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  Passing Matchups  

Week 12 Rushing Matchups

[ARI] [ATL] [BAL] [BUF] [CAR] [CHI] [CIN] [CLE] [DAL] [DEN] [DET] [GB] [HOU] [IND] [JAX] [KC] [MIA] [MIN] [NE] [NO] [NYG] [NYJ] [OAK] [PHI] [PIT] [SD] [SEA] [SF] [STL] [TB] [TEN] [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 Peyton Manning 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.


Please note: due to the Thanksgiving holiday - and the Thursday games that day - we are forced to accelerate our writing schedule to post our weekly material in a timely manner. Therefore, the statistics used for the majority of this week's matchups are preliminary statistics compiled on Monday (before the Monday Night Football game). There may be slight discrepancies between the rankings of the players/teams cited in the text and those found in the final Statistics released on Tuesday afternoon. Also, official injury information is only available once the NFL posts the preliminary Wednesday Injury report, usually early in the evening on Wednesday.


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense at Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

After weeks of watching Stephen Davis struggle to rush the ball, the Panthers are apparently ready to hand the ball off to DeShaun Foster more during the closing weeks of 2005, while the team is making their playoff push. Said Coach Fox, "We're just trying to get it to him a little more. We're trying to marry the carries up a little bit. Stephen's had more touches so far, and we're trying to get DeShaun a more equal number of touches." Last week, against the Bears, Foster carried the ball 9/41/0 and caught 3/20/0, while Davis struggled to 4/6/0 rushing. Foster (84/320/0 rushing and 21/275/0 receiving to date, a 3.8 yards per carry average) has clearly got more explosive potential than the plodding Davis (164/439/12 rushing and 5/45/0 receiving, a 3.0 yards per carry average) at this point of the season. However, just because Foster is going to see more touches doesn't necessarily mean he'll have more touches at the goal-line - the disparity in rushing TDs between the two backs this year makes it clear that Davis is the goal-line rusher of choice. Once the team is inside the red-zone, they may still call Davis' number. Keep an eye on how the workload is distributed this week if you are invested in the Panthers' stable.

The Bills' rush D is not good this year, averaging 149.7 yards allowed per game (31st in the NFL), with 15 TDs surrendered to date (tied for last in the league). Last week, they played down to their poor standard by surrendering 34/141/2 to the Chargers during a 48-10 drubbing at the hands and feet of San Diego.

If there is a week for the Panthers' rushing attack to get well, this would be it - advantage, Carolina.

Weather: Ralph Wilson Stadium expects decent weather on Sunday - considering that it is located in upstate New York - with the forecast calling for a high of 34F and a low of 27F with a 10% chance for precipitation. If the forecast holds up, weather shouldn't be a huge issue for either team.

CAR Injuries: RB DeShaun Foster (Questionable), TE Kris Mangum (Questionable)
BUF Injuries: DL Sam Adams (Questionable), DB Terrence McGee (Questionable)


Houston Texans Rushing Offense vs St. Louis Rams Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Texans welcomed Domanick Davis back to the lineup last week, and he provided the team with what little offense they could muster, rushing for 13/57/1 and catching 3/53/0 (he led the team in receiving yardage). When he's been healthy, the story has been much the same from week to week for Davis: he's a good back on a bad team, but his fantasy numbers are usually decent (154/604/2 rushing and 26/229/2 receiving in 8 games, to rank 14th in fantasy points per game among RBs).

The Rams gave up 26/94/1 to the anemic Cardinal's stable last week - about 20 yards rushing more than the Cardinals average per game this year. The Rams are ranked 27th vs. the rush this year, giving up an average of 128.5 rushing yards per game, with 13 rushing scores surrendered to date. Over the past 3 weeks (2 games), they have handed over an average of 134 rushing yards per game.

Davis is stuck on a bad team, but he has excellent prospects this week vs. the weak Ram defensive front.

Weather: The forecast for Reliant Stadium calls for a high of 78F with a low of 59F and a 30% chance for rain. If the conditions look nasty, the retractable roof can be closed - weather shouldn't be a huge issue during this game.

HOU Injuries: RB Domanick Davis (Probable)
STL Injuries: DL Leonard Little (Probable), DB Dejuan Groce (Questionable), DB Oshiomogho Atogwe (Questionable), DB Travis Fisher (Doubtful), DB Adam Archuleta (Out)


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense at New York Jets Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Saints could only muster 21/87/0 vs. New England on the ground last week, with 30 of the yards coming from QB Aaron Brooks. The team averages 4.3 yards per carry, so the OL is doing what it can to open up room for the backs - none or the Saints' backs are fantasy standouts though - Antowain Smith and Aaron Stecker are 34th and 35th at their positions in fantasy points per game during the past 3 weeks.

The Jets rank 30th in the NFL with an average of 141.4 rushing yards allowed per game, and are tied for last with 15 rushing scores surrendered to date. Denver blasted them for 47/196/3 rushing last week - the Jets are pathetic in this phase of the game. They have allowed 430 rushing yards during their last 3 games, an average of 143.3 rushing yards per game.

Two anemic units clash in this matchup - we can't get fired up about the Saints but they likely won't see a more forgiving rush defense again this year.

Weather: The weather service predicts a high of 41F with a low of 27F for Giants Stadium on Sunday (0% chance for rain). Weather shouldn't be an issue for the teams in this game, however, it will be closer to the cold end of the spectrum on Sunday night.

NO Injuries: TE Ernie Conwell (Questionable)
NYJ Injuries: DL John Abraham (Probable), DL Sione Pouha (Questionable), DB David Barrett (Out)


New York Jets Rushing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Jets' offense is grounded. Their tanks are empty, and the wings are falling off the unit - Curtis Martin gained 11 yards from scrimmage last week (4/7/0 rushing and 1/4/0 receiving); the team rushed for 7/22/0, and only held the ball for 17:32 during the game. Until the Jets coaching staff can get a starting QB healthy and keep him under center, the running game is going to struggle.

The Saints allowed 30/132/0 to the Patriots' backups last week, and average 138.6 rushing yards allowed per game this season (29th in the NFL), with 11 TDs surrendered to date. Over the past 3 weeks, the team has averaged 157.5 rushing yards allowed per game (2 games). These guys are not very good.

Martin and company are really struggling, but so are the Saints. In this battle of the horrible, the Jets are going to a very forgiving rush defense.

Weather: The weather service predicts a high of 41F with a low of 27F for Giants Stadium on Sunday (0% chance for rain). Weather shouldn't be an issue for the teams in this game, however, it will be closer to the cold end of the spectrum on Sunday night.

NYJ Injuries: QB Brooks Bollinger (Questionable), QB Jay Fiedler (Out), RB B.J. Askew (Probable), RB Curtis Martin (Probable), RB Derrick Blaylock (Questionable)
NO Injuries: DL Brian Young (Questionable), LB Courtney Watson (Questionable)


St. Louis Rams Rushing Offense at Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Steven Jackson was derailed last week by the normally soft Cardinals (12/6/0 rushing with 3/16/0 receiving) - they totally shut Jackson down last week, as you can see. With only 29/76/0 rushing and 8/61/0 receiving over the past 3 weeks (2 games), Jackson is the 37th ranked fantasy RB in points per game during that span. The Rams need to get Jackson's engine cranked back up if they are to make any noise during the final months of 2005.

The Texans are dead last in the NFL allowing an average of 160.6 rushing yards per game this year, and they are tied for last in the NFL with 15 rushing scores handed over to date. K.C. trampled them for 42/226/2 last Sunday - the Texans are closer to a doormat than a defense at this point of the season.

Despite Jackson's recent struggles, we still think that the Rams' offense has more "oomph" left than the humiliated and deflated Texans. Advantage, St. Louis.

Weather: The forecast for Reliant Stadium calls for a high of 78F with a low of 59F and a 30% chance for rain. If the conditions look nasty, the retractable roof can be closed - weather shouldn't be a huge issue during this game.

STL Injuries: QB Marc Bulger (Out), RB Marshall Faulk (Probable)
HOU Injuries: DL Robaire Smith (Probable), DL Gary Walker (Probable), LB Charlie Anderson (Probable), LB Antwan Peek (Probable), DB Demarcus Faggins (Doubtful), DB Jason Simmons (Out)


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Chris Brown has scored at least 1 TD in each of his last 3 games, and notched 20/61/1 rushing and 4/58/1 receiving last week vs. Jacksonville (he's the 7th ranked fantasy RB during the past 3 weeks (2 games), with 42/156/2 rushing and 5/66/1 receiving to his credit). Tennessee's OL is doing their job this year, as the team averages a solid 4.0 yards per carry. Brown's hot right now - he should be in your starting lineup if he's on your roster.

The 49ers are tied for dead last in the NFL with 15 rushing scores surrendered to date, while averaging 119.8 rushing yards given up per game (23rd in the NFL). Last week, Seattle tore up the 49ers D for 34/145/2 on the ground. The 49ers are soft.

Brown has a great shot at an excellent performance this weekend.

Weather: The Coliseum in Nashville expects a high of 54F with a low of 36F and 0% chance for rain. It should be a great day to play some football - weather won't be a huge issue for either team if the forecast holds up.

TEN Injuries: QB Steve McNair (Questionable), WR Tyrone Calico (Questionable), WR Sloan Thomas (Out), TE Erron Kinney (Questionable)
SF Injuries: DL Bryant Young (Out), LB Saleem Rasheed (Doubtful), DB Ahmed Plummer (Questionable)


Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense at Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Last week T.J. Duckett got involved in the game in a big way, with 14/51/1 rushing and 1/19/0 receiving vs. Tampa. Warrick Dunn kicked in 18/82/0 rushing and 2/20/0 receiving (Vick added 4/17/0) - as a team the Falcons piled up 36/150/1. It was just another day at the office for the league's top rushing attack (1758 yards rushing this season, averaging 5.1 yards per carry).

The Lions run in the middle of the NFL pride, ranking 15th in the league allowing an average of 109.9 rushing yards per contest this season (with 6 rushing scores given up to date). Over the past 3 weeks, the team has coughed up 117 rushing yards per contest on average, including last week's totals of 42/149/2 surrendered to Dallas. This unit - mediocre to begin with - is heading in the wrong direction during recent weeks.

Atlanta sports the best rushing attack in the league. Against the fading (and unimpressive) Lions' D, they have a good shot at a big game.

Weather: This game is to be played indoors at Ford Field - the weather won't be an issue for either team.

ATL Injuries: none
DET Injuries: LB Boss Bailey (Questionable), LB Earl Holmes (Doubtful), DB Dre Bly (Probable)


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Bears managed to compile 31/122/0 vs. Carolina's tough rush D last week - Thomas Jones had 25/87/0 rushing in his return to the starting lineup, being spelled by Adrian Peterson (4/37/0). The Bears average 4.4 yards per carry this season as a team - tied for 6th-best in the NFL - no matter who lines up in the backfield, the big guys up front are doing their job and opening up holes for the backs to exploit.

Tampa Bay fought out a close engagement with the Falcons last week, and they had a hard time with the Falcons' stable, allowing 36/150/1 rushing to Atlanta as a team. Over the past 3 weeks, the Bucs have given away an average of 137.3 rushing yards per contest - that's a far cry from their season average of 94.2 rushing yards allowed per game (8 rushing scores surrendered to date). The Bucs are not playing well vs. the oppositions' rushers in recent weeks.

Jones and company have a solid OL in front of them, and they are the featured portion of Chicago's offense. Tampa Bay's defensive front has been showing weakness lately - even with home field advantage behind the Bucs, we think that Chicago has a good shot at a solid game against the fading Tampa defense.

Weather: Tampa expects great weather this weekend, with a forecast of 75F for a high and 56F for a low on Sunday (10% chance for precipitation). Both players and fans are in for near-perfect weather on Sunday.

CHI Injuries: QB Rex Grossman (Questionable), RB Cedric Benson (Out), WR Bernard Berrian (Out)
TB Injuries: DB Will Allen (Questionable), DB Dexter Jackson (Questionable)


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Reuben Droughns has really found his feet during the last few weeks, gaining over 100 yards per game (combined) each game over his past 3 games, and 4 of his last 5 outings. 2 weeks ago he scored with 17/56/1 rushing and 4/67/0 receiving, followed by last Sunday's 30/166/1 rushing (1/3/0 receiving) effort vs. Miami. He's the 8th best fantasy RB in the land over the past 3 weeks, with 67/338/2 rushing and 9/143/0 receiving to his credit.

Minnesota did a number on the Packers' stable last week, holding Green Bay to 21 yards rushing during the game. However, given that Minnesota averages 116.6 yards allowed per game (with 11 rushing scores given up) this season, we think that the low total for Green Bay was an anomaly, rather than the start of a trend. The Giants slapped down 29/124/1 against the Vikings 2 weeks ago - right in line with their season average.

Droughns has been very impressive lately, and he's got momentum on his side - the Vikings hold home-field advantage, but they are suspect in this phase of the game. We think this looks like a good matchup for Droughns.

Weather: This game is to be played in the Metrodome - weather won't be an issue for either team.

CLE Injuries: RB William Green (Questionable), WR Josh Cribbs (Questionable)
MIN Injuries: DL Spencer Johnson (Questionable), DB Fred Smoot (Out)


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Kevin Jones compiled 12/29/1 rushing and 3/38/0 receiving last week, and has managed to amass 33/125/1 rushing and 6/58/0 receiving over the past 3 weeks, to rank 30th among all fantasy RBs during that span. He's not the explosive back that many owners expected back in August, but he is still garnering the lion's share of the touches among the running backs (last week the team rushed the ball 19 times for 57 yards and 1 TD). When Harrington is under center, teams key on the run and dare the Lions to pass the ball - running lanes are scarce for Jones.

Atlanta's rush D hasn't been impressive this season, ranking 21st in the NFL averaging 119 rushing yards allowed per game, with 12 rushing scores surrendered to date. Over the past 3 weeks, they are sticking close to their season average, with 117.3 rushing yards per contest surrendered, including last week's totals of 27/140/2 given away to Tampa Bay. The Falcons aren't very intimidating in this phase of the game.

Jones has been underwhelming his owners all year long, but he does get shots at the goal-line and he's the top rusher for the Lions. This is a good matchup for Jones and company.

Weather: This game is to be played indoors at Ford Field - the weather won't be an issue for either team.

DET Injuries: QB Jeff Garcia (Questionable)
ATL Injuries: DL Brady Smith (Questionable)


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

Larry Johnson has been stronger each week since assuming the top job in K.C. - he has posted totals of 22/107/2 rushing and 3/48/0 receiving week 9; 27/132/0 rushing and 5/46/0 receiving week 10; and an outstanding 36/211/2 rushing with 1/6/0 receiving last Sunday vs. Houston. Start him!

New England is in the bottom tier of NFL rush defenses this season, averaging 119.5 rushing yards given up per contest, with an average of 98.6 rushing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks (they have given up 339.6 passing yards per game in that span, so part of the reason for the lower rushing yards is that teams are electing to pass on the injury-depleted secondary early and often). Last week, the anemic Saints could only scrape up 21/87/0 on the ground vs. this unit.

Johnson is a juggernaut right now, and he'll be playing in front of the home crowd this week. Meanwhile, the Patriots are mediocre rush defenders at best - advantage, KC.

Weather: The forecast for Arrowhead Stadium calls for a high of 54F with a low of 39F and a 30% chance for rain. If the rain comes down thickly around game time, footing and ball handling could be bigger issues than usual. Also, wind conditions at Arrowhead Stadium can be extreme at this time of year - owners of Patriots and Chiefs will want to check on the wind conditions as the weekend approaches before setting their starting lineups.

KC Injuries: RB Ronnie Cruz (Doubtful)
NE Injuries: DL Jarvis Green (Questionable), LB Monty Beisel (Questionable), LB Willie McGinest (Questionable), DB James Sanders (Questionable)


Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense at Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Miami's tandem of Ricky Williams (13/83/0) and Ronnie Brown (12/56/0) combined for a nice game vs. Cleveland - 25/139/0 rushing as a team, a 5.6 yards per carry average. However, the workload is being split so evenly right now that neither is a standout fantasy scorer. Brown is 31st in fantasy points per game over the past 3 weeks, while Williams is 32nd. The RBBC has limited both players' fantasy potential.

The Raiders rank 20th in the NFL this year, allowing an average of 115.4 rushing yards per game (with 10 rushing scores given up to date). Last week, the Redskins gained 27/108/0 against this defensive front which has averaged 114.3 rushing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks. Oakland is a sub-par rush D this year, and they haven't improved as the year goes along.

The Dolphins have a good shot at a solid game as a team, but remember the shared workload is limiting both Williams' and Brown's fantasy potential.

Weather: McAfee Coliseum expects a high of 60F with a low of 44F and a 10% chance for rain - sounds like great football weather to us.

MIA Injuries: none
OAK Injuries: DL Warren Sapp (Doubtful), DB Renaldo Hill (Probable), DB Charles Woodson (Out)


Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Vikings switched back to Mewelde Moore as their featured back (sort of) last week, giving him 22/122/0 rushing and 2/16/0 receiving during the contest. However, Michael Bennett (5/10/0) and Ciatrick Fason (5/7/1) were also in the mix, and Fason did duty at the goal line. As usual, this RBBC is about as clear as mud heading into this week's game vs. Cleveland. We expect to see Moore get the bulk of the work again this week, as he's been the most consistently productive of the stable, with 114/490/1 rushing and 22/228/1 receiving this season.

Cleveland gave up 25/139/0 rushing to the Miami stable last week, and has averaged 132 rushing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks. That's right in line with their 28th ranked season average of 133.3 rushing yards allowed per game (with 7 rushing scores given up to date). The Browns don't scare people in this phase of the game.

The Vikings have a good shot at a solid game vs. the Browns' defensive front.

Weather: This game is to be played in the Metrodome - weather won't be an issue for either team.

MIN Injuries: RB Mewelde Moore (Probable), WR Troy Williamson (Probable)
CLE Injuries: DB Brodney Pool (Doubtful)


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

LaMont Jordan didn't get much going last week vs. Washington, with 27/52/0 rushing (a 1.9 yards per carry average) and 5/37/0 receiving. He's been on a downswing in recent weeks, with 60/193/0 rushing and 17/122/0 receiving over 3 weeks, to rank 20th among fantasy RBs in points per game during that span. He needs to find pay-dirt more often if he's going to return to the top tier of fantasy RBs in the land.

The Dolphins rank 25th in the NFL this season giving up 121.7 rushing yards per contest (7 rushing scores to date), and their lynch-pin MLB Zach Thomas suffered a separated shoulder last week (his status for this week is not known as of Tuesday). Cleveland pounded this unit for 39/181/1 last week - Miami is not on top of their game when it comes to run defense, folks.

Jordan has been struggling of late, while the Dolphins are suffering from recent injury woes - and they weren't very good to begin with - advantage, Oakland.

Weather: McAfee Coliseum expects a high of 60F with a low of 44F and a 10% chance for rain - sounds like great football weather to us.

OAK Injuries: WR Randy Moss (Probable), TE John Paul Foschi (Doubtful)
MIA Injuries: LB Junior Seau (Out), LB Zach Thomas (Out), DB Lance Schulters (Questionable)


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Philadelphia rushed the ball 30 times for 106 yards and 1 TD during Mike McMahon's first start - they are bringing the offense back into balance with the inexperienced signal-caller under center (39 passes attempted vs 30 rushes last week). Brian Westbrook led the charge with 16/66/0 rushing (4/57/0 receiving) while McMahon scored the TD (9/31/1 rushing on the day). Westbrook is going to get his touches every game, whether it is through a dump-off pass or a hand-off makes little difference.

Green Bay is 19th in the NFL this season, averaging 114.9 rushing yards allowed per game, with only 5 rushing scores surrendered to date. They have averaged 149 rushing yards handed over per game during the past 3 weeks, though - they are moving in the wrong direction in this phase, as Minnesota's total of 37/160/1 last week highlighted.

Westbrook has a great shot at a solid game rushing the ball this week.

Weather: The forecast for Lincoln Financial Field calls for a high of 41F with a low of 29F with a 0% chance for precipitation. A nice, cool afternoon is on line for this matchup - weather shouldn't be a big issue during this game.

PHI Injuries: RB Lamar Gordon (Probable), WR Greg Lewis (Questionable), TE Chad Lewis (Probable), TE Stephen Spach (Probable)
GB Injuries: DL Corey Williams (Doubtful), LB Robert Thomas (Questionable), DB Jason Horton (Out)


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Jamal Lewis was lack-luster, as usual, the last time these teams faced off (during week 9), posting 15/49/0 rushing during the game. He may "know what he can do", but we're wondering when he's going to show it on the field - this season's totals of 172/508/1 rushing and 17/83/1 receiving were not exactly what his fantasy owners expected back in August when they added him to their squad. Over the past 3 weeks, he's "piled up" 42/121/0 rushing and 5/13/0 receiving to rank 52nd among fantasy RBs during that span. There just isn't much good to say about Baltimore's offense right now.

The Bengals allowed 30/92/3 rushing to the Colts last week, and have averaged 108 rushing yards surrendered per game over the last 3 weeks (2 games). This season they are the 24th ranked rushing D, averaging 121 rushing yards allowed per game (with 9 TDs given away to date in this phase of the game). The Bengals have improved somewhat vs. the rush as the year has progressed, but there is still room for improvement.

The Ravens have struggled rushing the ball this season, and didn't do well vs. the Bengals last time around the block. Meanwhile, the Bengals are playing for position in the playoffs and they have home-field advantage at their back.

Weather: Paul Brown Stadium expects a high of 45F with a low of 28F and a 0% chance for rain. A cool, crisp day is on tap for this matchup - weather shouldn't be an issue for either team.

BAL Injuries: QB Kyle Boller (Probable), RB Musa Smith (Questionable), RB Chester Taylor (Questionable)
CIN Injuries: DL Bryan Robinson (Questionable), DB Rashad Bauman (Questionable), DB Reggie Myles (Questionable)


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Fred Taylor couldn't get the job done last week, garnering 6/-8/0 rushing before injuring a thigh and getting the hook. Greg Jones also struggled, with 16/33/0 - all told the team put up 30/49/1 (the TD coming on a 2-yd rush by Leftwich). The Jaguars had an off game. Over the past 3 weeks, Jones has been carrying the load, with 48/166/2 rushing and 3/14/0 receiving - if Taylor can't go this week, expect Jones to shoulder the load.

Arizona isn't very strong vs. the run, ranking 19th in the NFL averaging 113.7 rushing yards allowed per game, with 13 TDs surrendered to date. However, they absolutely stuffed Steven Jackson last week, giving up only 12/6/0 to the Rams all day long. Even with the strong outing, they have still averaged 123.6 rushing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks.

The Jaguars should find room to roam against the suspect Cardinals' defensive front although Arizona was strong last week. We're calling it neutral as we see which defense shows up.

Weather: Sun Devil Stadium expects a high of 73F with a low of 50F and a 10% chance for rain - almost perfect football weather, in other words.

JAX Injuries: WR Jimmy Smith (Probable), WR Reggie Williams (Probable)
ARI Injuries: DL Chike Okeafor (Probable), LB Karlos Dansby (Questionable), DB Antrel Rolle (Out)


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense at Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The 49ers lost the services of Frank Gore (groin and hip injuries) and Kevan Barlow (concussion) last week, leading to the appearance of Maurice Hicks in the San Francisco backfield. Hicks made the most of his chance, with 11/83/1 rushing and 1/4/0 receiving. If Gore and Barlow are sidelined due to their injuries (keep an eye on the late-week injury reports), then Hicks would likely get another chance to display his abilities vs. Tennessee.

Tennessee ranks 13th in the NFL this season allowing an average of 106.6 yards on the ground per contest, with 5 rushing scores surrendered to date. They have given up 109 rushing yards per contest over the past 3 weeks (2 games), including last week's miniscule totals of 30/49/1 handed over to the Jaguars.

The 49ers offense is not impressive overall, but they usually manage to run the ball with some success (3.8 yards per carry this season) - Tennessee runs in the middle of the NFL pack vs. the rush most weeks. That sounds about even to us.

Weather: The Coliseum in Nashville expects a high of 54F with a low of 36F and 0% chance for rain. It should be a great day to play some football - weather won't be a huge issue for either team if the forecast holds up.

SF Injuries: RB Fred Beasley (Questionable), RB Frank Gore (Doubtful), WR Jason McAddley (Questionable)
TEN Injuries: LB Rocky Boiman (Questionable), DB Andre Woolfolk (Questionable)


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Cardinals surprised the Rams last week, and their win was in part due to a better-than-usual effort from the running backs. J.J. Arrington had a respectable 11/45/1 rushing and 2/23/0 receiving, while Marcel Shipp kicked in 8/30/0 (1/1/0 receiving). The team totaled 26/94/1 on the day. While it wasn't the most dominating rushing performance by a team this season, it was a strong day for this anemic group.

The Jaguars average 112.9 rushing yards allowed per game this year (18th in the NFL), but have only coughed up 4 rushing scores to date (3rd-least in the NFL). They handed over 21/63/1 to the Titans last week - the Jags have granted an average of 68 rushing yards per contest over the past 3 weeks. Clearly, the run D is getting stronger as the year goes along.

The Cardinals started to get something going last week, but they are still a suspect group. Arizona will faces a strong test from the Jags this week.

Weather: Sun Devil Stadium expects a high of 73F with a low of 50F and a 10% chance for rain - almost perfect football weather, in other words.

ARI Injuries: RB Obafemi Ayanbadejo (Probable), WR Bryant Johnson (Out)
JAX Injuries: DL Marcus Stroud (Probable), LB Patrick Thomas (Questionable)


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Willis McGahee did what he could vs. San Diego last week (10/39/0 rushing with 1/2/0 receiving), but as the team was far behind for most of the day, there simply weren't many opportunities for McGahee to handle the ball. Over the past 3 weeks, McGahee has been a disappointment for his fantasy owners, with 30/105/0 rushing and 1/2/0 receiving (2 games) - 45th in points per game among fantasy RBs during that time-span.

The Panthers rank 4th in the NFL this season allowing an average of 85.1 rushing yards per game, with 5 rushing TDs given up in 10 games. They are a little off that strong pace lately, giving up 101 rushing yards per game over their last 3 contests, including 31/122/0 handed over to the Bears last week. They are very tough to score on in this phase, though.

McGahee has been slumping of late, and the Panthers will try and keep him down on Sunday - advantage, Carolina.

Weather: Ralph Wilson Stadium expects decent weather on Sunday - considering that it is located in upstate New York - with the forecast calling for a high of 34F and a low of 27F with a 10% chance for precipitation. If the forecast holds up, weather shouldn't be a huge issue for either team.

BUF Injuries: QB Kelly Holcomb (Probable), TE Mark Campbell (Questionable)
CAR Injuries: DL Brentson Buckner (Questionable), LB Dan Morgan (Doubtful), DB Idrees Bashir (Questionable), DB Thomas Davis (Questionable)


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Rudi Johnson ground out the tough yards the last time these two teams met, back in week 9, when he compiled 29/97/1 rushing and 1/15/0 receiving during the game. He also ran well last week, with 16/76/2 on the ground and 2/9/0 receiving. Chris Perry also contributed 8/82/0 rushing and 4/41/0 receiving last week (the team amassed 26/164/2 rushing during the contest). The Bengals are on a roll in this phase of the game.

The Ravens defense has been suffering from injuries to MLB Ray Lewis and S Ed Reed, which has kept the team from dominating their opposition. They have allowed an average of 100.3 rushing yards per game during that span, including last week's total of 25/70/0 allowed to Pittsburgh. This season, they are the 10th ranked rush D with an average of 99.2 yards allowed per game with 6 rushing scores surrendered.

The Bengals' unit is hitting on all cylinders, while the Ravens are playing stronger, rush D. That sounds like a tough matchup to us.

Weather: Paul Brown Stadium expects a high of 45F with a low of 28F and a 0% chance for rain. A cool, crisp day is on tap for this matchup - weather shouldn't be an issue for either team.

CIN Injuries: RB Rudi Johnson (Probable)
BAL Injuries: LB Ray Lewis (Out), DB Dale Carter (Questionable), DB Chris McAlister (Questionable), DB Samari Rolle (Questionable), DB Ed Reed (Out)


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Denver is second only to Atlanta this season in total rushing yards (343 for 1683 yards rushing to date), and ranks 3rd in the NFL averaging 4.9 yards per carry this season. Mike Anderson led the stampede last week, with 26/113/3 - he's ground out 43/178/4 rushing and 3/16/0 receiving during the teams most recent 2 games (3 weeks). Last week, Tatum Bell suffered what has been variously described as either a shoulder injury or a bruised chest - whatever the actual nature of the injury, he left the game last week and did not return to action. Bell has compiled 26/78/0 rushing and 4/21/0 receiving during the last 3 weeks - if he's unable to go this weekend, Anderson would shoulder more of the load. Keep an eye on Bell's practice/injury status on Friday before making your roster decisions if you are invested in the Denver backfield.

Dallas averages 95.1 rushing yards allowed per game this season (9th in the NFL), with 5 rushing scores given up to date. Over the past 3 weeks, the team has been a little more giving, averaging 119 rushing yards surrendered per game, but they contained Detroit last week (19/57/1 allowed to the Lions). It's not easy to run the ball on Dallas this season.

The Broncos sport an elite rushing attack, but they are the visitors this week and the Cowboys aren't weaklings in this phase of the game. We love Denver but this will be a pretty tough matchup for the Broncos.

Weather: Texas Stadium expects a high of 75F with a low of 47F and a 0% chance of rain. If the forecast holds up, fans and players should enjoy ideal conditions for football on Sunday.

DEN Injuries: RB Tatum Bell (Questionable), WR Darius Watts (Probable), TE Jeb Putzier (Probable)
DAL Injuries: LB Scott Shanle (Probable), DB Anthony Henry (Probable)


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The word out of Green Bay this week is that Samkon Gado's fumbling has landed him back on the bench - now that Tony Fisher is healthy again, he's to start and handle the ball the most. Neither guy could get anything going against the Vikings on Monday Night football, though, with 21 total rushing yards split between the 2 backs. Green Bay has struggled to open holes for their backs most weeks, and that difficulty cropped up again on Monday night. The OL is not giving the Green Bay backs enough room to maneuver.

Philadelphia allowed 29/115/0 rushing to the Giants last week, and have averaged 83.6 rushing yards allowed per game over their last 3 contests. This season, they are the 17th ranked rush D in the land, giving up 111.7 yards per game, with 9 rushing scores surrendered to date. They are a mediocre front 7 this season.

The Packers' attack has really struggled this season, and is still in flux. The Eagles are mediocre, but they have home-field advantage in this matchup and that earns them the edge in our book.

Weather: The forecast for Lincoln Financial Field calls for a high of 41F with a low of 29F with a 0% chance for precipitation. A nice, cool afternoon is on line for this matchup - weather shouldn't be a big issue during this game.

GB Injuries: none
PHI Injuries: DL Ndukwe Kalu (Probable), LB Jeremiah Trotter (Probable), DB Roderick Hood (Probable)


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

Edgerrin James put up 24/89/2 rushing and 3/18/0 receiving against the Cincinnati D last week (the Colts amassed 30/92/3 rushing on the day) - a very respectable day of work, all told. Over the past 3 weeks, James has 84/315/4 rushing and 9/53/0 receiving to rank 6th in fantasy points per game at his position during that span. He's a consistent high scorer who should be in your lineup every week.

The Steelers average 84.2 rushing yards allowed per game (3rd-least in the NFL) this season, with 7 rushing scores given up to date. Over the past 3 weeks, the team has given away 76.6 rushing yards per game, including last week's totals of 38/104/0 handed over to the Ravens.

James is a great back, but the Steelers field a great defense, too. This one will be a tough matchup but we still love James.

Weather: This game is to be played in the RCA Dome - weather doesn't come into the picture for this matchup.

IND Injuries: none
PIT Injuries: LB Joey Porter (Probable), LB James Farrior (Questionable), LB Andre Frazier (Doubtful), DB Chidi Iwuoma (Probable), DB Mike Logan (Questionable)


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

Corey Dillon's collection of injuries are catching up to him - he was unable to contribute in last week's game, and has only 12/40/0 rushing and 3/29/0 receiving over the past 3 weeks. His job is being handled by Heath Evans (16/74/0 rushing and 2/21/0 receiving) and Patrick Pass (13/53/0 rushing and 2/36/0 receiving) right now - if Dillon can't go again on Sunday, expect those two players to split the work-load again this week.

The Chiefs rank 5th in the NFL this season allowing an average of 89.6 rushing yards per game, with only 5 rushing scores surrendered to date. They held the Texans to 19/78/1 last week, and have averaged 80 rushing yards allowed per game over the last 3 weeks. The K.C. defensive front is among the league's best at this point of the year.

The Patriots have found some new personnel to sub for Corey Dillon, but none of the Patriot's backs will find much room to roam vs. the Chiefs in K.C.

Weather: The forecast for Arrowhead Stadium calls for a high of 54F with a low of 39F and a 30% chance for rain. If the rain comes down thickly around game time, footing and ball handling could be bigger issues than usual. Also, wind conditions at Arrowhead Stadium can be extreme at this time of year - owners of Patriots and Chiefs will want to check on the wind conditions as the weekend approaches before setting their starting lineups.

NE Injuries: QB Tom Brady (Probable), RB Corey Dillon (Questionable), RB Kevin Faulk (Questionable), RB Patrick Pass (Questionable), WR David Givens (Questionable), WR Bethel Johnson (Questionable), WR Troy Brown (Questionable), WR Tim Dwight (Questionable), TE Daniel Graham (Questionable)
KC Injuries: DL John Browning (Probable), DL Ryan Sims (Questionable), DB Benny Sapp (Probable), DB Patrick Surtain (Questionable), DB Jerome Woods (Out)


New York Giants Rushing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Tiki Barber continues to be a top fantasy back as we churn through the second half of the season - he has posted 65/278/1 rushing and 12/165/0 over the past 3 weeks, with 21/112/0 rushing and 2/22/0 receiving vs. the Eagles last week. Brandon Jacobs has been quiet lately, with 3/0/0 last week (he hasn't scored a TD in the past 2 weeks). The Giants are tied with the Bears in 6th averaging 4.4 yards per carry this season - it's all good on this unit right now.

The 49ers managed to come up with 26/110/1 vs. Seattle last week, throwing a scare into the division leaders. This season, the Seahawks have surrendered 102.9 rushing yards per game (11th in the NFL), but only 3 rushing scores to date (2nd-least in the NFL). Over the past 3 weeks, the defense has averaged 85.3 rushing yards allowed per game - pretty stout.

Two top units clash in this matchup - we love Barber but this is a tough matchup.

Weather: Qwest Field expects a high of 48F with a low of 37F and a 50% chance of rain on Sunday. If the precipitation falls thickly around game time, footing and ball handling could be larger issues than usual for both teams.

NYG Injuries: TE Jeremy Shockey (Questionable)
SEA Injuries: DL Bryce Fisher (Probable), DL Marcus Tubbs (Questionable), LB D.D. Lewis (Probable), LB Jamie Sharper (Out), DB John Howell (Out)


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

Willie Parker was the featured back against the Ravens after returning from injury, with 18/59/0 rushing and 2/22/1 receiving during the game - nobody else in the RB stable gained a yard on the ground (Maddox scrambled for 4/11/0). Pittsburgh averages 3.9 yards per carry this season, slightly below the benchmark 4.0. Jerome Bettis was said to be unhappy with his 2 carries for 0 yards last week - it'll be interesting to see if he gets more action this week.

The Colts average 104.1 rushing yards allowed per game this season (12th in the NFL), with only 5 rushing scores surrendered to date. They gave up 2 of those rushing scores last week, to Rudi Johnson (16/76/2), and were torched for 26/164/2 total by the Bengals' stable. Not too good, folks. Over the past 3 weeks, the Colts have averaged 93.6 rushing yards allowed per game - the Cincinnati game looks more like an anomaly than the start of a trend.

The Steelers bring a wealth of talent to the table, and they have a solid OL. However, the Colts are no pushovers and they hold home-field advantage. This looks like a tough matchup for the Steelers' stable.

Weather: This game is to be played in the RCA Dome - weather doesn't come into the picture for this matchup.

PIT Injuries: QB Ben Roethlisberger (Probable), QB Charlie Batch (Doubtful), RB Willie Parker (Probable)
IND Injuries: DL Josh Thomas (Questionable), LB Gary Brackett (Probable), LB Cato June (Probable), LB Keith O'Neil (Probable), LB Rob Morris (Questionable), DB Gerome Sapp (Probable), DB Joseph Jefferson (Probable), DB Bob Sanders (Probable)


San Diego Chargers Rushing Offense at Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

LaDainian Tomlinson was only needed for part of the game on Sunday as the Chargers stomped the Bills 48-10 - Tomlinson rushed for 19/67/1 with 3/22/0 receiving during the game before retiring and watching backup Michael Turner gain 8/48/1 in relief of Tomlinson (the team ended up with 34/141/2 on the day). With 44/174/4 rushing and 6/68/1 receiving over the past 3 weeks (2 games), Tomlinson is the 2nd best fantasy RB during that span, despite the "slow" game this past Sunday.

The Redskins contained the Raiders' stable to 29/50/0 rushing last week. They've averaged 52 rushing yards allowed per game over their last 3 games - very impressive - compared to the team's season average of 106.9 rushing yards allowed per game (14th in the NFL). Right now, the Redskins are shutting down their oppositions' running backs.

Tomlinson comes into this game relatively fresh, thanks to his short game last week, and on a roll. The Redskins aren't easy to run the ball on lately, though - Tomlinson is a sure fire starter but we think this will be a tough matchup.

Weather: Fed Ex Field expects a high of 43F with a low of 27F and a 0% chance for rain on Sunday. A crisp, cool autumn day is on tap for this matchup - neither team should have weather-related issues in the forecast conditions.

SD Injuries: RB Andrew Pinnock (Questionable), WR Vincent Jackson (Questionable), TE Antonio Gates (Questionable), TE Justin Peelle (Questionable)
WAS Injuries: DL Joe Salave'a (Probable), DL Cornelius Griffin (Questionable), LB Lavar Arrington (Probable), DB Ryan Clark (Probable), DB Sean Taylor (Probable)


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense vs New York Giants Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Shaun Alexander is having an MVP type season (232/1229/19 rushing and 9/48/0 receiving to date) - he has rushed for at least 2 TDs every game over the last 3 weeks, with a minimum of 122 yards from scrimmage during that time frame. He has rushed for 4 TDs during a single game twice this season. Alexander is a no-brainer start each and every week.

The Giants are 6th in the NFL this year giving up only 90.4 rushing yards per game, with 6 rushing scores allowed to date. Over the past 3 weeks, they've paced at 56.6 rushing yards allowed per game, and the defense has only given up 2 TDs rushing and receiving during that span. The Giants sport a top-tier defensive front.

Alexander is nuclear hot right now, but the Giants won't lay down for him in this phase. Two top units clash in this game, but Alexander is simply too hot to sit down. He'll just have to work harder than usual this week.

Weather: Qwest Field expects a high of 48F with a low of 37F and a 50% chance of rain on Sunday. If the precipitation falls thickly around game time, footing and ball handling could be larger issues than usual for both teams.

SEA Injuries: WR Darrell Jackson (Out)
NYG Injuries: DL Reggie Torbor (Doubtful), DL William Joseph (Out), DB Curtis Deloatch (Questionable), DB Shaun Williams (Doubtful), DB William Peterson (Out)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense vs Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Cadillac Williams finally got the engine back in gear last week, finishing the Falcons due to his 19/116/1 rushing and 3/13/0 receiving. The reliable Mike Alstott plunged in another score last week, 4/8/1. Over the past 3 weeks, Williams has totaled 40/165/1 rushing and 6/38/0 receiving in recent weeks - 28th fantasy RB in the land in points per game - we'll see if he can build on last week's solid effort.

The Bears rank 7th in the NFL allowing only 91.2 rushing yards per game on average this year, and they lead the league with a mere 2 rushing TDs allowed to date. Over the past 3 weeks, teams have averaged 107 rushing yards per game against the Bears' defensive front, including last week's 16/55/0 put up by Carolina. The Bears' defense is elite in this phase of the game.

Williams and company finally got back to gaining yards and scoring last week, but it won't be easy to find success against the ferocious Bears' D.

Weather: Tampa expects great weather this weekend, with a forecast of 75F for a high and 56F for a low on Sunday (10% chance for precipitation). Both players and fans are in for near-perfect weather on Sunday.

TB Injuries: TE Anthony Becht (Questionable)
CHI Injuries: DB Jerry Azumah (Probable)


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense vs San Diego Chargers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Clinton Portis had a modest outing vs. the Raiders last week with 22/92/0 rushing and 1/-6/0 receiving. Over the past 3 weeks, he's bounced up and down, totaling 66/303/2 rushing and 6/11/0 to land at 14th among all fantasy RBs in points per game. Washington averages 4.2 yards per carry this season (1248 rushing yards as a team to date), which means that the big guys up front are doing their share to make room for Portis to roam.

San Diego held the Bills to 13/65/0 rushing last week, and have averaged 77 rushing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks (2 games). This year, the Chargers are the #1 rush D in the NFL, allowing only 78.1 yards per contest, with 8 rushing scores given up to date. They are one of the best defensive fronts in the game right now.

Portis is performing better during recent weeks, but he's still not consistently productive - meanwhile, the Chargers make things tough for every back they face. Advantage, San Diego.

Weather: Fed Ex Field expects a high of 43F with a low of 27F and a 0% chance for rain on Sunday. A crisp, cool autumn day is on tap for this matchup - neither team should have weather-related issues in the forecast conditions.

WAS Injuries: RB Ladell Betts (Questionable), WR James Thrash (Out), TE Mike Sellers (Out)
SD Injuries: LB Steve Foley (Questionable), LB Ben Leber (Questionable)


Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense vs Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Julius Jones (21/92/0 rushing and 1/13/0 receiving) and Marion Barber III (15/53/2 rushing) shared the load last week, with Jones seeing action between the 20's, while Barber converted short-yardage and goal-line situations for the team. It looks like this pair is morphing into a RBBC similar to the Dunn/Duckett combo in Atlanta - we'll see how the work-load breaks down this week. If the trend continues, then Jones' fantasy value plummets, while Barber would be very useful to owners in basic-scoring leagues, but less exciting in leagues where yardage is a big part of the scoring formula.

Denver's rush D ranks 2nd in the NFL this season, averaging only 78.8 rushing yards allowed per game, with 5 rushing scores given up to date. They have been even tougher lately, averaging only 41 rushing yards allowed per game over their past 2 contests. Last week, the Jets crawled to 7/22/0 vs. Denver. These guys are stout.

Dallas has a talented stable to throw at the Broncos, but Denver has been extremely strong here. We like the Cowboys but this is a tough matchup.

Weather: Texas Stadium expects a high of 75F with a low of 47F and a 0% chance of rain. If the forecast holds up, fans and players should enjoy ideal conditions for football on Sunday.

DAL Injuries: WR Patrick Crayton (Questionable)
DEN Injuries: DL Demetrin Veal (Probable), DB Champ Bailey (Probable)




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