Week 8 Rushing Matchups

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

Jump to Passing Matchups

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


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

After hearing from Matt LaFleur that the Packers want a 50/50 split between Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, we learned more what Matt LaFleur meant which was that they want to limit Aaron Jones’ touches. This past week, Jamaal Williams saw just three carries while Jones saw 12 carries which is typically the range that the Packers want to keep him when Williams is in the lineup. Williams still was on the field for 40% of the plays, but with the team having such success throwing the ball the team did not commit to Williams’ touches. The good news for Williams is that in a vast majority of games, the Packers will remain committed to the run which will get them back to close to a 50/50 split this week.

Kansas City’s run defense was tired of hearing all of the negative remarks about them as they went into Denver and shut down the Denver rushing offense as they held Royce Freeman and Philip Lindsay to a combined 71 yards on 21 carries. This marked the first time since Week 1, that the Chiefs have allowed a team to rush for under 100 yards. A big part of this was the game script in which the Broncos were forced to abandon the run a little bit due to the blowout nature of the game. On the year, the Chiefs are still allowing 5.0 yards per carry which is the second-most in the NFL. The Chiefs may get some good news as Chris Jones may be returning this week which would be a significant upgrade to the defensive line that has struggled mightily for most of the season. While this does not fix all of their problems which is the rest of the defensive line and poor linebacker play in Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson, it will provide at least one capable player who can make a play against the run. With little threat to game script forcing teams to abandon the run now that Patrick Mahomes this should be a prime opportunity for Green Bay to run all over this defense.

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


Los Angeles Rams Rushing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Rams running game has definitively underachieved through seven weeks. Their running backs averaged 5.0 yards per rush last season, yet sit at just 3.9 thus far in 2019. Despite taking on a dominant share of the ground work, Todd Gurley hasn’t topped 51 yards since Week 2. Gurley looks healthy and nimble, but is struggling to find room through a front line in a full-on tailspin. The offseason loss of top blocker Roger Saffold has proven devastating, while 14th-year left tackle Andrew Whitworth looks like a shell of himself. Saffold’s replacement, Joseph Notebloom, is now on injured reserve, inviting even more uncertainty. The Rams offense remains rooted in the run, which it (ideally) uses both to control the game and to set up the play-action pass, so getting Gurley on-track is a must. He’ll need to rely more on his athleticism than he has in years to do so. The team will keep spelling him some with rookie Darrell Henderson, who also struggled to produce (11 for 31) in his first crack at the No. 2 job. There’s a ton of dynamism at play here, but it will be hard to project it week-to-week until the line shows some consistency.

No team in football has given up more yards per game (189) or per attempt (5.2), and they’ve now allowed a 90+ yard rusher in 3 straight weeks. It’s clearly time to retool this unit around its only consistent bright spot, nose tackle Andrew Billings, who does a nice job of tying up blocking inside. Last week, it was Leonard Fournette’s turn to plow through this weak unit for 131 yards, consistently churning through would-be tacklers. The week before, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson rode his dazzling read-option game to 152 yards and a touchdown of his own. Still devoid of playmaking talent, the Bengals almost always lose to runners with open-field quickness or power. Tackle Geno Atkins can make plays, but he’s far more pass-rusher than run-stuffer and can be exploited. Linebackers Nick Vigil and Preston Brown are stiff, one-speed defenders who offer little in pursuit. With the safeties struggling badly thus far, there’s not much of a support system in place behind them. All told, one of fantasy’s safest bets is on Bengals opponents maximizing their production week in, week out. This is a fantastic get-right spot for the Rams’ struggling line and dormant ground game.

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


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense vs Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Last week, in place of Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray channeled vintage Mark Ingram en route to 119 yards on 27 rushes (with 2 touchdowns) against the Bears. Kamara is nursing an ankle sprain and looks questionable at best for this week, so Murray could again be in position to dominate this backfield. He certainly isn’t the dynamic talent Kamara is, but in Week 7 proved more than capable of exploiting huge holes for big yardage. The Saints continue to trot out arguably the league’s best front line; Footballguys’ Matt Bitonti currently ranks it No. 1, receiving his only A++ run-blocking grade. Saints runners routinely find ample room to move, whether behind the elite interior trio or off the powerful tackles’ hips. Together, Kamara and Murray have averaged a steady 4.3 yards per carry behind it. Kamara’s status will likely come down to the wire, and he’s unlikely to see a full role even if he’s active. But if he’s rested again, Murray will enjoy clear bell-cow status in one of Week 8’s most advantageous matchups, and it’s hard for fantasy players to ask for much more than that.

The Cardinals run defense continues to serve as one of fantasy’s best matchups. Not only do they struggle to contain the run, but their high game pace inflates everyone’s volume, turning solid fantasy lines into big ones. As a result, they’ve allowed 70+ yards to a runner in each of their last 5 games. The problems start up front, where nose tackle Corey Peters brings the only real run-stuffing presence along the line. But their biggest issues are found at linebacker, where Jordan Hicks and Haason Reddick have struggled mightily on the inside. Hicks has long been one of the league’s most dependable run-stoppers, but his 2019 has been marred by a flurry of missed tackles. The team relies heavily on safety Budda Baker for help in the box, meaning that too many stops are made several yards downfield. That’s a big concern with the Saints’ strong, nimble front line next on the docket. Those shaky linebackers are likely to find themselves in a lot of open-field situations, which hasn’t been their strong suit thus far.

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


New York Giants Rushing Offense at Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

In week seven, the Giants welcomed Saquon Barkley back into the starting lineup against the Arizona Cardinals after he missed only three games due to a high ankle sprain. Barkley is undoubtedly one of the league's most talented running backs. He consistently salvages respectable rushing performances by breaking off lengthy touchdown runs during otherwise brutal games. In the past, New York's offensive line has held Barkley back from reaching his full potential as a fantasy producer. Saquon Barkley's impressive rookie numbers were frequently in spite of his offensive line rather than because of his offensive line. During the offseason, the Giants invested in bolstering their offensive line, but they have yet to reap the rewards of this investment on the ground. New York's offensive line has been impressive in pass protection, but not yet in run-blocking duties. Even with the sub-par performance of the bruisers up front, Barkley is expected to post strong rushing numbers, much like last season. The second-year running back from Penn State rarely leaves the field, averaging over 16 carries per game in his career. Last week, Barkley was held to only 4.0 yards-per-carry against Arizona, significantly lower than his career average of 5.5 yards-per-carry entering the game. This week, against Detroit's struggling run defense, expect a more efficient rushing day for Saquon Barkley.

The Detroit Lions have struggled to defend the run so far in 2019, and defensive tackle Damon Harrison is willing to take responsibility for these defensive shortcomings. Harrison, who is typically one of the league's best run-stoppers, has struggled himself through the first six games of the year, grading as merely an average run defender. Harrison's partner on the interior, A'Shawn Robinson, emerged last season as another top-end run-stopper, and he has continued to excel in this department in 2019. The lone pleasant surprise on this defense against the run is offseason acquisition, Trey Flowers. Flowers was signed this offseason to come in and disrupt the pocket as the top-tier pass-rusher he proved to be in New England. While Flowers has struggled to get after the quarterback in 2019, he has been an elite run defender through the first six games of the season. Unfortunately, the outlook is not nearly as bright throughout the rest of the defense. At linebacker, Detroit's three main players, Christian Jones, Jarrad Davis, and rookie Jahlani Tavai are all defensive liabilities against the run. Then, in the secondary, the Lions traded away Quandre Diggs earlier this week. Diggs was the team's best run-stopping defensive back prior to being sent to Seattle, and his replacement, rookie Will Harris, is a significant downgrade. Overall, Detroit's run defense has been mightily disappointing, allowing the fifth-most yards-per-carry of any team in the NFL this season. Expect Saquon Barkley to return to the same form he showed before his ankle injury in a favorable matchup this weekend, as the Giants head into Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions.

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


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Due to the state of the offense, the Pittsburgh ground game has yet to get off the ground here in 2019. The loss of Ben Roethlisberger has completely transformed this attack, stripping away virtually all of the dynamism that keeps defenses honest. As a result, James Conner’s 2018 breakout has yet to carry over in the slightest. He’s yet to top 55 yards in a game, averaging an anemic 3.2 per rush along the way. It’s understandable next to such a low-impact passing game, but it’s also a reminder that he’s a marginal athletic talent, and that working his way through traffic isn’t his strong suit. He’s underachieved behind arguably the league’s best front line, headed up by the dominant interior duo of Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro. Conner is the type of runner who would benefit from the occasional use of a fullback, but that’s not in the Steelers’ plans. If nothing else, if he’s healthy he’ll work against one of football’s weakest fronts Sunday. If he’s limited, it will mean more work for rookie Benny Snell, who posted 75 yards in relief last week. The plodding Snell is a more extreme version of Conner, though, and wouldn’t offer any real upside in this shaky offense - not even against the Dolphins.

In proportion to the rest of the team, the Miami run defense has been among the league’s weakest which should make for a fantastic fantasy matchup. Through 6 games, they’ve already allowed 5 runners to top 85 yards, averaging 6.0 per carry in the process. That’s a list that includes Cowboys backup Tony Pollard and 34-year-old Adrian Peterson. Simply put, this group badly needs an infusion of talent across the front seven. Aside from breakout middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan, there’s very little playmaking ability here. The line sorely lacks a space-eating element up front, leaving the ho-hum linebacking crew to sort through crowds. That results in too many opportunities for quick-footed runners to find gaps and create chunk runs. And that’s often exacerbated by negative game script, which leads to big fantasy lines in a typical Dolphins game.

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


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Chiefs rushing offense is a unit that is still trying to find itself this season. The team continues to try to get Damien Williams going as he had nine carries last week, but the reality is that the running back just is unable to make plays, as he now is averaging just 1.7 yards-per-carry on the season and ran for just seven yards on nine carries this past week. Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy continues to be productive in this offense averaging 5.4 yards-per-carry. The Chiefs seem to want to limit McCoy’s touches around 10-12, as he has not seen more than 12 this season. The Chiefs ultimately are going to have to decide on their rushing attack with star quarterback Patrick Mahomes out for the next 3-5 weeks, they will likely have to rely more on the rushing attack than they have in previous weeks which will be a dynamic shift for this pass-heavy offense. One of the major problems for the Chiefs has been their offensive line, however, which may limit their success especially on the left side of the line with Cam Erving and Martinas Rankin both struggling tremendously.

The Green Bay run defense is a unit that has struggled with consistency for most of the season as they are either a shut-down unit that we saw against Detroit two weeks ago as they held Kerryon Johnson to just 34 yards, or they are the unit that we saw this past week against Oakland in which they allowed 155 yards. The Packers on the year have allowed opponents to rush for 140 yards or more in four of their seven games and in the other three games have allowed an average of 52 total yards rushing to opposing running backs. On the year, the Packers have allowed 4.9 yards-per-carry which is the seventh-worst in the NFL. This is a defense that if you have the offensive line to keep Kenny Clark from being disruptive, the Packers linebackers in Blake Martinez and B.J. Goodson have struggled in shutting down the run and safeties Adrian Amos and Will Redmond are better against the pass than they are against the run. This is a matchup that Kansas City could be able to exploit if their offensive line can hold up, but the problem is that they have not been able to get consistent production out of their offensive line this season.

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


Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense vs Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Even after ramping up the passing attack in recent weeks, Minnesota's ground game remains one of the most consistent and most productive in the NFL. Dalvin Cook typically plays about 70-percent of offensive snaps for the Vikings, averaging 19 carries per game so far this season. His volume, coupled with a strong 5.5 yards-per-carry plants Cook atop the NFL rushing leaderboards with 725 yards through 7 games. Cook's backup, rookie Alexander Mattison, typically plays about 30-percent of offensive snaps. Mattison, averaging about eight carries per game, has seen significant playing time in the Vikings' three blowout wins this season. Over those 3 games, won by 16, 20, and 18 points, respectively, Mattison averaged nearly 12 carries per game. In this week's matchup against the Redskins, the Vikings are favored by 16 points, which may lead to another high-volume rushing day for both Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. Minnesota's offensive line is an adequate unit with just one weakness: center Garrett Bradbury. Bradbury has had a rough rookie campaign, but his surrounding offensive linemen have picked up the slack and ensured that the Vikings are not at a disadvantage in the trenches.

Typically playing from behind, the Washington Redskins have faced an exceptionally high volume of rushing attempts so far in 2019. The Redskins rank in the bottom third of the NFL in yards-per-carry allowed this season, so the gaudy rushing numbers are not solely due to the volume of attempts they've faced. Washington's defensive line is the apparent strength of their run defense. Da'Ron Payne, Montez Sweat, and Jonathan Allen are three young above-average run-stopping defensive linemen that should make for a strong core for years to come up front for the Redskins. At linebacker, however, the Redskins are notably weak against the run. Cole Holcomb is good at filling rushing lanes, but much like the rest of this defense, he struggles to finish tackles. Jon Bostic, the Redskins' number-one linebacker, struggles in all phases of the game, and run defense is no different. In the secondary, Landon Collins, Washington's leading tackler, makes his greatest impact against the run this season. The Redskins opened the season with a relatively easy schedule, but the rushing totals they've allowed have been ugly. The Vikings' exceptional run offense should run the ball early and often in what is expected to be a blowout Thursday night matchup. Expect a high-volume and high-efficiency rushing day for Minnesota's running backs here in week eight.

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


New England Patriots Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

As good as the Patriots have been this season, the running game has not been great for the team. Despite finding the end-zone three times last week, Sony Michel was largely kept in check as he averaged just 2.2 yards per carry on 19 attempts and is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry on the season. James White out of the backfield has been better as he is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry and had zero yards on five attempts this past week. The issue for the Patriots is primarily up the middle as the team is still having a hard time trying to fill the gap for David Andrews who is out for the season. Ted Karras has done a fine job pass blocking but from a run blocking standpoint has struggled for the Patriots and right guard Shaq Mason has had a down year as well. The Patriots remain committed to the run even with their issues as they have the sixth-most rushing attempts and will need to figure out how to gain some cohesion in their run-blocking.

Cleveland’s run defense is a unit that has fallen apart with the loss of Christian Kirksey for the season and with Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams still nursing hamstring injuries forcing the defense to have their safeties further back to help the backup corners. Over the last three games, the Browns have allowed an average of 159 yards rushing per game and are now allowing the second-worst yards-per-carry in the league with 5.0. 5th-round rookie Mack Wilson has struggled mightily in run coverage and safeties Jermaine Whitehead and Damarious Randall are better pass defenders than run-stoppers, especially Whitehead who has been abysmal at attempting to stop the run. Up the middle, Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson both have tailed off over the last few weeks as they simply are not making enough plays. The only positive for Cleveland is that they are facing a New England team that has struggled to run the ball consistently which will be interesting to see if they can shut down a poor rushing offense.

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


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The 49ers struggled to move the ball against the Redskins in a rain-filled game this past week, but the takeaway from this game is how the volume of carries were split. Tevin Coleman appears to be taking control of this backfield as he was on the field for 66% of the plays this past week including seeing 20 carries. Coleman is now averaging 18 carries per game over the last week compared to Breida’s just 10.6 carries per game. Breida did leave for a period of time to get evaluated for a concussion this past week but did return to the game. The problem for the 49ers lately has been the lack of big plays in the running game which are typically off-tackle behind either Joe Staley or Mike McGlinchey. Both are expected to miss this week again with a fibula injury for Staley and a knee injury for McGlinchey. Also causing the running game issues is that Kyle Juszczyk remains out with a knee injury. These injuries played a significant role in the offense struggling a bit as the 49ers averaged just 3.5 yards per carry last week against the Redskins.

The Panthers run defense has struggled most of the season with consistent production out of their run defense. On the year, the Panthers are allowing 4.7 yards-per-carry which is the 10th-worst in the NFL but does seem to be improving as it continues to come together with the loss of Kawann Short who was the backbone of this defensive line. In their last game, they held the Buccaneers to just 41 yards rushing which was their best performance of the season as replacement Vernon Butler seems to be more comfortable. If there is a weak spot on this team, it is a defense that has struggled with their safeties preventing the big run as Eric Reid and Tre Boston have both struggled in run defense which puts a lot of pressure on Shaq Thompson and Luke Keuchly to make the first tackle. This could be a game in which if the 49ers can break a few big runs, could lead to a big performance for San Francisco.

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


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense vs Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Bears offense struggled mightily in last week’s loss to the Saints, and their game plan certainly lacked favor for the likes of David Montgomery who finished with just six yards from two carries. Montgomery was not terribly out-snapped by Tarik Cohen, but Montgomery was simply not a part of the game plan throughout the first half as he didn’t see his first carry until the third quarter--on which he lost his first career fumble. After clearing 50 rushing yards in three of his first four games, Montgomery has now rushed for just 31 yards over his past two games. Per carry efficiency has been a question for Montgomery all season as he has averaged greater than 3.4 yards per rush in just one of six games, but now there has to be doubts around his workload security given the puzzling usage from last week. Tarik Cohen should not pose a threat to Montgomery’s workload on the ground, but Cohen will indeed continue to see more snaps when the Bears are trailing. Right guard Rashaad Coward saw his first start in place of the injured Kyle Long last week and did a decent job holding together what is an above-average offensive line--which is further fodder for the concern around Montgomery’s low-efficiency numbers, as his offensive line is doing their job to set him up for success.

The Chargers are one of nine teams allowing an average of over 100 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs this season and have allowed over 90 rushing yards to the position in each of their last three games. Two big games really put a damper on their season-long numbers as this group gave up 175 rushing yards to Steelers running backs in Week 5 and 187 yards to the Colts in Week 1. This defense simply cannot put up consistent performances week in and week out, unless you count giving up a touchdown to opposing lead running backs in four of their last five games. Linebacker is their biggest gap, and it was on full display via a number of missed arm tackles last week against Derrick Henry. The interior defensive line is also exploitable and should not pose a significant challenge to the Bears guards. Where the Chargers do have an advantage is on the edges, as Joey Bosa is a top tier talent while Uchenna Nwosu has done an excellent job slotting in for the injured Melvin Ingram, particularly in run defense.

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


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense vs New York Giants Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Detroit's number-one running back, Kerryon Johnson, was placed on the IR earlier this week following a knee procedure. Head coach Matt Patricia said he is hopeful that Kerryon Johnson will return at some point this season, but it is unknown how long he will be out exactly at this point. In the meantime, rookie Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic will likely team up to fill the void he left in the backfield. Ty Johnson impressed the Lions after a strong preseason that warranted the team moving pieces around to make room for him on the regular-season roster. Ty Johnson, however, has never been a bell-cow running back the way the Lions asked Kerryon Johnson to be. During his career at Maryland, Ty Johnson never carried the ball more than 18 times in a single game, and he only cleared 15 carries on 2 occasions over 4 years. J.D. McKissic has also never handled a high-volume rushing role. As a converted wide receiver, McKissic has typically been used on passing downs to add a weapon out of the backfield to the team's passing attack. How the two will split carries is unclear, but given both players' lack of experience, a running-back-by-committee approach is the most likely outcome. The Lions' offensive line is around league average this season. Anchored by Frank Ragnow at the center position, Detroit's offensive line is strongest on the interior, which will make for an interesting combination with Detroit's small and speedy running backs that tend to thrive on outside running plays. Detroit's backfield situation is incredibly unclear heading into week eight, as their bell-cow running back has been abruptly removed from the lineup. Ty Johnson will likely play the majority of snaps for the Lions, but J.D. McKissic should also play a significant role in their offense moving forward. Expect a running-back-by-committee approach from Detroit on the ground until further notice.

New York's run defense is headlined by a strong group of young defensive linemen. Rookie Dexter Lawrence has been one of the most impressive 2019 draftees in the entire NFL, and he is thriving against the run, specifically. Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill have also held their own against the run this season, rounding out one of the league's most surprisingly-strong defensive fronts against the run. At linebacker, however, New York lacks a difference-maker. Alec Ogletree has been a liability throughout his career defending against the run, and this season has been no different. Since entering the fold in week three, offseason acquisition David Mayo has been the team's best run-stuffing linebacker this season. Mayo, now in his fourth year in the NFL, has not played at this high of a level since his rookie year with the Carolina Panthers. The Giants should not rely upon him as a key to their run-stopping efforts, but if he continues to keep up this impressive performance, it will be a massive bonus for a middling run defense. In the secondary, the Giants have to polar opposite safeties. Antoine Bethea is a run-stopping safety that leads the team with 37 tackles on the season. Jabrill Peppers, however, is an undersized safety that struggles to finish tackles when he's one-on-one with the ball carrier. On the season, Peppers has tallied 33 tackles of his own, but he has also missed a team-high 11 tackles as well. In total, the Giants grade as a slightly below-average run defense that is strong up front but inconsistent elsewhere. Expect the league's 18th-ranked defense in yards-per-carry allowed to put up a fight against a Detroit backfield that is in disarray.

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


Houston Texans Rushing Offense vs Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Texans rushing offense ranks eighth in the league with 134.1 rushing yards per game, but the trio of Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson, and Deshaun Watson combined for just 99 rushing yards in their loss to the Colts last week. Hyde continues to command a lead on this backfield, but the workload split between him and Johnson was as close last week as it has been since Week 1 as Johnson had seven carries to the 12 of Hyde while Johnson out-snapped Hyde 39-to-26. Johnson has also simply looked like the better running back, also shown on the stat sheet by his 6.2 YPC compared to 4.2 for Hyde. However, the Texans coaching staff continues to roll out Hyde as the leader in this backfield with Johnson getting his chances in more pass-heavy game scripts. Deshaun Watson continues to add flair to this rushing offense though, as he racked up his third straight game with at least 30 rushing yards. The offensive line did take a step back last week in their first game without Tytus Howard, who is out for at least the next four weeks. Roderick Johnson stepped in to do a decent job, but that injury will hurt the overall cohesion of this line that was just starting to figure things out.

The Raiders defense has shown up relatively well against running backs on the year, giving up a below-average 80 rushing yards per game to the position through six games this season. Outside of a blow-up game against the Vikings in Week 3, the Raiders have allowed just one running back (Royce Freeman in Week 1) to exceed 50 rushing yards against them. They have also allowed just one rushing touchdown outside of that Week 3 contest. The interior of their line has been a significant strength with P.J. Hall and Johnathan Hankins serving as large run-stopping specialists. Tahir Whitehead at linebacker has also done a great job against the run this season. This group has liabilities all over their secondary and on the edges of this defensive line though, so they will have to watch out for any of these Texans rushers in the open field. They have yet to face a quarterback as mobile as Deshaun Watson this season, but these linebackers did a decent job keeping tabs on the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Jacoby Brissett to limit their rushing upside earlier in the season.

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


Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Offense at Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Chargers rushing offense put forth another uninspiring performance last week as Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler combined for just 39 yards on 21 carries. Gordon continues to lead the way in this backfield since his return in Week 5, rushing 36 times compared to just 13 rushes for Ekeler over that same span. Gordon, however, has looked sluggish since returning and is averaging only 2.3 yards per carry with no rushing touchdowns to his name as of yet. He also fumbled on the goal line last week after failing to plunge it in for what would have been a sure victory over the Titans. Ekeler rushed for more yards in each of the first four games than Gordon has in any of his three performances, but Gordon has to be expected to continue leading the charge in this backfield. Not all of the blame can be put on Gordon, however, as he is running behind a banged-up offensive line that is now down three starters with guard Forrest Lamp suffering a season-ending ankle injury last week. This offensive line will be cemented in the bottom tier until (or if) left tackle Russell Okung can make it back on the field.

After the Bears defense was embarrassed by the Raiders in London three weeks ago, they came back after the Week 6 bye to give up yet another big game to an opposing rushing offense as Latavius Murray for the Saints ran 27 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Two main factors can help explain this surprising dip in performance by one of the league’s top defenses, the first of which is the terrible play from the Bears offense. Constant turnovers and the lack of sustained drives has kept this defense on the field for far too long, which will make it tough on even the best of defenses to keep up. The second, and likely biggest factor is the loss of one of the league’s top run-stoppers in Akiem Hicks. Hicks has been battling separate injuries since the end of Week 3, and was put on IR last week. Over that span of the past four weeks, the Bears run defense has actually given up the second-most fantasy points per game (non-PPR) to opposing running backs compared to allowing the fourth-fewest over their first three games (with a healthy Hicks in the lineup). With Hicks not expected back until December at the earliest, the struggle could very well continue. Stopping the run is very much a cohesion based activity, so while the Bears have the talent to absorb the loss of Hicks it may take a few more weeks for them to do so.

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


New York Jets Rushing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Jets have yet to see much return on their Le’Veon Bell investment. Hamstrung by an inconsistent passing game and working behind one of the league’s weaker lines, Bell simply isn’t being given room to maneuver. Center Ryan Kalil has been a surprising weak link after coming out of retirement, and right guard Kelechi Osemele remains out in the midst of a nasty spat with the team. Bell has looked spry and quick when sprung into the open field, but that isn’t happening often enough to make much of a dent. He did show signs of life last week, putting up 70 yards on his 15 carries against the Patriots’ stout defense. Still capable of moving expertly through the second level, Bell’s week-to-week outlook depends heavily on the Jets’ matchup. He projects well whenever his line has a chance of winning in the trenches. Against Calais Campbell and the Jaguars, that’s far from a given, so there’s a very unstable floor in place this week.

The Jaguars continue to field a solid run defense, though it’s not the shutdown unit it once was. With the young linebacking corps in transition, this group flashes often but is prone to lapses here and there. Thus far this season they’ve shut down the likes of Alvin Kamara (11 carries for 31 yards) and Derrick Henry (17 for 44), but allowed far too many chunk runs to slip through the cracks. And they virtually no-showed back in Week 5, allowing Carolina running backs to create 256 too-easy yards. There are few concerns up front, where Calais Campbell remains one of the league’s most dominant defenders. He’s a nightmare of an individual matchup, with the strength to anchor against heavy blocking and the sheer power to finish plays on his own. This version of the line isn’t as deep as in recent years, but Campbell’s presence has a rippling effect that tends to raise everyone’s game. Behind them, though, the team needs much better play from Myles Jack and the rest of the linebackers. Jack and Quincy Wilson have struggled for much of the season, while rotational backups Najee Goode and Leon Jacobs have been even worse. All told, it’s no longer necessary to fear this matchup much in fantasy. The Jaguars aren’t suddenly pushovers - Week 5 notwithstanding - but certainly have some holes for Le’Veon Bell to exploit.

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


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense at Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Pete Carroll and the rest of Seattle's coaching staff are massive proponents of a run-heavy style of football. The Seahawks used a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on Rashaad Penny, the player they thought would be their running back of the future. To their surprise, it was Chris Carson, a former seventh-round pick, that emerged from training camp as the team's clear number-one running back that year. Fast forward to 2019, and Carson is still the lead back for Seattle, even after a spell of fumbling issues that may have put his job in jeopardy early in the season. After Carson shored up his ball security troubles, he promptly rattled off 4 straight 20+ carry games, including 3 100-yard performances over that span. Carson is a perfect embodiment of a bell-cow running back for Seattle, playing around 80-percent of offensive snaps and contributing both on the ground and through the air on a weekly basis. Carson runs behind an average offensive line that may soon be bolstered by the returns of D.J. Fluker, who is likely to play this week, and Duane Brown, who is questionable for this weekend's game at Atlanta. Carson is an above-average running back, and Seattle will likely continue to feed him around 20 carries each week for the foreseeable future.

Atlanta's run defense has faced an astonishingly-high number of rushing attempts, given the team's struggles to keep games close this season. However, they have posted very strong efficiency numbers against the run that have helped limit the damage opposing rushing attacks have been able to inflict so far in 2019. Along the defensive line, Grady Jarrett is one of the premier interior defensive linemen in the NFL. Jarrett is exceptional both against the run and the pass, and he teams up with Tyeler Davison to make up one of the strongest run-stopping interior duos in the NFL. At linebacker, Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell both excel at stopping the run. Jones and Campbell are the team's top two tacklers this season, and their ability to defend the run is a major reason for that. In the secondary, Ricardo Allen has regressed in coverage, but he continues to be a primary contributor in Atlanta's run-stopping efforts. Allen rarely ever leaves the field, and his presence as the team's last line of defense against the run has been essential to limiting the efficiency of opposing rushing attacks this season for the Falcons. This weekend, the Seahawks determination to run the ball as often as possible will clash with the NFL's sixth-ranked defense in yards-per-carry allowed. Seattle will likely continue to feed Chris Carson the ball close to 20 times, but barring any notable chunk plays, it will be a difficult matchup to exploit for another 100-yard day.

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


Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Atlanta Falcons have struggled mightily to establish any semblance of a rushing attack so far in 2019. Poor performance from the team's offensive line, coupled with pass-heavy gameplans while playing from behind, has limited both the volume and efficiency of the ground game for the basement-dwellers of the NFC South. Last week, the Falcons lost Ito Smith for an unknown period of time due to a concussion from a hit he took while pass-blocking. Smith was previously the primary backup for Devonta Freeman, frequently spelling Freeman on 20 to 30-percent of offensive snaps. In Smith's place, Brian Hill will fill in for Freeman on occasion. Hill has just 36 career carries to his name, and he is still a relative unknown in his third professional season. Devonta Freeman, the starting running back for the Falcons, has been unable to build any momentum throughout the first seven weeks of the 2019 season. Freeman averages just 3.5 yards-per-carry this season, and he has topped out at just 88 rushing yards in any single game. Freeman has been limited by poor performances in the trenches from Atlanta's mediocre offensive line. Atlanta's offensive line has two stable pieces, in Alex Mack and Jake Matthews, but aside from those two, it is a mess. Rookie Kaleb McGary is completely overmatched against NFL competition, but the Falcons lack a viable replacement, forcing him into a baptism by fire here in 2019. It will be tough sledding once again in week eight for the Atlanta Falcons' rushing attack, as they play host to the Seattle Seahawk's strong run defense.

The Seattle Seahawks have faced a bevy of top-end rushing attacks already in 2019, and these tough matchups have skewed their numbers in an unfavorable direction. Last week, the Seahawks hosted the Baltimore Ravens' multi-faceted rushing attack that few teams have had any success containing. The week prior, Nick Chubb willed himself to a strong rushing performance on the back of a long 52-yard touchdown that accounted for nearly half of his rushing production for the day. Aside from these two outlier performances, the Seahawks have done a fantastic job of containing top-end rushing attacks in 2019. The team's strength along the defensive line, specifically on this interior with Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, and Poona Ford, sets the tone for a strong run defense. Then, at linebacker, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright each have lengthy resumes as two of the best run-stopping linebackers in football. Both Wagner and Wright are exceptional tacklers that rarely get beaten in one-on-one situations against ball carriers. Then, in the secondary, the Seahawks made a trade earlier this week to bring safety Quandre Diggs into town from the Detroit Lions. Diggs has been a strong run-stopping safety throughout his career, and he is poised to bolster an already strong run defense when he enters the lineup. Expect Seattle's run-stopping numbers to catch up to their run-stopping talent level sooner rather than later, as an already impressive run defense has gotten even stronger after trading for Quandre Diggs earlier this week.

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


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

If the season ended today, Christian McCaffrey would be in strong contention for the league MVP this season as the running back seems to be doing everything for this Panthers team. With no Cam Newton, McCaffrey is touching the ball at a pace that is not seen from running backs in 2019 as he is on pace for 432 touches which would be the most since 2014 when DeMarco Murray had 449 touches for Dallas. This rushing attack has dominated every defense that they have played except for Tampa Bay who held McCaffrey to under 40 yards in both games that the two teams played. Outside of these two games, McCaffrey has dominated, rushing for over 90 yards in all four games and rushing for more than 125 yards in three of those four contests. The offensive line is one that has struggled with health, but coming off the bye should be in a much better position as they get right guard Trai Turner back which is a major improvement for this team as Turner has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last four seasons. There also is a chance that the team will get rookie Greg Little back at left tackle who is dealing with a concussion which would solidify this offensive line this week which will be critical against the vaunted 49ers defense.

On the season, the 49ers defensive line has been as tough as they come to opposing running backs allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to the position. A big reason for this has been that they have not allowed a rushing touchdown on the season as DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Dee Ford make up the strongest defensive line in football. If there’s a weakness of this defense it is certainly at the outside linebacker position as Fred Warner has struggled for the 49ers which has led to games similar to what we saw last week where runners can have success as Adrian Peterson, Nick Chubb, and Ronald Jones have all ran for 80 yards or more. This is a defense that remains one of the better units in the league and will be a real challenge for the Panthers this week.

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


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Rams Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Playing in one of the league’s most anemic offenses, and working behind arguably its worst front line, Joe Mixon continues to make virtually no fantasy noise. He’s one of football’s brightest talents, but simply hasn’t been given any real running room in weeks. Mixon has totaled just 12 ground yards over his last 2 games - on 18 attempts - with a long run of just three. On the season, that makes 3 of 6 full games for Mixon that have landed south of 20 yards. Last week, this injury-plagued and undermanned front was no match for Calais Campbell and company of the Jaguars, which has been a running theme for years. The interior is consistently overwhelmed, particularly 2018 first-rounder Billy Price, who has disappointed mightily over 17 NFL games. With top blocker Cordy Glenn unlikely to suit up anytime soon, there’s little optimism on the horizon. Bengals runners will continue to consistently slam into hordes of run-stuffers at or behind the line. Mixon (3.0 yards per rush) and Giovani Bernard (1.8) will keep relying on their own speed and open-field elusiveness to produce anything at all - and it’s been weeks since they’ve done that. It’s worth noting that the team is again turning to quarterback Andy Dalton on a variety of calls at the goal line. He’s scored on all three such attempts this season, including twice in the past two weeks.

The Rams have opened the year against a daunting run of opposing backs, including the likes of Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Nick Chubb, Chris Carson, Devonta Freeman, and Kyle Shanahan’s dynamic San Francisco backfield. They’ve generated yardage, as great runners do, but have averaged just 4.0 per carry against this relatively stout group. It starts up front, where Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers make up the league’s strongest interior duo. In fact, Donald probably takes the prize on his own; he’s a dominant force like the league has only recently seen in J.J. Watt. Together, he and Brockers excel at soaking up blockers at the point of attack, allowing the linebackers to roam and pursue. Cory Littleton leads the way, and while he’s much more effective defending the pass than the run, he gets plenty of room to make plays (58 total tackles). This isn’t exactly a shutdown unit, but it’s certainly no pushover, even for elite names. The battle in the trenches between Donald, Brockers, and company and the Bengals’ undermanned line is one of the weekend’s scariest mismatches.

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


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Broncos backfield duo of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman had one of their worst rushing games of the season last week, despite what was a plush matchup with one of the worst run defenses in football. Most of what brought this rushing offense down last week stemmed from the ineptitude of Joe Flacco, as Flacco allowed the Chiefs defense to simply stack the box and dare him to pass against them while Lindsay and Freeman were met with multiple defenders on every carry. The workload remained split between Freeman and Lindsay, as both finished with nearly identical productivity last week. However, it was Freeman who saw his first carry of the season from within the five-yard line as he found the end zone. Lindsay previously had seven carries from within the five and will likely continue to play that role despite last week’s bonus for Freeman. Play from the Broncos offensive line had been slightly improving as the season progressed, but they did take a big step back last week. Lucky for this unit, they expect to return right tackle Ja’Wuan James after losing him a mere 10 snaps into Week 1 of this season. James will add much-needed flexibility and depth to this offensive line if he lives up to his high price tag from free agency.

This Colts run defense has looked to be improving in recent weeks as they have allowed just over three yards per rush and an average of just 47 rushing yards per game in their last two games. It has also been five weeks (including a bye) since a running back has scored when facing the Colts defense, allowing just the third-fewest fantasy points per game to the position over that span. The bye in Week 6 helped one of their best defenders, All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, to get healthy as he looked good last week and should be close to 100% game shape coming into this contest. Jabaal Sheard has also looked good since returning from injury while Justin Houston continues to play well with his new squad as those two help shore up the edges of this stout defensive line that should make it hard on the Broncos in the trenches.

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


Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense vs Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Marlon Mack regressed after the Week 6 bye, rushing for just 44 yards on 18 attempts against the Texans. Mack has now sandwiched an impressive Week 5 with 132 yards from 29 carries in between two dismal outings of 39 and 44 yards in Weeks four and seven. His inconsistency does not come without hope, however, as Mack still retains a firm grip on this backfield over Nyhiem Hines and Jordan Wilkins. Mack has seen 20 or more carries in half of his games and is supported by a solid offensive line ranking within the top-5 according to Matt Bitonti of Footballguys. Mack will continue to be the workhorse for the Colts, as they can’t always rely on Jacoby Brissett to throw for four touchdowns in a rare pass-heavy game plan.

The Broncos continue to be tough on opposing backfields in recent weeks as they have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards per game to opposing running backs over the past three weeks. Last week, they held the Chiefs backfield to an average of just 3.1 yards per attempt, including holding Damien Williams to just seven yards on nine carries. This defensive line remains healthy and is loaded with talent on the interior. Shelby Harris continues to be their anchor, while Mike Purcell saw a season-high 36 snaps last week and has come up big against the run since slotting into the starting nose tackle position. Demarcus Walker is also earning more playing time and proving his worth. These Broncos safeties Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson are both making big impacts on the run game as well, often sneaking up to plug holes on the defensive line while providing excellent tackling in the open field. The Colts have a top-tier offensive line that should match up well here, but they will still not have it easy against this resurging run defense.

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


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense vs New York Jets Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

After two forgettable years marred by injury, ineffectiveness, and shaky ground with team management, Leonard Fournette is truly coming into his own. He’s dominating the Jacksonville backfield, and his elite blend of power and second-gear speed are now shining through on a weekly basis. Ever since an embarrassing Week 3 showing against the Titans, he’s produced a league-best 536 yards - a full 30% more than No. 2, Seattle’s Chris Carson. Most encouragingly, the notoriously low-efficiency Fournette has done so at a sparkling 5.3 per-carry average. He’s saddled with a mediocre front line, which currently sits 15th in Matt Bitonti’s rankings, but has done well to make the most of it. With his rough NFL start seemingly buried in the past, he’s now a rock-solid fantasy RB1 regardless of matchup. After all, two of his biggest games of the year have come against the stout run defenses of Denver (229 yards on 25 carries) and Carolina (108 on 23, with a touchdown).

As expected, the Jets continue to field one of football’s stingiest run defenses under new coordinator Gregg Williams. His units virtually always rank top-10 in per-carry and per-game defense, and through 6 games they’re allowing running backs just 3.3 yards per rush. And they could grow even tougher with middle linebacker C.J. Mosley’s return to a full set of snaps. Mosley looked healthy and strong against the Patriots, and he’ll stabilize a linebacking crew that did struggle in his absence. Rookie Blake Cashman has played his way onto the field next to him, but has been up-and-down thus far. The team gets ample help from dynamic young safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, who boast great instincts when tracking the run. There’s some room for improvement up front, but it’s not for lack of talent across the line. If the Jets can somehow push down lineman Leonard Williams to give consistent weekly effort, this group would only be tougher to project against. As it stands, they still make for a difficult matchup, even for a red-hot Leonard Fournette.

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


Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

In the midst of a devastatingly bad season, the Dolphins may have found something of a gem in running back Mark Walton. With Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage plodding to just 3.0 yards per rush, the team has fed Walton 26 carries over the past 3 games. He’s responded with 121 yards, with 66 coming last Sunday against the Bills’ stout defense. Unfortunately, though, Walton doesn’t boast much of a fantasy ceiling. He’s limited by the bottom-tier offense around them, and he’s still (at the moment) stuck in a three-man timeshare. Drake isn’t used much on the ground anymore, but Ballage looks like the dedicated goal-line guy, vulturing short touchdowns in back-to-back weeks. They all run behind one of the league’s weakest front lines; our Matt Bitonti ranks it 31st, with a D+ run-blocking grade. Walton may give the Dolphins something to think about as they push toward 2020, but this is a very limited attack without any real fantasy impact.

The Pittsburgh run defense has tightened considerably over the past month. Over 3 weeks since an embarrassing performance against the 49ers, they’ve allowed just 3.0 yards per carry to opposing running backs. (They did, however, cede 70 yards to Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in Week 5.) In their last outing, they held the Chargers’ duo of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler to a paltry 32 on 11 attempts. Most encouragingly, they did so without the services of star lineman Stephon Tuitt, who was lost for the year to a torn pectoral in the first quarter. Tuitt’s loss will certainly be felt, as he’s a dynamic playmaker in both facets of the defense, but this is a deep group that can weather it. On the second level, steady veteran Vince Williams has returned full-time to the lineup, bumping the wholly ineffective Mark Barron to the bench. If the team can get any improvement from rookie Devin Bush, this stout unit could again become dominant. And it’s facing an almost unfair Week 8 advantage, squaring off against the Dolphins’ badly undermanned front line.

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


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense at Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Raiders offense has basically been running through Josh Jacobs in the past two weeks as Jacobs has amassed 123 and 124 rushing yards in each of his past two outings. Jacobs had a slight injury scare after a big run on the first drive last week, but it proved to be no worry as Jacobs played most of the game and still managed to top his career-high in rushing yards. Jacobs has displayed an aggressive running style and consistently makes impeccable cuts to force a ton of missed tackles--helping explain why he is averaging over five yards per carry and has just one game of fewer than 79 rushing yards to start his career. He also has a firm grip on this Oakland backfield despite Deandre Washington continuing to work in for six carries in each of his last four games. The offensive line was without starting left tackle Trent Brown last week as he suffered a calf injury during the bye. Jacobs obviously showed no signs of running behind a downgraded offensive line, but this unit is significantly worse without Brown on the field. He did get in a limited practice late last week, so pending his practice status this week, Brown may be able to suit back up in this one. One thing to monitor here is that Josh Jacobs is not practicing and required an injection to play last week's game. If he is unable to go, this rushing attack would take a major hit this week as it would rely on DeAndre Washington.

It has been four weeks since an opposing running back has rushed for more than 44 yards or a touchdown against the stout Texans run defense. They have held lead running backs to 30, 44, and 44 yards in each of the past three weeks, and if not for a slew of receptions and a couple of touchdowns given up to running backs, this group would likely at the bottom of the list for fantasy points allowed to the position over the last three weeks. They have strong run-defending linebackers and one of the top run-stuffing defensive linemen in D.J. Reader. It also certainly helps to have guys like J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus both healthy and playing well on the edges. The Texans should have a distinct advantage in the trenches this week, and the tackling ability of these linebackers should help against an elusive Josh Jackson.

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


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense at Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Philadelphia Eagles' rushing attack is centered around two offseason additions in the backfield, Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. Howard, a fourth-year running back acquired in a trade with the Chicago Bears, is clearly the superior option on the ground for Philadelphia. So far this season, Howard averages 4.5 yards per carry as opposed to Sanders' mark of 3.5 yards per carry. The distribution of snaps between the two running backs is heavily dependent upon the time and score of the game. In situations that call for a run-heavy gameplan, when the Eagles have the lead deep into the game, Howard dominates the snaps and carries. When Philadelphia trails and they need to move the ball quickly, like last weekend against the Dallas Cowboys, Sanders tends to play significantly more. Howard's efficiency running the ball will likely keep him on the field in place of Sanders in rushing situations, as the rookie has displayed a troubling lack of vision carrying the football. Philadelphia's impressive offensive line has consistently opened up rushing lines for whichever running back has carried the football. In week eight, however, the Eagles' front line will have their hands full against Buffalo's impressive front seven.

So far, in 2019, the Bills' defense ranks 10th in the NFL, allowing just 3.9 yards per carry. In four out of six games, the Bills have held the opposing starting running back to 4.0 yards per carry or less. Buffalo's strength defending the run starts in the trenches with one of the deepest rotations of run-stoppers in the NFL. Headlined by breakout interior lineman Jordan Phillips and rookie Ed Oliver, the Bills' defensive line is one of the NFL's best. On the outside, Trent Murphy and Lorenzo Alexander have done an excellent job containing outside runs so far in 2019, leaving no apparent weakness along the defensive front. Second-year player Tremaine Edmunds is the team's best player in a thin linebacking corps against the run, but a strong run-stopping defensive backfield supports him. In the secondary, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer combine to form one of the NFL's best run-stopping tandems from the secondary. Poyer is one of the surest tacklers in the NFL- he leads the team with 31 total tackles while missing just 1 tackle through six games this season. The Bills have allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs so far in 2019 (using PPR-scoring systems.) The battle of Buffalo's strong front seven against Philadelphia's offensive line will be one of the biggest clashes of strength-against-strength in the NFL in week eight. This will surely be one of the Eagles' toughest tests to date on the ground, but there is no clear advantage one way or the other in this matchup.

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


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Titans rushing offense got back on track last week as Derrick Henry carried 22 times for 90 yards and a touchdown. Henry has now rushed at least 15 times in all seven games and has rushed 20 or more times in three of those outings. Last week marked the fifth time he has finished with 78 or more rushing yards in a game as Henry has been a consistent grinder on the ground. His efficiency is not off the chart, but the unquestioned workload and role in the red zone have been what keeps Henry in consideration on a weekly basis. The offensive line blocked much better last week, living up to what should be a top-10 unit based on the talent they are rolling onto the field. Right tackle Jack Conklin did suffer nearly injury, however, and didn’t return to the game. His status will be worth monitoring as replacement Dennis Kelly would certainly downgrade this line.

The Buccaneers have a legitimate run defense that will make it hard on Derrick Henry and company this week. This group has given up the fewest rushing yards per game (68) and third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. This success comes despite having faced high-quality competition such as Christian McCaffrey (twice), Alvin Kamara behind one of the top offensive lines in football, Todd Gurley, and Saquon Barkley. In both games against McCaffrey, they held him to a total of just 68 rushing yards from 38 carries--an average only 1.8 rushing yards per attempt. Interior linemen Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, and William Gholston have all played a huge part in this success with their dominance in the trenches due to a tough-to-match combination of size and speed. While their linebacker group is not the best, this trio of defensive linemen has been such a strength that it has rarely mattered. Not only has this defense been spectacular to start the season, but they are relatively injury-free and now coming off a bye. The Titans offensive line looked much-improved in run-blocking last week, but they still will have their hands full as this healthy and rested Tampa Bay run defense.

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


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense at New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

It obviously wasn’t encouraging to see David Johnson suit up last Sunday, only to check out after just three snaps. He’s in a complicated place with his back and ankle injuries, and it doesn’t bode well that the team added free agent Alfred Morris this week. It’s safe to view this backfield as a full-blown timeshare, even if Johnson is active. And of the pair, Edmonds has been significantly more effective, averaging 5.6 yards per carry to Johnson’s 3.9. Last Sunday, Edmonds took advantage of massive holes but still showcased his athleticism en route to 126 yards and 3 touchdowns - all from outside the 20. Johnson remains a dynamic open-field weapon - whenever the shaky Arizona line is able to spring him - but has never been very efficient as a grinder. Edmonds is the lead dog here, at least for the time being, and looks poised to actually better Johnson’s recent run-game production. Kyler Murray continues to use his legs more and more, taking 10+ rushes in 3 straight games. Of course, in Week 8 they’ll be reliant upon this line winning a daunting battle with the Saints’ underrated front. It’ll serve as a far greater challenge than last week’s romp over the imploding Giants.

The Saints continue to field one of football’s stingiest run defenses. Dating back to Week 2, they’ve allowed just 58 yards a game (3.3 per carry) to opposing running backs, with just 3 touchdowns over that span. Along the way, they’ve thoroughly limited the likes of Chris Carson (15 for 53), Ezekiel Elliott (18 for 35 and a touchdown), and Leonard Fournette (20 for 72). That says nothing of their dominant Week 7 performance, with Bears running backs managing just 16 yards in all. The interior rotation of David Onyemata, Malcom Brown, and Sheldon Rankins has been stout at the point of attack, freeing up the team’s crew of playmakers to roam the second level. Safety Vonn Bell, in particular, continues to fly under the radar as a menace in the box. He routinely snuffs out the runs that the ho-hum linebacking corps misses. All told, this has blossomed into one of fantasy’s most daunting matchups on the ground. The Cardinals have improved greatly this season on the ground, but these Saints have consistently shut down even more threatening attacks.

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


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense vs Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Buffalo Bills' backfield shifted towards a true running-back-by-committee in week seven with the return of Devin Singletary following a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for over one month. Singletary, the team's third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, has flashed elite explosiveness in his limited NFL action. So far, on just 17 carries, Singletary averages 9.0 yards-per-carry during his rookie season. This uncanny efficiency will inevitably regress, but his ability to break off a long run at any moment will not. Last weekend, in Singletary's return to the fold, he played 39-percent of the Bills' offensive snaps, carrying the ball 7 times for 26 yards against the Miami Dolphins. Buffalo's starter, Frank Gore, played 54-percent of the offensive snaps, tallying 55 yards on 11 carries on the day. On the season, Gore averages a respectable 4.5 yards-per-carry, and he will likely hold onto his job as the team's nominal starter while healthy. However, given the team's investment in Singletary and his flashes of game-breaking talent, the carries in Buffalo's backfield will likely be split between the two backs. The Bills' offensive line is a firmly average unit, lacking either elite or replacement-level players. Gore and Singletary face one of the league's stingiest run defenses this weekend in a difficult matchup with Philadelphia's front seven.

Ezekiel Elliott's week seven eruption against the Eagles marked the first time in 2019 that an opposing starter had either run for over 43 yards or more than 3.0 yards-per-carry on Philadelphia's defense in 2019. On the day, Elliott finished with 111 rushing yards on over 5.0 yards-per-carry against Philadelphia. The Cowboys' elite offensive line played a massive role in Elliott's impressive rushing day, but a few notable absences from Philadelphia's defense may signal that this is a declining unit as a whole. The Eagles released one starting linebacker, Zach Brown, before week seven after he ruffled some feathers with public comments maligning Vikings' quarterback Kirk Cousins. Nigel Bradham, Philadelphia's other starting linebacker to open the 2019 campaign, also missed week seven due to an ankle injury that has his status for week eight in doubt. Behind Philadelphia's strong defensive line that sports two potential All-Pro candidates, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, the linebacking corps is a significant potential weakness in the coming weeks if Bradham misses any additional time. Thankfully, the Eagles' secondary is capable of picking up the slack of a weakened linebacker unit. Philadelphia's leading tackler, safety Malcolm Jenkins, is one of the league's strongest run-stopping defensive backs. At cornerback, although Rasul Douglas is a liability in coverage, he excels on the outside as one of the team's better run defenders. One poor performance is not enough to sound any alarms in Philadelphia, as their run defense was arguably the best in the NFL entering week seven. Expect the Eagles to overpower the Bills in the trenches, leading to a rough afternoon on the ground for both Frank Gore and Devin Singletary.

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


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Browns hopes to get this season turned around relies on Nick Chubb and the rushing offense. The Browns are just two weeks away from getting their insurance policy in Kareem Hunt back into the mix and are in a must-win situation so expect a heavy volume from Chubb who has been the team’s best player so far this season. Chubb has exceeded even the most optimistic projections as the consistency has been outstanding for the running back. Chubb last season relied on long-runs to boost his fantasy performance, but this season even in games in which he does not have a run longer than 20 yards, he is averaging 4.0 yards-per-carry. Running behind Joel Bitonio and J.C. Tretter has helped Chubb as the duo has stabilized this otherwise below-average offensive line.

There’s not much more to say about this Patriots defense that continues to show that they are one of the best defenses that we have seen in quite some time. Having not allowed a rushing touchdown on the season, the Patriots have allowed just two running backs to rush for over 40 yards which were Frank Gore in Week 4 who ran for 109 yards on 17 carries and Le’Veon Bell last week who ran for 70 yards on 15 carries in a blowout performance in which the Patriots shutout the Jets on Monday Night. The Patriots have built this defense with veterans who are disciplined and all know their role. Both Lawrence Guy and Danny Shelton have done a great job just taking up as much space as they can and keeping lineman off of the linebackers which has allowed Jamie Collins to get back to the All-Pro level he was playing at before leaving to Cleveland. If there is a concern on this defense, it is the loss of run-stopping specialist safety Patrick Chung. Chung missing last week was a big reason that Le’Veon Bell found success as when the Patriots get ahead, they play a significant amount of Dime defense which forces Chung down to the linebacker role to shut down the run. He looks like he might be able to play, but Nick Chubb’s outlook would be much better without Chung in the game.

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense at Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Buccaneers roll out a relatively uninspiring rushing offense averaging just 3.8 yards per rush attempt and just under 100 rushing yards per game--both below-average metrics. This backfield has turned into a three-man committee as it was actually Dare Ogunbowale who played more snaps than both Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber combined in their last game against the Panthers. Primarily a big-bodied blocker, Ogunbowale did just that for most of the game as he was in their blocking during a pass-heavy game script. Ogunbowale did convert on a goal-line carry for a touchdown though, taking that work away from the likes of Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber. Jones had led this backfield in carries in the previous three games leading into Week 6, but he saw only four rushes for 10 yards and a touchdown while Peyton Barber rushed eight times for 28 yards. Both have been used as a committee all season long, and that trend has no reason to stop now. The offensive line situation for Tampa Bay will make it tough on any running back to be productive here though. Ranking 32nd by Foiotballguys offensive line guru Matt Bitonti leading into Week 7, this is a very tough unit to trust until their starting right guard and tackle can return to the field.

The Titans had another solid week defending the rush against the Chargers, giving up just 39 yards on the ground to opposing running backs. Melvin Gordon was held to only 2.0 yards per carry with 32 yards from 16 attempts. This group is giving up a below-average 80 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs--tenth-fewest in the league. This run defense was changed in a big way last week though as they received the added bonus of rookie defensive lineman Jeffrey Simmons making his NFL debut. Simmons was sidelined throughout the offseason from an ACL injury but made his return much earlier than expected in last week’s game. He was absolutely dominant in the 20 snaps played--including making a few key plays on the goal-line stand that sealed the win for Tennessee last week. Simmons is a massive physical specimen and adds to what was already a rock-solid interior defensive line with Jurrell Casey and Daquan Jones. Simmons and company will get the pleasure of facing one of the worst offensive lines in football and should post a significant challenge for a meager Buccaneers rushing offense.

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


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Interim head coach Bill Callahan's wish to be a more run-heavy team has come true in his first two games at the helm. Adrian Peterson ran the ball at least 20 times in each of Callahan's two games as head coach, but his health is in question heading into week eight. Peterson is reportedly dealing with multiple ankle sprains, but he claims to be okay. Even if he plays on short rest against the Vikings, he will undoubtedly be operating at less-than 100-percent. One of Peterson's primary backups, Chris Thompson, is also sidelined with a toe injury, and he is doubtful for this week's game. If Peterson and Thompson miss week eight, Wendell Smallwood will likely assume the starting role. Throughout Smallwood's career, he has totaled 224 carries for 4.1 yards-per-carry, and a career-long rush of only 26 yards. Regardless of who is running the ball, the Redskins' backfield is devoid of any above-average running back talent that could be available in week eight. Washington's offensive line is a below-average unit that does their running backs very few favors. Respectable rushing totals from Washington's backfield have primarily been a product of sheer volume and favorable matchups so far this season, but this week against Minnesota projects to be an ugly game against an overpowering defense.

Minnesota's run defense ranks in the top 10 of the NFL across the board. The Vikings have faced minimal rushing volume through the first seven games of the season, as they have mostly played with a lead that typically prevents their opponents from running the football. They are one of just two teams to have only allowed one rushing touchdown so far this season, and they rank ninth in the league allowing just 3.8 yards-per-carry. The Vikings' defensive line is an average unit against the run without any glaring strengths or weaknesses. At linebacker, however, Eric Kendricks is one of the NFL's best run-stoppers. Rankings first on the team and second in the league in tackles, Kendricks fills rushing lanes and finishes the play, unlike any other player at his position. In the secondary, Anthony Harris picked up right where he left off after last season: as one of the NFL's most well-rounded safeties. Harris excels both in coverage and against the run, where he has yet to miss a tackle this year. The Vikings have allowed just 1 100-yard rusher so far in 2019, and the Washington Redskins are an extreme longshot to add to that total on Thursday night. Expect Minnesota to overpower Washington's mediocre offensive line in the trenches while the Vikings' talented run-stoppers at the second and third level finish the job and contain the Redskins' mediocre group of running backs.

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