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  Passing Matchups  

Week 18 Rushing Matchups

[CAR] [CIN] [JAX] [NE] [NYG] [PIT] [TB] [WAS]


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

Also note, just because a player has a "bad" matchup, it does NOT mean he's not a starter in your league. If 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.


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

These teams played each other in the pre-season (week 3, at Giants' Stadium), and while pre-season isn't considered terribly important, week 3 of the preseason is the game when the starters usually see significant action. DeShaun Foster (Stephen Davis wasn't playing yet on August 20th) carried the ball 11 times for 39 yards, with 1 reception for 5 yards - he was modestly successful that day.

Since then, of course, Foster has succeeded Davis as the Panthers' featured running back (he's spelled by Nick Goings on a regular basis), racking up 206/882/2 and 34/372/1 total this season, with 61/308/1 rushing and 4/22/0 receiving during the final 3 weeks of the season. Goings added 19/74/0 rushing and 5/69/0 receiving to the team totals during those weeks. A problem that plagued this team all year long, run-blocking, is evident in the season average of 3.4 yards-per-carry compiled by the offense. Last week, though, Foster blew through the Falcons at a rate of 9.2 yards per carry, piling up 18/165/1 on the ground (the team amassed 38/229/2). He's got some momentum coming into the game. Goings was pretty quiet last week, with 2/18/0 rushing and 1/9/0 receiving (the Panthers crushed the Falcons so thoroughly that little-seen Jamal Robertson got into the act with 10/34/1).

The Giants' defense has been struck by a rash of injuries at the linebacker position, with Antonio Pierce sidelined due to a high ankle sprain and Carlos Emmons now on IR due to a pectoral injury - Nick Greisen suffered a neck stinger last week and was pretty sore after the game. DL William Joseph didn't play at all due to an ankle injury, and Michael Strahan suffered a poked eye/black eye during the game last week. The Giants' defensive front is pretty banged up coming into this game.

They have been mediocre vs. opposing rushers all season long, averaging 103.5 yards allowed per game (12th in the NFL - the Giants were #24 in total yards allowed per game, averaging 327.5 per contest). Over the final 3 weeks of the regular season, the Giants averaged 123 rushing yards given up per contest, and they coughed up 10 TDs during that span (rushing and receiving - the most TDs allowed by any playoff team in the closing 3 weeks of the season). During the season finale, Oakland did without their starting back, LaMont Jordan, and could only muster 17/25/0 on the ground - Washington put up 43/156/1 against the Giants in week 16, and K.C. piled up 34/188/2 during week 15 - the Giants are not playing particularly well in this phase of the game, on balance.

Foster has some momentum at his back, and a good matchup to work with despite New York's home field advantage.

Weather: This game is scheduled for 1 PM ET on Sunday, which should put temperatures near the high end of the forecast for Giants' Stadium: 38F is forecast to be the high, with a low of 31F and a 20% chance of precipitation. That's pretty decent weather for this time of year - as long as the forecast holds up.

CAR Injuries: RB DeShaun Foster (Questionable), RB Brad Hoover (Questionable)
NYG Injuries: DL William Joseph (Probable), DL Reggie Torbor (Questionable), DL Fred Robbins (Doubtful), DL Eric Moore (Doubtful), LB Antonio Pierce (Out)


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

These teams are very familiar with each other as they are AFC North rivals - they split the season series during 2005 with Pittsburgh winning at Cincinnati 27-13 (week 7, October 23rd) while Cincinnati won the rematch in Pittsburgh 38-31 (week 13, December 4th). Willie Parker led the Steelers in rushing during each contest, with 18/131/1 in week 7 and 15/71/0 in week 13 (1/11/0 receiving that week, too). Jerome Bettis saw extensive action as the short-yardage/change of pace back in each game (13/56/0 rushing during week 7 and then 8/13/1 rushing and 3/24/0 receiving week 13).

Last week, the Steelers continued to divide the work between Parker and Bettis, primarily, with Parker chewing up big chunks of yardage vs. Detroit (26/135/0 rushing and 1/17/0 receiving) while Bettis slammed in 10/41/3 (Ben Roethlisberger also scored on the ground, with 3/5/1) - all told, the Steelers piled up 44/199/4 on the ground last week. Parker totaled 57/346/1 rushing and 3/33/0 receiving over the final 3 weeks of the regular season, while Bettis handled 26/81/4 during that span - they are a formidable 1-2 punch rolling into the playoffs.

The Bengals' defense is #28 in total yards allowed per game this season (338.7 per contest), and ranks 20th vs. opposing rushers, handing over an average of 115.6 yards per game. Over the past 3 weeks, they've been on pace, averaging 109.3 rushing yards surrendered per game - last week, they were blasted by K.C. for 32/202/3. More often than not, there is room to roam when a team faces off against the Bengals.

Cincinnati holds home field advantage, but their rush D is suspect - Pittsburgh should enjoy a solid afternoon against the sub-par Bengals' D.

Weather: Paul Brown Stadium expects a high of 51F with a low of 37F and a 20% chance of rain on Sunday. The game is set for 4:30 PM, so the temperature should be on the warm end of the scale to start with - weather conditions shouldn't be a huge deal for either team.

PIT Injuries: QB Ben Roethlisberger (Probable)
CIN Injuries: DL Bryan Robinson (Probable), DL Shaun Smith (Probable), DB Deltha O'Neal (Probable)


New York Giants Rushing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

These teams played each other in the pre-season (week 3, at Giants' Stadium), and while pre-season isn't considered terribly important, week 3 of the preseason is the game when the starters usually see significant action. That wasn't the case for Tiki Barber, though - he rushed for 2/8/0 in a cameo appearance.

Barber is living the definition of terms like "on a roll" and "red hot" right now, of course, with 203 yards rushing last week (28/203/1, a 7.3 yards-per-carry average) and 6/60/0 receiving - he nuked the Raiders. Over the past 3 weeks, Barber has racked up 73/503/3 rushing (twice topping 200 rushing yards in a game during that span) and 17/138/0 receiving to end the season with 357/1860/9 rushing and 54/530/2 receiving. He's been absolutely awesome during the season's closing weeks.

Carolina fields one of the league's elite defenses, averaging 282.6 total yards allowed per game this year (3rd in the NFL), while ranking 4th vs. opposing rushing attacks, giving up only 91.6 rushing yards per game. Over the past 3 weeks, the Panthers averaged 111.3 rushing yards allowed per game, while surrendering a total of 5 TDs (rushing and receiving). They crushed one of the NFL's best stable of backs in the season finale, though - Atlanta could only muster 15/26/0 against the Panthers. One concern for Carolina is the status of MLB Dan Morgan, who has been limited for weeks by a shoulder injury and couldn't play at all in the season finale. The team hopes that his week of rest will allow him to get back into the action during the playoffs.

Carolina is no pushover in this phase of the game, but they've faded somewhat in the season's closing weeks (even with the great game vs. Atlanta, they coughed up an average of 111.3 rushing yards per game over the final 3 weeks of the season, with 41/214/2 handed over to Dallas in week 16 and 22/94/0 allowed to the Saints' sub-par stable). Barber is on such a tear that this matchup looks pretty even to us, with neither squad holding a big edge over the other. This will be a hard-fought battle on both sides of the ball.

Weather: This game is scheduled for 1 PM ET on Sunday, which should put temperatures near the high end of the forecast for Giants' Stadium: 38F is forecast to be the high, with a low of 31F and a 20% chance of precipitation. That's pretty decent weather for this time of year - as long as the forecast holds up.

NYG Injuries: WR Tim Carter (Questionable), TE Jeremy Shockey (Questionable)
CAR Injuries: LB Dan Morgan (Questionable), LB Brandon Short (Questionable)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense vs Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Back in week 10, these teams battled to a 36-35 decision that went Tampa Bay's way in the game's final minute, on a 2-pt conversion run in by Mike Alstott from the 1 (set up by 2 key defensive penalties on Washington). Alstott accounted for 2 scores during the contest with 9/21/2 (Cadillac Williams was ineffective that day with 10/20/0 rushing) - the Bucs could only muster 27/61/2 rushing as a team, but it was enough to put them over the top.

Williams closed the season running effectively, putting up 22/81/0 vs. New Orleans and compiling 67/254/1 rushing and 4/14/0 receiving over the final 3 weeks of regular season. Michael Pittman ripped off a big run last week, with 1/64/0 and added 3/35/0 in a change-of-pace role, and generally looked pretty impressive last week (7/87/0 rushing and 8/55/0 receiving during the past 3 games). Tampa is tied for 12th in the NFL this season averaging 4.0 yards per carry.

The Redskin's defense finished 9th in the NFL in total yards allowed per game, giving up 297.9 per contest on average. They were 13th vs. opposing rushers, handing over 105.4 rushing yards per game, and allowed 15 rushing scores over 16 games. Over the past 3 weeks, the 'Skins averaged 101.3 rushing yards allowed per contest, with 4 TDs (rushing and receiving) surrendered to their opponents. Philly put up 25/96/0 against them last week. Washington is playing solid rush D coming into the second season.

Tampa didn't have much success yardage-wise against the Redskins last time these teams played, but they did well against them at the goal-line. From where we sit, this looks like a neutral matchup between two talented, but not top-notch, squads.

Weather: This game, scheduled for 4:30 PM ET on Saturday, should enjoy very nice weather conditions - the forecast for Raymond James Stadium calls for a high of 56F with a low of 36F and a 10% chance for precipitation - cool, crisp weather is on tap for this showdown between Tampa Bay and Washington.

TB Injuries: WR Michael Clayton (Out)
WAS Injuries: DL Renaldo Wynn (Probable), DB Shawn Springs (Questionable)


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

These teams are very familiar with each other as they are AFC North rivals - they split the season series during 2005 with Pittsburgh winning at Cincinnati 27-13 (week 7, October 23rd) while Cincinnati won the rematch in Pittsburgh 38-31 (week 13, December 4th). Rudi Johnson enjoyed strong production in the rushing phase of the game during both contests, with 12/65/0 rushing and 2/1/0 receiving week 7, while punching in 2 TDs during the week 13 contest (21/98/2) - he averaged 5.4 yards per carry in the first game and 4.7 yards per carry in the rematch.

Rudi Johnson fizzled out in the season finale vs. K.C., with 10/18/0 rushing and 1/-1/0 receiving, but the team played a rusty Jon Kitna at QB for the bulk of the game and generally conceded the game to Kansas City in order to protect the teams' starters for the playoffs. During the final 3 weeks of the season, Johnson amassed 52/223/2 rushing and 4/21/0 receiving - he played well until the let-down last week. Chris Perry, the change-of-pace back this year, did return to action last week after missing time due to an ankle injury, but was unimpressive with 8/10/0 rushing and 3/9/0 receiving.

The Steelers ranked #3 vs. opposing rushers this year, giving up a mere 85.5 yards per game (they were 4th in the NFL in total yards allowed per game, averaging 283.5 per contest). During the last 3 weeks, they averaged 71.3 rushing yards allowed per game, and didn't give up a rushing TD during that span of time. Detroit put up 25/105/0 against the Steelers in the season finale - they aren't usually so giving in this phase of the game.

Johnson has had better luck against the Steelers than most backs this season, but the Steeler's defense is no joke - look for him to have a tough fight on his hands on Sunday.

Weather: Paul Brown Stadium expects a high of 51F with a low of 37F and a 20% chance of rain on Sunday. The game is set for 4:30 PM, so the temperature should be on the warm end of the scale to start with - weather conditions shouldn't be a huge deal for either team.

CIN Injuries: RB Nicolas Luchey (Probable), WR Chris Henry (Probable)
PIT Injuries: DL Travis Kirschke (Questionable), LB James Harrison (Probable), LB Andre Frazier (Questionable), DB Chidi Iwuoma (Probable), DB Deshea Townsend (Probable)


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense at New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

These teams haven't met in the regular season for the past 2 years, and didn't meet in the pre-season of 2005 either - they aren't nearly as familiar with each other as Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, the other AFC wild-card matchup.

The Jaguars have been forced to utilize their entire stable of backs due to various injuries suffered by Fred Taylor and Greg Jones, both of whom sat out last week for precautionary reasons (Jones was recovering from a neck injury). This year, Taylor has put together 194/787/3 and 13/83/0 receiving over 11 games (33rd fantasy RB in points this year); Greg Jones piled up 151/575/4 rushing and 10/65/0 receiving in his chances when Taylor was sidelined or ineffective (41st fantasy RB in points, over 14 games). The team has averaged 3.9 yards per carry over the season (tied for 16th in the NFL). This week, we expect to see some combination of Taylor and Jones against the Patriots, although LaBrandon Toefield put up a nice 25/102/1 effort vs. Tennessee last week in the season finale.

The Patriots struggled with pass defense practically all year long, but their rush D was respectable, averaging 98.8 yards surrendered per game (8th in the NFL). Over the past 3 weeks, they've averaged 72.6 rushing yards allowed per game, including last week's totals of 40/148/1 handed over to Miami on a day when the Patriots rested some of their key players for much of the game, and did without the injured Tedy Bruschi altogether. Up until the season finale, the Patriots had been smothering opposing backs during December, allowing 84 total rushing yards over the 3 games occurring during weeks 14-16. Keep an eye on Bruschi's progress healing up his calf injury this week, as he is integral to the Patriots' performance as a defensive team.

The Jaguars have a lot of talented players (when healthy), but so do the Patriots - at the Patriots' house, this looks like a tough matchup for the Jaguars' stable.

Weather: This game is scheduled for 8:00 PM ET, so temperatures at Gillette Stadium will start at the cool end of the forecast and grow colder as the game progresses - however, the forecast isn't terrible (for New England), with an expected high of 32F and a low of 12F, with a 20% chance of precipitation. The ball will be hard and slick in below-freezing temperatures, which will make ball handling more difficult than usual for both teams, although New England is more accustomed to extreme temperatures than the Jacksonville squad.

JAX Injuries: QB Byron Leftwich (Probable), RB Greg Jones (Probable), RB Rich Alexis (Probable)
NE Injuries: DL Jarvis Green (Probable), LB Tedy Bruschi (Questionable), DB Artrell Hawkins (Probable), DB Asante Samuel (Probable)


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Back in week 10, these teams battled to a 36-35 decision that went Tampa Bay's way in the game's final minute, on a 2-pt conversion run in by Mike Alstott from the 1 (set up by 2 key defensive penalties on Washington). Clinton Portis blew up the Bucs' defensive front for 23/144/1 rushing (2/9/0 receiving), which was his best rushing effort of the regular season in terms of yards gained and yards-per-carry (6.3).

Last week, Portis slapped down 27/112/2 rushing and 1/5/0 receiving against the Eagles, to run his string of 100+ rushing yard games to 5 in a row (Washington won all 5 games, after dropping 3 straight in which he only rushed for 100+ in 1 of 3 contests). He's scored at least 1 TD in each of his last 3 games, with 77/332/3 rushing, 3/19/0 receiving, and 1/1 for 17 yards and 1 TD passing as icing on the cake. This is the guy we waited for during the first half of 2005. He arrived just in time to power the Redskins into the playoffs.

The Buccaneers are the #1 defense in the NFL in terms of total yards allowed per game (averaging 277.8 per contest), while sporting the #6 rush D in yards per game (94.7 per contest). Last week, they held the Saints' off-season bound stable to 23/71/0, and have averaged 102.6 rushing yards allowed per game over the final 3 weeks of regular season, while surrendering 8 TDs (rushing and receiving) - the 8 TDs is more than we're used to seeing the Buccaneers give up in such a short span - 4 were inflicted by New England during a week 15 drubbing by Tom Brady and company, 28-0, including 3 TD passes by Brady. The Bucs gave up 10 rushing scores over 16 games this year.

Portis had little trouble with Tampa the last time around the block, but the Redskins are visiting Raymond James Stadium again and the playoff intensity will be on (Tampa's fans make up a strong 12th man) - look for him to have a tougher time in his second matchup against the Buccaneers.

Weather: This game, scheduled for 4:30 PM ET on Saturday, should enjoy very nice weather conditions - the forecast for Raymond James Stadium calls for a high of 56F with a low of 36F and a 10% chance for precipitation - cool, crisp weather is on tap for this showdown between Tampa Bay and Washington.

WAS Injuries: none
TB Injuries: DL Simeon Rice (Probable), DB Jermaine Phillips (Questionable)


New England Patriots Rushing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

These teams haven't met in the regular season for the past 2 years, and didn't meet in the pre-season of 2005 either - they aren't nearly as familiar with each other as Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, the other AFC wild-card matchup. New England has struggled to run the ball for most of the season, averaging 3.4 yards-per-carry this year (tied for 29th in the NFL) - their leading rusher this season is Corey Dillon, and he could only amass 209/733/12 with 22/181/1 receiving - his scoring prowess made him a top 20 fantasy RB (16th best fantasy RB in fantasy points this year). However, during the month of December Kevin Faulk got back into the lineup, adding a nice change-of-pace compliment to Dillon (Dillon had 45/125/3 rushing and 4/15/1 receiving during his final 2 games of the season, sitting out the finale to rest a sore calf; Faulk put up 22/68/0 rushing and 6/27/0 receiving during the final 3 games of regular season). They aren't throwing down 200+ yards per game as individuals, but they've restored a legitimate threat to run the ball to the offense, at least.

Jacksonville ranked #6 in total yards allowed per game this season, with 290.9 handed over on average, while ranking #14 vs. opposing rushers (106.8 rushing yards allowed per game, on average). However, the Jags are extremely hard-nosed in the red-zone, giving up a mere 4 rushing TDs over 16 games to lead the league in that category. Over the past 3 weeks, they've been right on pace, giving up 104 rushing yards per game on average, with 4 TDs (rushing and receiving) handed over in that span. The Titans put up 22/99/0 vs. Jacksonville in the season finale. One thing to watch as the week rushes towards the playoff games is the status of MLB Mike Peterson, who suffered a wrist injury last week. The team is denying that his wrist is broken, but he may not be available for this matchup - as he is the top tackler on the team, his absence would be a blow. Also the starting DE's, Reggie Hayward (hamstring) and Paul Spicer (broken hand) both were held out of the team's first practice of the week and are listed as questionable.

This is a bad matchup for the Patriots' running backs stable - neither Dillon nor Faulk has been at the top of their game this season, while the Jaguars are solid vs. opposing rushers and almost impenetrable when it comes to goal-line situations (which has been the saving grace for Dillon owners all year long). If Peterson, Hayward and Spicer can't go for the Jaguars, then this matchup becomes tough, rather than bad, for the Patriots.

Weather: This game is scheduled for 8:00 PM ET, so temperatures at Gillette Stadium will start at the cool end of the forecast and grow colder as the game progresses - however, the forecast isn't terrible (for New England), with an expected high of 32F and a low of 12F, with a 20% chance of precipitation. The ball will be hard and slick in below-freezing temperatures, which will make ball handling more difficult than usual for both teams, although New England is more accustomed to extreme temperatures than the Jacksonville squad.

NE Injuries: QB Tom Brady (Probable), RB Corey Dillon (Probable), RB Heath Evans (Probable), RB Patrick Pass (Probable), WR Bethel Johnson (Probable), TE Christian Fauria (Probable), TE Daniel Graham (Probable)
JAX Injuries: DL Reggie Hayward (Questionable), DL Paul Spicer (Questionable), LB Mike Peterson (Questionable), DB Kenny Wright (Probable)




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