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  Passing Matchups  

Week 7 Rushing Matchups

[ARI] [ATL] [BAL] [BUF] [CHI] [CIN] [CLE] [DAL] [DEN] [DET] [GB] [HOU] [IND] [KC] [MIA] [MIN] [NO] [NYG] [NYJ] [OAK] [PHI] [PIT] [SD] [SEA] [SF] [STL] [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 vs New York Jets Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

T.J. Duckett had an MRI on his ankle on Monday, and Tuesday he confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it was sprained. He is wearing a walking boot at mid-week. Keep an eye on his injury status if you are a Duckett or Dunn owner (obviously, if he's out for the game Dunn will benefit in terms of touches and red-zone opportunities). Last week, the Duckett-deprived Falcons rushed for 33/160/1. Dunn ran for 22/100/1 and snagged 2/15/0 receiving while Vick compiled 8/51/0 of the total. Expect Dunn to see a similar or greater number of opportunities this week.

The Jets were steam-rolled by the Bills last week, allowing 39/177/1 to their opponents. They've been allowing an average of 125.3 rushing yards per game over the past 3 weeks, with a season average of 129.8 allowed (27th in the NFL) and 6 rushing scores surrendered to date. The Jets' defensive front is not feared.

The top rushing attack in the NFL (averaging 185.3 rushing yards per game) meets a bottom-tier D this week (at home). Advantage, Atlanta.

Weather: Monday Night Football will go down in the air-conditioned comfort of the Georgia Dome - weather won't be an issue indoors, most especially if you wear size zero like Sam Ryan is reported to wear.

ATL Injuries: RB T.J. Duckett (Questionable)
NYJ Injuries: LB Eric Barton (Probable), DB Oliver Celestin (Questionable), DB Ty Law (Questionable)


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense at Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Willis McGahee has got it going now that Holcomb is under center, supplying a credible threat to pass. Over the last 3 weeks he's the 7th best fantasy RB in the land, with 76/313/3 rushing and 7/46/0 receiving. Last week he had 29/143/1 vs the Jets, with 3/24/0 receiving. He's a solid #1 fantasy back now-a-days.

Oakland was torched last week for 41/190/1 by LaDainian Tomlinson and friends, and have allowed an average of 153 rushing yards per game over the past 3 weeks (2 games). They aren't very good in this department, ranking 22nd in the NFL to date averaging 117.4 rushing yards allowed per game with 6 total scores surrendered.

McGahee should have a great game against the Raiders, despite the Black Hole element.

Weather: Bills/Raiders in Oakland: McAfee Coliseum expects a highg of 62F with a low of 47F and a 0% chance of rain. Weather shouldn't be a factor in this matchup.

BUF Injuries: WR Roscoe Parrish (Questionable)
OAK Injuries: LB DeLawrence Grant (Doubtful)


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

This year has not worked out for Kevin Jones as hoped - he's suffered a series of injuries that have limited him in recent weeks (a poked eye two weeks back, a shoulder injury requiring a brace last week), which have collectively limited him to 50/117/3 rushing and 2/3/0 receiving over the last 3 games (26th among all fantasy RBs). Watch his status with the shoulder injury as the week progresses - Artose Pinner (19/67/1 and 3/24/0 during the last 3 games)and Shawn Bryson (9/102/1 and 4/31/0 over the past 3 weeks) are waiting in the wings to show what they can do if Jones is sidelined.

Cleveland was knocked around for 33/150/0 by the Ravens last week (they are currently 29th in the NFL averaging 140.2 rushing yards allowed per game, but stiffen at the goal line with only 2 scores surrendered in 5 games). Over the past 3 weeks (2 games), they've coughed up an average of 163 rushing yards per game - this is a bottom-feeding rush defense, folks.

The Lions have a bevy of backs to throw at Cleveland, though if Kevin Jones can get healthy enough, he should finally reward his long-suffering owners with a big game. In any case, expect the Lions to enjoy a solid outing vs. the battered and soft Browns' defensive front as this is about as favorable a matchup as they'll see.

Weather: Paul Brown Stadium expects a high of 57F with a low of 48F and a 30% chance of rain. If the precipitation comes down thickly around game time, ball-handling and footing could be issues for both teams.

DET Injuries: QB Jeff Garcia (Questionable), RB Cory Schlesinger (Probable), RB Kevin Jones (Questionable), WR Eddie Drummond (Questionable), WR Roy Williams (Questionable)
CLE Injuries: DL Orpheus Roye (Probable), LB Nick Speegle (Doubtful)


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Believe it or not, over the past 3 weeks Green Bay's offense has been the best fantasy offense in the land in terms of fantasy points per game (73.35) - largely due to the passing game, though. Ahman Green was injured and out of one game - Najeh Davenport has been lost for the season in relief of Green before the bye-week. The Pack averages only 3.3 yards per carry this year (27th in the NFL) and have rushed for an average of 77.8 rushing yards per game (28th in the league). This is not a great rushing offense, folks. Keep an eye on Green's status for this game as the week goes along - if he can't go this week, Tony Fisher might be worth a flyer if you're desperate at RB, but realize Green Bay is a cellar-dweller in this phase of the game.

Happily for Green/Fisher owners, though, the Vikings are dead last in the NFL allowing an average of 161.4 rushing yards per game. They've coughed up 7 rushing scores this season, and over the past 3 weeks have averaged 190 rushing yards allowed per game, with 30/95/2 given up to a gimpy Thomas Jones last week. The entire team is in disarray, folks.

Something has to give - both teams are sorry in this phase of the game. We'll see which unit is worse after the game goes down. We have a hard time getting excited about Green Bay's running game, but this one looks about as good as it gets for the Packers.

Weather: This matchup will be held in the Hubert M. Humphrey Metrodome - neither team will be able to blame the weather when one of them loses.

GB Injuries: RB Ahman Green (Questionable), TE Bubba Franks (Questionable)
MIN Injuries: DL Spencer Johnson (Probable), LB Dontarrious Thomas (Probable), DB Brian Williams (Probable)


Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense at Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Edgerrin James is feasting on opposing defenses while they ignore Peyton Manning's "play fakes". Instead of passing the ball, Manning's actually handing off to James more often than not - James then proceeds to rip up the opposing, lightly-manned defensive front. Just ask the Rams (23/143/3 rushing and 3/16/0 receiving given up to James last week - 38/176/4 to the Colts as a team). James got so tired ripping off big runs he let Dominic Rhodes plunge in a score while he caught a breather (11/29/1 for Rhodes). It's all good for the Colts in this phase of the game.

The Texans are dead last in the NFL this season with 8 rushing scores allowed, and 31st in rushing yards given up per game with an average of 159 surrendered per game. Houston, we have a problem. Last week, starting LB Kailee Wong was lost for the season with a torn patellar tendon. Houston, we have an even bigger problem. Last week, the Texans laid down to Seattle, allowing 42/320/5 RUSHING to the Seahawks - Houston...well, catastrophe is too nice a term, but this is a family site, so we'll stick with catastrophe.

James and the Colts should trample these Texans.

Weather: Reliant Stadium expects a high of 84F and a low of 63F with a 0% chance of rain. Sounds like ideal football weather to us.

IND Injuries: RB James Mungro (Questionable)
HOU Injuries: DL Gary Walker (Out), LB Jason Babin (Out), DB Jason Simmons (Questionable)


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense at St. Louis Rams Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Well, the Saints moved on with their marquee back on the sidelines, posting 32/211/2 for a 6.6 yards per carry average against the Falcons, only to lose on a last-minute field goal. Antowain Smith (12/88/2) and Aaron Stecker (16/86/0) handled the bulk of the work, and figure to share the load going forward in a RBBC. Smith is the "bruiser", so he'll probably get the goal-line opportunities, making him the better all-around fantasy back (but Stecker is the better receiver, so he'll have added value in point-per-reception leagues).

The Rams got dismembered by Edgerrin James and company last week, giving up 38/176/4 to the Colts en route to a 45-28 loss. In fact, the Rams are 2nd worst defense in the league over the past 3 weeks, giving up 474 rushing and 778 receiving for a total of 1258 yards surrendered during the past 3 games. They also lead the league with 8 total rushing scores allowed to opposing backs (an average of 112.8 rushing yards per game, 19th in the NFL). This defensive front is soft, folks.

The Saints have found a good combination at RB, it appears, and the Rams are sorry at defending against the run. Advantage, Saints.

Weather: This game will be played in the air-conditioned comfort of the Edward Jones Dome - weather won't be a factor.

NO Injuries: RB Aaron Stecker (Questionable), WR Joe Horn (Questionable), TE Shad Meier (Questionable)
STL Injuries: DB Jerome Carter (Probable)


New York Jets Rushing Offense at Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Curtis Martin continued his resurgence last week, with 18/148/1 rushing vs. the Bills. He's 12th in the NFL with 54/237/3 rushing and 5/18/0 over the past 3 weeks - finally producing for his fantasy owners. We'll see if he can build on his momentum again this week.

Atlanta laid down to the Saints last week, rolling out the red carpet and giving up 32/211/2 to the Saints' backups. Ouch. They are 28th in the NFL this season allowing an average of 133.5 rushing yards per game (boy, they miss Ed Hartwell), and have coughed up 415 rushing yards over the past 3 games. Atlanta has surrendered 1200 yards, total, over the past 3 weeks, ranking 3rd-worst in the NFL during that span. They are not impressing anybody on D lately. Said Coach Mora on Tuesday "We're off a little. We're off a hair. When you're off a hair in this league it can look very bad. Very bad." Yeah, it sure can coach.

Martin has a great shot at another fine day rushing the football.

Weather: Monday Night Football will go down in the air-conditioned comfort of the Georgia Dome - weather won't be an issue indoors, most especially if you wear size zero like Sam Ryan is reported to wear.

NYJ Injuries: QB Jay Fiedler (Out), QB Chad Pennington (Out), RB B.J. Askew (Probable), RB Derrick Blaylock (Out)
ATL Injuries: none


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Raiders have been up and down in this phase of the game recently, with Jordan posting 12/36/2 rushing last week vs. San Diego but 26/126/1 vs. Dallas before the bye week. One thing he is consistently doing is catching the ball (at least 4 and more often 5 or 6 times per game), making him more valuable in point-per-reception leagues. Over the past 3 weeks he has amassed 38/162/3 and 10/80/0 in 2 games, ranking 4th among all fantasy backs in points per game. Not too shabby. One thing is certain, the Raiders' weak D will give up points so it's good that Jordan is valuable in the passing game.

The disappointing Bills' rush defense has allowed an average of 143 rushing yards per game over the past 3 weeks, including 21/149/2 to the Jets last week. The accumulation of injuries suffered by the unit has made the collective defensive front weak.

Jordan has a solid shot at a great game against the reeling Bills.

Weather: Bills/Raiders in Oakland: McAfee Coliseum expects a highg of 62F with a low of 47F and a 0% chance of rain. Weather shouldn't be a factor in this matchup.

OAK Injuries: WR Randy Moss (Doubtful), TE John Paul Foschi (Probable)
BUF Injuries: none


St. Louis Rams Rushing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Rams' interim coach Joe Vitt wanted to run the ball more, and the Rams did that last week, garnering 21/105/1 rushing as a team (17/88/1 for Jackson, 4/17/0 for Marshall Faulk). They averaged 5.0 yards per carry vs. Indy, and stand at 9th in the NFL averaging 4.3 yards per carry so far during 2005. When Jackson and Faulk get the ball in their hands, good things can happen.

The Saints rank 26th in the NFL vs. the rush this year, allowing an average of 129 yards per game, with 7 scores surrendered to date. Over the past 3 weeks, they've averaged 131.6 given up per game, so they're consistently sub-par vs. the rush so far during 2005. Last week, Atlanta trampled them for 33/160/1 - the Saints are moving in the wrong direction, although to be fair the Falcons are the league's best rushing squad.

Jackson and Faulk are seeing more touches, and they should enjoy a lot of success against the soft Saints in the Edward Jones Dome.

Weather: This game will be played in the air-conditioned comfort of the Edward Jones Dome - weather won't be a factor.

STL Injuries: QB Marc Bulger (Questionable), WR Torry Holt (Probable), WR Isaac Bruce (Questionable)
NO Injuries: LB James Allen (Questionable), LB T.J. Slaughter (Questionable), DB Mel Mitchell (Questionable), DB Dwight Smith (Questionable)


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense at Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Chiefs had a hard time moving the ball on the Redskins last week, managing 32/96/1 as a team. Larry Johnson (who tweaked a thigh muscle during the game and may be limited this week) managed 13/53/0 while Priest Holmes put up just 14/18/1 (he also had 5/100/1 receiving - another week in which Holmes dual-threat capabilities served his fantasy owners well). Overall, Holmes is the 6th ranked fantasy RB this year, with 87/323/4 rushing and 17/176/1 receiving so far, while Johnson has put up 46/251/3 rushing and 2/13/0 receiving. If Johnson is limited by the thigh injury, Holmes would surely see an increase in touches this week. The Chiefs are 11th in the NFL averaging 4.2 yards per carry as a team - the big guys up front get the job done most weeks.

The Dolphins run in the middle of the NFL pack in rush defense, allowing an average of 101.6 rush yards per game (13th in the NFL), but are tough at the goal line with only 2 rushing scores given up to date. Over the past 3 weeks, they've surrendered an average of 139.5 rushing yards per game (2 games) - they are slipping, with 34/180/1 given away to Tampa's stable last week. The Dolphins need to improve in this phase of the game.

One of the NFL's best rushing attacks faces a mediocre and struggling D this week - Advantage, K.C.

Note that this game has been moved up to Friday evening because of Hurricane Wilma. This likely has a negative effect on Larry Johnson as he could have used the extra days to rest his thigh.

Weather: Hurricane Wilma is said to be heading for South Florida as of Wednesday evening. This category 5 hurricane is extremely powerful (the most powerful ever recorded, actually), and if the current projections are right, it would be squatting over south Florida on Sunday. If this forecast is borne out, it would be no surprise to see the game either postponed or moved to another venue. The University of Miami has rescheduled it's Saturday game due to the projected path of the storm already. Stay tuned...

KC Injuries: RB Larry Johnson (Probable), WR Samie Parker (Questionable), TE Jason Dunn (Probable)
MIA Injuries: DL Jason Taylor (Questionable), LB Junior Seau (Questionable)


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

Willie Parker has cooled off in recent weeks - he has 31/81/0 rushing and 1/14/0 receiving to his credit over the past 2 games (44th in fantasy points per game), including last week's quiet performance of 21/55/0 (Jerome Bettis got nowhere against the Jags, with 4/4/0; Duce Staley was inactive). There isn't much to get excited about if you own a Steeler back right now.

The Bengals are 21st in the NFL this year, allowing an average of 117.2 rushing yards per game, with 4 rushing scores surrendered to date. Over the past 3 weeks, they average 141.6 rushing yards allowed per game (3 games) - this squad is moving in the wrong direction, with 24/118/2 given away to Chris Brown and company last week.

Pittsburgh has been struggling to run the ball lately, but Parker and Bettis have a great shot at a solid game against the weakening and sub-par Bengals.

Weather: Cincinnati expects a high of 63F with a low of 46F and a 30% chance of rain at Paul Brown Stadium. If it rains hard and the field gets soggy, both teams may have issues with footing and ball-handling.

PIT Injuries: QB Ben Roethlisberger (Probable), QB Tommy Maddox (Questionable), WR Antwaan Randle El (Questionable), WR Hines Ward (Questionable), WR Cedrick Wilson (Questionable)
CIN Injuries: DB Madieu Williams (Questionable)


San Diego Chargers Rushing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Chargers average 4.8 yards per carry (3rd in the NFL). LaDainian Tomlinson averages 27.3 fantasy points per game over the past 3 weeks, with 1/4/1 passing, 74/336/4 rushing, 12/141/1 receiving, including 1/4/1 passing, 31/140/1 rushing and 2/39/1 receiving vs. Oakland last week. Start him. There is a concern regarding the Chargers, though - their OL is thin, banged up, and just traded away one of their players, Toniu Fonoti, to the Vikings - he'd been sidelined by a hand injury/surgery, though. You can't sit Tomlinson, no matter what, but realize that the Chargers were grimly joking after last week's game that they might need to activate and suit up their OL coach, Carl Mauck, if they lost any more players to injury.

The Eagles rank 23rd in the league vs. the rush, allowing an average of 118.0 yards and 3 rushing scores to date. In their most recent game, vs. Dallas, they were spanked for 46/167/0 by the Cowboy's stable. It's not easy to score on these guys, but they give up yards in bunches.

Tomlinson is arguably the best NFL running back; he's clearly the best fantasy RB - he'll have his chances to do well against the sub-par Eagles' defensive front, despite their home-field advantage.

Weather: Lincoln Financial Field expects a high of 67F and a low of 51F with a 30% chance for rain on Sunday. If the field gets soggy, footing and ball-handling could become issues for both teams.

SD Injuries: RB Darren Sproles (Questionable), WR Eric Parker (Questionable), TE Ryan Krause (Out)
PHI Injuries: DL Ndukwe Kalu (Probable), DL Darwin Walker (Probable), DL Trent Cole (Probable), LB Jason Short (Doubtful), DB Roderick Hood (Probable)


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Clinton Portis owners are asking, "Where's the TDs?". Portis over the season to date: 66/270/0 rushing, 8/96/0 receiving. The Redskins have yet to punch in a rushing score this YEAR as a team (averaging 127 rushing yards per game, 8th in the NFL). The lack of scoring means that Portis is the 20th ranked fantasy back around - he had 21/77/0 rushing and 4/51/0 receiving last week, so he at least broke the 100 yards combined barrier. Not too exciting, huh? He's not in very good shape, physically either, with a sore calf and bruised shin. Said Portis last week "I've got all week to think about the pain in my leg. As long as I can stand and as long as I can go, I'll go."

San Francisco is mediocre vs. the rush, allowing an average of 108.2 yards per game (18th in the NFL) with 6 scores allowed to date. The Colts slammed them for 28/120/2 during their last game. Nobody is scared of the 49ers defensive front in this phase of the game.

Washington has struggled to score, and the Redskins are likely to be passing a ton as the 49ers are super-soft against the pass. When the coaching staff elects to run, Portis will find room to roam, though.

Weather: The forecast for Fed Ex Field calls for "Brown" skies (OK, actually gray skies - a 30% for rain - couldn't pass up the chance to include "Brown" in a Fed Ex Field write-up) with a high of 67F and a low of 49F. If the skies open up around or during game-time, ball-handling will become more difficult and footing will be an issue for both teams.

WAS Injuries: RB Ladell Betts (Probable), RB Clinton Portis (Probable)
SF Injuries: LB Julian Peterson (Questionable), LB Saleem Rasheed (Out), DB Willie Middlebrooks (Probable), DB Derrick Johnson (Probable), DB Ahmed Plummer (Out)


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The best thing we can say about the Cardinals rush offense is, well, they have some warm bodies available. Marcel Shipp is the 42nd ranked fantasy RB this year, with 58/169/0 rushing and 16/118/0 receiving to his credit through 5 games, and J.J. Arrington is a monumental bust, with 24/41/0 rushing and 6/38/0 receiving (he's 2 spots behind the team's FB, Obafemi Ayanbadejo, on the RB board at # 71 overall). Look elsewhere for your starters until the backs and the OL get their act together (tied for last at 3.1 yards per carry this season).

The Titans rank 20th in the NFL this year, allowing an average of 116.8 rushing yards per game, with 3 rushing scores surrendered to date. They are merely adequate run defenders, as Rudi Johnson and company showed last week, with a total of 28/119/1 against the Titans' defense. They are in a holding pattern in the lower half of the league in this department.

The Arizona backs would have trouble punching through a wet paper bag this year. Tennessee is marginal at best. Sounds even to us, with home field (for what that's worth) behind the Cardinals.

Weather: The desert around Sun Devil Stadium expects a high of 86F with a low of 64F and a 0% chance for rain. No rain and fairly mild temperatures (for this part of the world) mean that the teams should clash on the ground. We'll see.

ARI Injuries: QB Kurt Warner (Probable), WR Reggie Swinton (Probable)
TEN Injuries: DL Randy Starks (Questionable), LB Peter Sirmon (Questionable), DB Andre Woolfolk (Questionable), DB Vincent Fuller (Out)


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Chris Brown has come on in recent weeks, with 18/84/2 rushing and 3/28/0 receiving last week. He's 18th at his position over the past 3 weeks, with 50/193/2 rushing and 6/58/0 receiving. With their top WR, Drew Bennett, probably sidelined for a while due to a serious thumb problem, the Titans will need to lean on Brown even more because their young WR corps is not impressive.

Arizona dropped a heart-breaker to the Panthers in the waning moments week 5, allowing only 22/87/1 to the Panther's stable of backs. They average 106.0 rushing yards allowed this season, but have been porous at the goal-line, giving up a league-leading 8 rushing scores to date. They haven't given up much real-estate lately, averaging 69 rushing yards allowed per game over the last 3 weeks (2 games) - they are improving but not solid.

Brown is heating up and will see more focus from the offense this week, but we still see this as a fairly neutral matchup.

Weather: The desert around Sun Devil Stadium expects a high of 86F with a low of 64F and a 0% chance for rain. No rain and fairly mild temperatures (for this part of the world) mean that the teams should clash on the ground. We'll see.

TEN Injuries: QB Steve McNair (Questionable), RB Troy Fleming (Questionable), WR Drew Bennett (Out), TE Erron Kinney (Questionable)
ARI Injuries: DB Eric Green (Questionable), DB Antrel Rolle (Out)


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Thomas Jones gutted out 23/89/2 last week despite his sore knee, and added 1/6/0 receiving. He is the man in Chicago, and is keeping first rounder Cedric Benson firmly planted on the bench (3/2/0) - over the past 3 weeks he's the 8th ranked fantasy RB in points per game with 47/226/2 rushing and 3/11/0 receiving.

Baltimore stuffed the Browns' backs last week (18/70/0) and held the team scoreless. They are 7th in the NFL this year allowing an average of 90 rushing yards per game, with only 4 scores surrendered. They average 89 rushing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks. Getting the picture? These guys are good.

This is a tough matchup for Jones.

Weather: Soldier Field expects a high of 58F with a low of 45F and a 20% chance of rain. It should be a great day to visit the Windy City and watch (or play in) a football game.

CHI Injuries: QB Rex Grossman (Out), RB Thomas Jones (Probable)
BAL Injuries: DL Anthony Weaver (Out), LB Ray Lewis (Probable), DB Ed Reed (Doubtful)


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense vs Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Ravens limited Droughns (15/55/0 rushing) and company to 18/70/0 last week, and did not allow a TD all day. Needless to say, there weren't many fantasy points here for Droughns owners. In fact, the Browns have yet to punch in a rushing score this year, rank 30th averaging 74.2 rushing yards per game, and 21st averaging 3.6 yards per carry. This just isn't a dominant unit.

Detroit fields a mediocre rush D this season, averaging 103 yards surrendered per game (but only 2 rushing scores to date). Over the past 3 weeks (3 games), they've averaged 94 yards allowed per game, so this unit is moving in the right direction. The normally strong-legged Panthers could only muster 25/54/0 against them last week.

Droughns is going nowhere fast on the ground, while the Lions have been fighting harder and harder in this phase of the game in recent weeks - advantage, Detroit.

Weather: Paul Brown Stadium expects a high of 57F with a low of 48F and a 30% chance of rain. If the precipitation comes down thickly around game time, ball-handling and footing could be issues for both teams.

CLE Injuries: RB Lee Suggs (Out), WR Braylon Edwards (Doubtful)
DET Injuries: DL Kalimba Edwards (Questionable), DL James Hall (Questionable), LB Alex Lewis (Doubtful)


Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Dallas spread the carries last week while Julius Jones stood on the sidelines. Anthony Thomas led the way with 21/47/0, but none of the backs were a great fantasy play last week. The team is hoping that Jones (112/407/3 rushing and 12/82/0 receiving this year) can get back in the saddle this week (the team averages only 3.2 yards per carry this year, so it takes talent to put up big numbers behind the under-performing OL). Unfortunately, the team has lost the services of Pro Bowl LT Flozell Adams for the season to a torn ACL - that won't help matters on the OL any.

Seattle was lucky enough to host the lame Texans last week, so they were able to load the box and stuff the Houston stable (22/67/0 rushing). Over the past 3 weeks, they've averaged 95 rushing yards per game allowed - the team is 12th in the league averaging 101.5 yards per game with only 2 scores given up to date. This is one of the better defensive fronts in the league.

Dallas is struggling to move the ball well, may be without their best back, and have an OL in flux right now. Seattle has home-field advantage and a good D - they hold the edge.

Weather: Qwest Stadium has one of the lesser chances for rain across the NFL this weekend (20%). It doesn't seem fair that the normally-drenched Seahawks have the most prolific offense in the NFL and also enjoy week after week of near-perfect conditions at home (they expect a high of 59F and a low of 46F on Sunday). Everything is bouncing Seattle's way right now.

DAL Injuries: RB Julius Jones (Questionable), WR Patrick Crayton (Out), TE Dan Campbell (Probable)
SEA Injuries: LB D.D. Lewis (Questionable), DB Andre Dyson (Questionable), DB Ken Hamlin (Out)


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Tatum Bell is coming on strong (40/301/3 rushing and 5/31/0 receiving over the past 3 weeks) while Mike Anderson is seeing plenty of touches, too (49/206/1 rushing and 5/43/0 receiving). It looks like the Broncos will continue to employ the tandem in situational roles - both have fantasy value (Bell ranks 9th during the past 3 weeks, Anderson 25th). You could do worse by far than starting either of these guys. 13/114/1 rushing for Bell last week (3/20/0 receiving) and 15/57/1 rushing for Anderson.

The Giants let one get away from them last week, 16-13, while surrendering 38/92/0 to a bevy of backup backs on Dallas' part. They sport the league's 11th ranked rush defense, surrendering an average of 101 rushing yards per game (only 67 per game over the last 2 games) and have given away only 4 rushing scores to date. They are a fundamentally sound rush defense.

The Broncos run the bell awfully well, but they are the visitors and the Giants are very solid in this phase - sounds like a slightly tough matchup to us.

Weather: The forecast for Giant's Stadium calls for a high of 67F with a low of 51F and a 30% chance for rain. If precipitation comes down in buckets around game-time or during the game, the field will get slick and difficult to navigate (2 Pro teams alternate home games on this field, making it one of the most abused playing surfaces in the NFL).

DEN Injuries: TE Stephen Alexander (Probable), TE Jeb Putzier (Probable)
NYG Injuries: DL Reggie Torbor (Questionable), LB Carlos Emmons (Questionable), LB Barrett Green (Questionable), DB Gibril Wilson (Questionable), DB William Peterson (Out)


Houston Texans Rushing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The one Texan offensive player who may start for a fantasy squad this season is Domanick Davis. Despite the embarrassing offensive line, despite the pathetic passing attack, he ranks 17th among all fantasy RBs with 85/358/0 rushing and 20/144/2 receiving. If he had just a little help from his team-mates, this guy would be a top ten fantasy back. Unfortunately, the entire unit around him stinks, allowing opposing teams to key on Davis (which limits his fantasy upside). Against all that adversity, though, he's a solid #2 fantasy RB unless you are stacked at the position. Last week, Davis managed 18/40/0 rushing and 2/28/1 receiving in the blow-out loss to Seattle.

Unfortunately for Davis, the best pass-rushing defense in the league meets the worst offensive line in the league this week during this game. He'll be seeing constant penetration into the back-field; intense pressure will be brought to bear all along the addled offensive line. Look for the Colts to load the box with 8 or 9 man fronts and dare the Texans to throw. By the way, the Colts have allowed 1 rushing score all year long, and rank 16th in the league giving up 104.5 rushing yards per game. Expect that average to improve.

We wouldn't want to be forced to start any Texan this week if we could help it, including Davis.

Weather: Reliant Stadium expects a high of 84F and a low of 63F with a 0% chance of rain. Sounds like ideal football weather to us.

HOU Injuries: WR Andre Johnson (Questionable)
IND Injuries: DL Dwight Freeney (Probable), DL Montae Reagor (Probable), DL Robert Mathis (Questionable), DL Larry Tripplett (Questionable), DL Vincent Burns (Questionable), LB Gary Brackett (Probable), LB Gilbert Gardner (Probable), LB Cato June (Questionable), LB Keith O'Neil (Out), DB Bob Sanders (Probable), DB Joseph Jefferson (Questionable)


Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

In Ricky Williams' (5/8/0 rushing with 6/22/0 receiving) big return to the NFL's ranks, the Dolphins struggled to run the ball, with 18/64/1 as a team (a 3.6 yards per carry average). Their top rusher last week was WR Chris Chambers (3/25/0), while Brown eked out 9/22/1. It was a forgettable performance - we'll see if Williams or Brown can work into game shape over the next few weeks, but right now we'd advise you to look elsewhere for your starters as neither guy did well in the platoon scheme.

The Chiefs are not terribly generous in this department, averaging only 95.8 rushing yards allowed per game (they are also horrible at defending the pass, so many teams elect to throw the ball against them), which ranks 9th in the NFL. K.C. has surrendered 3 rushing scores to date. Last week, the Redskins scraped together 28/101/0 against this group. They're a much better unit than the Chief's secondary.

The Dolphins are struggling to run the ball while they try to integrate Ricky Williams, while the Chiefs are fairly stout run defenders. Advantage, K.C.

Note that this game has been moved up to Friday evening because of Hurricane Wilma.

Weather: Hurricane Wilma is said to be heading for South Florida as of Wednesday evening. This category 5 hurricane is extremely powerful (the most powerful ever recorded, actually), and if the current projections are right, it would be squatting over south Florida on Sunday. If this forecast is borne out, it would be no surprise to see the game either postponed or moved to another venue. The University of Miami has rescheduled it's Saturday game due to the projected path of the storm already. Stay tuned...

MIA Injuries: none
KC Injuries: DL Gary Stills (Probable), DL Ryan Sims (Out), DB Greg Wesley (Probable), DB Dexter McCleon (Questionable)


Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Is there anything good to say about the Viking's offense? As a unit they have rushed for 35/143/0 over their past 2 games, while passing for 49/83 for 401 yards, 1 TD and 4 interceptions during that span (30th in the NFL in FP per game). They rank 17th in the NFL averaging 3.9 yards per carry, but 27th in the NFL averaging 79.8 rushing yards per game, with only 1 rushing score over the first 5 games of 2005. Michael Bennett is an after-thought (3/8/0 rushing last week) while starter Mewelde Moore had 14/57/0 rushing (with 5/52/0 receiving) last week - at least he broke 100 yards combined. The bottom line is that the offense isn't moving the ball well at all, and scoring opportunities are hard to come by for everyone on the offense (28-3 loss to Chicago most recently).

Green Bay ranks 10th in the NFL vs. the rush, allowing an average of 100.6 yards per game to date, with 2 scores given up on the ground over 5 games. Pretty stout rush defense, despite their 1-4 record. Over the past 3 weeks, they've allowed an average of 92.5 rushing yards per game - they've been improving (holding New Orleans to 26/95/0 during their most recent game). The Pack is not a pushover in this phase of the game.

The Vikings are in total disarray, and dwell in the cellar of the NFL in terms of rushing offense, while the Packers sport a top 10 rush defense that is improving from week to week. Advantage, Packers.

Weather: This matchup will be held in the Hubert M. Humphrey Metrodome - neither team will be able to blame the weather when one of them loses.

MIN Injuries: RB Moe Williams (Probable), WR Nate Burleson (Probable)
GB Injuries: LB Nail Diggs (Out), DB Earl Little (Questionable)


New York Giants Rushing Offense vs Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Tiki Barber had a rough outing against the Cowboys' 8th ranked rush D, managing only 14/64/0 and 1/5/0. He was pulled at the goal-line for Brandon Jacobs once (but Jacobs had a disastrous fumble). We expect Barber to see more goal-line duty if Jacobs continues to have problems holding onto the ball (coach Coughlin, even more than most coaches, absolutely despises fumbles). Over the past 3 weeks, Barber is the 14th ranked fantasy back with 38/192/1 rushing and 3/20/0 receiving.

Denver is top-5 vs the rush in terms of yards allowed per game, with an average of 88.3 surrendered per game this year. However, they have surrendered 4 rushing scores to date. Over the past 3 weeks, teams have averaged 75.3 rushing yards per game against these guys, including the Patriots' 19/89/1 effort last week. They are playing fairly well in this phase of the game.

Barber is an explosive back, but the Broncos aren't very generous with the rushing yards. We like Barber but think this one is a tough matchup.

Weather: The forecast for Giant's Stadium calls for a high of 67F with a low of 51F and a 30% chance for rain. If precipitation comes down in buckets around game-time or during the game, the field will get slick and difficult to navigate (2 Pro teams alternate home games on this field, making it one of the most abused playing surfaces in the NFL).

NYG Injuries: none
DEN Injuries: DL John Engelberger (Probable), LB Al Wilson (Probable), DB Roc Alexander (Probable), DB Champ Bailey (Probable), DB Nick Ferguson (Questionable), DB Sam Brandon (Out)


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense vs San Diego Chargers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Not much went right for the Eagles vs. Dallas before their bye week, and that included the Eagle's rushing game. 9/19/0 was their total on a day when the team chased the Cowboys from behind from the opening gun until the finish line. They are dead last in the NFL this season averaging 64.2 rushing yards per game, with only 2 rushing scores. Brian Westbrook is a dual-threat back, with 55/231/1 rushing and 25/292/3 receiving (7th among fantasy RBs in fantasy points per game), but realize that the Eagle's rushing attack isn't impressive, especially right now. Evidently, the lack of carries is bugging Brian Westbrook, who commented on Wednesday that he could be the top RB in the NFL "If I was used properly." We'll see how coach Reid responds....

The Chargers rank 3rd in the NFL allowing 84.7 rushing yards per game (but their secondary is horrible so a lot of teams simply elect to pass against them), while laying down for 7 rushing scores to date, including 2 surrendered to LaMont Jordan last week (12/36/2 for Jordan last week). Yards don't come in bunches vs. this group (for whatever reason), but it's not very hard to score against them.

Philly doesn't run the ball very much, while the Chargers don't get run on all that often, except at the goal line. We're calling this one a tough matchup.

Weather: Lincoln Financial Field expects a high of 67F and a low of 51F with a 30% chance for rain on Sunday. If the field gets soggy, footing and ball-handling could become issues for both teams.

PHI Injuries: QB Donovan McNabb (Probable), QB Mike McMahon (Questionable)
SD Injuries: DL Jacques Cesaire (Questionable), DL Luis Castillo (Questionable), LB Steve Foley (Questionable), DB Sammy Davis (Questionable), DB Drayton Florence (Questionable)


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense vs Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Shaun Alexander over the past 3 weeks: 67/358/7 rushing, with 5/21/0 receiving. 22/141/4 rushing last week vs. Houston. Wow. He's a must start at his position.

The Cowboys average 95 rushing yards allowed per game this year (8th in the NFL) and have surrendered only 2 rushing scores to date. They field a hard-nosed defensive front, folks. New York managed 19/91/0 last week; over the past 3 weeks the Cowboys have surrendered an average of 79.6 rushing yards per game.

Alexander is on a roll, and is playing on his home field. The Cowboys are tough but I can't think of any situation where you could sit the red hot Alexander.

Weather: Qwest Stadium has one of the lesser chances for rain across the NFL this weekend (20%). It doesn't seem fair that the normally-drenched Seahawks have the most prolific offense in the NFL and also enjoy week after week of near-perfect conditions at home (they expect a high of 59F and a low of 46F on Sunday). Everything is bouncing Seattle's way right now.

SEA Injuries: RB Mack Strong (Probable), WR Bobby Engram (Out), WR Darrell Jackson (Out)
DAL Injuries: LB Dat Nguyen (Probable)


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense at Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

28/133/0 were the 49ers totals against the Colts during their last game - pretty good, considering how little threat the 49ers present as far as passing goes right now. Kevan Barlow led the way with 18/99/0, not too shabby. Frank Gore had 8/31/0 in the change of pace role. The team averages 3.8 yards per rush this season, which isn't horrible (19th in the NFL).

Here's the basic defensive game plan vs. San Francisco: "Load the box, stuff the 49er's backs, dare the rookie Smith to pass, blitz often, intercept the rookie's pass. Repeat." Washington's rush defense has been stumbling in recent weeks, averaging 126.6 rushing yards allowed per game. Although they did allow just 32/96/1 to Kansas City last week. They held Priest Holmes to just 14/18/1. It wasn't a shut-down as Larry Johnson rushed for 13/53/0 (4.1 yards per carry).

The lack of a credible threat to pass will make things tough for Barlow and company, especially in the red-zone.

Weather: The forecast for Fed Ex Field calls for "Brown" skies (OK, actually gray skies - a 30% for rain - couldn't pass up the chance to include "Brown" in a Fed Ex Field write-up) with a high of 67F and a low of 49F. If the skies open up around or during game-time, ball-handling will become more difficult and footing will be an issue for both teams.

SF Injuries: WR Arnaz Battle (Doubtful)
WAS Injuries: DL Joe Salave'a (Probable), DL Cedric Killings (Questionable), DB Shawn Springs (Probable), DB Carlos Rogers (Probable), DB Ryan Clark (Questionable)


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense at Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Jamal Lewis has been steady but unexciting since the start of the season, with 98/292/1 rushing and 9/64/1 receiving to his credit in 5 games (26th fantasy RB overall during that span). Last week, Chester Taylor saw extensive action and led the team with 8/92/0 rushing while Lewis ground out 24/59/0 rushing and 2/11/0 receiving. If Lewis continues to underwhelm, we expect Taylor's role to expand somewhat. Time will tell how this works out, but Lewis' current yards-per-carry average of 2.98 is not anything to write home about - Taylor averaged 11.5 per carry last week, and even subtracting his big run of 52 yards he was over 6 per carry.

Chicago crushed the Vikings last week, allowing 19/80/0 rushing during a 28-3 rout. They average 86.4 rushing yards allowed per game this season, and have yet to surrender a rushing TD. This is a hard-nosed, hard-hitting defensive front 7, folks.

Lewis has been underwhelming this season, although Taylor provides a nice change of pace. Both will have a tough time at Soldier Field, though.

Weather: Soldier Field expects a high of 58F with a low of 45F and a 20% chance of rain. It should be a great day to visit the Windy City and watch (or play in) a football game.

BAL Injuries: QB Kyle Boller (Out), RB Alan Ricard (Questionable), RB Ovie Mughelli (Questionable), WR Mark Clayton (Questionable)
CHI Injuries: none


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

Rudi Johnson has been serviceable this year (128/544/2 with 8/23/0 receiving, 19th overall), but the Bengals have been determined to get Chris Perry into the game (32/149/0 rushing, with 27/185/1 receiving) which is eating into Johnson's touches. He's still the featured back - 18/80/1 rushing last week with 1/3/0 receiving, but Perry saw 6/28/0 rushing and 9/45/1 receiving in the change-of-pace role. Bottom line is the fantasy value of Johnson is being depressed somewhat by Perry's presence.

Pittsburgh fields the league's 6th ranked rush D, averaging 89.8 rushing yards allowed per game (over their past 2 games they've averaged only 79.5 yards allowed), and have given away 4 rushing scores to date. The Jaguars (sans Fred Taylor) managed 35/93/1 last week (2.7 yards per carry). This is one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL, friends.

Johnson/Perry form a solid tandem, but this is a bad matchup facing a tough Steelers defense.

Weather: Cincinnati expects a high of 63F with a low of 46F and a 30% chance of rain at Paul Brown Stadium. If it rains hard and the field gets soggy, both teams may have issues with footing and ball-handling.

CIN Injuries: RB Rudi Johnson (Probable), WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Questionable), TE Tony Stewart (Questionable)
PIT Injuries: LB James Harrison (Probable), LB Clint Kriewaldt (Probable), LB Joey Porter (Probable), LB Clark Haggans (Out), DB Ricardo Colclough (Doubtful), DB Deshea Townsend (Doubtful)




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