Week 9 Rushing Matchups

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

Jump to Passing Matchups

Great Matchups: [BUF] [DEN] [MIN] [NYJ] [SF]
Good Matchups: [GB] [OAK] [PHI] [TEN]
Neutral Matchups: [BAL] [CLE] [DAL] [DET] [LAC] [NE] [WAS]
Tough Matchups: [CAR] [IND] [JAX] [MIA] [NYG] [PIT] [TB]
Bad Matchups: [ARI] [CHI] [HOU] [KC] [SEA]


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.


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense vs Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Bills' rushing attack, led by veteran Frank Gore, has been one of the most efficient units in the NFL, ranking fifth in the league with 4.9 yards-per-carry this season. Quarterback Josh Allen is a consistent threat on the ground as one of the league's best athletes at the position. Allen frequently tucks the ball and scrambles on designed passing plays, but the Bills also occasionally call intentional quarterback-runs for him via zone-read-type plays. At running back, Frank Gore, now in his 15th professional season, is averaging over 4.4 yards-per-carry, including over 5 yards-per-carry in 3 out of his last 5 games. Last week's matchup against Philadelphia's top-ranked run defense was one of the toughest matchups the Bills will have all season. In tough passing conditions, the Eagles loaded the box and forced Josh Allen to try to beat them through the air. Rookie Devin Singletary returned from a hamstring two weeks ago, and he is one of the most explosive runners in the league. Although he has seen limited work on the ground this season, with just 20 carries across his 4 games of action, he has already tallied 8 rushes of 10 or more yards. Singletary is the Bills' preferred running back on passing downs, playing a season-high 63-percent of snaps last weekend in the Bills' pass-heavy game playing catchup against the Eagles. Given the team's significant investment in Singletary, coupled with his obvious talent with the ball in his hands, it is only a matter of time before he garners a larger portion of the offense's rushing attempts.

Washington's run defense ranks amongst the league's worst on the aggregate in 2019. They have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, in large-par thanks to the exceptionally high volume of rushing attempts they have had to defend. The Redskins have faced the third-highest number of rushing attempts per game of any team in the NFL this season. While they rank 19th in yards-per-carry allowed, the extreme rushing volume associated with playing from behind has been detrimental to their overall run defense. Along the defensive line, one of the few bright spots for Washington's defense has been defensive tackle Da'Ron Payne. Payne, a second-year player out of Alabama, is one of the NFL's premier run-stuffers along the defensive line. Unfortunately, he receives little support at the second level of the defense, where the Redskins field two of the league's weakest run-stopping linebackers. Jon Bostic has struggled across the board for a few seasons, and 2019 has been no different. Although Cole Holcomb has picked up Bostic's slack against the pass, Holcomb also struggles to defend the run, making for a glaring weak link in Washington's defensive front. In the secondary, safety Landon Collins has made his most significant impact on the Redskins' defense through his run-stopping abilities. Collins leads the team in tackles with 47 on the season, good enough for 5th in the entire NFL. If Buffalo jumps out to another early lead against Washington, a high-volume rushing attack will almost lead to the Bills recording respectable rushing totals across the board, regardless of who carries the ball. Expect Frank Gore and Devin Singletary to get back on track here against Washington's heavily-worked run defense following a rough showing last weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles' elite run defense.

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


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Broncos rushing attack is going to be heavily relied upon throughout the rest of the season with Joe Flacco missing significant time due to a neck injury. Both Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman have been tremendously consistent both averaging over 4.0 yards per carry. What is even more amazing about that is that Freeman has just one carry over 15 yards on the year, and Lindsay who is a speedster has just three carries over 11 yards and no carry over 32 yards. To have a 4.5 yards-per-carry average with only three carries over 11 yards indicates that when you’re touching the ball, you’re gaining yards. While a below-average pass-blocking offensive line, the run blocking is much better and did get Right Tackle Jawaun James back last week, but did re-aggravate it and while miss this week once again. If there is one area of concern it is that Lindsay was added to the injury report with a wrist injury and was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. We still expect that the usage will be somewhat split for this game, but if Lindsay were to be out, expect a significant usage upgrade for Freeman.

The Browns rushing attack held strong against the Patriots last week, but on the season have been a disaster since Christian Kirksey’s season was ended with a torn pectoral. The issue for the Browns has been gap discipline and an overall lack of production up the middle. Rookie Mack Wilson continues to struggle at middle linebacker and Larry Ogunjobi at defensive tackle is not your traditional space-eating run stopper and has done a poor job keeping offensive lineman from getting to the second level. Since Week 3 which was the first week without Kirksey, the Browns have allowed the third-most yards to running backs and are allowing 4.9 yards per carry to the position.

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


Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Minnesota Vikings are, at their core, a run-heavy football team. Head coach Mike Zimmer appointed Kevin Stefanski as the team's offensive coordinator late last season with the explicit instructions to develop a successful and run-heavy offensive attack. In 2019, this has meant Dalvin Cook is one of the league's most-active running backs. Although Cook typically only plays about 68-percent of offensive snaps, he is averaging 19.5 carries and over 100-yards per game. In close games, Cook sees increased playing time, approaching nearly 80-percent of offensive snaps in each of Minnesota's two losses this season. Cook has recorded either 100 yards or 1 touchdown in every game this season, tallying both on 4 separate occasions already. He doesn't run behind a particularly imposing offensive line, but the Vikings are much better in the trenches at run-blocking than they are at pass-blocking. Minnesota's rushing production this season, even after expanding the passing attack over the last four games, has been incredible. A week 9 matchup against Kansas City's depleted run defense sets up perfectly for another impressive afternoon for Dalvin Cook on the ground.

The Kansas City Chiefs have been without their top two defensive linemen in recent weeks, as Frank Clark and Chris Jones have both missed extended time. Both enter week 9 with their status in doubt, leaving Emmanuel Ogbah to try to pick up the slack along the defensive line. Ogbah has been serviceable this season, but his talent and production pale in comparison to what Clark and Jones would likely provide the Chiefs. At linebacker, Reggie Ragland plays sparingly, but he has undoubtedly been the team's best run-stopping player at the second level. Damien Wilson and Anthony Hitchens see the majority of playing time for Kansas City at the second-level, but both are significant liabilities against the run. In the secondary, Tyrann Mathieu is the team's best run-stopper at the back-end of the defense. Opposite Mathieu at safety, rookie Juan Thornhill has impressed in coverage but is struggling against the run thus far in 2019, as he has missed a team-high eight tackles so far this season. Overall, the Chiefs' defense is a banged-up unit, and until they get healthy, they will field one of the league's worst run defenses. They currently rank 4th-worst in the NFL in fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs, and a matchup against the Minnesota Vikings' strong rushing attack will do very little to help improve this number. Expect Dalvin Cook to carry the ball early and often for the Vikings, en-route to another likely 100-yard day.

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


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

Le’Veon Bell may ultimately go down as one of the biggest free agency flops in NFL history. Suffice it to say that his lengthy Pittsburgh hold hasn’t done him any favors. Through 7 games as a Jet, Bell has reached 70 yards on the ground only once, with just a single touchdown along the way. Unsurprisingly, his 3.2 yards per rush is the worst of his six-season career. It’s an open secret that coach Adam Gase wasn’t a proponent of bringing him in at $53 million, and the football world is now seeing why. Bell simply hasn’t looked capable of overcoming the Jets’ shaky offense and producing at a high level. He works behind one of the league’s worst front lines, which badly needs a talent infusion in the offseason. And with the pass game struggling so badly, defenses are focusing extra attention on Bell, pinching off the running lanes he saw so often in Pittsburgh. All told, he’s only a volume-dependent RB2 in fantasy right now, and it’s hard to find much optimism for a turnaround. His new situation just isn’t nearly as attractive as his old one.

Unsurprisingly, the Dolphins have fielded one of football’s weakest run defenses here in 2019. Mired in a full-on rebuild, they’re mostly just experimenting with potential future pieces at this point. As a result, they’ve allowed the league’s second-most yards on the ground, with 5 opposing runners already topping 100. Apart from breakout middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan, this is a front seven that demands serious personnel attention in the offseason. The team’s line rotation lacks a stout, run-stuffing presence, which makes life even harder on the subpar linebacker group. That leads to far too many running lanes opening through the line, and lots of open-field room to turn solid gains into big ones. Le’Veon Bell has produced next to nothing thus far as a Jet, but this week presents his best chance yet at a breakout.

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


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

The 49ers committee backfield has proven to work quite well to start this season as they rank second in the league with 181.1 rushing yards per game. Tevin Coleman continues to lead the way in both snap counts and workload as he exploded for 105 yards and three touchdowns from just 11 carries last week--easily his best outing of the season. Coleman has looked sharp since returning from injury after the Week 4 bye, averaging 4.8 yards per rush and 77 rushing yards per game with a league-leading five rushing touchdowns over that four-game span--of course aided by his huge outing last week. Matt Breida also saw 11 carries last week and continues to play second fiddle to Coleman. Breida remains productive though as he has averaged 5.3 yards per rush on the season. He is battling through an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for part of last week’s game, so keep an eye on his practice status. Outside of Breida and Coleman, Raheem Mostert is the next option in line should Breida be sidelined from his injury. The offensive line has been decent despite battling through multiple injury situations, but they will be much better off when left tackle Joe Staley finally makes his way back from injury. Staley is not expected to suit up on the short week though, which should keep this group near their middle-of-the-pack ranking.

The Cardinals have one of just five defenses to have allowed over 1,000 rushing yards through the first half of the season. They had a couple of strong games to start the season, but this defense has given up 115 rushing yards per game and the 10th-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs since Week 3. An opposing lead running back has rushed for at least 88 yards and/or a touchdown in six straight games since Week 3. Corey Peters remains their best run-stopper up front, but often receiving double-teams on that line, Peters can only do so much once opposing backs make it to this weak linebacker group that has struggled to finish tackles all season. Safety Budda Baker is an excellent run-defender and had a great game with 14 tackles last week, but he too can only do so much especially when rushers have already gained 5-10 yards once they make it to his level. Even without Joe Staley returning to this 49ers offensive line yet, they should still have a good chance to win at the line of scrimmage and continue their dominance on the ground in this one.

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


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Packers rushing offense may not be putting up big numbers, but they look to be a solid unit led by the tandem of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Jones is the lead back here and has played more snaps with more carries than Williams in all but two games this season, and he has looked good running the ball in each of his last four games. Jones accounted for just 67 rushing yards last week as he did most of his damage through the air, but he was elusive when in the open field and did a great job making reads behind his offensive line. Jones did suffer a shoulder injury that sidelined him for a quarter of play last week, but he returned to the game showing no signs of limitation. Williams has played more of a limited role on the ground with just three and seven carries in his past two games, but he did score his first rushing touchdown of the season last week on a goal-line opportunity vultured from Jones. The Packers offensive line also has been playing very well recently as they sport a pair of solid tackles along with rookie left guard Elgton Jenkins, who had a very nice game last week to compliment what has been a solid debut thus far in his NFL career. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga did suffer a hand injury in last week’s game, but reports indicate he plans to play with a protective brace despite the injury.

The Chargers continued to underperform against the rush last week as they gave up over 100 yards and a touchdown to a lead running back for the third time this season. In fact, lead running backs have scored in four straight games with three of them rushing for 90 or more yards as this group has given up the sixth-most fantasy points per game (non-PPR) to running backs since Week 5. The only success this unit has found has been against subpar offensive lines earlier in the season. This is a tough pill to swallow for a defense with such talented defensive ends in Joey Bosa and the now healthy Melvin Ingram, but their interior lineman and linebackers have played poorly enough to bring this group down. It doesn’t help that both starting defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Justin Jones have missed the past two games, especially considering rookie Jerry Tillery still needs time to develop as he has played quite poorly with the additional snaps in recent weeks. The stout Packers offensive line should have the advantage here regardless of whether Mebane and/or Jones are healthy enough to start, and these Chargers linebackers should present little challenge compared to the open-field talent Jones has displayed this season.

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


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense vs Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Josh Jacobs entered last week’s game banged up with a shoulder injury that nearly sidelined him, but he stuck it and played what would end up being a mediocre game as he posted 66 yards from 15 rushing attempts. Jacobs was coming off back-to-back 120+ yard outings, so this game was certainly a regression. Jacobs is still a very talented runner and has plenty of opportunity as the lead rusher despite his lack of snaps and involvement in passing downs. While his shoulder injury could have played a part in the lack of success, a significant reason has to have been the injury to Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson, who was carted off the field in the first quarter and did not return. Jacobs truly struggled after Hudson’s departure, as Hudson was the anchor of this offensive line. While it helps to have both right guard Gabe Jackson and right tackle Trent Brown back in the lineup, the loss of Hudson will be a significant one for this rushing offense moving forward.

The Lions run defense looked better last week as they held Saquon Barkley to his lowest rushing output in a full game this season (64 yards on 19 carries). Damon Harrison was a big part in this bounce-back of a game, as he played well against his former team despite missing some time with a minor groin injury sustained during the game. The other significant change on this defensive line included the return of defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand, who was one of the best rookie interior linemen in football last season. Hand injured his elbow early in training camp, so last week was his first action of the year, and Hand looked spectacular as he led all defensive linemen in snaps while finishing with four solo tackles, one of which was for a loss. With a return from injured lineman Mike Davis also on the radar to possibly happen this week, things are looking up for what was to be a highly touted run defense coming into this season. However, this group still has plenty of liabilities at linebacker and within the secondary that have played a big part in why they have given up the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs through Week 8. While things certainly are looking up and the Lions may have the edge in the trenches with a Rodney Hudson-less Raiders line, this group still cannot be trusted as a viable run-stopping unit until they show consistency week over week.

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


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

After making significant offseason investments in solidifying the team's backfield, the Philadelphia Eagles have deployed an unexpectedly run-heavy offensive approach throughout the first half of the 2019 season. Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders have split time and carries for the Eagles throughout the season. Sanders typically plays more when Philadelphia is playing from behind, and Howard sees more action when the team is playing with a lead. Last weekend, Miles Sanders suffered a shoulder injury that knocked him out of action early. After he rattled off a 65-yard touchdown thanks to creative play design and exceptional blocking, he finished the day with 3 carries for 74 yards and 1 touchdown. Jordan Howard handled the majority of work following Sanders' injury, playing a season-high 73-percent of snaps for Philadelphia. Howard finished the day with 23 carried for 96 yards and 1 touchdown against the Buffalo Bills. The exceptionally run-heavy attack was a byproduct of brutal weather conditions, with gusting winds throughout the game decreasing the efficiency of the passing game. Sanders will likely return to action in week 9, resuming his role in the Eagles' running-back-by-committee approach. Sanders and Howard will continue to split carries, with Howard posting more consistent and impressive numbers on a per-carry basis. Regardless of which running back carries the ball, they will be fortunate enough to run behind one of the NFL's best offensive lines. Expect Philadelphia to turn towards Sanders and Howard frequently once again in week 9, especially if the Eagles jump out to a lead at home over the Chicago Bears.

The Chicago Bears have posted middle-of-the-road numbers against the run thus far in 2019. On the season, the Bears have allowed the 13th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, using the standard scoring system. Chicago ranks 19th in the league in rushing touchdowns allowed, with 7 thus far this season. The team's efficiency numbers are strong, allowing just 3.6 yards-per-carry. However, this is largely a product of a weak schedule to this point in the season. In the three games defensive tackle Akiem Hicks has missed due to injury, the Bears have allowed at least one rushing touchdown in each game and the third most fantasy points to opposing running backs including two 119 yard or more games to Latavius Murray and Josh Jacobs. Khalil Mack is still one of the league's most impactful defenders in the trenches against the run, but without Hicks on the interior, teams can key on Mack with frequent double teams and increased attention when run-blocking. At linebacker, Danny Trevathan has impressed in 2019 as one of the league's leading tacklers, with 47 total tackles on the season. Trevathan's 2019 campaign has been one of the most impressive of any linebacker defending the run. Roquan Smith, the Bears' other inside linebacker, has regressed since last year and is struggling to defend the run in his second NFL season. In the secondary, HaHa Clinton-Dix is one of the most well-rounded safeties in the NFL, as an active contributor against both the run and the pass. All-around, the Bears field a serviceable group of run blockers, but over the last four games, they have allowed each starting running back to run for at least 100 yards or a touchdown in every game. If the Eagles get out to an early lead against the Bears and run the ball in volume, they will likely win the battle in the trenches against Chicago's weakened defensive front. While projecting workload for each respective running back in Philadelphia's backfield is difficult. Whoever ends up carrying the ball behind the Eagles' elite offensive line will have ample opportunities to make an impact against the Bears' run defense that is missing Akiem Hicks desperately.

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


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense at Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Titans rushing offense has been far from an efficient unit this season, averaging just 3.7 yards per attempt as a team and now ranking slightly below average on the season with a total of 98.3 rushing yards per game. Derrick Henry actually has more runs for negative yards than any other running back in the league. While he still has high volume and role security on his side, his lack of efficiency has certainly limited his fantasy ceiling through the first half of this season. The Titans offensive line certainly has played a big role in this though, as they have been an inconsistent unit struggling with injuries and the early suspension of Taylor Lewan. Right tackle Jack Conklin is battling through a quad injury, while Last week both Lewan and left guard Rodger Saffold had to leave the game with injuries. Saffold is in the league’s concussion protocol and will be questionable coming into Week 9.

This Panthers defense was ripped apart entirely by the 49ers last week as they gave up a staggering 51 points on the scoreboard. The 49ers running backs amassed 206 yards and four touchdowns on the ground as they had a field day against these Panthers linebackers and defensive line. The Panthers front seven actually has plenty of talent with names like Gerald McCoy and Luke Kuechly, but they have undoubtedly struggled against the run on more than one occasion and are now giving up the second-most rushing yards per attempt (5.0) and the league’s most rushing touchdowns (12). The past three games, in particular, have been rough as this group has given up the most fantasy points per game to running backs over that span--allowing the four touchdowns and over 200 yards last week, giving up two touchdowns to the bottom-tier Buccaneers rushing offense in Week 6, and coughing up 108 rushing yards and a touchdown to Leonard Fournette in Week 5. If the Titans offensive line can get its act together, this defense should allow Derrick Henry a decent opportunity to post some big numbers.

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


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense vs New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Ravens rushing offense continues to go through Lamar Jackson who has now rushed for 66 yards or more in each of the last four games and the last two games he has been even more impressive rushing for 152 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals and 116 yards and a touchdown last week against the Ravens. He is averaging 15.7 carries per game over the last three weeks compared to Mark Ingram who is averaging just 14.7. Ingram has cooled off since his hot start over the first three weeks as he is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry in his last three games. With the Ravens coming off a bye, Jackson and the rushing game will once again look to be a major part of this game as they have been all season.

New England’s run defense is one that is tough to get a gauge on as they have faced an incredibly poor schedule that has led them to outscore their opponents by an average of 23 points per game which has forced teams to abandon their running game. For teams that have remained committed to the run, they have had success as we saw last week where the Browns ran Nick Chubb 20 times for 131 yards. On the season the Patriots have allowed 4.6 yards-per-carry which is the 12th worst in the NFL even though they have allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game. The real question will be once the Patriots are in a close game, how does their run defense hold up, as they have been playing a lot of Dime defense with their run-stopping tackles Danny Shelton and Lawrence Guy off the field. This is a defense that is built to get the lead and shut your offense down against the pass, but it still has all the makings of a good run-stopping unit when it needs to be as Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower and Elandon Roberts are all tremendous linebackers in the base 4-3 defense.

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


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

What Nick Chubb is doing is remarkable this season as he seemingly is getting better as the season progresses. Last week, Chubb in a difficult matchup against New England ran for 131 yards on 20 carries which is now the third time in four games that Chubb has run for over 120 yards. This is an offensive line that is built from the inside out as the strength is behind center J.C. Tretter and left guard Joel Bitonio and the Browns are running behind the two veterans. If there is a concern for Chubb and this rushing attack it is the recent trend of fumbling for Chubb who now has three lost fumbles over the last two games. Chubb had not fumbled in a game since his junior season at Georgia in 2016, so whether it is him trying to do too much to help this team or just random variance it is something to keep an eye on for a player who has no history of fumbling issues.

Denver’s run defense is a tough one to gauge as it is difficult to get past the Jaguars game in which they allowed Leonard Fournette to rush for 225 yards and Ryquell Armstead to add another 42 yards rushing. However, everything before that game and everything since that game has this pegged as a unit that is average to slightly above average. They have not allowed a 100-yard rusher outside of Fournette, and have allowed just one rushing touchdown since Week 4. While it is a defense that is designed to stop the pass and A.J. Johnson has been a tackling machine at middle linebacker for the Broncos stepping in for Josey Jewell who was benched after the Leonard Fournette game. Nick Chubb will get his yards, but do not expect this defense to be as bad as they were when they faced Jacksonville.

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


Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Dallas' offense enters week 9 coming off a strong all-around performance in week seven against the Philadelphia Eagles, followed by a week 8 bye, which will go a long way towards ensuring the team's overall health for the final half of the season. In week seven, the Cowboys became the only team this season to successfully run the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles this season. Ezekiel Elliott finished the day with 22 carries for 111 yards and 1 touchdown, becoming the lone starting running back to run for more than 43 yards or 4.0 yards-per-carry against the Eagles' stout run defense. As a true bell-cow running back, Elliott has seen at least 18 carries in every game except 2 this season; 1 being the season opener following a holdout that lasted the entire preseason, and the other being a blowout loss at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. Elliott also runs behind one of the league's best offensive lines. In week seven, the entire Dallas starting offensive line returned to action for the first time since week four. Now, following a bye week, the Cowboys should be at full-strength once again in the trenches, where they will have a significant advantage over the New York Giants' defense. Dallas fields top-tier talent at every position necessary for a strong rushing attack, and when they are healthy, they are almost impossible to stop on the ground.

The New York Giants defense features a surprisingly strong run defense. They have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season, which is mostly a product of the extremely high rushing volume they have faced, as they have constantly trailed in games. The strength of the Giants' run defense is definitively along the defensive line. Dexter Lawrence, B.J. Hill, and Dalvin Tomlinson make for a strong trio of run-stopping defensive linemen, as all three grade as well-above-average run defenders. The Giants also made a trade before the deadline to acquire defensive lineman Leonard Williams from the New York Jets. Williams is another above-average run defender to enter the mix, but it is unknown how much he will feature in this Monday's matchup against Dallas, after less than a week with the team. At linebacker, David Mayo is a strong run defender, but Alec Ogletree struggles in this regard. Whereas Mayo is a large and physical linebacker, Ogletree is an undersized and speedy player that struggles in the trenches against the run. In the secondary, veteran Antoine Bethea continues to contribute to his team's run-stopping efforts, even in his age-35 season. Jabrill Peppers, on the other hand, is a horrific run-stopper. Peppers is one of the league's smallest safeties, and it shows when he attempts to come down towards the line of scrimmage to help in run-support. Peppers has already missed 12 tackles this season, twice as many as the next worst total on the Giants' defense. In total, the Giants field a defense with a definitive strength in the trenches, along with a few significant play-makers and weak links at the second and third levels of the defense. Week 9's matchup against the Dallas Cowboys will be an entertaining clash of strength-against-strength in the trenches. Ultimately, expect the Cowboys elite offensive line to win the battle at the line of scrimmage, leaving Ezekiel Elliott to exploit the Giants' weaknesses at linebacker and in the secondary.

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


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Lions tried to establish the run last week, but they struggled mightily in their first game without top running back Kerryon Johnson (Injured Reserve). Four different running backs played at least 24 percent of the snaps as Ty Johnson led the way in snaps by a narrow margin, finishing with seven carries for 25 yards as he had a couple of decent runs called back due to penalties. However, it was actually Tra Carson who received the start and led this backfield with 12 carries for 34 yards despite just joining the team barely a week prior to that game. Both Paul Perkins and J.D. McKissic also mixed in on the ground in limited fashions. Despite predictions of Ty Johnson leading the way, this backfield appears to be a confusing mess at the moment and is likely one worth avoiding for fantasy purposes until a clear leader emerges.

This Raiders run defense has been relatively impressive in recent weeks, giving up just the fourth-fewest rushing yards per game (non-PPR) to opposing running backs since Week 4. Lead running backs have averaged 3.7 yards per carry over that span while only Carlos Hyde, last week, exceeded 50 rushing yards. The Raiders did allow Deshaun Watson to run all over them for 46 yards last week, but they shouldn’t have that problem with Matt Stafford in this one. The Oakland defensive line continues to be their strength, particularly on the interior with Johnathan Hankins and P.J. Hall playing very well. The Raiders linebackers proved again last week how much of a liability they can be though, as they played a big part in letting Watson run wild while missing more than their fair share of tackles. While the Raiders should have an advantage between the tackles, Lions running backs in space could certainly break off some big runs this weaker run-defending Raiders secondary and linebacker group.

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


Los Angeles Chargers Rushing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Melvin Gordon plodded along to another mediocre showing with just 31 rushing yards in last week’s game. Gordon did find the end zone for the first time this season on a 19-yard run, but that one play accounted for over half his yards on an otherwise highly uninspiring day that depicted much of what Gordon has shown us since his return from the holdout. He lacks explosiveness and has struggled to find his running lanes in all four games he has played in. Nevertheless, Gordon continues to out-snap and out-touch Austin Ekeler, who is having a similar lack of success rushing the ball with just 31 yards from 16 rushing attempts over his last four games. It doesn’t help that this offensive line is a low-tier unit that has been plagued by injuries all season long. They did receive a big boost from the return of left tackle Russell Okung last week, but Okung’s presence was a minimal help to the rushing offense due to how ineffective the interior of this offensive line remains.

The Packers run defense has struggled with consistency all season, and they had a mediocre outing last week as they allowed Chiefs running backs to combine for 80 rushing yards and a touchdown from 18 attempts. This group has talent upfront with Kenny Clark anchoring their interior defensive line, but they also have a liability in the likes of Montravius Adams, who seems to be losing favor on rushing downs due to his poor performance. The Packers linebackers have also proven they can be beaten, as they played big roles in giving up huge games to the likes of Dalvin Cook in Week 2 and Josh Jacobs two weeks ago. This week, however, the Chargers offensive line simply does not match up well against this Packers front--particularly on the interior as Chargers guards and centers have struggled all season long. This relative mismatch should allow Kenny Clark to significantly disrupt anything the Chargers try to run between the tackles.

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


New England Patriots Rushing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

New England’s rushing offense continues to be inconsistent in 2019. Even in a great matchup, Sony Michel averaged just 3.5 yards per carry which has been the trend this year as he has just one game over 4.0 yards per carry and is now averaging just 3.3 yards per carry on the season. The issue for Michel is that there are too many plays that go for no yardage as he looks to make a big play. This led running backs coach Ivan Fears to come out and say on Tuesday that he needs to be more consistent which will lead to him being more productive overall. The good news for Michel is that the Patriots remain committed to him as both James White and Rex Burkhead played a non-factor in the rushing game with Burkhead having just 3 carries and White having just 2 compared to Michel’s 21 carries.

Outside of a fantastic performance by Nick Chubb in which he ran for 165 yards and three touchdowns, Baltimore’s defense has been a solid run-stopping unit. Over the last three weeks, Baltimore held Chris Carson to 65 yards on 21 carries, Joe Mixon to just 10 yards, and James Conner to 55 yards. While they no longer have the elite middle linebacker in C.J. Mosley but should get Patrick Onwuasor back who has been out since Week 5. Replacement Josh Bynes has played tremendously and has earned playing time for the Ravens as Onwuasor played a big role in Nick Chubb’s breakout game. The weakness on this defense is at the outside linebacker position in Matthew Judon and rookie Jaylon Ferguson who have both struggled as they are both better pass rushers than run stoppers. While not the elite Ravens defense that we have become accustomed to as they are only allowing 4.3 yards-per-carry which is about league average, the Ravens have allowed the fewest rushing attempts so far this season as they play ball control with their offense and drive a game script that forces opponents to throw the ball.

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


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense at Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Washington's interim head coach Bill Callahan has not mixed words when talking to the media; he wants the Redskins to run the ball early and often this season while he is at the helm. Callahan was appalled with how pass-heavy the Washington offense was earlier this season under Jon Gruden, and he has changed this almost immediately after taking over. In the three games since being named head coach, Callahan has turned to veteran running back Adrian Peterson to lead Washington's offense. Peterson has played no less than 63-percent of snaps in any of the last 3 games, tallying at least 14 carries in each game. There have been two outliers in this three-game sample, however, with one outing being a rare victory over the tanking Miami Dolphins and another in torrential rain against the San Francisco 49ers. Washington's offensive line has done Peterson no favors this season, as they rank towards the bottom of the NFL in all run-blocking metrics. While left tackle Trent Williams made headlines after the trade deadline by stating his intent to report to the team this week, he reportedly has no plans of playing for Washington in 2019. Expect Adrian Peterson to continue to see an unusually high number of carries for a running back on a team perpetually playing from behind this season. His efficiency numbers have been unimpressive so far in 2019, and there is no reason to believe that will change any time soon.

Through seven games in the 2019 season, the Buffalo Bills have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. This mediocre ranking is largely due to the nine rushing touchdowns they have given up. The main issue for Buffalo's defense is simply finishing tackles when they are in a position to make a play. Along the defensive line, Trent Murphy, Jerry Hughes, and Star Lotulelei have all impressed blowing up blockers and filling rushing lines. However, all three have been horrific tacklers this season, allowing opposing running backs to break through and reach the second and third levels of the defense far too often. At linebacker, Tremaine Edmunds is an intelligent player that also fills rushing lanes well. Unfortunately, he, too, has struggled mightily to wrap up and finish plays. Matt Milano, Buffalo's other primary linebacker, is a liability against the run in all aspects of the game, leaving Buffalo without a difference-maker against the run anywhere in the front seven. The Bills' strength against the run comes in the secondary. At safety, Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are two of the league's strongest run-stopping safeties. Poyer leads the Bills in tackles this season with 34 total tackles and just 2 missed tackles. Since arriving in Buffalo two years ago, Micah Hyde has consistently ranked amongst the NFL's top safeties in run support, and 2019 has been no different. Buffalo's inability to tackle has greatly hampered the team's overall run defense this season. In week 9, the Washington Redskins' high-volume rushing attack will provide a great opportunity for the Bills to finally right the ship and fully shut down an opposing rushing attack. Washington's offensive line is one of the weakest units in the NFL, and an aging Adrian Peterson in the backfield lacks the elusiveness he possessed in his younger days.

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


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Christian McCaffrey continued to shine last week despite the poor overall performance from this Carolina Panthers team as they were blown out by San Francisco. McCaffrey ran just 14 times but amassed 117 rushing yards and a touchdown while also playing his usual big role in the passing game. Even with the 14 rushes being a season-low, McCaffrey still rushed for over 100 yards for the fourth time while finding the end zone in his fifth straight game. He ranks fourth in the NFL with 735 rushing yards and tied for second with eight rushing touchdowns despite having already passed his bye week. He has been and should continue to be the center of this offense, regardless of who is at quarterback. His offensive line is also getting better as the bye week allowed right guard Trai Turner to get back on the field to complete what is now a relatively complete unit that ranks in the top-third according to Matt Bitonti of Footballguys.

The Titans defense continues to play well against the run, limiting opposing running backs the eighth-fewest fantasy points per game (non-PPR scoring) through the first half of the season. They rightfully excelled last week against one of the league’s worst backfields, holding Tampa Bay running backs to just 2.4 yards per rush attempt--marking the second straight week in which they have held opposing running backs to fewer than 2.5 yards per carry. They have held lead running backs to fewer than 40 rushing yards in three of their last five games while giving up just one rushing touchdowns to such lead running backs over that span. The Titans did give up a few big runs to Jameis Winston last week, however, while also allowing at least 18 rushing yards by an opposing quarterback in four other games through their first seven outings. They shouldn’t have to worry about that problem with Kyle Allen this week, but they certainly must worry about Christian McCaffrey--as he is the best running back this Titans team has faced to date. The Titans defensive line matches up well with Carolina and should have the advantage in the trenches, but McCaffrey remains a dangerous threat with the ball in his hands.

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


Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Averaging 20 rushes a game, Marlon Mack continues to function as one of football’s truest ground-game workhorses. Still, he hasn’t been efficient on a very regular basis. Mack has essentially traded off good games with bad, topping 130 yards twice but falling below 55 in three others. His 4.3 yards per carry has been a step back from the 4.7 of last year’s breakout. The Andrew Luck-less Colts lean heavily on Mack as their centerpiece, so he’ll continue to see strong volume and opportunity in most game scripts. He also benefits from a stout front line, currently ranked fifth by Footballguys’ Matt Bitonti with an A+ run-blocking grade. The Steelers present a formidable Week 9 challenge, but Mack can always be counted for opportunity if nothing else.

The Steelers are reclaiming their long-held place as a dominant run defense. They’ve yet to allow an 80-yard rusher this season, and they’ve given up just 4 touchdowns on the ground. It’s encouraging that they’ve held up so well over the past 2 weeks - running backs have totaled just 75 yards over that span - with star down lineman Stephon Tuitt on injured reserve. Tuitt is a true difference-maker, but this is a deep unit that remains especially stout across the line. Cameron Heyward is a wrecking ball in both phases of the defense; against the run, he’s powerful and dynamic, capable of both occupying blockers and finishing plays himself. The linebackers have been average at best, with rookie Devin Bush continuing to work out the kinks as a dizzying sideline-to-sideline playmaker. But the dominant play of the line has papered over many of those issues. All told, this again looks like one of football’s stingiest units. The Colts boast a powerful front line and a capable workhorse in Marlon Mack, but still project to struggle in this matchup.

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


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense vs Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Leonard Fournette has developed into a dynamic NFL back, though he’s still not yet a very consistent one. Over 29 NFL games, he’s averaged 78 yards but finished north of 4.0 per rush in just 12 of them. Last week was vintage Fournette: he ripped off a 66-yard scamper up the middle on his first carry, then totaled just 10 on his next 18. Never a strong short-yardage runner, Fournette managed all of minus-seven yards on six attempts from inside the 10, and was twice dropped for big losses. Not all of that was Fournette’s fault, though, as the Jaguars were manhandled up front by the Jets’ stout run defense. Left tackle Cam Robinson and left guard Andrew Norwell were hobbled entering the game, which is worth monitoring; Fournette fell apart last year when Norwell went on injured reserve. Still, it’s encouraging that he’s dominating the Jacksonville backfield and seemingly always capable of huge runs - he leads the league in 20+ yard gains. That gives him a boost in both floor and ceiling, keeping him a weekly RB1 option regardless of the situation.

The Texans have shown well in run defense for most of the year. Despite facing an imposing lineup of runners, they’ve allowed only two - Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara - to top 70 yards on the ground. Marlon Mack (18 carries for 44 yards), Josh Jacobs (15 for 66), Devonta Freeman (11 for 30), and Leonard Fournette in this very matchup (15 for 47) have been limited or shut down in this matchup. That said, it remains to be seen how effective this crew will be with J.J. Watt on injured reserve. Watt’s Hall of Fame-level dominance in the trenches - he managed to both absorb blocking and chase down plays in the backfield - has long done wonders for the overachieving linebackers. Zach Cunningham and Benardrick McKinney are mediocre playmakers, but solid tacklers who can clean up inside. With Watt out, they’ll need to create more space on their own and chase down more plays, especially with chunk-gain specialist Fournette coming back for more.

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


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

The Dolphins continued to wave the white flag this week, trading away explosive yet limited running back Kenyan Drake. In doing so, they’re handing over most of the run game to second-year man Mark Walton, who’s looked serviceable in his brief audition. He’s averaged 4.2 yards per rush, well ahead of what Drake and Kalen Ballage were producing before. Still, Walton’s upside is firmly capped in this toothless offense. He runs behind arguably the league’s worst front line (currently ranked 29th by our Matt Bitonti), and he’s done no favors by the team’s anemic passing game. And when the Dolphins do work their way into scoring position, Walton cedes goal-line work to Ballage, who’s vultured two recent touchdowns. All told, neither projects to much further production, even with the modest boost in volume. There are simply too many factors working against their chances at week-to-week fantasy value.

New coordinator Gregg Williams, as he so often does, has instantly brought serious life to the Jets run defense. Williams bounces around the league as much as anyone, but routinely creates top-10 rushing units out of whole cloth wherever he goes. These Jets have allowed the league’s 10th-fewest ground yards and just the second-fewest per carry. Only Ezekiel Elliott has cleared 80 yards in this matchup, and last Sunday, Leonard Fournette was mostly neutralized on his way to just 76. Still, at the moment, there’s transition in the air. The team traded away former No. 6 pick Leonard Williams this week, and while he’d long underachieved as a Jet, he leaves a new hole in the depth chart up front. Even worse, prized free agent linebacker C.J. Mosley has been shut down for the next 5-6 weeks with his recurring groin injury. This group has gotten by nicely thus far on scheme, but replacements Blake Cashman and James Burgess have been shaky at best. The pressure is on tackles Quinnen Williams and Steve McClendon to control the trenches and keep the second level clean, or this impressive unit could backslide quickly.

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


New York Giants Rushing Offense vs Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The New York Giants had sky-high expectations for running back Saquon Barkley when they used the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to bring the former-Penn State Nittany Lion to town. Barkley has met or exceeded all projections for his first 1.5 professional seasons, frequently making something out of nothing and posting consistently-strong rushing totals in spite of poor offensive line play. In 2019, the Giants have had the same five offensive linemen on the field for every offensive snap, and while the continuity helps, it will not fully compensate for the lack of run-blocking talent they have. Saquon Barkley has tallied at least 18 carries in 3 out of his 4 full games this season, playing at least 79-percent of New York's offensive snaps in every game. Barkley is a bell-cow running back in every sense of the word, and his supreme talent level is undeniable. The second-year running back's ability to salvage an impressive rushing performance thanks to one long-run has been on full display already this season against the Dallas Cowboys. He broke off a 59-yarder in week one, giving him 120 rushing yards on just 11 carries for the game. While the outlook heading into week nine is bleak for Barkley's expected rushing efficiency, his unmatched talent level makes him a constant threat to post gaudy rushing totals.

The Dallas Cowboys field one of the NFL's deepest and most well-rounded defenses in all phases of the game. Demarcus Lawrence, a player primarily knowns and recognized for his pass-rushing prowess, continues to dominate opposing tackles to disrupt rushing attacks on the edge. The rest of Dallas' defensive line is filled with serviceable run-stoppers, but none are especially notable. Then, Jaylon Smith is one of the NFL's best young players at the linebacker position. Smith entered this season as one of Dallas' most exciting players following an exceptional showing in training camp. He has carried over this strong performance in practice onto the field during the regular season, as leads the team with 37 total tackles so far this season. Leighton Vander Esch, another promising young linebacker for the Cowboys, has regressed in run-support this season. Last year, Vander Esch was one of the NFL's most impressive rookies, dominating in run defense and setting sky-high expectations for his 2019 campaign. Unfortunately, he has yet to take the next step in his development this season, but after such a strong rookie year, there is reason to believe he will right the ship sooner rather than later. Dallas' secondary is filled with capable run-stoppers, but none that make any headlines. All of the team's cornerbacks are capable of fighting off wide receiver blocks to contain outside rushing plays, while neither starting safety is a glaring weakness in run-support. In total, the Dallas Cowboys field a deep and talented group of run-stoppers in 2019. They rank firmly in the middle-of-the-pack across the board in run defense metrics, but there are candidates for likely improvement in the second half of the 2019 season that could help improve those numbers. On Monday night, Saquon Barkley will likely be in for a long day at the office, as his offensive line will be at a serious disadvantage in the trenches against Dallas' deep unit of capable run-stoppers.

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


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

James Conner’s 145-yard Week 8 eruption - his first finish of the year above 55 - came at a potentially high cost. Conner went down late while icing the Steelers’ win over the Dolphins, and there’s still not much clarity on his shoulder injury. (The team’s No. 3 back, Benny Snell, also left the game hurt.) If Conner can’t suit up Sunday, the reins will be handed to Jaylen Samuels, who’s returning from a knee sprain of his own. Neither Conner (3.9 yards per carry) nor Samuels (2.8) has been effective on the whole, but they’ll at least have hefty volume on their sides as the Steelers look to ease the burden on quarterback Mason Rudolph. They’ll also run behind one of the league’s strongest run-blocking lines, which boasts an elite interior duo of Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro. They’re adept at the point of attack and creative on the move, so perhaps a full-time role would suit the shifty Samuels well. He did rack up 195 yards on 31 attempts in two late starts last season.

The Colts run defense has tightened majorly since a rough start to the year. Dating back to Week 5, they’ve allowed just 3.5 yards per carry to running backs, with only one (Phillip Lindsay) topping 40 yards. On the year, the Colts have given up just three rushing touchdowns - and only one since Week 3. Now fully healthy with All-Pro middle linebacker Darius Leonard back in place, this unit looks poised to pick up where it left off in a dominant 2018. Denico Autry and Grover Stewart lead a quietly impressive rotation up front, helping to keep Leonard clean in pursuit on the second level. This may not be a shutdown matchup for fantasy purposes, but it’s certainly trending that way.

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Presiding over possibly the league’s weakest run game, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians still can’t bring himself to hand Ronald Jones the featured role. Jones is far more dynamic than Peyton Barber, and the high-octane offense could use the balance. Of course, Jones has done himself few favors in the race, averaging just 3.5 over the past 4 games. Still, some positive regression could be on the menu. The Buccaneers have faced an unlucky schedule in terms of run defenses, and Jones has flashed on a handful of chunk runs. Barber hasn’t run for more than 32 yards since Week 3. He continues to plod along, picking up little yardage that’s not blocked for him, and he’s no longer a viable fantasy option. Arians has never been very imaginative with his run game, so it’s unwise to expect much of a spontaneous breakout for Jones. This simply isn’t a scheme that asks for much dynamism from its backs.

A bit under the radar, the Seahawks continue to field one of football’s stingiest run defenses. They’ve allowed a hefty 4.9 yards per rush overall, but that number has been skewed majorly by a handful of big-gainers. They’ve faced a daunting list of runners that includes Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, James Conner, David Johnson, and Lamar Jackson. And of those names, only Chubb and Jackson managed to reach 70 yards on the day. Last week, Devonta Freeman found little room to run en route to just 39 on 13 attempts of his own. It’s easy to see why: the Seahawks have patched together a fantastic interior line rotation of Quinton Jefferson, Poona Ford, and Al Woods. They’ve been borderline-dominant at occupying blockers inside and keeping runs under control. As a result, opposing runners simply haven’t been given creases to test Seattle’s mediocre linebackers. It’s worth noting, of course, that Chubb and Jackson were able to, and that they created a few chunk runs in the process. But on the whole, this is best viewed as something close to a shutdown matchup for Week 9. It’s hard to project anything of note for the Buccaneers’ uninspiring duo of Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber.

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


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

The Cardinals rushing offense has been all over the place in recent weeks given the injuries plaguing both starting running backs. David Johnson went down in Week 6 with an ankle injury and has yet to play a full game since then. Chase Edmonds ran wild in Week 7 before also succumbing to injury in last week’s game as he suffered a hamstring strain that is expected to keep him off the field for at least three weeks. With neither Johnson nor Edmonds healthy, a Thursday night game this week was looking grim for the Cardinals until they landed former Dolphins starter Kenyan Drake in a trade earlier this week. While Drake only has three days to prepare for Thursday night, he certainly could be in for a decent workload as the Cardinals have minimal reliable options behind him--albeit, Cardinals coaching staff acknowledged Drake is not expected to have a full workload given the lack of preparation time. Drake should benefit from lighter boxes with the Cardinals as they run more 10 and 11 personnel in addition to a competent quarterback and much more talented weapons around him on offense than what Miami had to work with. The Cardinals offensive line is not much of an upgrade for Drake though, as they are a slightly below-average unit with weaknesses at tackle and center from a run blocking perspective.

The 49ers are fielding one of the best defenses in football this season as this unit is giving up a league-low 224.4 total yards of offense per game and the second-fewest total points per game at just 11. A dominant defensive line has played a big part in those stats, in addition to the fact that opposing running backs have scored just the third-fewest fantasy points per game (non-PPR) when facing the 49ers. It took seven games for a team to score on the ground against this group as they just allowed their first rushing touchdown to Christian McCaffrey in their worst outing of the season last week. Even with one questionable outing, this defensive line still remains one of, if not the, best in the league. While their strength is rushing the passer, Deforest Buckner and Arik Armstead represent some stout run-stoppers while Nick Bosa has shown he can fly all over the field to make plays. This defensive line makes up for any inadequacies of their linebacker group, which is not the strongest in football by any means. The lower-tier Cardinals offensive line should really struggle in this one as Kenyan Drake could be in for a tough debut with his new team.

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


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

David Montgomery broke out in week 8, recording season-highs in snaps, carries, and rushing yards for the Chicago Bears. In a close game against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Bears made a concerted effort to establish the run game. In a press conference earlier in the week, Chicago's head coach and play-caller, Matt Nagy, said, "I know we need to run more. I'm not an idiot." Nagy put his metaphoric money where is mouth is in week 8, in the Bears' highest-volume rushing game of the season. While Montgomery's role was limited early in the season, he now has totaled over four-times as many carries as Tarik Cohen, the Bears' highest-volume rusher. Chicago's offensive line is much better at pass-blocking than run-blocking. So far, in 2019, the Bears' offensive line has been unable to consistently win the battle in the trenches, leaving David Montgomery very few opportunities for chunk-plays on the ground. In run-heavy games that the Bears lead, Montgomery sees the bulk of the playing time and action on the ground. However, in games that Chicago is playing from behind, Tarik Cohen, the team's passing-down running back, absorbs a large portion of Montgomery's playing time. This weekend, the Bears go on the road to take on the Eagles as five-point underdogs, which will likely lead to a heavy dose of Tarik Cohen. Whether it is Cohen or Montgomery carrying the rock for the Chicago Bears in week 9, they will have their work cut out for them, attempting to run against Philadelphia's elite run defense.

Aside from one bad showing in week seven against the Dallas Cowboys' top-tier offensive line, the Philadelphia Eagles have dominated in the trenches, stifling every opposing rushing attack along the way. On the season, Ezekiel Elliott is the only opposing starter to rush for over 43 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles. Frank Gore's mark of just 3.87 yards-per-carry from last weekend is also the most efficient non-Ezekiel Elliott performance against the Eagles' run defense this season. The Eagles' strength starts in the trenches, where Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox are two of the league's best defensive linemen. Graham and Cox, both Pro Bowl and potential All-Pro talents, are one of the best run-stopping pairs along any defensive line in the entire NFL. Their strength up front largely makes up for the Eagles' relative shortcomings at the linebacker position. With Nigel Bradham missing time with an ankle injury, and after releasing Zach Brown two weeks ago, the Eagles have been forced to play two backups, Nathan Gerry and Kamu Grugier-Hill, at linebacker. Gerry and Grugier-Hill have both posted respectable run-stopping numbers in the past. However, neither has ever played significant playing time the way the Eagles currently need them to. Through approximately two full-games of action, both Gerry and Grugier-Hill have struggled as full-time linebackers. Bradham's potential return this weekend may not solve the problem, either, as he grades as one of the team's worst run-stoppers this season. In the secondary, Malcolm Jenkins stands out as a premier run-stopper at the safety position. Jenkins leads the Eagles in tackles this season, and his propensity to play around the line of scrimmage and support Philadelphia's weak linebacking corps has been essential to their run-stopping efforts. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has undoubtedly prioritized stopping the run in 2019, and his unit has followed through, allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season. Expect David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen to struggle on the ground in week 9 when they go on the road to face off against one of the NFL's toughest run defenses.

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


Houston Texans Rushing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The new-look Texans ground attack utilizes a three-pronged weapon of Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson, and quarterback Deshaun Watson. And they’ve been successful thus far, sitting sixth league-wide in yardage per game and 10th per rush. Hyde is no game-breaker - he’s turned just 5 of his 130 attempts into 15+ yards - but has seemingly found his niche as a grinding, early-down runner in the Texans’ wide-open offense. He’s topped 55 yards in 6 of his 8 games, capitalizing well on game flow and opportunity. Hyde has actually been outdone by third-down specialist Johnson, who’s averaged a robust 5.8 yards per carry. If some team ever gives Johnson a chance to run the ball with any volume, he’d project beautifully. But as it stands, he’s little more than a change-of-pace runner behind Hyde. The true x-factor is Watson, who sits just two yards behind Johnson and has taken on a hefty share of goal-line work. All three looked strong in Week 8, running over the Raiders despite a banged-up and mediocre front line. The team would like to have right tackle Tytus Howard back from injury, though he doesn’t move the needle much either way. The Jaguars offer more of a stopping force than the Raiders just did, but this remarkably consistent attack - it’s reached 100 yards in 7 of 8 games - has been able to outperform that line thus far.

The Jacksonville run defense again looks like a shutdown force. They’re fresh off three straight matchups against upper-tier runners, but Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, and Le’Veon Bell combined for just 56 yards over 30 attempts. The Jaguars boast a stout line that’s still led masterfully by three-time All-Pro Calais Campbell. With Campbell routinely swallowing up a chunk of the offensive line, this group can weather the loss of tackle Marcell Dareus, who hit injured reserve last week. Where they struggle most is on the second level; they sorely miss Telvin Smith’s consistent playmaking there. Myles Jack has yet to put all of his tools together and remains a liability too often, while Austin Calitro and Quincy Williams have taken turns flailing next to him. Christian McCaffrey took advantage to the extreme in Week 5 en route to 176 yards and 2 touchdowns. Still, this unit has been thoroughly dominant since that day. Carlos Hyde churned out 90 yards in this matchup in Week 2, but the Jaguars appear to have turned a corner.

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


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Uncharacteristically, the Andy Reid-coached Chiefs have turned to a running-back-by-committee approach in 2019. Although Reid has typically favored a one-running back approach to his offense, the personnel has dictated a multi-pronged attack in the backfield. LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams usually combine for approximately 75-percent of snaps in the backfield, while Darrel Williams takes the leftovers. McCoy has out-snapped and out-carried both Damien and Darrel Williams in three straight games. So far, in 2019, McCoy has also been the most efficient of the group by far. At 5.2 yards-per-carry, McCoy is gaining over 1.1 more yards-per-carry than Darrel Williams, the team's next-most efficient running back. Damien Williams has posted an abysmal 2.1 yards-per-carry so far this season, falling well short of preseason expectations. Kansas City has been held under 100 rushing yards in 4 straight games, in large part thanks to a depleted offensive line. Eric Fisher and Austin Wylie, two of Kansas City's best offensive linemen, have both missed extended time this season. Both Fisher and Wylie are listed as questionable for week 9, and the return of one, or both, of the linemen, would provide a massive boost to Kansas City's rushing attack. A week 9 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings will be an exceptionally difficult matchup for the Chiefs to try to get the running game back on track.

The Minnesota Vikings have one of the league's toughest run defenses. Through the first half of the 2019 season, the Vikings have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. The Vikings' personnel at all three levels of the defense points towards the unit continuing to stifle rushing attacks week-in and week-out. Along the defensive line, Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, and Linval Joseph all grade as above-average run-stoppers, with Hunter ranking amongst the league's best defensive linemen against the run. At linebacker, Eric Kendricks ranks fifth in the NFL in total tackles, with 47 thus far in 2019. Kendricks has developed into one of the NFL's best all-around linebackers, especially against the run, where he is one of the best players in the entire NFL in run-support. In the secondary, Anthony Harris is an elite run-stopping safety. Harris is a sure tackler as well, with just one missed tackle on the season through eight games. Opposite Harris, Harrison Smith has long been one of the NFL's best all-around safeties. Although Smith has struggled in run support this season, his long track record as one of the premier defensive backs in run-support leads one to believe he will right the ship sooner rather than later. If Smith returns to his run-stopping ways of yesteryear, Minnesota may rise up the ranks even further, becoming arguably the best run defense in the entire NFL. Expect the Chiefs' deep stable of running backs to continue to struggle once again in week 9, as the Minnesota Vikings will likely dominate the battle in the trenches. This is shaping up to be a fifth consecutive sub-100-yard rushing day for the Kansas City Chiefs, barring an extreme outlier performance from either Kansas City's offense or Minnesota's defense.

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


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Seahawks have locked themselves firmly into a run-first offensive attack, currently sitting fourth league-wide in rushes per game (31) and ninth in yardage (130). However, of the league’s more run-dominant teams, they’ve been one of the least efficient on a per-carry basis. Ball-dominant lead back Chris Carson has all of the traits coach Pete Carroll and his staff want in a bell cow, and he’s done just fine with 79% of the team’s running back carries. Dating back to Week 4, his 501 yards sit third in the league. However, there’s not much dynamism here behind a disappointing Seattle front. Duane Brown and D.J. Fluker returned to action last week, but even when fully healthy, this line has struggled to spring Carson for many chunk runs. He’ll remain a volume monster on the RB1/RB2 borderline, though, for as long as the Seahawks remain so committed to the run. Russell Wilson is always a running threat for defenses to watch, though he isn’t as productive as most of his peers, with just 94 yards over the past 4 weeks.

The Buccaneers continue to field 2019’s most surprisingly dominant run defense. Through 7 weeks, only 2 opposing runners (Alvin Kamara and Derrick Henry) have managed to top 40 yards in a game. What’s more impressive is the absurd level of competition they’ve faced in the process. Beyond those two, they’ve shut down the likes of Saquon Barkley (10 yards), Todd Gurley (16), Tevin Coleman (23), and Christian McCaffrey twice (37 and 31). Along the way, that Murderer’s Row averaged just 2.9 per rush. With Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh dominating on the interior, there’s less pressure placed on the mediocre linebacking corps, and the entire front seven is making plays. Simply put, there’s little reason to test this matchup in fantasy. Not even the Seahawks’ imposing run game projects well against it.

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