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  Passing Matchups  

Week 2 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.


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

Atlanta fields a run-oriented offense. They jammed 40/200/2 down the Eagle's throat last week, led by Warrick Dunn's 21/117/0 (Vick added 11/68/1; Duckett punched in a score with 8/15/1 worth of work). They were the top rush attack of 2004 and look like they'll be in the top 3 among the 32 NFL teams again this year.

Seattle gave up 119 total rushing yards to Fred Taylor and company last week (0 TDs) on their way to defeat - they were 22nd in the league on opening day in this department. Last year they allowed an average of 126.9 rushing yards per game (with 17 rushing scores given up), which slotted them at 23rd in the league by year's end. It looks like more of the same is coming up to start 2005.

Neither the Falcons' rush attack nor the Seahawks front 7 reports any injury worries in this phase of the game.

The forecast for Qwest field calls for a high of 69F and a low of 52F with a 10% chance of rain. It should be a great day to tailgate and watch a football game.

One of the best rushing attacks in the game faces a soft rush defense in this matchup. Advantage, Atlanta.


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense at Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Jamal Lewis got off to a slow start last week (16/48/0 rushing with 1/4/0 receiving) as his QBs once again let down the offense. It's hard to find running room when the other team doesn't respect the pass. Indianapolis defenders were penetrating into the offensive backfield with regularity, too. With the albatross of the Ravens' anemic pass attack hung around Lewis' neck, it may be hard to find many lanes to exploit. This week, though, the Ravens' offense faces off against a defense that was destroyed by Pittsburgh in the opener.

Tennessee's defense is young, inexperienced and not blessed with a lot of high-profile talent. That became apparent quickly in week 1, when Willie Parker ripped this group for 22/161/1 (a 7.3 yards per carry average) and the Steelers slapped down 41/206/2 as a team. This is not a good defense, folks.

OLB Keith Bulluck (Calf), DE Antwan Odom (Knee), and OLB Cody Spencer (Abdomen) are listed as questionable by the Titans as of Wednesday. RB Jamal Lewis is probable to play despite a broken finger on his left hand.

The Coliseum in Nashville expects a high of 87F with a low of 67F and a 20% chance for precipitation as of mid-week. Sounds like great football weather to us.

Baltimore struggled last week, but this looks like as good a matchup as they're likely to see for a while.


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Once Rudi Johnson got into the game (Chris Perry started due to a team disciplinary matter, but failed to impress in his chance with 5/11/0 rushing before giving way to Johnson) he did very well against the Browns, racking up 26/126/1 rushing and 2/12/0 receiving. He landed at #5 among all fantasy running backs last week on the strength of his effort - it looks like Johnson is picking up in 2005 where he left off in 2004, among the top 10 backs in the NFL.

Minnesota, on the other hand, was handed an embarrassing defeat by Tampa Bay to open the season, and part of the reason they lost big was their poor rush defense. Rookie Cadillac Williams, in his first real NFL game, tore off a 71 yard TD run in the 4th quarter and totaled 27/148/1 on the day. They are on pace to finish much worse than last year's 21st ranked unit (when Minnesota allowed an average of 125.4 rushing yards per game and 15 rushing scores total).

MLB Sam Cowart is questionable due to a calf injury for the Vikings. Cincinnati reports no new injuries of note on their squad in this phase of the game.

The weather service says Paul Brown Stadium will enjoy almost perfect football weather on Sunday (80F for a high, 62F for a low, 20% chance of rain) - conditions shouldn't be much of a factor in this matchup.

Minnesota looks even softer to open 2005 than they did during 2004, while the Bengals offense is barreling along like a freight train - the Bengals have a big edge over the visitors this week.


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Ahman Green looked strong in his opportunities vs. Detroit (12/58/0 rushing with 5/34/0 receiving) - he just didn't get enough touches to rack up huge fantasy points. He ended the week at 24th among fantasy RBs. Hopefully, this week the rushing game will be accorded a larger role during the game (Najeh Davenport only got 3/0/0 last week).

Cleveland was mauled by the Bengals in this phase last week, allowing 26/126/1 to the non-starting Rudi Johnson (6/22/0 to everyone else)-- 148 yards and 1 TD to the Bengals altogether. That's not too good, folks. This unit was dead last during 2004 averaging 144.6 rushing yards allowed per game, and the new-look D isn't performing any better than last year's edition (which has mostly relocated to Denver - the Broncos got whipped by the Dolphins last week, BTW).

OLB Matt Stewart (Knee) is out for the Browns, while DE Orpheus Roye (Knee) is questionable to play. Green Bay has a clean bill of health in this phase of the game.

The forecast for Lambeau Field calls for a high of 72F and a low of 53F with a 30% chance for rain. As long as the moisture holds off, it should be a great day to play some football.

Green Bay knows how to run the ball, while the Browns have yet to show any ability at stopping the run. Advantage, Green Bay.


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

The combination of Tiki Barber and Brandon Jacobs got off to a great start last week, combining for 2 rushing scores (Barber had 13/62/1 rushing with 2/60/0 receiving, while Jacobs threw down 6/39/1 rushing). The team averaged 4.8 yards per carry - this year's version of "Thunder and Lightning" looks pretty formidable. Barber owners are going to see Jacobs shoulder part of the load this year, but Barber is still the featured runner - he'll lose some short-yardage TDs to Jacobs, though, without a doubt.

The Saints surrendered 25/141/1 to the Panthers last week, ranking 24th in the league after one week of action. Last season, they ranked 30th in the league while surrendering 140.8 rushing yards per game - it doesn't appear much has changed since then.

OT Kareem McKenzie (Ankle) is questionable to play this week for the Giants, while the Saints list MLB Alfred Fincher (Hand) and OLB James Allen (Knee) as questionable as of Wednesday.

This game will be played on Monday night at Giants' Stadium, so the temperature should be closer to the forecast low of 62F (high of 80F). With only a 20% chance of precipitation, it sounds like a great night for football is on tap.

The Giants have a powerful tandem of running backs, while the Saints are vulnerable to the run. Advantage, New York.


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense at Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Steelers trampled Tennessee last week, with 41/206/2 rushing as a team - Willie Parker seized the starting job (for another week, at least) with 22/161/1 rushing and 1/48/0 receiving. After the game, Coach Cowher indicated that he wouldn't be switching to Duce Staley or Jerome Bettis this week. We'll see if the youngster can keep the veterans on the bench - he looks really strong right now, though.

Houston's defense started out 2005 much more vulnerable vs. the run -- the 2004 Texans gave up an average of 115.2 rushing yards per game (13th in the league) while this year's edition coughed up 152 yards to Willis McGahee and company last week. The Texans were utterly dominated by the Bills in all phases of the game - they don't look like a solid defense at this early stage of the season.

G Alan Faneca (Quadricep) and T's Marvel Smith (Knee) and Max Starks (Ankle) are all probable to play (Bettis is doubtful due to the calf injury, Staley is questionable due to his surgically repaired knee). The Texans' defensive front comes into the game healthy.

The roof will probably be rolled back in Houston this weekend, as the forecast calls for a high of 93F with a low of 71F and a 0% chance of rain. It'll be hot and sticky, but the field will be in good shape. Some players will probably struggle with cramps due to the heat and humidity...

Pittsburgh brings one of the league's greatest rushing attacks to the table, while the Texans are weak in this phase. Advantage, Pittsburgh.


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

As a team, Cleveland had trouble generating much in the way of rushing offense last week (18/95/0 as a team), although Reuben Droughns ran well when given the ball (12/78/0 with a long of 24, and 3/22/0 receiving). The yard per carry average was very good (6.5 on Droughns' part, 5.3 as a team), but fantasy points were lacking due to the light load handed to the RBs.

Green Bay looked pretty lackadaisical vs. the Lions, allowing a total of 102 rushing yards to Kevin Jones and company in the loss. It wasn't a terrible performance, but no one would mistake it for a Steel Curtain, either. The Pack was mediocre last year in this phase (allowing an average of 117.4 rushing yards per game (14th in the NFL) with 12 rushing scores given up), and they seem to be on the same level to open 2005.

OLB Na'il Diggs (Knee) is questionable to play this week. Cleveland lists RB Lee Suggs as questionable due to his bad ankle - Suggs missed the season opener due to this injury.

The forecast for Lambeau Field calls for a high of 72F and a low of 53F with a 30% chance for rain. As long as the moisture holds off, it should be a great day to play some football.

Cleveland had a decent start in this phase of the game last week, while the Packers failed to impress. Advantage, Cleveland.


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense vs San Diego Chargers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Denvers' starting RB, Mike Anderson, only made it through 5 carries before being knocked out of the game with a painful rib injury. He's listed as questionable with rib cartilage separation, and may not make it through a full game even if he should start. His backup, Tatum Bell, was not impressive in his chance after Anderson went down, 13/47/0 rushing with 1/13/0 receiving - the Broncos' running game is in turmoil right now.

San Diego dropped a heart-breaker in the opener, folding to the Cowboys in the 4th quarter. They surrendered a healthy chunk of yardage to the Dallas backs, 26/93/1 to Julius Jones, 3/9/0 to Anthony Thomas, and even 4/7/0 to usually-immobile Drew Bledsoe. They are currently the 21st ranked rush D in the land, after ranking 3rd in the NFL allowing 81.7 rushing yards per game during 2004. They have regressed in this phase of the game to open 2005.

Anderson is officially listed as questionable due to his rib injury, while T's George Foster (Ankle) and Cornell Green (Knee) are probable to play. DE Igor Olshansky (Ankle) is doubtful to play on Sunday for the Chargers.

The forecast for Mile High Stadium calls for a high of 81F with a low of 51f and a 30% chance for rain. If the rain comes down hard at game-time, footing and ball handling could be issues for both teams.

Whoever starts and plays for the Broncos will have a decent shot at a strong game, but we won't know until closer to game day who the starter will be. Pay attention to the injury reports on Thursday and Friday to see if Anderson has been able to practice during the week.


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Kevin Jones had a solid but unexciting debut, rushing 25/87/0 and receiving 2 passes for 9 yards. He didn't break off a long run during the game (his long run was 7 yards) and his 3.5 yards per carry were much less than we'd like to see. However, he is clearly the work-horse back for Detroit this year. With Harrington and company putting up respectable passing numbers, he'll find some seams to exploit.

Chicago, though ranking only 25th in the NFL last season in yards allowed per game (128.1 rushing yards per game, held opponents to a mere 9 rushing scores during the 16 game slate. To start this year, they coughed up 164 yards to Clinton Portis and company during week 1, but they denied the Redskins any trips into the end-zone.

Detroit lists G Damien Woody (Shoulder) as probable to play (FB Cory Schlesinger is listed as out due to his broken leg). Chicago's defense is in good shape coming into this game.

The forecast for Soldier field calls for a high of 76F and a low of 61F with a 40% chance for rain. If the rain comes down hard at game time, it could create a sloppy, slick field - conditions might not be optimal for either teams' offense.

Jones has a soft defensive front to exploit -- expect him to do well in this division rivalry.


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense at Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

What can you say - 2 great running backs with huge holes to run through = NFL success. The Chiefs were 3rd in rushing yardage to open the season (198 total rushing yards) and 1st in rushing TDs with 3. Holmes and Johnson both looked great, with Holmes seeing about 2/3 of the carries (but Johnson got the chance to knife through some gaping holes and was more productive last week). A big concern for both backs, though, is the status of Pro-Bowl LT Willie Roaf, who pulled his hamstring during the game and may be limited in this game. The Chiefs' offense was not nearly as impressive when he was sidelined by the injury - we'll see if Jordan Black and Chris Bober can run block adequately if Roaf is out. As a side note, Holmes has notched 2 of his 4 career 100 yard+ receiving games vs. Oakland.

The Raiders had mixed results against the Patriots in this phase last week. Initially they frustrated Corey Dillon, but by day's end the Patriots had racked up 31/73/2 (23/63/2 for Dillon) - a low yardage total, but those 6 pointers are what matters. Oakland coughed up 21 rushing scores and an average of 125.8 rushing yards per game during 2004, so allowing 2 rushing scores in a game is not unexpected. They just aren't very strong in this phase of the game, regardless of where Warren Sapp lines up.

The word early in the week was that Roaf won't play this weekend, but on Wednesday he's listed as questionable, along with fellow T Kevin Sampson (Toe) and FB Tony Richardson (Knee). The Raiders' defensive front enters the game in good health.

The forecast for McAfee Coliseum calls for a high of 67F and a low of 53F with a 20% chance of rain - perfect football weather, in other words.

The Chiefs have 2 strong backs and a solid OL even with Roaf sidelined, while the Raiders are suspect. Home field advantage will help the defenders, but the Chiefs still have an edge in this matchup.


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

Miami comes into the game in the process of breaking in a new starting RB, Ronnie Brown. Brown had a hard time finding running room vs. Denver in the early going last week, but seemed to find his game legs as the day advanced. He ended up with an unspectacular 22/57/0 rushing with 1/4/0 receiving, but he's definitely the workhorse back for now. If he can get off to a better start this week, he could have a nice game. The Jets' vaunted "swiss cheese" front 7 will help out - read on.

The Jets stunk on opening day. They gave up 198 rushing yards and 3 rushing scores to the Chiefs. They looked completely unable to find an answer to the Chief's rushing game. Forget last year - this defense is in the tank to start 2005. On the positive note, the Chief rushing game is about as good as it gets.

Ronnie Brown is probable to play despite a sore shoulder, while the Jets report that DE Trevor Johnson (Head) is out for this weekend.

The forecast for Giants' Stadium calls for a high of 80F and a low of 62F with a 20% chance for rain - that is great football weather, in our opinion.

The Dolphins come into this game on a high note, while their division rivals are reeling. Unless the Jets' coaching staff does a much better job of preparing their team to play, it could be a long day for the Jets' faithful.


New England Patriots Rushing Offense at Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

It was a tale of 2 halves for Corey Dillon last week - he looked sluggish and ineffective to open the game vs. Oakland, but roared back later in the game and ended the day with 23/63/2 rushing and 2/30/0 receiving. It wasn't his best game ever, but it was far from his worst. Considering that he was the 8th best fantasy RB during 2004, with 345/1635/12 rushing and 15/103/1 receiving, we're not ready to panic over one sub-par rushing effort.

Carolina's rush defense stumbled out of the gates during week 1, allowing 101 rushing yards and 2 rushing scores to hurricane-weary New Orleans. They also received the devastating news that key DE Kris Jenkins has been lost for the season due to an ACL injury during the past few days - the Panther's front 7 is in turmoil at the moment and looks suspect in this phase of the game.

DT Kris Jenkins (Knee)is out, of course, while DT Jordan Carstens (Ankle) and OLB Brandon Short (Foot) are probable to play for Carolina. T Brandon Gorin (Thigh) is questionable for the Patriots.

The forecast for Bank of America Stadium calls for a high of 85F and a low of 61F with a 20% chance of rain. It sounds like a great day for football is on tap in the Piedmont.

Home field advantage is at the back of the defense, but the World Champs have a very efficient, effective and healthy offense to throw at the Panthers. We give the Patriots an edge in this matchup.


San Diego Chargers Rushing Offense at Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Inexplicably, LaDainian Tomlinson was under-utilized last week, seeing a mere 19/72/1 rushing and 0 receptions. In the fourth quarter when the game was on the line, the ball never came his way in 4 goal-line attempts. This is one of those things that make us go hmmmm. Anyway, we don't expect the Chargers to continue to underutilize Tomlinson against their divisional arch-foes, the Broncos. He had 30/113/2 rushing and 5/17/0 receiving when last these teams met in week 13 of 2004.

Denver got demolished by the Dolphins last week in this phase, allowing a total of 151 rushing yards and 1 rushing score to Miami's cast of rushers. True, 61 of the yards came on an end-around by Chris Chambers (rookie Ronnie Brown only managed 22/57/0 in the work-horse role), but the bottom line is that the Broncos got beat up in this phase overall during the opener. As the game progressed, Brown got stronger and made positive yardage, whereas early in the game he really struggled to do much vs Denver. Denver looked a far cry from the team that ranked 4th in the NFL while averaging 94.5 rushing yards allowed during 2004.

DE Courtney Brown (Elbow) is listed as probable to play this week. San Diego's unit reports no injuries of note on their squad in this phase of the game.

The forecast for Mile High Stadium calls for a high of 81F with a low of 51f and a 30% chance for rain. If the rain comes down hard at game-time, footing and ball handling could be issues for both teams.

Tomlinson is a great talent, meanwhile the Broncos are reeling from an unexpected defeat (but will have their massive home-field advantage to help them out). We call this an edge for San Diego.


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Willis McGahee saw lots of touches last week, with 22/117/0 rushing and 3/15/0 receiving (12th best fantasy RB in the land last week) while new starting QB J.P. Losman was initiated into the NFL. The Bills' D put the offense in great situations all day long as they utterly dominated Houston - this team is really strong, overall. McGahee averaged 5.3 yards per carry (the team averaged 4.2 ypc as a whole, with 36/152/0). It's all good for the Bills right now.

Tampa dominated the Vikings in the rushing game last week, allowing a mere 26 rushing yards and 0 TDs to the Minnesota stable of backs. That's about as strong of a game as you'll ever see in this phase at the NFL level. Last year, Tampa was tough to score on (only 8 rushing scores allowed), but fairly generous with yardage (19th in the NFL allowing 123.3 rushing yards per game) -they look more stubborn coming into 2005.

Tampa's defense is in good shape coming into this game, the Bills' reserve RB Shaud Williams (ankle) is probable to play. Injuries aren't a huge problem for either team.

The forecast for Raymond James Stadium calls for a high of 92F and a low of 74F with a 30% chance of rain - hot and muggy conditions for certain. A team not used to Florida weather may be subject to dehydration and cramping in such conditions - Buffalo could have issues due to the heat. If the rain comes down hard around game-time, footing/field conditions could also adversely impact both teams.

Two top units lock horns in this game - neither has a decisive advantage over the other.


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense vs New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Stephen Davis got his legs under him in week 1, rolling up 13/81/1 rushing with a long of 39 yards. DeShaun Foster saw 9 carries for 41 yards and 3/15/0 receiving - the workload is being split fairly evenly between the two at this point, although Davis had more success on the ground last week. The team averaged 5.6 yards per carry during the opener - the OL is doing their job in this phase of the game.

New England limited the Raiders' new-look RB stable to 92 rushing yards and 0 TDs last week, opening the season fairly strong (13th in the NFL last week). They averaged 98.3 rushing yards allowed per game last year (6th in the NFL) and only surrendered 9 rushing scores during 16 games - it looks like they are back on a top-ten pace in this phase of the game again.

OLB Tully Banta-Cain (Knee), DE Jarvis Green (Shoulder), and DE Richard Seymour (Thigh) are listed as questionable to play by the Patriots. The Panthers report a clean bill of health on their squad.

The forecast for Bank of America Stadium calls for a high of 85F and a low of 61F with a 20% chance of rain. It sounds like a great day for football is on tap in the Piedmont.

Two strong units will battle it out in this game - neither one seems to have a decisive edge over the other.


Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense vs Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Julius Jones got off to a solid start last week, with 26/93/1 rushing and 3/18/0 receiving during the Cowboys' victory. Backup Anthony Thomas had 3 carries for 9 yards in the game, so he hasn't eaten into Jones' touches much at all so far during regular season. With the Cowboy's passing game looking pretty strong, teams won't be able to load up the box during 2005 - Jones should find seams to exploit more often than not.

Washington almost completely shut down Thomas Jones and company last week, giving up a mere 41 rushing yards (with 1 rushing score surrendered), but they were facing a rookie QB in his first start, so loading up the box against the run and daring the Bears to throw was a no-brainer strategy. This group was second in the NFL last year, though, surrendering only 81.5 rushing yards per game (and 9 TDs over 16 games) -- they are definitely a quality front 7, even if they haven't been truly tested just yet this season.

Dallas has a clean bill of health in this phase of the game, while DT Brandon Noble (Knee) is out and OLB Chris Clemons (Hamstring)is questionable to play for the Redskins on Monday night.

The forecast for Texas Stadium on Monday night calls for a high of 94F with a low of 70F and a 10% chance of rain. Considering kickoff is at 9 PM ET, expect temps to be at the low end of that range - an excellent night to play football is on tap.

Dallas has a strong rushing attack, but the Redskins are an excellent defense. Both teams play hard during the meetings between these division rivals - neither one looks like they have a decisive edge over the other in this game.


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Fred Taylor came out of the first test of his knee with a decent game, 20/76/0 rushing and 2/14/0 receiving. He didn't explode for a long gallop in the first game, with a long of 9 yards, but he did look comfortable in the backfield. As a team the Jags threw down 31/119/0, which works out to a 3.8 yards per carry average. That's lower than we'd like to see, but not cause for panic after just one game.

Nobody expected the Colts to dominate Jamal Lewis last week, but they did just that, limiting the Ravens to 77 total rushing yards and 0 TDs (Lewis eked out 16/48/0 during the game). The Colts' rush D was very impressive during the opener, and look significantly improved over last year's 24th ranked unit (127.3 rushing yards allowed per game). They flowed to the ball aggressively and gang-tackled with abandon on Sunday night. One game does not a season make, and the Ravens lack a credible passing game, but even so it was a "statement" sort of game for the Colts' D.

The Colts are pretty banged up coming into this game: DT Vincent Burns (Knee), OLB Gilbert Gardner (Ankle), and DE Jonathan Welsh (Knee) are out. DT Montae Reagor (Groin), DE Josh Thomas (Knee) and DT Larry Tripplett (Knee) are questionable, while DE Raheem Brock (Knee) is probable. That's an awful lot of walking wounded along the defensive front. Jacksonville lists FB Derrick Wimbush (Hamstring) as probable.

This game will be played in the RCA Dome, so weather isn't going to be an issue.

The Colts are playing strongly in this phase to open 2005, and they have home-field advantage this week. They need to get their defensive line healthier, though -- pay attention to the injury reports on Thursday and Friday to see if they upgrade some of these players (and to see if the DL players practice or not). Taylor and company may face a stiff challenge in this game if the majority of the Colts defenders are feeling better by Sunday.


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

LaMont Jordan put together over 100 yards combined last week (18/70/0 rushing and 5/40/0 receiving) in his new role as featured back. He's the keystone of the Raiders' rushing attack (Zack Crockett pitched in with 3/20/0 in a situational role). All told, the Raiders rushed for 22/92/0 against the Patriots' tough D - it was a solid way to start the 2005 season. Jordan looks like he'll be strong in most fantasy scoring formats, and great in leagues that award points for receptions.

The Chief's rush defense did a very creditable job vs. the vaunted Curtis Martin, limiting the Jets to 57 rushing yards and 0 scores as a team. It's a far cry from their 114.6 yards allowed per game average from 2004 (when they also allowed 18 rushing scores, near the bottom of the league in rush TDs given away). In general, the defense looked much improved on opening day.

Early in the week reports indicated that DT Ryan Sims (Foot) would not play this weekend, but on Wednesday he's listed as questionable. LB Rich Scanlon is probable to play despite a sore shoulder. Backup RB Justin Fargas (Knee) is probable for the Raiders.

The forecast for McAfee Coliseum calls for a high of 67F and a low of 53F with a 20% chance of rain - perfect football weather, in other words.

The Raiders have a promising new running back to spark their offense, while the Chiefs look like they are remembering how to play rush defense. This one looks fairly even to us.


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Philadelphia couldn't get the ground game going during week 1, being stuffed by Atlanta to the tune of 14/51/0 during the game. Brian Westbrook was his usual dual-threat self, with 12/47/0 rushing and 7/64/1 receiving (he scored the only Philadelphia TD in the game), so he ended up 9th among fantasy RBs during week 1. The Eagles struggled to move the ball on the ground, though.

San Francisco shocked the football nation last week by defeating the high-flying Rams. They did so in part by limiting the Rams' rushing game to 89 total yards and 0 rushing scores. The defense looked much improved over the 20th ranked unit that surrendered 22 rushing scores last season. We'll see if they can sustain their fast start, but the team definitely got started in the right direction.

Both teams report no injuries of note in this phase of the game.

The Forecast for Lincoln Financial Field calls for a high of 80F and a low of 61F with a 20% chance of rain. It should be a great day for a football game if the forecast holds up.

The Eagles' rushing game didn't soar week 1, while the 49ers defenders appear to have improved their game quite a bit. We think this is a fairly even matchup.


St. Louis Rams Rushing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The 49ers kept Steven Jackson in check, holding him to 19/60/0 rushing and 3/13/0 receiving, while the Rams as a team scraped up 26/89/0 in this phase of the game (a poor 3.4 yards per carry as a team). 3.4 yards per carry won't get the job done in the NFL. The OL needs to open up more room for Jackson to run.

The Cardinals were very vulnerable to the Giants' attack last week, allowing 25/121/2 to the Giant's tandem of Barber and Jacobs. That placed them at 23rd in the NFL to date. They were 27th in the NFL last year, averaging 131.6 rushing yards allowed per game - apparently, not a lot has changed in Arizona, at least so far.

MLB Gerald Hayes (Knee) is out for Arizona, and fellow MLB James Darling (Knee) is doubtful to play. DT Darnell Dockett (stomach) is probable. St. Louis comes in down T Rex Tucker (Calf, out).

This game is going to be hot - as in blazing hot on the field. The forecast calls for a high of 101F, and with kickoff at 4:15, it's bound to be near or higher than that on the field. There is a 20% chance for rain, but don't count on it. Cramping/dehydration are bound to be issues in conditions like these.

Neither team is on top of their game in this phase - we think this looks like a pretty even matchup.


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense vs St. Louis Rams Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Arizona fell flat on their collective face in this phase of the game last week. Kurt Warner led the team with 3/11/0 rushing, while the guys whose job it is to run the ball, J.J. Arrington (8/5/0) and Marcel Shipp (7/10/0) were completely stymied by the Giants. The center of the Cardinals line was injury depleted last week (see below), but 31 rushing yards in any game is ridiculously low at this level. We'll see if the OL can get their act together and create some seams for the backs to exploit - last week's game doesn't make us very excited about starting a Cardinal back this week, though.

The Rams are playing much better in this phase to open 2005, having limited the 49ers to 34 yards rushing (1 rushing score) on 21 carries last week (1.5 yards per carry). That performance is light-years from the teams 2004 average of 136.2 rushing yards allowed per game (29th in the NFL). How much of the improvement is due to the Rams' offseason tinkering and how much was due to the ineptitude of Kevan Barlow and company remains to be seen, but it was an impressive way to open the 2005 season.

Starting C Alex Stepanovich (Hand) and backup C Nick Leckey (Ankle), who both missed last week's game, are probable to play in week 2, so hopefully the return of the keystone in the OL will help create some running room for Arrington and Shipp. The Rams' defensive front comes into the game in good shape.

This game is going to be hot - as in blazing hot on the field. The forecast calls for a high of 101F, and with kickoff at 4:15, it's bound to be near or higher than that on the field. There is a 20% chance for rain, but don't count on it. Cramping/dehydration are bound to be issues in conditions like these.

The Rams are playing much better rush defense to open 2005, while the Cardinals are off to a rocky start. Arizona will have an uphill battle on their hands this week -- advantage, St. Louis./dehydration are bound to be issues in conditions like these.


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense vs Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Thomas Jones had a hard time finding running room in the game vs. Washington (15/31/1) - the Redskins keyed on the Bears' rush attack and dared their rookie QB to move the ball down the field, which he had trouble accomplishing. Expect the Lions to employ a similar strategy this week. Cedric Benson got his feet wet at the end of the game, but was a non-factor (3/10/0). Expect him to see more action each week.

The Lions stuffed Ahman Green and company last week, allowing only 46 rushing yards to the Packers as a team (0 TDs). They ruled at the line of scrimmage in this phase (and also sacked Favre 4 times), getting good penetration more often than not during the game. In the early going they look like a significantly better rush D than last years' 15th ranked squad.

Detroit lists a couple of LBs on the injury report: MLB Teddy Lehman (Knee)and OLB Alex Lewis (Ankle) are both questionable to play. Chicago's unit has a clean bill of health.

The forecast for Soldier field calls for a high of 76F and a low of 61F with a 40% chance for rain. If the rain comes down hard at game time, it could create a sloppy, slick field - conditions might not be optimal for either teams' offense.

The Lions have a good chance to be 2-0 in the NFC North after this week, and they will be going all out in Chicago. Advantage, Detroit.


Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Indianapolis started off 2005 with a tough matchup against the Ravens, and Edgerrin James had a challenging night. He put up 23/88/0 rushing and 3/26/0 receiving, which constitutes a very solid outing vs. the talented Ravens' defense. It wasn't a fantasy bonanza, but he ranked 16th among all fantasy backs in points last week. That's a great game against the Ravens.

Jacksonville frustrated the Seahawks last week in this phase of the game, giving up only 97 rushing yards and 0 TDs to Seattle. They were very tough to score on last year (only 7 rushing scores surrendered over 16 games), and it looks like the Jags are picking up where they left off 2004 (when they were 11th in the league averaging only 111.1 rushing yards given up per contest). As a side not, Jacksonville has allowed Manning to go over 300 yards passing in only 2 of their 6 meetings since becoming division rivals in the AFC South.

RB Dominic Rhodes (Foot)is questionable to play this week. Jacksonville comes into this game healthy amongst their rush defenders.

This game will be played in the RCA Dome, so weather isn't going to be an issue.

It's never easy to run the ball on Jack Del Rios' defense, and this game doesn't figure to be any different.


Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Minnesota's rush offense looked pathetic last week, barely managing to scrape up positive yards vs Tampa (26 total rushing yards as a team during week 1). They may have lost the services of starting LT Bryant McKinnie due to an ankle/foot injury during that debacle, to top off the misery. Look carefully at your other RB options this week.

Cincinnati had it's way with Cleveland last week, limiting Reuben Droughns and company to 18/95/0 on the ground, tying them for 14th in the league after 1 week. That number is a big improvement from their average of 128.9 rushing yards allowed per game during 2004 - it looks like the Bengals have got their rush D moving in the right direction so far.

To compound the Vikings' difficulties, C Anthony Herrera (Leg) and T Bryant McKinnie (Foot) are both questionable to play this week - the OL needs all the help it can get right now, so missing McKinnie would be a tough blow to the Vikings. The Bengals report no injury worries in this phase of the game.

The weather service says Paul Brown Stadium will enjoy almost perfect football weather on Sunday (80F for a high, 62F for a low, 20% chance of rain) - conditions shouldn't be much of a factor in this matchup.

Minnesota's muddled backfield faces a stout defense this week - there may not be many fantasy points to share out among the committee of backs.


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Deuce McAllister had trouble finding much room to roam against the Panthers last week (26/64 for a 2.5 yards per carry average, and 2/5/0 receiving), but he did managed to punch in two short goal-line scores. The Saints as a team had 33/101/1 (a 3.1 yards per carry average), so their OL isn't creating much in the way of holes right now.

The Cardinals couldn't get anything going against the Giants' front 7 last week, eking out 31 rushing yards as a team (0 rushing scores). The Cardinal's offensive line is highly regarded, which means the Giants did a heck of a job in the opener. Last year the Giants were 28th in the league vs. the run, averaging 134.8 rushing yards allowed per game. This year's group looks much better than the 2004 edition.

OLB Barrett Green (Knee) is questionable to play on Monday night for the Giants, while New Orleans reports a clean bill of health in this phase of the game.

This game will be played on Monday night at Giants' Stadium, so the temperature should be closer to the forecast low of 62F (high of 80F). With only a 20% chance of precipitation, it sounds like a great night for football is on tap.

The Saints had trouble running against a top rush defense last week, and face another one in this matchup, in the defenses' house. Advantage, Giants.


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

The Jets were horrible in this phase of the game on opening day, averaging 2.5 yards per carry as a team (Curtis Martin gained 20/57/0 on the ground, with 3/20/0 receiving). The offensive line did not get the job done, and Martin had little room to maneuver. It was a thoroughly disappointing outing for Martin owners.

The Dolphins drilled the Broncos last week, and they did it in part due to a strong rush D. 20/70/0 was what the Denver attack mustered on the ground, due in part to a huge point deficit run up by Miami's resurgent offense. Forget last year, coach Nick Saban has turned things around in a hurry. Zach Thomas had 8 tackles and 6 assists, and brother-in-law Jason Taylor stripped the ball from Plummer and ran the fumble back for a TD to ice the game in the 4th quarter.

OLB Eddie Moore (Knee) is the only Dolphin defender on the injury report (probable to play). The Jets report no injury concerns.

The forecast for Giants' Stadium calls for a high of 80F and a low of 62F with a 20% chance for rain - that is great football weather, in our opinion.

The Jets are struggling in this phase right now, while the Dolphins are playing inspired defense. Advantage, Miami.


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

Shaun Alexander had 14/73/0 rushing vs. the tough Jaguars last week (a 5.2 yards-per-carry average) - he did well when the ball was placed in his hands. However, the team was playing catchup for most of the second half, and that limited Alexander's chances. He didn't grab any passes, and ended up 32nd among all fantasy backs in points last week.

Atlanta limited Philly's stable on Monday night, holding Westbrook and company to 51 net rushing yards and 0 TDs. The Falcons were very aggressively flying to the ball and gang-tackling in a state bordering on frenzy. Last year they gave up way too many rushing scores (20), but that wasn't a problem in the opener.

Atlanta lists OLB Keith Brooking (Foot) as probable to play Sunday, while Seattle OT's Floyd Womack (triceps) and Wayne Hunter (knee) are out and doubtful, respectively. Womack is a starter on the OL - his absence doesn't help the Seahawks cause any.

The forecast for Qwest field calls for a high of 69F and a low of 52F with a 10% chance of rain. It should be a great day to tailgate and watch a football game.

Atlanta deploys a strong rush defense, which the Seahawks will counter with one of the games elite running backs. It'll be a tough matchup. If another OL goes down, Seattle could be in trouble as they are getting thin.


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Kevan Barlow continued his string of underwhelming performances on game day with a weak 14/22/1 rushing, 2/17/0 receiving effort last week. He just isn't moving the ball up field when he gets it in his hands. Frank Gore had 4/17/0 rushing in his chances, so we know that there is some running room to be had - but so far Barlow isn't having much luck finding it.

Philadelphia succumbed to Atlanta's strong rush attack on Monday night, allowing 40/200/2 to the Falcon's vaunted trio of Dunn/Duckett/Vick. Only the Titans did worse in week 1. They were fair last year in this department, ranking 16th in the NFL averaging 118.9 rushing yards allowed per game - the Eagles are not off to an encouraging start.

C Jeremy Newberry (Knee) is probable to play despite his ongoing struggle with knee problems (no cartilage in his knees). Philly's defensive front is healthy for this game.

The Forecast for Lincoln Financial Field calls for a high of 80F and a low of 61F with a 20% chance of rain. It should be a great day for a football game if the forecast holds up.

Two struggling units face off in this phase of the game - neither looks impressive. Home field advantage tilts the scales to Philadelphia, in our opinion.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Cadillac Williams rolled through the Vikings' defense last week, racking up 27/148/1 during the game (with a long gallop of 71 yards to score a TD during the 4th quarter). He's fresh and strong - it was a very impressive NFL debut. As a team, the Bucs rushed for 31/146/1. Williams is clearly the centerpiece of this attack.

Buffalo dominated the Texans last week, allowing 23/95/1 to Houston runners. They were a top 10 rush D during 2004, giving up 100.3 rushing yards (6th in the NFL) and only 6 rushing scores over 16 games - usually they are very tough vs. opposing running backs.

G Matt Stinchcomb (Lower Back) is questionable for the Bucs this week (he couldn't practice or play last week). MLB Angelo Crowell (Groin) is listed as probable by the Bills.

The forecast for Raymond James Stadium calls for a high of 92F and a low of 74F with a 30% chance of rain - hot and muggy conditions for certain. A team not used to Florida weather may be subject to dehydration and cramping in such conditions - Buffalo could have issues due to the heat. If the rain comes down hard around game-time, footing/field conditions could also adversely impact both teams.

It's just not easy to move the ball on Buffalo - they're tough on everybody, in all phases of the game. We like the rookie Williams, but this is going to be a tough matchup.


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Chris Brown did well in his chances last week (11/63/0), but in an ominous turn of events for Brown owners, the team split carries between Brown and Travis Henry (10/35/0). Neither player caught a pass. Pittsburgh built up a huge lead in this game, so the backs didn't see as many carries as the team would like - from the fantasy perspective, it looks like we may have a RBBC on our hands, folks.

Edgerrin James managed 23/88/0 vs Baltimore last week (with a long run of 18 yards)- Baltimore was 11th in the league during week 1 allowing a total of 86 rushing yards in the game. They were 8th in the NFL last year, averaging 105.1 rushing yards allowed per game (with only 9 rushing scores given up) - they looked equally tough on Sunday Night, especially during the first half.

T Brad Hopkins (Knee) is listed as questionable by the Titans, while the Ravens say report DE Terrell Suggs (Back, questionable) and OLB Peter Boulware (Knee, probable) are banged up. The Coliseum in Nashville expects a high of 87F with a low of 67F and a 20% chance for precipitation as of mid-week. Sounds like great football weather to us.

Baltimore plays hard-nosed rush defense - it is always tough to move the ball on the ground against them. With the by-committee approach of the Titans in play, that could spell very limited fantasy points for either Brown or Henry this week.


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Clinton Portis opened the season with a strong game, gaining 21/121/0 on the ground with a long run of 40. His backup/situational role player Ladell Betts chipped in with 12/41/0 (as a team the Redskins gained 40/164/0 against the Bears' ballyhooed defensive front). The team is off to a strong start in this phase, although they still aren't having much luck moving the ball into the end-zone (a problem for Portis last year, too, when he had only 5 rushing and 2 receiving TDs).

Dallas kept a lid on LaDainian Tomlinson during the season opener, limiting him to 19/72/1 and 0 receptions - a strong defensive stand considering the all-world talent of Tomlinson. All told, San Diego scraped up 103 rushing yards and that single rushing score, but we count it as a win for the Cowboys in this phase to hold Tomlinson under 100 yards on the ground. Last year the Cowboys were 10th in the league averaging 110.3 rushing yards allowed per game - they are on pace to meet or beat that mark in the early going.

T Jon Jansen (Thumbs) has two broken thumbs and is listed as questionable on the early NFL injury report. He has vowed to play through the injuries, though. OLB Kevin Burnett (knee) is questionable for Dallas.

The forecast for Texas Stadium on Monday night calls for a high of 94F with a low of 70F and a 10% chance of rain. Considering kickoff is at 9 PM ET, expect temps to be at the low end of that range - an excellent night to play football is on tap.

Portis is a top shelf NFL talent; the Cowboys are playing well in this phase of the game and have home-field advantage on Monday night. It'll be a high intensity and tough matchup.


Houston Texans Rushing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Domanick Davis had a hard time getting the engine going vs. the ultra-tough Bills last week (14/48/0 rushing with 2/9/0 receiving), and the Texans offensive line looked horrible in the season debut. Considering that they are facing another top-notch rush defense this week, we're not very excited about Davis' chances in week 2.

Pittsburgh dominated Tennessee last week. The Steelers brought their "A" game to the table in week 1, holding Chris Brown and company to 97 yards rushing (16th in the league so far), but also generating 2 fumbles while allowing 0 rushing scores. They were the top rush D in the land last year (averaging 81.2 rushing yards allowed) and appear to be on that level again to start 2005.

OLB Clark Haggans (Groin) and OLB Joey Porter (Knee) are probable to play for Pittsburgh as of Wednesday. C Drew Hodgdon (Toe) is questionable for the Texans.

The roof will probably be rolled back in Houston this weekend, as the forecast calls for a high of 93F with a low of 71F and a 0% chance of rain. It'll be hot and sticky, but the field will be in good shape. Some players will probably struggle with cramps due to the heat and humidity...

The Texans offense sputtered and gasped through last week's game, and it looks like they have their work cut out for them again this week. Advantage, Pittsburgh.




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