Week 3 Rushing Matchups

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

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

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

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

Bottom line is that the cheatsheets are the final say.

Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Last year, the Ravens ran the ball 45 times a game over Lamar Jackson’s 7 starts under center. That’s a wild number to project, and it won’t be reached often. But this remains an offense rooted in the run; it’s built to block for it, and there are plenty of productive options to use. On Sunday, it was quarterback Jackson’s turn to dominate on the ground, and by game’s end he had tallied 120 explosive yards. Jackson hardly ran in the opener, and this served as a reminder that he’s among the league’s most dynamic open-field players. But even when one runner excels, whenever game flow is in the Ravens’ favor, there’s room for another to produce simultaneously. In Week 1, both Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards topped 14 carries and 50 yards - Ingram blasted well past those marks, in fact. Sledding was tougher last week against the Cardinals’ improved run defense: Ingram put up a 16-yard run in the first quarter, but managed just 31 on his other 12 attempts. He did, however, play well ahead of Edwards, who saw just 16 snaps and 3 rushes. There may always be a “hot hand” aspect to this backfield, but in general, Ingram is currently the clear-cut lead runner. There’s a place for Edwards’ power, which is truly impressive, though he’s not versatile enough to work in much. The same goes for explosive rookie Justice Hill, who’s taken just eight carries thus far, but brings 4.4 speed to the table.

For all of their recent success, the Chiefs still field one of football’s worst run defenses. Dating back to last season, no unit has allowed more yards per rush or a higher first-down rate on the ground. They’re often able to short-circuit the run with big leads - though that wasn’t the case in Week 2, when Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs ripped off chunk run after chunk run. Simply put, this is a defense assembled primarily to stop the pass, and not necessarily to wear down the run game. The biggest problems are found on the second level, where linebackers Anthony Hutchens and Damien Wilson make for a mediocre duo. Neither is particularly athletic or adept in pursuit, and top reserve Darron Lee remains as inconsistent as he was in New York. Too often, the team relies on support from safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill. Both are strong contributors and playmakers, but shouldn’t be needed this much. If the Chiefs are going to contain the Ravens’ dominant run game, they’ll likely need one of their patented big leads to slow things down.

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

Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

After being eased in during Week 1, Ezekiel Elliott took back over as the clear leader of the Cowboys backfield last week as he rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown. Elliott averaged 4.8 yards per attempt with 23 carries compared to just four carries for the now clear backup Tony Pollard. Elliott showed no signs of fatigue throughout this game as he played strong from start to finish and looks like the bell-cow back everyone expected him to be. The Cowboys offensive line has now looked strong through two games this season and will remain a top tier option for Elliott to run behind. In addition to Elliott, Dak Prescott reminded everyone how dangerous he can be with his legs as he added 69 yards on the ground--including a 42-yard rush near the end of last week’s game.

The Dolphins defense is undoubtedly off to a terrible start this season, giving up 102 points through just two games. After allowing an astonishing 265 yards on the ground to the Ravens in Week 1, they came back allowing the Patriots to rush for 126 yards last week. Their defensive line has been overpowered in both games while this linebacker group has been quite subpar. Raekwon McMillan did have a better game last week, but he needs to string together a few good games to instill any confidence in the core of that group. Defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick has been the best run defender for the Dolphins, but he is on the way to Pittsburgh as he was traded away for a first-round pick this week. With Fitzpatrick now gone and safety Reshad Jones banged up, the secondary for Miami can’t be relied upon for run-stopping support. Given the status of this Cowboys offensive line as one of the best in the league along with what should be a very favorable game script for rushing, Ezekiel Elliott should have little problem putting up impressive numbers this week.

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

Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

David Johnson has been solid, not spectacular, to open his fifth NFL season. He ran well against the Lions in Week 1, totaling 82 yards on the ground, then underwhelmed in a shortened appearance against the Ravens’ stout defense on Sunday (7 carries for 14 yards). Those numbers aren’t eye-popping, but they do represent a step forward. Johnson has long been a dynamic open-field weapon, yet never very efficient as a bell-cow runner. For a number of reasons, he’s averaged just 3.9 yards per rush dating back to 2016. But the Cardinals have worked at retooling their line, putting two solid blockers (Justin Pugh and J.R. Sweezy) at guard and mauler D.J. Humphries at left tackle. The improvement has been subtle, but noticeable, and Johnson’s weekly rushing floor is now a bit higher. Johnson left the Ravens game after sustaining a wrist injury, but quickly returned and looks set for Week 3. Quarterback Kyler Murray (17 yards) has yet to showcase his explosive running ability, but it could come at any moment. Murray ran for 72 yards per game and 12 touchdowns last year at Oklahoma - and that even factored out most of his sack yardage.

The Carolina run defense has slid gradually into the bottom half of the NFL, and now makes for a fairly juicy fantasy matchup. Dating back to last season, they’ve allowed 12 runners to top 50 yards (with 10 touchdowns) over their last 10 games. Luke Kuechly remains a tackling machine in the middle - he posted 17 Thursday night, including a few losses and a safety - and the star-studded line is imposing. But Thursday night proved that, even when the front seven is clicking, there are still vulnerabilities to exploit. The supporting cast lacks impact playmakers, and there are still too many slipped tackles on the second level. Safety Eric Reid, who spends most of his time working as a third box linebacker, often winds up a liability in the open field.

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

Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Falcons ground game continues to be stuck in neutral as they managed only 57 rushing yards in Week 2 against the Eagles. While they have faced stout run defenses in the Vikings and Eagles, this lack of production is certainly a mounting concern. After a 50-50 split of snaps in Week 1, Devonta Freeman saw 62 percent of the snaps last week compared to 38 percent from Ito Smith. However, Freeman only managed 22 yards from his 11 carries compared to Smith looking good with 32 yards from just four attempts. Smith has now out-produced Freemen in both games despite seeing a smaller workload. While the increased snap share and favorable workload look good for Freeman, he will need to improve his play to fend off momentum from Ito Smith to eat into his volume of carries. It did not help that the Falcons lost starting right guard Chris Lindstrom in Week 1, but to further their concerns, right tackle Kaleb McGary was carted off from last week’s game with an apparent knee injury. He did return to the game as a spectacular show of toughness, but his health is worth monitoring as the Falcons can’t afford to lose another piece of an already shaky offensive line.

The Colts defense, overall, looked improved in their Week 2 win over the Titans. The defensive backs chipped in to help limit big plays while linebacker Darius Leonard returned to good form with a bounceback performance from struggling in Week 1. Leonard, however, was placed into the concussion protocol after last week’s game and is questionable coming into this week. The absence of Leonard would create a massive disadvantage for the Colts run defense, so definitely keep an eye on his status as he must complete the protocol in order to play on Sunday. This defensive line remains without the services of Jabaal Sheard, who continues to practice on a very limited basis and will remain questionable coming into Week 3. In addition to Sheard, defensive end Kemoko Turay is battling a neck injury that sidelined him in Week 2. While Turay may not be an every-down starter, he looked great before the injury in Week 1. Justin Houston continues to play well, but the interior of this Colts line has still struggled. Derrick Henry started to wear them down last week, particularly on their left side where Sheard would normally line up. The Falcons offensive line should be a relatively even match here, but as long as Leonard is cleared and suits up, the Colts defense should have a slight advantage on the ground.

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

Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

At age 36, Frank Gore no longer runs with much speed or explosiveness. Through 2 games as a Bill, Gore has mustered just 88 yards on his 30 attempts. But he’s still a serviceable real-life runner, capable of working forward through traffic and avoiding losses. His consistent style fits the Bills’ ball-control approach, but only marginally. At some point, the team will have to shift more of the load to youngster Devin Singletary. The dynamic rookie has led the backfield in snaps, but taken on just 10 carries thus far. And 7 of those carries have gone for 12 yards or more. Singletary left Sunday’s game early with a hamstring issue and remains questionable for this week. He represents the team’s best shot at mitigating the Bills’ weak run-blocking line. The most stable piece of this puzzle is quarterback Josh Allen, who remains a weekly threat to lead the team in rushing. Dating back to last year, he’s averaged 8 rushes and 49 yards over 14 starts, with 10 touchdowns.

The Cincinnati run defense looked much-improved in Week 1, thoroughly shutting down the Seahawks’ strong ground attack. But last Sunday brought them back to Earth; this was arguably the league’s worst unit last year, and those problems cropped back up against San Francisco. They had no answer for the 49ers’ outside-zone attack, and when the dust had settled, they’d allowed 244 yards to San Francisco running backs. There are a few solid pieces in play here, such as linebacker Nick Vigil, who’s developed into one of football’s most reliable tacklers. Geno Atkins remains a major mismatch in the middle, and nose tackle Andrew Billings makes for a solid complement on running downs. Still, big issues remain, especially in pursuit on the second level. The problem starts with middle linebacker Preston Brown, who lacks athleticism and is often a liability when the ballcarrier isn’t funneled to him. All told, it seems likely that strong Week 1 showing was a mirage; this group has been exploited mercilessly for quite some time. Over their last 18 games, 12 different runners have topped 80 yards on the ground.

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

Chicago Bears Rushing Offense at Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

In week one, the Chicago Bears handed the ball off to running backs just 11 times: 5 times to Mike Davis and 6 times to David Montgomery. In week two, a slightly more productive offensive day, the Bears ran the ball 25 with its running backs: 18 times with David Montgomery, 4 times with Tarik Cohen, and 3 times with Mike Davis. David Montgomery entered the 2019 season as Chicago's expected-leading rusher, but week one put a damper on those expectations. Matt Nagy later came out and said that the Bears were going to be "easing [Montgomery] into" the offense. Montgomery was still only on the field for 44-percent of Chicago's offensive snaps in week two, and Nagy will need to avoid being this run-heavy with Montgomery in the game in the coming weeks, or else he will risk tipping his play-calls. Montgomery's uninspiring share of offensive snaps in the Chicago backfield lend to a genuine "running-back-by-committee" approach from Chicago Bears' offense for the near future. Chicago's offensive line is one of the league's most stable units, returning all five starters from last season, which bodes well for Montgomery and the rest of the Chicago backfield.

The Washington Redskins were thrown into the gauntlet immediately to open the 2019 season. In weeks one and two, the Redskins took on two playoff-hopeful divisional rivals, and in week three they face off with another team with legitimate playoff aspirations in 2019; the Chicago Bears. Washington has struggled mightily against opposing rushing attacks through the first two weeks of the season, allowing at least 123 yards in each game. Washington's 5.2 yards-per-carry allowed to opponents also ranks 25th in the league. Over the offseason, Zach Brown, one of the league's top linebackers in 2018 against the run, left Washington via free agency. The Redskins attempted to fill this hole on the depth chart by signing former-Pittsburgh Steeler Jon Bostic. Unfortunately, Bostic has proven to be a liability against the run throughout his career. This significant downgrade at a critical position, in addition to a week one injury to Jonathan Allen, the team's best interior defensive lineman, have hampered what was otherwise expected to be a league-average run defense. In the meantime, until Allen returns, the Washington Redskins will field a defense devoid of difference-makers against the run, leaving them susceptible to allowing massive rushing performances down the road.

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

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense vs New York Giants Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Tampa Bay offensive line keeps proving itself a quality run-blocking unit, from left tackle Donovan Smith all the way across a strong interior. Unfortunately, there may not be enough talent in the backfield to capitalize. Ronald Jones II continues to struggle, popping in and out of the team’s plans as a result. He saw only eight snaps Thursday, and while he carried the ball on four of them, he was completely neutralized by the Panthers (just nine yards). Plodding starter Peyton Barber didn’t fare much better; he recorded a 16-yard touchdown, but his other 22 attempts netted just 66. That’s the extent of this attack, as Dare Ogunbowale isn’t a factor on rushing downs. Coach Bruce Arians has never cared much to fine-tune his running game, so a ho-hum line like this is usually a fair baseline to project for whoever has the “hot” hand in a given week.

The rebuilding Giants are in the midst of a full tear-down, which can definitely be seen in their run defense. Since the middle of last season, this unit has moved on from stalwarts Damon Harrison, Landon Collins, and B.J. Goodson, among others. They’ve found a few keepers along the way, especially up front, where B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson have formed a strong duo. And new strong safety Jabrill Peppers, acquired in the Odell Beckham trade, has brought over his nose for the ball and deadly closing speed in the box. Still, this group remains very much in transition and lacking a few key components. The second level is the big problem, where linebackers Alec Ogletree and Ryan Connelly are liabilities more often than not. Last week, the Bills’ trio of Frank Gore, Devin Singletary, and quarterback Josh Allen routinely churned out solid gains once they cleared the line. Of their 32 combined rushes, 18 generated 4 yards or more - with 2 more big-gainers nullified by penalties.

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

Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

With 35 of 42 team rushes thus far, Christian McCaffrey remains the engine of the Panthers’ ground attack. He was bottled up Thursday by the Buccaneers’ improved run defense, but shredded the Rams for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns in Week 1. It’s comforting to note that Thursday’s letdown was just the fourth time over his last 13 games he’s been held below a 4.0 average. McCaffrey is an open-field dynamo, of course, but has bulked up noticeably and become a difficult tackle on the interior. And he’s aided by a strong run-blocking line that consistently opens big holes. McCaffrey is always a top-tier play, regardless of game script or matchup. Quarterback Cam Newton hasn’t run the ball much - just five attempts through two games. The 30-year-old may be in the process of drastically reducing the weekly punishment he takes. He no longer takes on goal-line work, either; that goes almost entirely to McCaffrey now.

For the second straight week, the Cardinals’ improved run defense held a solid opposing ground game somewhat in check. They had no answer for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who shredded them for 120 yards. But behind him, running backs Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards managed just 58 yards over 16 attempts. That came after the Cardinals held explosive Lions runner Kerryon Johnson to 3.1 per carry in the opener. Linebacker Jordan Hicks (25 tackles thus far) remains an underrated run-stuffer on the second level, while Haason Redick and safety Budda Baker have also taken steps forward. And 330-pound Corey Peters does a fine job of occupying space and absorbing blockers up front. Still, this unit isn’t by any means unbeatable, as Jackson proved with his read-option runs off the edge. Baby steps have been taken, and this isn’t quite the slam-dunk fantasy matchup it was last year. But speedy backs like Christian McCaffrey remain fully capable of excelling here. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton hasn’t run much of late, but he’s certainly boning up on the tape of Jackson’s Week 2 dominance.

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

Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense vs Los Angeles Rams Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Browns rushing attack has been a consistent unit even if it has not broken out the big plays that we became accustomed to from Nick Chubb last season. Chubb is averaging 3.9 yards per carry but does not have a carry longer than 20 yards so far this season. Those long yard runs will come from the electric running back who has big-play potential any time he touches the ball. The offensive line of the Browns is one that is continuing to evolve with the loss of Kevin Zeitler as they traded him to the Giants in the offseason. Joel Bitonio after the game said that the line will continue to improve as it is just their second game together as they added Eric Kush and Chris Hubbard in the offseason.

The Rams are a unit that are beatable if you can get past their vaunted defensive line led by Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald. This is a unit that is built to stop the pass at the second and third levels with linebackers Cory Littleton, and safeties John Johnson and Eric Weddle being better against the pass than the run. This was a unit that was shredded in week 1 by Christian McCaffrey as he was able to get out in space and run for 6.7 yards per carry for 128 yards. Meanwhile, the defensive line dominated the run against the Saints as they stacked the box as they were comfortable with Teddy Bridgewater trying to beat them which essentially shut down Latavius Murray (1.4 yards per carry) and Alvin Kamara 3.5 yards per carry. This is a unit that will be up and down all year and entirely dependent on Brockers and Donald who are two of the best duos in football.

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

Denver Broncos Rushing Offense at Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The committee approach continued in Week 2 for the Broncos backfield with Phillip Lindsay rushing 13 times compared to 11 carries for Royce Freeman while splitting snaps nearly half and half. Freeman was the more productive rusher for the second straight week, gaining more yards than Lindsay despite fewer opportunities. Freeman was actually more productive in the passing game last week as well, which could lead to additional snaps if he can keep up that momentum. As of now, however, this backfield has to be considered a pure committee with as even a split as you will find, making it tough to rely on either running back for a high ceiling fantasy output. What further dampens the upside of this rushing offense is the poor play by their offensive line. Left tackle Garrett Boles gave up numerous pressures while being called for five holding penalties in last week’s game alone. With starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James still sidelined with a knee injury, this offensive line continues to be ranked near the bottom of the league.

The Packers run defense had a tough time against the Vikings, giving up a total of 198 rushing yards and a touchdown. That touchdown was a 75-yard run by Dalvin Cook, who finished with 154 rushing yards from 20 attempts. While Kenny Clark continues to be impressive on the interior of this line, the rest of the Packers defensive interior had a rough time against a very much improved Vikings offensive line last week. Linebacker Blake Martinez had all he could handle but did play well despite the end result as he was picking up after his defensive line being thrown around in the trenches. This Packers defense has the talent to put up a fight against the run, they just did not coalesce in last week’s game. The Broncos subpar offensive line should be expected to struggle in what could be a bounceback performance for a talented Packers defense.

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

Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense vs Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Packers employed a run-heavy game script last week as they were protecting a lead for the entire game. This afforded a large workload to Aaron Jones, who rushed 23 times for 116 yards and a touchdown. It also enabled Jamaal Williams to see more work, rushing nine times for 28 yards. While Williams was uninspiring, Matt LaFleur wants to even out the touches between the two running backs which would seem odd for how ineffective Williams was this past week. After a tough outing against the Bears in Week 1, Jones showed he can excel against top run defenses with this big performance against the Vikings. The Packers offensive line also proved they can hang with tough competition as they blocked very well for Jones throughout the afternoon. The only spot to watch will be at left tackle, as David Bakhtiari did look sluggish in pass protection last week, which could be due to lingering back issues that have kept him limited in practice. He is not on the injury report, but keep an eye on it as the outlook of this Packers rushing offense would change with Bakhtiari’s absence.

The Broncos run defense had a bounceback game last week as they held Bears running backs to 71 rushing yards on 25 attempts. While they have allowed three rushing touchdowns to start the season, this defense has been relatively efficient against the run. They are giving up an average of just 3.4 rushing yards per attempt to running backs--ranking them eighth in the league by that metric. Von Miller has led the charge for this defensive line. Despite his struggles rushing the passer, Miller has made a number of big plays against the run. DeMarcus Walker has also looked good on the interior of this line. The Broncos do have some vulnerabilities on the edges and at safety, as their defensive backs have not tackled well to start the season. When runners can get to the edges quickly to force the secondary into making plays, they can find success--as displayed by Cordarrelle Patterson on a 46-yard run to the outside last week. The Packers do have strong run-blocking tackles to match up well against the talented Broncos edge defenders, and Aaron Jones has the speed to quickly make it into the secondary. The Broncos will need their secondary and linebackers to step up in this one, as the Packers get the nod in the trenches.

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

Houston Texans Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Texans running backs looked good against a tough Jaguars defense last week, rushing a combined 26 times for 121 yards. What may have been unexpected, however, was the split between Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson. Hyde out-touched Johnson 20-to-6 on the ground after splitting carries relatively evenly with Johnson in Week 1 (10 for Hyde, 9 for Johnson). After a preseason full of doubts that Hyde would even make an NFL roster, he has now outplayed Duke Johnson for two straight weeks as the lead rusher for this backfield. The Texans are expected to continue employing a committee approach with these two, and the game script will surely factor into snap counts afforded to each--which will ultimately limit the upside of both running backs. Deshaun Watson rushed for another touchdown last week--his second of the season in as many games. While the yardage total was not there, Watson continues to make plays with his legs and will be a factor for this Texans ground game as long as he remains healthy. The offensive line continues to be a concern for the Texans though, as rookie left guard Tytus Howard struggled in his NFL debut last week while left tackle Laremy Tunsil continued his slow start while also getting banged up with an ankle injury. Tunsil expects to play in Week 3, but his integration with this new unit is happening much slower than anyone would have hoped for.

The Chargers defense had a respectable showing in Week 2 against the Lions, giving up just 41 rushing yards to lead back Kerryon Johnson while limiting the team to a total of 94 rushing yards, averaging just 3.4 yards per rush attempt. This was a big improvement after giving up 203 yards and a touchdown to the Colts in Week 1. They rotated more of their interior defensive linemen last week, but that actually remains a key weakness as none of the four defensive tackles looked particularly strong. Rookie Jerry Tillery is still picking up the defense while veteran Brandon Mebane will need to step up for this group to become more consistent. Defensive end posed no problem though, as it was Joey Bosa who carried this defensive line last week and will remain the rock of this group. Linebacker Thomas Davis had a better game in Week 2, while Uchenna Nwosu did well with an increase snap share. The Texans offensive line will likely struggle in this one given the elite edge defenders of the Chargers, but strong play from Texans center Nick Martin could help propel them forward for runs up the middle against the key weakness of this Chargers run defense.

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

Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Colts finished with a flashy 167 rushing yards against the Titans last week as they very intentionally tried to establish the run with 34 rushing plays. The stat line presents an inflated view of their success, as the Colts running backs struggled for most of that game. Marlon Mack averaged just 2.6 yards per attempt on 20 carries with a long run of only 10 yards. Jordan Wilkins found a hole on a well-blocked play in the fourth quarter to get loose for a 55-yard run on his way to 82 rushing yards from five carries. This impressive performance from Wilkins may eat into Mack’s snaps, but not by much as Mack still should be considered the de factor lead runner in what will be a run-heavy offense. The guards continue to play well on this top-tier offensive line for Indianapolis. Quinten Nelsen had another great game last week and should help pave the way for a bounce-back week for Marlon Mack.

The Falcons have started the season about as inconsistently as possible against the run. After getting embarrassed by the Vikings running backs to the tune of 178 rushing yards and two touchdowns, this Falcons front seven puts on a show against one of the league’s best offensive lines, holding Eagles running backs to just 46 rushing yards from 18 attempts. While there is a considerable gap in talent from Dalvin Cook to the likes of rookie Miles Sanders, the way this Falcons defensive line pushed around the Eagles offensive line was significantly noticeable. Grady Jarrett and Tyeler Davison were spectacular last week while Takkarist McKinley and Vic Beasley Jr also made much-improved contributions against the run. The secondary still has room for improvement against the run, as safety Ricardo Allen is not living up to expectations he set as a solid run-stopper from last season. Looking at the trenches, this should be an intriguing matchup with Grady Jarrett squaring off against talented left guard Quenton Nelson. The Colts offensive line should be able to hold its own on paper, but based on the variance displayed from the Falcons defense through two games, this matchup could go either way.

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

Los Angeles Rams Rushing Offense at Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Todd Gurley is not running at the volumes that we had seen in 2018, but he is still effective. Averaging 5.3 yards per carry, against two historically good run defenses in the Panthers and Saints. He has been an inconsistent runner relying on long runs with Malcolm Brown being the more consistent yet less explosive of the two running backs as the two share carries in this run-heavy offense. On the offensive line, while it is not the elite unit it was last year with the losses to Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan, but Brian Allen and Joseph Noteboom have been more than serviceable so far this season. The team did lose Austin Blythe at the guard position, and if he is out will be a sizable loss as he was replaced by Jamil Demby who is noted as a versatile offensive lineman, but not really effective at any position.

The Browns defense has been thoroughly tested so far this year facing two run heavy offenses in the Titans and Jets, and for the most part, has been serviceable allowing 4.2 yards per carry and 108 yards per game. This is a unit that is going to continue to get better with two new defensive linemen in Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson to pair with Larry Ogunjobi and defensive end, Myles Garrett. If there is a weakness on this defense it is at the linebacker and safety positions as they are incredibly banged up with injuries. Safeties Morgan Burnett (quad) and Damarious Randall (concussion) both missed practice on Wednesday along with linebacker Christian Kirksey (chest). While none of these are of major concern yet as the team just played on Monday, these are three key pieces in the run defense that if they were to miss would be a significant downgrade for the Browns.

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

Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense vs Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Minnesota opened the season against the Atlanta Falcons in a way nobody could have possibly expected: by throwing the ball just 10 times, compared to 38 rushing attempts. While the game script did not allow for such a run-heavy approach in week two against the Green Bay Packers, the Vikings still ran the ball early and often. Offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski was promoted to call the plays for Minnesota with explicit instructions: call a successful offense predicated around running the football often and running the football well. Since Stefanski took over, running back, Dalvin Cook has averaged over 17 carries-per-game. Cook has eclipsed 20 carries in each of the first two games of the 2019 season. Typically, NFL offenses only run the ball with this level of frequency in victories, as an effort to kill the clock and secure the win. In week two, Dalvin Cook carried the ball 20 times for 154 yards and 1 touchdown in a game the Vikings trailed 21-0 early in the second quarter. Minnesota's dedication to running the football is unmatched in the modern NFL, and they're running behind a formidable offensive line once Pat Elflein returns to the lineup, as he is expected to in week three.

The Oakland Raiders finished the 2018 season with a run defense ranking in the bottom tier of the NFL. Through two games in the 2019 season, the Raiders now rank amongst the toughest run defenses in the league. The Raiders have allowed an impressive 2.8 yards-per-carry through the first two weeks of the 2019 season, the 4th-best mark in the league. 4 different running backs across 2 teams have carried the ball at least 9 times against the Raiders in 2019, and no player has totaled more than 56 rushing yards in a game. This rapid improvement is, in large part, thanks to the addition of middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Burfict signed with the Raiders following a seven-year stint with the Cincinnati Bengals to begin his NFL career. Burfict's presence on the field correlated directly with the Cincinnati's success defending the run for many years, and his addition to the Oakland defense is a definite upgrade at a previously weak position. Another notable upgrade to the Oakland defense has been the improvement of defensive tackle P.J. Hall. Hall, a second-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, has strung together back-to-back impressive performances against the run to start his sophomore campaign. In week three, the Raiders will need Hall to make this three straight extraordinary performances as they face off with the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL's most-run-heavy attack. This is still a unit that is a wait-and-see unit, but one that is off to a much better start than what we saw in 2018.

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

Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

In week three, offseason acquisition Richie Incognito will enter the fold at left guard for the Oakland Raiders. Incognito missed the entire 2018 season, but when he last played for the Buffalo Bills in 2017, Incognito consistently ranked amongst the league's best interior offensive linemen. The impact that one year on the sidelines will have on Incognito's production is unknown, but he will be starting in place of one of the league's worst offensive linemen, Jordan Devey, in week three. Incognito's inclusion in the starting lineup will undoubtedly serve to improve an otherwise mediocre unit. Behind the offensive line, rookie running back Josh Jacobs has impressed through two NFL starts. In his NFL debut, Jacobs neared 100 yards on the ground and would have eclipsed that total in his week two if not for dehydration issues and lingering groin injury that kept him sidelined for a portion of the second half. Head coach Jon Gruden has made his intentions clear: he plans on getting Jacobs 20+ touches as often as possible throughout his rookie season. Josh Jacobs is an undeniably-talented running back poised to see near-bell-cow levels of involvement in the Raiders offense. Even when Oaklands' offensive line fails, as they did for the majority of the season opener against the Denver Broncos, Jacobs proved he can break through the defense for chunk-plays to salvage a respectable rushing performance.

Minnesota's run defense has allowed an almost perfectly-average 4.3 yards-per-carry, good for 17th in the NFL. In a week one domination of the Atlanta Falcons, the Vikings allowed just 50 rushing yards to opposing running backs Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith. In week two, a 21-16 loss at the hands of the Green Bay Packers, the Vikings allowed 144 yards on the ground to opposing running backs, including 116 to starter Aaron Jones. Minnesota's run-defense is particularly interesting to analyze, as it is littered with players who have historically been strong defending the run. Through two weeks in the 2019 season, a handful of players, particularly on the defensive line and in the linebacking corps, have struggled to stop the run. At defensive tackle, Linval Joseph has long been one the league's premier run-stopping defensive tackles. Now, entering his 9th NFL season, Joseph's numbers have dropped off significantly from where they have been in recent years. One explanation for this drop in production is that Joseph is playing alongside a notably-weak run defender at defensive tackle, Shamar Stephen, who may be dragging him down. At linebacker, four-time pro-bowler Anthony Barr has struggled through the first two weeks of the 2019 season. Much like Joseph, these struggles are unlike anything Barr has shown to this point in his career. Minnesota's defense finished the 2018 season as a middle-of-the-road unit. The 2019 season has picked up right where last year left off, but there are likely areas of improvement that may take the Vikings' run defense to the next level as a whole.

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

Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Two games into the 2019 season, only one thing is evident in the Philadelphia Eagles' backfield: it will continue to be a running-back-by-committee approach. Rookie Miles Sanders leads the team in rushing attempts, but he has been mostly unimpressive during his time on the field, mustering just 2.5 yards-per-carry to this point. Another offseason acquisition, Jordan Howard, has been far more impressive, even if his efficiency levels are merely league-average. Philadelphia identified the running back position as a position of need over the offseason following a disastrous 2018 season running the football. The Eagles undoubtedly expected more return on their offseason investment at the running back position, and a shift in touches away from Sanders and towards Howard shortly would not come as a surprise. One of the league's best offensive lines should produce far more impressive rushing numbers than what the Eagles have totaled over the last 13 months. The alarms will be sounding in Philadelphia's backfield if the team continues to struggle to get the ground game going.

The Detroit Lions finished the 2018 season with a top-10 run defense in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns allowed. The early weeks of 2019, however, have not been nearly as strong for the Lions' front-seven. Through the first two games of the 2019 season, the Detroit Lions have allowed a stunning 5.2 yards-per-carry (26th in the NFL) and at least 112 rushing yards in both games. Detroit's struggles have coincided directly with the struggles of noted run-stopping defensive linemen Damon "Snacks" Harrison. Harrison was acquired midway through the 2018 season and immediately bolstered Detroit's run-defense as part of an elite defensive tackle duo alongside A'Shawn Robinson. While Robinson has carried over his top-notch run-stopping from 2018 into the 2019 season, Harrison has not. However, Harrison will almost certainly get back on track soon. Following six straight seasons as the NFL's best run-stopping defensive tackles, two sub-par games from Damon Harrison are more likely a random occurrence than anything signaling an emerging trend. The true cause for concern on Detroit's defense is at the linebacker position. The linebacking corps has struggled mightily defending the run in 2019, in part due to the absence of Jarrad Davis. Davis may potentially return from a preseason ankle injury here in week three, which will undoubtedly bolster the team's run defense. If Davis is unable to go, and the Lions field the same three starters from weeks one and two, that could spell trouble. Christian Jones has posted astonishingly-poor numbers in run defense, and Devon Kennard has regressed mightily following a respectable showing in 2018. Davis' status leading up to a week three battle with one of the NFL's best offensive lines will be vital to evaluating this matchup. It's looking like he will return which is a significant increase to the Lions this week.

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

San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Matt Breida’s talent has often been dismissed as that of a late-round fill-in, but he’s doing everything he can to shake that tag. Thanks to Tevin Coleman’s injury, Breida is again in the driver’s seat in the San Francisco backfield, and again he’s producing nicely (121 yards on just 12 attempts last week). A creative, quick-footed runner, he’s tailor-made for coach Kyle Shanahan’s outside-zone attack. Dating back to last year, he’s averaged 5.4 yards per rush and 64 per game. Breida ceded 13 carries last week to Raheem Mostert, but that can mostly be chalked up to the blowout win. Although Shanahan likes to use multiple backs, when the game is competitive, Breida is the lead dog on early downs. Mostert looked explosive in his own right, racking up 83 yards of his own. Over his last 6 extended appearances, he’s put up 373 yards at 7.5 per carry. Behind them, Jeff Wilson looms as a short-yardage specialist. He’s a distant third for carries, but punched in two short touchdowns against the Bengals. All told, this is a deep, dynamic group of runners that’s withstanding Coleman’s injury just fine. They’ll all operate behind a solid front line that’s adept at creatively blowing open holes. Even tight end George Kittle, who’s blossomed as a star receiver, can be counted among football’s best run-blockers at the position.

In general, the Steelers boast a strong run defense. Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt lead a tough, space-eating front line, while explosive rookie linebacker Devin Bush is capable of making plays all over the field. Still, on game days, this group tends to offer a mixed bag, as seen in Week 2’s loss to Seattle. They did great work against Seahawks lead back Chris Carson (15 carries for 60 yards), but had no answer for complement Rashaad Penny (10 for 62 and 1 touchdown). Penny’s highlight was a 37-yard touchdown in which he cut just once to the outside, taking advantage of over-pursuing linebackers in the middle of the field. That lapse was nothing new for this group, which tends to dominate power backs but struggle against quick, one-cut runners. That’s worrisome with Kyle Shanahan’s zone-running attack next on the docket. Linebackers Bush and Mark Barron will need to play with vision and discipline - neither has been a strength thus far - or Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert can make them pay dearly.

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

Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The one thing working relatively well for the Titans offense was their ground game last week, with Derrick Henry rushing for 81 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts. He did fumble once on the goal line, but Henry’s job is secure as Dion Lewis is the clear secondary back, seeing just three carries in back-to-back games now. With the offensive line blocking well, Henry managed to break off a number of chunk plays last week. All but one of his runs went to the right side as he gained just two of his 81 rushing yards from runs on the left side. With left tackle Taylor Lewan still serving a suspension, this may be a sign of what is to come for the next two games until Lewan is back. Marcus Mariota also added 32 yards on the ground, including a 15-yard scamper as his long run of the day. Mariota was subjecting himself to a number of hits throughout the game though, shedding further doubt on his ability to stay healthy.

The Jaguars defense as a whole looked much improved from their Week 1 blasting by the Chiefs. Their defensive line can still stand to improve as a unit, however. They have allowed over 120 rushing yards to running backs in back to back weeks, allowing Carlos Hyde to rush for 90 yards on 20 carries in last week’s contest. Calais Campbell looks the part and is doing exactly what he is paid to do, anchoring this defensive line. Abry Jones, however, has had a poor start to the season as the Jaguars will be looking forward to re-integrating Marcell Dareus to their defensive interior. Dareus made his season debut last week and looked great against the run on limited snaps. Play from the Jaguars linebackers remains a big question mark though, as Myles Jack and Quincy Williams have both continued to disappoint in run defense. While the Titans offensive line appears beatable on paper right now, Derrick Henry continues to run well and should pose a challenge for this Jaguars front seven.

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

Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense at Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Due to a number of factors, including his own Week 1 injury, Joe Mixon has yet to get off the ground here in 2019. He’s managed just 27 yards on his 17 attempts, failing to produce anything either up the middle or on the edges. It hasn’t just been a Mixon issue: dynamic backup Giovani Bernard (13 for 27) hasn’t found any success either. The scoreboard has worked against both, but the primary culprit, as usual, has been the Bengals’ weak play up front. If not for the sad-sack Dolphins, this line would rank dead-last in Matt Bitonti’s Footballguys rankings. It’s been without top blocker Cordy Glenn, who’s still recovering from a concussion, and will proceed in the short term without left guard Michael Jordan. Even if Glenn can suit up for Week 3, this group will remain undermanned and vulnerable. Mixon will have to show up fully healthy and at his most dynamic to generate a big day against the Bills.

Buffalo’s run defense is generally a strong one, despite its Week 2 stat line. Saquon Barkley racked up 107 yards on just 18 carries, including a 26-yard touchdown that left multiple Bills swiveling their ankles. But it wouldn’t be fair to condemn this group too much for failing to corral Barkley. Overall, it’s improved noticeably into one of the league’s toughest units. In Ed Oliver and Star Lotulelei, the Bills boast a dynamic set of tackles that’s done a great job of controlling the interior. First-round rookie Oliver has been particularly impressive; he’s an athletic gap-shooter capable of making plays in the backfield, while Lotulelei is more of a space-eater. Behind them, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds continues to improve, while Matt Milano remains dependable on the strong side. They’re backed by an elite safety duo of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, both of whom are more than capable in run support. This unit may struggle with consistency, and Joe Mixon is fast and nimble enough to present similar problems as Barkley. But on most weeks, this is a fairly prohibitive matchup, especially against opponents with front lines as weak as the Bengals’.

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

Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Jaguars ground game ran into quite a few eight-man boxes last week as the Texans focused their defensive plan on stopping Leonard Fournette in favor of challenging rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew to beat them. Fournette subsequently had a tough day, averaging just 3.1 yards per carry for 47 rushing yards. He has started slow this season based on these first two games, appearing to lack both power and decisiveness at the line of scrimmage. However, in his defense, the Jaguars have also been playing without top offensive lineman Cam Robinson. Robinson has been practicing on a limited basis and should be ready to suit up any day now, but keep an eye on his status with a short week ahead. With Robinson back in the fold, this should be an above-average offensive line. It is also worth mentioning the rushing upside displayed by quarterback Gardner Minshew last week. While most of his 56 rushing yards came on the final drive, Minshew displayed some speed and quickness that will give defenses something to think about when scheming for this offense.

The Titans run defense looked great in Week 2, with the exception of a big play (55-yard run) afforded to Jordan Wilkins late in the game. They held Marlon Mack to just 2.6 yards per attempt and did a good job keeping the Colts out of the end zone. Daquan Jones has come on strong at nose tackle through the first two weeks, consistently winning his matchups to clog up the interior. Jurrell Casey also made a number of good plays last week after a rough outing in Week 1. Titans linebackers played better last week, particularly Jayon Brown as he led the team in tackles and made some nice contributions against the run. This is a well-coached Titans defense with enough talent on the defensive line to have a clear advantage over what has been an underwhelming Jaguars rushing offense. It would help the Jaguars if Cam Robinson suits up, but without Robinson, the Titans should make it tough on Fournette and company.

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

Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Offense vs Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Chargers ground game was humming along again this week as both Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson found success rushing the ball. Ekeler out-touched Jackson 17-to-7, but they finished with similar yardage totals as Ekeler had 66 rushing yards to Jackson’s 59 rushing yards. Both running backs had big plays called back due to penalty, including a would-be 60-yard touchdown run by Jackson. Jackson remains limited by his lack of involvement in the passing game though, as Ekeler continues to see success with a heavier workload and snap count through the first two games. Ekeler now has a rushing touchdown in each game this season while averaging nearly 4.3 yards per carry. He also saw goal-line work last week, but unfortunately fumbled it instead of punching in a touchdown. That did not appear to impact his usage, however, as Ekeler remains the lead option for this backfield.

The Texans run defense looked stellar in Week 2 against the Jaguars, limiting Leonard Fournette to just 3.1 yards per attempt for 47 rushing yards on the day. Linebacker Zach Cunningham was a force in the middle as he led the team in tackles with double the solo tackles of any other Texans player. D.J. Reader looked improved on the interior, but his supporting cast in Angelo Blackson and Brandon Dunn still left much to be desired. J.J. Watt had a nice bounceback game against the run after looking sluggish in Week 1, while Whitney Mercilus maintained his excellent performance to start the season. While their poor showing from Week 1 will not yet be forgotten, this run defense should be far above average and showed up as such last week. The Chargers ground game has been rolling to start the season, but this Texans defense will be the toughest test they have faced thus far.

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

New England Patriots Rushing Offense vs New York Jets Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Patriots rotated three backs once again against the Dolphins as Sony Michel saw 49% of the snaps with James White at 31% and Rex Burkhead at 24%. After a slow start from Sony Michel who had just 14 yards in week 1, he did look much improved against the Dolphins weak rushing defense. Michel carried the ball 21 times for 83 yards and did find the end-zone for the first time this season in the 43-0 lopsided win. If there is one area of concern for the Patriots it is on the offensive line as they lost center David Andrews to a blood clot issue, right tackle Marcus Cannon is dealing with a shoulder injury although he may return this week, and left tackle Isaiah Wynn went to IR this past week which leaves the team incredibly thin up front.

Outside of Devin Singletary’s 70 yards on just four carries in Week 1, the Jets run defense has been one that has been solid so far this season. The team shut down Frank Gore holding him to just 1.8 yards-per-carry and this past week shut-down Nick Chubb holding him to just 3.4 yards-per-carry even without star linebacker C.J. Mosely. The defensive line led by Leonard Williams and run-stopping defensive tackle Steve McLendon caused havoc for the Browns this past week. The Jets may once again be without Mosley as he missed practice on Wednesday and if he is unable to play would be a significant loss. The Jets at the safety position have two of the best run-stoppers in the business in Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams who have both been tremendous so far this year. If Mosley is able to play, this becomes one of the best run-stopping units in football and is even more exemplified by how poor the corners are on this defense.

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

New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The New Orleans Saints backfield in 2019 lacks one major piece of the 2018 unit: Mark Ingram. Ingram left in free agency to sign with the Baltimore Ravens, and the Saints brought in Latavius Murray to fill the void left by his departure. Throughout 2018, when both Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram were healthy, Kamara typically played around 60-percent of offensive snaps. In 2019, without Ingram, Kamara's snap share has risen to above 66-percent. Kamara is also carrying the ball at a higher rate within the Saints' offense this season than he did in 2018. Directing touches and carries within the offense towards one of the NFL's most-talented running backs will undoubtedly pay dividends in the long-run for the New Orleans Saints, especially considering the strength of the team's offensive line. The bruisers up front for the New Orleans Saints are arguably the best in the entire NFL. No matter who is running the ball for New Orleans, the Saints will likely field one of the league's best rushing attacks, but having Alvin Kamara, one of the best players in the league with the ball in his hands certainly helps.

The Seattle Seahawks opened the season with consecutive games against teams whose starting running back exited early due to injury. In the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Mixon left the game in the third quarter thanks to an ankle injury. The loss of the team's number-one back, coupled with a second-half comeback attempt, led the Bengals to attempt just 14 runs in week one. In week two, James Conner left the game in the fourth quarter due to a knee injury. Jaylen Samuels took over at running back in Conner's absence. Again, as the Steelers attempted to mount a second-half comeback, they were forced away from the ground-game, only attempting 15 rushes throughout the game. While the unit has seen little action through two games, when Seattle's run defense has been called upon, they have answered. Led by linebackers Mychal Kendricks, Bobby Wagner, and K.J. Wright, the Seahawks defense has allowed just 3.8 yards-per-carry entering week 3, the 10th-best mark in the NFL. Seattle has neither faced an offensive line as strong as that of the Saints nor a running back of Alvin Kamara's caliber through two games, which makes this an exceptionally intriguing clash of presumed-strength-against-strength.

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

New York Giants Rushing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Giants recognize that, for the foreseeable future, Saquon Barkley is the offense’s engine. As a result, they’ve built an attack and a front line around his skill set, and the results thus far have been strong. Barkley has accumulated 227 ground yards and 1 touchdown over the first 2 games, needing just 28 attempts to do so against a pair of solid run defenses. Of course, Barkley’s explosive talent has been the catalyst, as his speed and cutback ability are already the stuff of legend. He’s fast enough to reroute bad runs into good ones, and just powerful enough to run right through arm tackles. Up front, the team has assembled a workable run-blocking line, and one with promise. The tackles have underachieved, but guards Kevin Zeitler and young T.J. Hernandez make for a solid interior duo. Most of the blockers - including the tight ends and receivers - are quick and mobile enough to move into space and seal off lanes for Barkley. As a result, Barkley’s week-to-week outlook is strong, with a solid floor to go with his dazzling ceiling. He’s so dynamic from touch to touch that not even matchup or game script can truly threaten that upside.

Last year’s Buccaneers were among the dregs of the NFL in run defense, giving up 4.7 yards per rush and 19 ground touchdowns. But the team has prioritized this unit in 2019, and the early returns have been excellent. Thanks to a stout line and more consistent linebacker play, they’ve thoroughly shut down both Matt Breida (15 carries for 37 yards) and Christian McCaffrey (16 for 37). The key cog thus far has been second-year tackle Vita Vea, who has been in All-Pro form through two games. Vea’s size and athleticism next to Ndamukong Suh has cleared lanes for the second-level playmakers to roam and pursue. Rookie linebacker Devin White has been a mixed bag thus far, but his availability should be monitored after suffering a low-grade knee sprain Thursday. Even as he develops, White brings dynamic athleticism and versatility to this group.

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

Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

James Conner survived a scare this week when his knee injury proved minor. He’s expected to start and carry a typical workload in Week 3, with Jaylen Samuels in his change-of-pace role. Going forward, their primary challenge will be staying efficient as the Steelers revamp their offense on the fly. Mason Rudolph will step in under center, which will almost certainly bring down the passing game’s effectiveness to some degree. Conner is a powerful, determined runner, so his week-to-week floor is always fairly solid. But he could struggle for upside without a prolific passing game to keep defenses honest. The Pittsburgh line, led by Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro in the middle, still ranks among the league’s best. It’s a versatile group, capable of opening holes all over the formation. But there will be more defensive focus upfront now, and Conner likely lacks the speed and explosiveness to manufacture big runs out of nothing. Scatback Samuels, who has taken just five carries thus far, should be more involved going forward. Game flow should keep him on the field more, and his explosive burst will be an asset as the Steelers regroup.

The 49ers were near-dominant against the run in 2018, and after their dominance in Week 2, project to stay that way. On Sunday, they allowed the Bengals just 25 yards over 19 desperate attempts to kick-start the ground game. The game script played a role, with the 49ers jumping ahead 31-10 early in the second half, as did Joe Mixon’s injury status. But this was a swarming performance, and much closer to the level of play usually put forth by this unit. The line is stout and packed with playmakers; DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead make for daunting matchups upfront. Rookie Nick Bosa brings even more dynamism to the group, though he failed to make an impact or even record a stat in Week 2. The dominance of this front makes life easier on the mediocre linebacking corps, freeing them up to make unobstructed tackles. Safety Jaquiski Tartt remains a solid contributor in the box, as well. All around, this is not an easy fantasy matchup to exploit. Over their last 18 games, they’ve allowed only 4 runners to top 70 yards, with just 12 touchdowns along the way.

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

Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Chris Carson fumbled the ball twice in Seattle's week two victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The second fumble landed Carson on the bench in favor of second-year player Rashaad Penny. Seattle did not waiver from its typical run-heavy offensive attack with Penny in the game, as the team still totaled 27 rushing attempts in the game. Heading into week three, Chris Carson will almost certainly reclaim his role as the Seahawks' bell-cow running back. Carson does an exceptional job at avoiding the negative plays that Rashaad Penny is prone to producing. In a run-first offense, it is paramount to avoid falling behind the chains due to negative plays, and that skill is precisely what Carson provides over Penny. Seattle's offensive line is neither a particular strength or weakness for this rushing attack; they do a sufficient job providing the rushers with opportunities, but they do not rank amongst the league's best.

New Orleans' defensive statistics through the first two games of the 2019 season are arguably the most misleading in the NFL. The Saints have faced the toughest schedule of opposing offenses to start the season. Both offenses, as expected, put points on the board in bunches through a variety of ways. On the ground, the Houston Texans ran for 180 yards in the season opener against the Saints, with 40 yards coming on 4 carries from quarterback Deshaun Watson. In week two, the Saints traveled to Los Angeles to take on Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams. McVay is inarguably one of the NFL's smartest and most creative offensive minds, and he showed that off throughout a week two victory over the Saints. The Rams running backs totaled precisely 100 rushing yards on 22 attempts in week two. Looking underneath the hood of this New Orleans defense, all seems to be operating as usual. The Saints' defensive line is disrupting runs on a level comparable to the team's top-ranked 2018 run defense. At linebacker, Demario Davis' performance, in particular, stands out as one point of potential improvement. Since arriving in New Orleans, Davis has been one of the team's best run-stoppers, but through two games, Davis has struggled in run-defense. If Davis returns to his old form, as expected, this defense will likely regain its status as one of the league's toughest to run against.

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

Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Detroit Lions cut backup running back C.J. Anderson this week in favor of former-New York Giants running back Paul Perkins. In weeks one and two, Anderson played 22 and 20 percent of offensive snaps, respectively. His departure will almost certainly lead to an uptick in snaps and touches for second-year running back Kerryon Johnson. Johnson posted an impressive 5.4 yards-per-carry on 118 carries throughout his rookie season. While his sophomore campaign has been far less awe-inspiring through just two games, Johnson clearly has the potential to emerge as a bell-cow running back in Matt Patricia's run-heavy offense. Detroit's offensive line entered the 2019 season ranked in the middle of the pack as a run-blocking unit. Two games into the season, the Lions have reaffirmed this assessment.

While the Philadelphia Eagles have struggled against the pass to open the 2019 season, they sport one of the league's best run-defenses. The Eagles have allowed just 2.8 yards-per-carry through the first two games of the season, the 5th-best total in the NFL. Additionally, over the course of a full game, opponents have yet to top 57 rushing yards against Philadelphia this season. Individually, Brandon Graham has been playing out of his mind after receiving a well-deserved contract extension this offseason. In addition to Graham, the Philadelphia Eagles signed linebacker Zach Brown away from division-rivals, the Washington Redskins. Brown's run-stopping prowess and tackling ability in the open field have made an immediate impact on the field for Philadelphia, which has helped to mask the unexpected struggles of defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Fletcher Cox's production levels through two games pale in comparison to what he has provided in recent years. A player of Cox's talent level can be relied upon to get these issues solved sooner rather than later, but it certainly does not hurt to have players like Zach Brown available to pick up the slack when necessary. Philadelphia's run defense is already a scary unit to face off with, and once Fletcher Cox returns to form, it will only get worse for opposing running backs.

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

Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Chiefs haven’t been effective on the ground thus far in 2019, with their running backs averaging just 3.2 yards per carry. But they demand fantasy attention, if only due to the dynamism of the Kansas City offense. As a result, the statuses of Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy should be monitored closely - both left Week 2 early with injuries that have yet to be clarified. If one or both can’t suit up, rookie Darwin Thompson, who dazzled in all phases of the offense throughout training camp, will dominate the backfield. If his preseason was any indicator, he could equal or top Williams’ production from late last season. All of the Chiefs’ backs benefit greatly from Patrick Mahomes’ brilliance, which keeps defenses honest and provides plenty of scoring opportunity. They also operate behind a strong run-blocking line, led by All-Pro right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. The team might get left tackle Eric Fisher back this week, though backup Cameron Erving is solid in relief.

The Baltimore run defense remained its usual, dominant self in Week 2, holding the Cardinals to a total of 20 ground yards on the day. That came on the heels of giving up just 21 yards to the Dolphins in Week 1. The competition hasn’t been robust, but it’s still been impressive to see the Ravens smother these two attacks. Even with major offseason turnover - C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs, and Eric Weddle all left town - they still dominate in the trenches and fill effectively in the box. The second level benefits greatly from the play of an elite line, led by Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams. New middle linebacker Patrick Onwuasor isn’t on Mosley’s talent level but has stepped in commendably thus far. When runners test the edges, they’re pursued by rising star Matt Judon and a strong-tackling secondary. The Chiefs present far more of a challenge than they’ve faced thus far, but this unit has earned its reputation as a prohibitive fantasy matchup.

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

Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Dolphins running backs managed just 40 rushing yards in another blowout loss to start their season. This Miami team, on both sides of the ball, has been dreadful. It is tough for a rushing offense to find any rhythm when the offense as a whole has no way to sustain drives while their defense can’t keep points off the board. The Dolphins were actually in the game by halftime last week, down by less than two touchdowns, but it was broken open quickly as the game went forward as this rushing offense had no chance to succeed. Their offensive line played just as bad as Footballguys Matt Bitonti had them ranked coming into last week--dead last in the league. Kenyan Drake has been the lead rusher, while Mark Walton found some minimal success on three carries last week. Kalen Ballage has seen a limited workload and looked very rough around the edges as well. All in all, this is not a rushing offense to be trusted as they are playing terribly behind the league’s worst offensive line with one of the worst defenses in the league, leading to a game script that will make it even more difficult to run the ball effectively.

The Cowboys defense did a number on the Redskins in Week 2, holding them to just 47 rushing yards with lead back Adrian Peterson averaging only 2.5 yards per attempt. This was a nice bounceback performance after giving up 120 yards on the ground to Saquon Barkley in Week 1. However, the Cowboys still rank last in the league in yards per rush attempt allowed to running backs, giving up just over six yards per carry. The defensive line looked better last week with Maliek Collins turning in a solid performance, but they still have some question marks up front as play against the run from their defensive ends has been suspect in both games. To make matters worse, starting defensive tackle Antwaun Woods was forced from last week’s game with a knee injury. Reports indicate he will miss a few weeks, and while Woods was not necessarily a cornerstone of this defensive line, his absence will likely not improve this unit’s play. The linebacker position also remains a soft spot as both Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith have not lived up to expectations. Vander Esch even missed a tackle on Adrian Peterson to allow a goal-line touchdown last week. If the Dolphins can keep this game in a place conducive to making an effort towards establishing the run, they may have a shot at some limited success. However, it would be a long shot as this is still the league’s worst offensive line leading what has looked to be an equally bad offense in total.

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

New York Jets Rushing Offense at New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Le’Veon Bell as a running back has yet to have the success that he has had in his time in Pittsburgh as he is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry and so far this season is struggling to get the timing with his new offensive line. Matt Bitonti has this unit as a bottom-five offensive line and they were torched by the Browns who were often in the backfield before the Jets had a chance to move the ball. Bell had just 3.2 yards per carry with his longest run being just 8 yards. The Browns were able to stack the box with the ineffective passing offense of the Jets.

The Patriots defense might be one of the best that we have seen in a long time. Through two games, they have allowed just three points and are loaded with talent across the board. So far this year, the Patriots have allowed just 37 rushing yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry. Adam Butler and Danny Shelton are both doing a tremendous job in eating space which has been freeing up linebackers D'onta Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, and Jamie Collins to clean up the tackles in space and if a run even starts to approach the third level it is quickly cleaned up by Patrick Chung who is one of the best run-stopping safeties in the league. This is a defense that top to bottom is immensely talented and one that will be difficult to run against all year.

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

Washington Redskins Rushing Offense vs Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Washington's rushing attack has gotten off to an abysmal start to the 2019 season. After losing Derrius Guice to another knee injury in week one, the Redskins once again have to turn towards an aging Adrian Peterson to man the backfield. In week two, without Guice, Adrian Peterson received 59-percent of carries on the day while only playing approximately 31-percent of snaps. Peterson's role in the Washington offense is exclusively on first and second down, but Wendell Smallwood and Chris Thompson poach some of those snaps away from him as well. Thompson has established himself as the Redskins' clear third-down-running-back over the previous years, and he shows no signs of relinquishing this role now. Washington's offensive line will do the team's running backs very few favors throughout the season. As a whole, this unit ranks firmly in the bottom-tier of offensive lines in the NFL. The distribution of snaps and carries in the Washington backfield will vary wildly from week-to-week, and this volatility, coupled with poor offensive line play, is a major red flag.

The Chicago Bears enter this week three matchup with the Washington Redskins on the heels of two impressive defensive performances against the run. Neither the Green Bay Packers nor the Denver Broncos were able to muster more than 90 rushing yards on this stout Chicago Bears defense. On the season, the Bears are allowing opponents to run for a meager 3.0 yards-per-carry, the 6th-best mark in the NFL. Chicago's strength against the run starts on the interior of the defense. Defensive tackles Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman have been two of the best run-stoppers in the NFL over recent seasons. At linebacker, Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan are two of the league's best tacklers at the position, ensuring that when they are there to fill the gaps, running backs are unlikely to reach the next level of the defense. These first two games of the 2019 season are not a blip on the radar, but rather a continuation of a season-long trend from the 2018 season: Chicago's run-defense is arguably the league's best. In 2018, the Bears allowed the fewest rushing yards and rushing touchdowns on the fourth-lowest yards-per-carry in the NFL. In week three, the Washington Redskins will have their work cut out for them with a stable of below-average running backs running behind a below-average offensive line against one of the league's stingiest run defenses.

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