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  Passing Matchups  

Week 21 Rushing Matchups

[PIT] [SEA]


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

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


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Jerome Bettis has racked up 42/137/3 rushing through the 3-game AFC playoff series, and comes into the Superbowl as the best possible RB play during fantasy playoff tournaments. Willie Parker has added 47/132/0 rushing and 9/80/1 receiving to date - in the AFC Championship game vs. Denver, Bettis put up 15/39/1 rushing, while Parker notched 14/35/0 rushing and 3/20/0 receiving (the team had 33/90/2 vs. Denver as Ben Roethlisberger punched in a score on a QB keeper - he had 3/12/1 rushing against Denver). Verron Haynes has been pretty quiet during the playoffs, with 1/8/0 receiving in the AFC Championship and 5/54/0 rushing with 3/22/0 receiving during the 3 playoff games. The Steelers have been productive, but not overpowering, in this phase of the game. Part of the reason for the relatively modest numbers arises from the Pittsburgh game-plans, that have emphasized a lot of passing plays during the last 2 games, especially early in the contests.

As Clinton Portis (17/41/0) and the Carolina Panthers (12/36/0) discovered during the NFC playoffs, the Seahawks are extremely hard-nosed in this phase of the game. Washington could only muster 25/59/0 as a team against this defensive front, a 2.4 yards-per-carry average - Carolina followed up with a 3.0 yards-per-carry average in the NFC Championship game. Seattle's overpowering performances were to be expected, as they were stifling opposing backs throughout the 2005 regular season, allowing a miniscule 5 rushing scores all year long while averaging 94.4 rushing yards given up per game (5th in the NFL). Even with their backups in for long stretches during the final 3 weeks of the season, the team averaged only 64 rushing yards allowed per game -this unit is as stout as they come vs. opposing running backs. Their average of 47.5 rushing yards allowed per game during the NFC playoffs is a testament to their defensive front's dominance.

Pittsburgh's tandem of backs has been productive but not overwhelming during the playoffs, while the Seahawks have crushed their opposition during the playoffs (they were hard-nosed all season long) - and they are super-tough in the red-zone. This looks like a tough matchup for the Steelers' stable, despite all the emotion that Jerome Bettis is likely to play with given his probable retirement after this game/returning to his home-town of Detroit.

The Footballguys.com staff of fantasy football experts were surveyed for their Super Bowl projections - 19 staff members responded to the survey, with 10 predicting a Seattle win, while 9 staffers believe that the Steelers will win. A consensus score was compiled from the 19 projections, resulting in a half-point advantage for Seattle (23.9 points was the average projection for the Seahawks' final score) vs. Pittsburgh (23.4 points was the average projection for the Steelers.)

Weather: This game is to be played in the air-conditioned dome at Ford Field - weather won't be a factor for either team.

PIT Injuries: RB Dan Kreider (Questionable)
SEA Injuries: DB Andre Dyson (Probable)


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Shaun Alexander came roaring back from his concussion/early exit vs. Washington in the divisional round to post 34/132/2 rushing and 1/0/0 receiving against a stout Carolina defensive front - that pretty much laid to rest any worries about lingering after-effects from the concussion (now 3 weeks in the past). The guy is the top running back in the NFL, the league MVP - and he's coming into this game well rested after the long interlude between the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl. FB Mack Strong is a fine lead blocker and has also been chipping in with some carries (4/7/0 rushing and 1/3/0 receiving in the NFC Championship game; 3/40/0 rushing vs. Washington) - he's a powerful short-yardage option. The Seahawk's running game is as good as it gets, folks, with a very fine run-blocking offensive line that led the team to a 4.7 yards-per-carry average this past regular season (tied for 2nd best in the NFL).

Pittsburgh has fielded a dominant rush D all year long, ranking 3rd vs. opposing rushers this past regular season allowing an average of 85.5 rushing yards per game (with 10 TDs given up in this phase over 16 games). In the wild-card round, Cincinnati managed 20/84/1 vs. Pittsburgh, followed by Edgerrin James (13/56/1 rushing, with 14/58/1 for Indy as a team). Denver managed 21/97/1 vs. the Steelers in the AFC Championship game, but lost 34-17. Over the 3 games comprising the AFC playoffs, Pittsburgh averaged 79.6 rushing yards allowed per game, with 1 rushing score given away in each contest. Pittsburgh gave up an average of 71.3 rushing yards per game during the final 3 weeks of the regular season, and only 3 scores (rushing and receiving). The Steelers have been playing solid defense in this phase of the game throughout the playoffs. They have seen a couple of backup LBs falter due to injury, though - LB Andre Frazier broke his ankle in the AFC Championship game on a special teams play, and LB James Harrison missed the contest due to an ankle problem (it remains to be seen if the 2 week bye will allow him to get back on the field).

Alexander was the best running back in the NFL during regular season, and he comes into this game with a head of steam up - the Steelers have been throwing the brakes on almost every back they've seen during the playoffs, though. On balance, we see this as a tough matchup for a great running back. It's going to be a hard-fought contest on both sides of the ball.

The Footballguys.com staff of fantasy football experts were surveyed for their Super Bowl projections - 19 staff members responded to the survey, with 10 predicting a Seattle win, while 9 staffers believe that the Steelers will win. A consensus score was compiled from the 19 projections, resulting in a half-point advantage for Seattle (23.9 points was the average projection for the Seahawks' final score) vs. Pittsburgh (23.4 points was the average projection for the Steelers.)

Weather: This game is to be played in the air-conditioned dome at Ford Field - weather won't be a factor for either team.

SEA Injuries: none
PIT Injuries: DL Travis Kirschke (Questionable), LB James Harrison (Probable)




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