secondary as well. Anthony Harris has emerged as one of the best run-supporters at the safety position. While the teams' cornerbacks are the notable liability against the pass, they make up for it in run defense, where Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes are surprisingly strong on the outside. On the season, the Vikings have allowed only 3 100-yard rushers, and they rank 7th in the league in total fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. Running the football efficiently against Minnesota's defense has proven to be one of the toughest tasks in the NFL this season, and the Los Angeles Chargers' inefficient run offense is unlikely to produce the fourth 100-yard rusher of the season against the Vikings, barring an unexpectedly explosive run.

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

Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Miami's run offense has been the worst unit in the entire NFL across the board, ranking dead last in both rush attempts and yards per carry through 13 games this season. 4 different players have led the Miami Dolphins in total carries in an individual game this season, with only 1 player eclipsing 50 rushing yards in a game. Now, late in the season, Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin lead the way in Miami's backfield, with neither showing the game-changing talent on the ground necessary to overcome the Dolphins' weakness in the trenches. Miami's offensive line grades as the worst in the NFL, according to FootballGuys' Matt Bitonti, and their lack of talent in this regard makes in an uphill battle on the ground every week. Expect another long day for Dolphins' running backs this week against the Giants' impressive run defense, with Laird and Gaskin once again leading the team in carries.

The New York Giants' run defense is a surprisingly strong unit, especially given the high volume they have faced this season. The Giants have defended the fourth-most rushing attempts of any team in the NFL, yet they've allowed the sixth-best yards per carry of anyone. These two metrics seemingly offset, and their run defense has allowed the 15th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, grading almost as a perfectly-average unit overall. The high rushing volume is typically driven by lopsided scores, as they have played from behind for almost all of their 2-11 start to the season. In closer matchups, when their opposition is unable to run the ball in high volume, the Giants' run defense is a stout unit, and even when they do face high volume, they have only allowed 3 100-yard rushers this season. Their defensive personnel resembles that of a top-end run defense, as they have elite run-stopping talent at all three levels. Along the defensive line, rookie Dexter Lawrence headlines one of the league's most underrated run-stopping fronts with B.J. Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Leonard Williams, all making significant contributions. Then, at linebacker and safety, David Mayo and Antoine Bethea provide significant value exclusively against the run. Both players are liabilities against the pass, but they each have a nose for the football as above-average run stuffers. Overall, Miami's horrific rushing attack, led by Patrick Laird, is going to be at a severe disadvantage once again in Week 14, as their chances for tallying a second 50-yard rusher are slim once again.

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

Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Minnesota's rushing attack is one of the league's highest-volume units in the NFL, rankings 3rd in total rushing attempts, 4th in rushing yardage, and 4th in rushing touchdowns, and the majority of this rushing production is via Dalvin Cook, the team's bell-cow running back. In close games, Dalvin Cook rarely leaves the field, regularly playing over 80-percent of snaps and tallying 20-carries when healthy, but in blowouts, rookie Alexander Mattison will spell Cook. In blowout victories, Mattison regularly registers double-digit rushing attempts, even as the team's backup. Additionally, Cook sustained a shoulder injury that sidelined him for most of the second half of the Vikings' Week 13 game against the Seattle Seahawks. Subsequently, Mattison played a large role in both Week 13 and 14, preserving the health of Cook, although he did play through the injury last week. Moving forward, expect Cook to continue to see a bell-cow-like workload in close games, like this weekend's game is expected to be, with Mattison available to provide relief as needed. Overall, this is a high-volume ground game with massive opportunity available for whoever carries the football.

The Chargers' run defense grades as a mediocre unit across the board this season. They have been forced to defend approximately league-average volume on the ground while permitting approximately league-average yardage at the same time. Overall, this unit has shown improvement in recent weeks, allowing just 3.3 yards per carry to opposing running backs over the last month. This improvement, which can largely be attributed to the return of key run-stoppers like Bryant Mebane and Justin Jones in the trenches, could spell trouble for the Minnesota Vikings in Week 15. Additionally, Derwin James' return to action two weeks ago adds another play-maker to the unit, as the young defensive back has flashed an incredible nose for the football during his time in the league. James will line up all over the field, even playing some linebacker last season in the playoffs, and his versatility provides incalculable value to this defense as a whole. The Chargers have allowed just 1 100-yard rusher since Week 6 (David Montgomery in a 27-carry game in Week 8,) and they are getting stronger as the season wears on. Expect this battle in the trenches to be one of the most entertaining of the season, as Minnesota is insistent upon establishing the ground game while the Chargers have proven to be a capable unit on that front.

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

New York Jets Rushing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Le’Veon Bell will return to the lineup Thursday after an illness cost him Week 14. Still, he won’t be coming back to much fanfare. The Jets ran fine in last week’s win over the Dolphins, with Bilal Powell churning out 74 tough yards before leaving with an injury and will miss this week. But their $35-million man has been a disappointment this year, as he has just 589 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns through 12 games. Bell has produced a paltry 3.2 yards per carry, and he’s only topped 3.5 in 4 of those matchups. Even the run-soft Dolphins (66 yards), Bengals (32), and Jaguars (23) have been able to keep him from having any real impact on the game. Working with less burst than usual, and behind one of the league’s shakiest front lines, Bell simply doesn’t project to much of note for fantasy purposes. He’s still a flex play due to his volume and receiving prowess, but doesn’t look likely to generate much on the ground against the Ravens’ reborn defense.

With their ball-dominant offense and tendency to lead games, the Ravens don’t generally face much rushing volume. That’s kept their opponents’ raw numbers under control, though there are indeed holes here to exploit. They’re allowing just the league’s sixth-most yards per game, but also the 10th-most per rush. Over the past 2 weeks, they’ve been shredded by Raheem Mostert (19 for 146 and a touchdown) and Devin Singletary (17 for 89) while being kept in neutral game flow. The Ravens boast a pair of dominators up front in Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams, who consistently control the trenches. But the rest of this unit has spent the year in full transition, replacing institutions like C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs, and Eric Weddle. Josh Bynes has been a true run-stopping find at inside linebacker, but there still enough lapses on the second level for dedicated run games to find success. The question for Week 15 is whether the flailing Jets can keep the game interesting enough to take advantage.

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

Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense vs New York Jets Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Ravens continue to pace the league with football’s most voluminous - and dominant - ground attack. No one pounds the ball nearly as often (37 times a game), nor does anyone produce more yardage per attempt (5.5) or per game (201) than Greg Roman’s attack. Of course, quarterback Lamar Jackson is the catalyst as arguably the most dangerous running quarterback in NFL history. He’s already topped 1,000 yards on the season, and in consistent fashion, putting up 60+ in 10 of 13 games. His presence tightly caps the upside of Mark Ingram, who’s been solid (4.9 per carry) in his first year at a Raven, but hasn’t drawn more than 15 carries since Week 5. Both, as well as complement Gus Edwards, benefit from a stout run-blocking line that’s adept at creating holes inside. This offense will simply force the run whenever they’re able to, dominating through both volume and efficiency, and they’re a good bet to do so again Thursday. The Jets boast the league’s best run defense by the numbers, but the Ravens’ attack always presents a completely different animal.

Throughout their lost 2019 season, the Jets’ strength has lay in their run defense. The 5-8 Jets face their share of rushing volume from opposing offenses, yet have allowed the league’s fewest yards per rush (3.0) and per game (79). They haven’t let a runner top 45 yards since Week 8, despite matchups with backs like Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Joe Mixon, and Derrius Guice. (That quartet combined to produce just 103 yards - 2.1 per carry - and a single touchdown.) Frankly speaking: to sit atop the entire league with such shaky, inexperienced linebackers is a tremendous testament to the Jets’ defensive front. Nose tackle Steve McLendon remains one of the NFL’s best-kept secrets, routinely tying up blockers and helping to blow up plays in the gaps. Rookies Quinnen Williams and Foley Fatukasi have played well alongside him, which has made life easier for the linebackers. Together, they’ve made this a near-shutdown unit that’s never fun to face in fantasy. Even the Ravens’ dominant ground game projects to scale down noticeably this week.

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

Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense vs Los Angeles Rams Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

After giving Ezekiel Elliott a massive offseason contract extension, the Cowboys have gotten their money's worth in 2019, with Elliott ranking third in the NFL in carries so far this season. Elliott rarely leaves the field, especially with Tony Pollard banged up, as he regularly plays over 80-percent of Dallas' offensive snaps. Over his last 8 games, Elliott has tallied at least 19 carries 6 times, yet he has now gone 5 straight games without eclipsing 100 yards on the ground. Running behind one of the league's best offensive lines, Elliott's expectations on a weekly basis, especially on his massive workload, are sky-high. This weekend, in a tough matchup against the Los Angeles Rams' strong defensive front, the odds will be stacked against Elliott getting back on the board with a 100-yard rushing day.

The Los Angeles Rams' run defense has faced almost as much volume as any defense in the NFL this season, which has fostered unimpressive rushing yardage totals allowed. However, at just 3.8 yards per carry allowed, they rank 4th in the NFL, and their defensive personnel resembles one of the league's toughest run defenses. In the trenches, Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers make up one of the league's best interior linemen duos. Donald commands double teams at an unmatched rate, and as one of the league's most talented defensive linemen, he beats them as often as anyone in the league. Brockers also excels as one of the best interior linemen when it comes to clogging up rushing lanes and allowing Rams linebackers to come up and make plays in run support. At linebacker, Cory Littleton's emergence as one of the league's best tacklers has bolstered an already impressed run defense. Through 13 games, Littleton has missed just 1 tackle this season, and his emergence, coupled with the support Los Angeles' secondary provides, is vital to their run-stopping efforts. At the back end of their defense, Eric Weddle and Jalen Ramsey are top-tier run-stoppers for their respective positions, and they excel at limiting big plays. The Rams have only allowed 2 100-yard rushers on the season, and Ezekiel Elliott will need to produce a heroic effort this weekend to add a third tally to that list.

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

Detroit Lions Rushing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Detroit's 2019 campaign has been filled with injuries across the board, and in a lost season, one of the few bright spots was the emergence of Bo Scarbrough as a potential option to spell Kerryon Johnson in the backfield in years to come. Unfortunately, Scarbrough went down with an injury last week, and his status ahead of this weekend's game against Tampa Bay is in doubt. Scarbrough was only playing about 50-percent of the team's offensive snaps, but he absorbed a significant majority of the team's carries. In his absence, Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic are poised to step up and split action for the Lions at running back. Running behind a mediocre offensive line that ranks 19th in the NFL, according to Matt Bitonti, and in a low-volume rushing attack, the spot atop Detroit's depth chart at running back is not a particularly enviable role. If Scarbrough misses out on this weekend's game, neither Ty Johnson nor J.D. McKissic can be relied upon to shoulder a significant enough workload on the ground to warrant serious fantasy consideration.

Tampa Bay's defense is predicated around shutting down opposing rushing attacks. While they grade as one of the NFL's weakest pass-defending units, they grade as one of the league's best run-defending units. This defensive profile leads to very little rushing volume on a weekly basis, as they have faced the third-fewest rushing attempts of any team in the NFL this season, and their defensive personnel aligns perfectly with that of a top-end run defense. In the trenches, Vita Vea, Carl Nassib, and Shaquil Barrett headline one of the best run-stopping defensive lines. Then, at linebacker, Lavonte David has emerged as one of the best all-around linebackers in football this season. David's 62 total tackles on the season are good for 22nd in the NFL, and his football IQ and tackling ability make him one of the premier run-stoppers at the linebacker position. On the season, the Buccaneers have only allowed 1 100-yard rusher, which came in a 74-point shootout when Chris Carson totaled over 50-percent of his rushing production on a single 59-yard rush. Overall, this is one of the best run defenses in the league, and Detroit's patchwork backfield projects to be entirely overmatched on the ground this weekend.

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

Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense at New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Colts rushing offense welcomed back Marlon Mack last week as he made his return from a hand injury that sidelined him in the preceding two games. Mack played 41 percent of the snaps and led the backfield with 13 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown, showing no ill effects from his hand injury. Last week’s lack of yardage has to be chalked up to the terrible matchup, as Mack has been productive throughout the season and was coming off a big game with 7.8 yards per rush attempt in Week 11. Mack has been seeing spectacular volume this season also, rushing 18 or more times in 7-of-11 games as the clear top option for this Colts offense that likes to lean on their ground game. It also helps to be running behind one of the league’s top offensive lines that continues to play at an elite level week in and week out.

The Colts will be in for another tough test this week against a strong New Orleans Saints run defense. While the matchup is slightly better than last week, the Saints still are one of the top run defenses in football, giving up just 94.2 rushing yards per game (5th-fewest) and the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game (non-PPR) to opposing running backs. Even considering the near 100-point shootout they competed in last week, the Saints still only allowed one rushing touchdown and 129 rushing yards to 49ers running backs as this was a rare game in which game flow was not on the side of the Saints. Only two running backs have crossed the 70-yard mark against this team while the highest rushing yard total amassed against them was back in Week 1 by Carlos Hyde with 83 yards. Both edge defenders Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport should be a tall test for the strong tackles on this Colts offensive line. Saints defensive backs have played very well against the run also, making it tough for teams to find an edge on the outside or bust big plays in the second level. All in all, even with one of the top offensive lines in football and strong volume likely to come, the Marlon Mack should be in for a challenge on the road against the Saints in this one.

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

Washington Redskins Rushing Offense vs Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Last weekend, after a stretch of games with Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice splitting action in Washington's backfield, Derrius Guice suffered a third knee injury of his young career, which will likely sideline him for the team's remaining three games this season. Without Guice in the picture, Adrian Peterson is primed to absorb nearly all of the rushing action in Washington's low-volume and low-efficiency rushing attack. Previously, in games without Guice, Peterson has regularly approached 20 carries, even in losses that typically deter a run-heavy offensive attack. Down the stretch, with the Redskins facing a tough slate of run defenses, Adrian Peterson's rushing volume is the only reason he remains in consideration for fantasy purposes, as his efficiency totals have been disappointing this season. The Redskins will be in for a long day at the offense in Week 15, as their offensive line will be at a significant disadvantage in the trenches against Philadelphia's stout run defense.

Philadelphia's run defense ranks as one of the league's best units, facing the fifth-fewest rushing attempts of any team in the league, they've allowed just 4.0 yards per carry on the season through 13 games. This defensive strength is a product of both their defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's schematic tendencies, prioritizing shutting down opposing rushing attacks, and a particularly strong defensive line. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham make up one of the league's strongest duos along the defensive line, with Cox clogging up the middle and Graham containing the edge. Graham leads the team with 10 tackles for loss this season, but Cox's contributions do not always show up on the stat sheet, as he has been one of the league's best interior lineman in spite of what his raw tackle totals may show. The next strength of the unit comes in the secondary, where Malcolm Jenkins leads the team in total tackles this season. Overall, the Eagles have allowed only 2 100-yard rushers this season, and they have allowed the 5th-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs on the year. Expect Adrian Peterson and the Washington Redskins to struggle to establish the run this weekend in one of their toughest matchups of the season on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles.

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