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  Passing Matchups  

Week 8 Rushing Matchups

[ARI] [BAL] [BUF] [CAR] [CHI] [CIN] [CLE] [DAL] [DEN] [DET] [GB] [HOU] [JAX] [KC] [MIA] [MIN] [NE] [NO] [NYG] [OAK] [PHI] [PIT] [SD] [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.


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense at Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Rueben Droughns finally cracked the 100 yards rushing barrier on Sunday (19/100/0 rushing with 2/9/0 receiving), but he still has yet to score a TD this season. In fact, the Browns haven't scored a single rushing TD to date. Needless to say, Droughns hasn't been an explosive fantasy option in this climate (the Browns are 28th in the NFL averaging 81.5 rushing yards per game, although they are respectable in yards-per-carry averaging 3.9 per carry). He's the 28th ranked fantasy back in the land at this point of the season in points per game, with 105/431/0 rushing and 17/111/0 receiving to his credit so far.

The Texans coughed up 34/205/2 to the Colts last week. They rank 32nd in the NFL allowing an average of 166.7 rushing yards per contest, and are next-to-last with 10 rushing scores allowed. Injuries have sidelined DL Gary Walker for weeks, and MLB Kailee Wong is on IR - they are a battered and depleted defense, folks.

Droughns won't see a better matchup this season - maybe he'll even score a TD this week!

Weather: The forecast for Reliant Stadium calls for a high of 80F with a low of 57F and a 20% chance of rain. That sounds like great football weather to us.

CLE Injuries: RB Lee Suggs (Out)
HOU Injuries: DL Gary Walker (Questionable), LB Jason Babin (Questionable)


New England Patriots Rushing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Patriots elected to rest Corey Dillon vs. the Broncos (he stood around in pads and helmet but didn't take the field after coach Belichick decided he was "not physically able to go" in pre-game warmups). In his absence, the team leaned on Patrick Pass (10/64/1 rushing and 6/89/0 receiving) who responded with a fine effort - he led the team in receiving yardage on the day. We'll see how this plays out on Sunday, but Dillon is fading as a fantasy starter this season (96/329/5 rushing (3.4 yards per carry) and 7/89/0 receiving to date). It'll be interesting to see how Dillon responds.

The Bills are horrible vs. the run this season, partly due to early injuries to key players (LB Takeo Spikes, DL Ron Edwards), and partly due to just plain poor play (missed assignments, poor tackling). Whatever the reason, they rank 31st in the NFL this year allowing an average of 159 rushing yards per game, and have given away the most rushing scores of any NFL team to date, with 11 surrendered. Last week, they were trampled by Oakland's LaMont Jordan for 28/122/3 (37/162/4 surrendered to Oakland as a team). The Bills are pathetic against the rush.

Whoever garners the most carries for the Patriots this week will enjoy success against the league's worst rush defense.

Weather: Gilette Stadium expects a high of 61F with a low of 40F and a 10% chance for rain on Sunday - a cool, crisp autumn day will be the backdrop for this matchup. Neither team should have issues due to the weather if the forecast holds up.

NE Injuries: QB Tom Brady (Probable), RB Corey Dillon (Questionable), RB Kevin Faulk (Out), WR Troy Brown (Questionable)
BUF Injuries: DB Terrence McGee (Probable)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman have to be licking their chops thinking about this matchup. Williams has had 3 weeks to get his foot / leg injury healed up - he asserts he'll be even better once he's physically able to play "No doubt, mentally, I'm still here preparing as if I was playing every week. Once I physically get back and get going, things will be much better." Considering he was on a record-setting pace, we're interested to see what "much better" would be. If Williams can't go, Pittman has been more than capable as a stand-in, with 28/173/1 rushing and 8/52/0 receiving in relief of Williams during the past 3 weeks.

This week, the battered and anemic 49ers welcome the Bucs to Monster Park. This "defense" was blasted for 39/204/4 rushing last week, by the formerly scoreless Redskins' running back stable - the 49ers have given away 324 rushing yards in their past 2 games, and average 124.2 rushing yards allowed per game this season. They are tied for 2nd-most rushing TDs given up, with 10 to date. We like Tampa here.

The Bucs should feast on the 49ers' weak defense.

Weather: The forecast for the Bay area calls for a high of 66F with a low of 53F and a 20% chance for rain. A great day for a football game is coming up for the 49'ers faithful - they'll witness another...well, lets not get into that.

TB Injuries: RB Cadillac Williams (Questionable)
SF Injuries: LB Saleem Rasheed (Out), DB Ahmed Plummer (Out)


Buffalo Bills Rushing Offense at New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Willis McGahee fought hard (16/50/0 rushing and 3/36/0 receiving) but had a very difficult time vs. the Raiders last week. His limping offensive line - RT Mike Williams (left ankle sprain) was forced back into action when William's backup, Greg Jerman, sprained his right ankle and could not continue, while RG Chris Villarial was forced out of the game due to being "shaken up" and woozy - didn't help matters any. Overall, it was sub par performance from McGahee, who has put up 76/279/2 rushing and 8/65/0 receiving over the past 3 weeks (14th fantasy RB in the land during that span). The bounces just haven't gone McGahee's way lately, folks.

The Patriots are weak against the run, allowing an average of 125.3 rushing yards per game this year (25th in the NFL) with 7 rushing scores surrendered to date. Before the bye week, the powerful Broncos pounded them for 34/178/2 rushing. Tedy Bruschi did return to practice this week, but it remains to be seen if he is in game shape yet or not - we're guessing not, but time will tell (being medically cleared to practice does not mean he is ready to go full speed in the NFL).

McGahee has been on a downswing during recent weeks, but the Patriots should help him get back on top of the fantasy heap this week.

Weather: Gilette Stadium expects a high of 61F with a low of 40F and a 10% chance for rain on Sunday - a cool, crisp autumn day will be the backdrop for this matchup. Neither team should have issues due to the weather if the forecast holds up.

BUF Injuries: none
NE Injuries: DL Richard Seymour (Questionable), DL Jarvis Green (Questionable), DL Marquise Hill (Questionable), LB Larry Izzo (Questionable), LB Willie McGinest (Questionable), DB Duane Starks (Questionable), DB James Sanders (Questionable), DB Randall Gay (Questionable), DB Tyrone Poole (Doubtful)


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense at Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Green Bay suffered a huge blow to their rushing attack this week when they lost Ahman Green for the season due to a torn thigh tendon. As backup Najeh Davenport is already on injured reserve, the Green injury means that Tony Fisher is the new featured back in Green Bay. He has amassed 189/727/3 rushing (3.8 yards per carry during his career to date) and 90/638/5 receiving during 3 1/2 seasons with the Packers as a situational player. Now we'll see what he can do full-time. In a brief appearance last week he rushed 5/2/0 and snagged 2 receptions for 17 yards.

Cincinnati was gashed for 47/221/1 by the Steelers last week, and have averaged 173.3 rushing yards allowed per game during their last 3 contests. For the season they are 27th in the NFL allowing an average of 132 rushing yards per contest, with 5 rushing scores given away. As you can see, the Bengals' defensive front is going backwards in this phase of the game. Rookie LBs David Pollack and Odell Thurman have a lot of promise, but their inexperience and tendency to over-pursue are leaving lots of room to roam for the oppositions' running backs.

This is a good matchup for Fisher and company if they can take advantage of it.

Weather: The forecast for Paul Brown Stadium calls for a high of 60F and a low of 39F with a 10% chance of rain - crisp fall weather, ideal for playing (and watching) football.

GB Injuries: RB Tony Fisher (Probable), RB Vonta Leach (Probable), WR Robert Ferguson (Out)
CIN Injuries: DL John Thornton (Probable), LB David Pollack (Questionable), DB Keiwan Ratliff (Probable), DB Madieu Williams (Out)


Houston Texans Rushing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Despite being burdened with the most pathetic passing offense in the NFL, Domanick Davis continues to produce, even in the face of Indianapolis' hard-nosed defense. He put up 28/98/1 and 1/7/0 last week - it was a minor miracle considering how little support he got from David Carr and company (6/9 for 48 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception passing). What little the Texans can do on offense flows through Davis' hands, folks. He is the 15th ranked fantasy RB in the land this season with 113/456/1 rushing and 21/151/2 receiving, and has managed 65/268/1 rushing and 11/78/1 receiving over the past 3 weeks to rank 13th at his position during that span of time.

Cleveland surrendered 37/119/1 to the Lions last week (they average 136.7 rushing yards allowed per game this season, 28th in the NFL, but have only coughed up 3 rushing scores). Over the past 3 weeks, Cleveland averages 148.3 rushing yards allowed per contest - the Browns aren't shutting down opposing rushers this year.

Davis will see a lot of touches and he's proven he can make good things happen no matter how awful his supporting cast may be. With the limp Browns in town, that should mean a solid game for Davis.

Weather: The forecast for Reliant Stadium calls for a high of 80F with a low of 57F and a 20% chance of rain. That sounds like great football weather to us.

HOU Injuries: WR Andre Johnson (Questionable)
CLE Injuries: DL Orpheus Roye (Probable), DL David McMillan (Probable), DB Daylon McCutcheon (Probable)


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense at St. Louis Rams Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Fred Taylor took the week off two weeks ago (before the Jacksonville bye) due to a sore ankle. In his absence, Greg Jones (converted to FB this year)led the charge vs. Pittsburgh (18/77/1 rushing with 1/10/0 receiving), while Alvin Pearman chipped in with 15/22/0 rushing and 5/35/0 receiving. This week, the team expects Taylor (25th fantasy RB in points per game this year, with 105/401/1 rushing and 6/45/0 receiving over 5 games played) back in the lineup. Taylor commented on the upcoming game recently, saying "I'm good, man. That's what I want the headline to be: I'm good. Period. That means you don't need to ask me any more questions..."

St. Louis ranks 19th in the NFL allowing 113.7 rushing yards per game this season, including last week's total of 32/119/0 that New Orleans ran up. They have averaged 143 rushing yards allowed per game over the last 3 weeks - their defense has given away 1128 total yards during that span, near the bottom of the NFL - with 12 TDs allowed in 3 weeks, next to last (Houston has allowed 14 TDs in 3 weeks). The Rams field a weak defense, that is vulnerable in both phases of the game.

Taylor has a good shot at posting a strong game in his return to the starting lineup - advantage, Jacksonville.

Weather: This game will be indoors, at the Edward Jones Dome - weather won't be an issue.

JAX Injuries: RB Fred Taylor (Probable)
STL Injuries: DB Travis Fisher (Probable), DB Chris Johnson (Questionable)


Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense at New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Ronnie Brown has been much more productive than Ricky Williams since Williams' return to the league (Williams has 11/7/0 rushing and 6/22/0 receiving to his credit over 2 games) - Brown should hold onto the top job for the foreseeable future, barring injury. He had an explosive 65 yard TD run last week, and ended up with 8/95/1 rushing and 2/15/0 receiving on a day that saw the Dolphins chasing the Chiefs from behind most of the game. He's the 17th ranked fantasy RB in points per game over the past 3 weeks, with 34/214/2 rushing and 10/78/0 receiving to his credit.

New Orleans is generous with both rushing yards (allowing an average of 126.1 per game, 26th in the NFL this year) and rushing scores (10 surrendered to date, t-2nd most TDs given away). Last week, the Rams punched in 3 scores and racked up a 4.0 yards per carry average on the way (27/109/3 rushing as a team). The Saints don't scare anybody, and have trouble just slowing opposing backs down - stopping one appears to be out of the question.

Brown has a good shot at a big game this week.

Weather: Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge expects a high of 77F and a low of 49F with a 10% chance of rain - it should be a nice day to play football.

MIA Injuries: WR David Boston (Questionable)
NO Injuries: DL Darren Howard (Questionable), DL Brian Young (Questionable), LB T.J. Slaughter (Questionable), DB Mel Mitchell (Questionable), DB Dwight Smith (Questionable)


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense vs Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Antowain Smith (14/56/0 rushing, 2/14/0 receiving) and Aaron Stecker (12/33/0 rushing and 3/32/0 receiving) shared the running back duties last week 50-50. As a result, neither was anything to write home about in fantasy terms. Expect the sharing to continue this week in Baton Rouge. Unless and until one of the backs separates himself from the other with a solid performance, we expect the committee approach to continue in New Orleans.

Miami is mediocre at rush D this year, ranking 20th in the NFL allowing an average of 115.5 rushing yards per game to their opponents, with 5 scores given up. The Chiefs whacked them for 45/185/3 on Friday night; they have allowed an average of 154.6 rushing yards per game to their last 3 opponents. The Dolphins' defensive front is fading fast heading into the middle of the season.

The Saint's committee has averaged 141.6 rushing yards per game over the past 3 weeks, and should do well against the weak Dolphins - Smith figures to get any goal line chances that come along. Advantage, Saints.

Weather: Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge expects a high of 77F and a low of 49F with a 10% chance of rain - it should be a nice day to play football.

NO Injuries: RB Aaron Stecker (Questionable), WR Donte Stallworth (Questionable), WR Az-zahir Hakim (Questionable), WR Joe Horn (Questionable), TE Ernie Conwell (Questionable)
MIA Injuries: DL Kevin Carter (Questionable), DL Jason Taylor (Questionable), LB Junior Seau (Questionable), DB Sam Madison (Questionable), DB Lance Schulters (Questionable)


New York Giants Rushing Offense vs Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Tiki Barber played well against the Broncos last week, amassing 19/86/1 rushing and 6/24/0 receiving on the day. Brandon Jacobs did not touch the ball last week (we told you coach Coughlin despises fumbles). Over the past 2 games, Barber has managed to pile up 33/150/1 rushing and 7/29/0 receiving to rank 22nd in fantasy points per game during recent weeks. He's a solid fantasy starter most weeks.

The 49ers had a good outing as far as rushing the football is concerned, racking up 26/140/2 against the Redskins. Washington runs in the middle of the NFL pack in this department during 2005, averaging 108.5 rushing yards allowed per game, with 7 scores surrendered to date. Over the last 3 weeks, they average 133.6 rushing yards allowed per contest. The defensive front could use improvement, as you can see. That help may be on the way, as LaVar Arrington led the team with 9 tackles (7 solo) last week - anybody else wonder what the coaches were thinking when they kept him on the bench?

Barber is a talented back, while the Redskins look pretty porous in this phase of the game - advantage, New York.

Weather: Giants' Stadium expects a high of 64F with a low of 46F and a 10% chance for precipitation on Sunday - weather shouldn't be an issue for either team in those conditions.

NYG Injuries: WR Plaxico Burress (Questionable), WR David Tyree (Questionable)
WAS Injuries: DL Joe Salave'a (Probable), DL Cornelius Griffin (Probable), DL Cedric Killings (Probable), LB Lavar Arrington (Probable), DB Sean Taylor (Probable), DB Carlos Rogers (Probable)


Oakland Raiders Rushing Offense at Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Over the past 3 weeks (2 games), LaMont Jordan leads the NFL in fantasy points per game at his position (40/158/5 rushing and 10/98/0 receiving) - he has really come into his own heading into the middle of the NFL season, and comes into this matchup off a 28/122/3 rushing and 4/40/0 receiving effort against Buffalo. Jordan is smoking hot right now.

The Titans limited the anemic Cardinals' stable to 22/55/0 last week - but we're talking about a group of RBs that can't punch through a wet paper bag in this particular case. Over the past 3 weeks, the Titans have coughed up an average of 111.6 rushing yards per game, and they average 108 rushing yards allowed per game this season (14th in the NFL) with 3 rushing scores given up to date. They are a merely average defensive front 7 this year, folks.

Jordan is streaking, while the Titans are usually just mediocre vs. the rush. Advantage, Oakland.

Weather: The Coliseum in Nashville expects a high of 66F with a low of 41F and a 10% chance for rain on Sunday - ideal football weather, in other words.

OAK Injuries: RB Zack Crockett (Probable), WR Randy Moss (Questionable)
TEN Injuries: DL Albert Haynesworth (Questionable), LB Peter Sirmon (Questionable), DB Andre Woolfolk (Questionable), DB Vincent Fuller (Out)


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

As expected, Willie Parker got back into the groove last week against the weak Bengals defense, piling up 18/131/1 rushing (with a long of 37 resulting in his score), while Jerome Bettis contributed 13/56/0 en route to a team total of 47/221/1 (Verron Haynes had 11/35/0 late in the game after Cincy was already on ice). The Steelers rank 7th in the NFL currently averaging 136.3 rushing yards per game (6 rushing scores to date) and also average a respectable 4.0 yards per carry as a team (18th in the NFL). They mount a solid attack week in and week out.

The once-feared Ravens come to Heinz Field on Halloween Eve, but they aren't the unit we've come to expect during recent years. Last week, Thomas Jones and the Bears tore up Baltimore for 29/143/0 (4.9 yards per carry), and the Ravens have averaged 127.3 rushing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks/games. They are 9th in the NFL giving up 98.8 rushing yards per game this season, but clearly they are not up to that standard recently. Teams can move the ball against this defensive front (DL Anthony Weaver has been absent for several weeks due to a turf toe injury, which is part of the problem).

The Steelers have home-field advantage, and they deploy a solid stable that mixes explosive speed with power running - the Ravens are fading in this phase of the game as mid-season approaches. Advantage, Pittsburgh.

Weather: On Halloween, the temperature at Heinz Field is expected to range between 54F and 45F (at 9 PM it'll be closer to 45F) with a 10% chance for precipitation. Unless ghouls and ghosts take over the stadium, Heinz Field should be a nice place to watch and play a football game on Monday night.

PIT Injuries: QB Tommy Maddox (Probable), RB Jerome Bettis (Probable), WR Cedrick Wilson (Probable), WR Antwaan Randle El (Probable), WR Hines Ward (Probable)
BAL Injuries: DL Anthony Weaver (Questionable), LB Ray Lewis (Out), DB Ed Reed (Out)


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense at New York Giants Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Clinton Portis scored some TDs. Yes, you read that right - they came against the struggling 49ers, but Portis (and his fantasy owners) will take 'em any way he can get them. 19/101/3 rushing and 1/12/0 was much more like what fantasy owners had in mind when they drafted Portis. 60/281/3 rushing and 7/90/0 receiving during his past 3 games puts Portis at #7 among all fantasy RBs for that span of time. We'll see if the Redskins can build on the momentum they generated last week vs. San Francisco.

The Giants field a lower-echelon rush defense that averages 116 yards allowed per game (21st in the NFL), and they got torched last week by the Broncos for 33/191/1 rushing yards (a 5.8 yards per carry average). They've coughed up an average of 141.5 rushing yards per game over their last 2 contests (and Dallas was without their starting RB when the two faced off in week 6). More often than not, the Giants are allowing opposing backs to put up solid numbers.

The Giants are unimpressive when it comes to defending the rush, while the Redskins are finally starting to get into the endzone (Portis was racking up plenty of yardage all year long, with 123/544/3 rushing to date). Advantage, Washington, despite the Giants' home field advantage.

Weather: Giants' Stadium expects a high of 64F with a low of 46F and a 10% chance for precipitation on Sunday - weather shouldn't be an issue for either team in those conditions.

WAS Injuries: QB Mark Brunell (Probable)
NYG Injuries: DL Michael Strahan (Probable), LB Carlos Emmons (Questionable), DB William Peterson (Out)


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Carolina's big back, Stephen Davis, has been slowing down as the season goes along - before the bye week, he rumbled to a mere 13/27/0 against the Lions (DeShaun Foster was sidelined due to injury). Said offensive Coordinator Dan Henning "We have to spend this off week trying to figure out if there's a better way to approach the run game, and are we doing exactly what we want to be doing with who we're doing it with. So we've got the quality control apparatus in place and operating...You have to study your people, find out what they do best, and lean on that. So we've done an evaluation, and in some cases we think we're right on and just need to execute better. And some places we're going to have to make a couple of adjustments on either the formation we run something out of or the direction we run it in." Henning indicated that personnel changes were not imminent, so Davis figures to garner carries at about the same ratio with Foster as before the bye (104/318/7 rushing and 3/37/0 receiving for Davis; 41/185/0 rushing and 12/188/0 receiving for Foster so far this season - about a 70/30 split on rushing attempts).

The Vikings have been awful at run defense this season, allowing an average of 142 rushing yards per contest (7 scores given up to date). Last week, the Packers lost their top RB, Ahman Green, to injury during the game so their total of 23/45/0 against the Vikings doesn't necessarily indicate a great game on Minnesota's part. Over their last 2 games this team has averaged only 70 rushing yards allowed - they seem to be moving in the right direction. Time will tell.

The Panthers emphasize the run (but haven't been getting consistent results, and average only 3.1 yards per carry); the Vikings have been very weak during the season's opening quarter but appear to be stiffening in the middle part of the season - we call it an even matchup.

Weather: Bank of America Stadium expects a high of 66F with a low of 43F and a 20% chance of rain - a lovely day is on tap for the Piedmont region.

CAR Injuries: RB Rod Smart (Probable), RB Brad Hoover (Probable), RB DeShaun Foster (Questionable), WR Karl Hankton (Probable), WR Keary Colbert (Questionable)
MIN Injuries: DL Spencer Johnson (Probable), LB Napoleon Harris (Probable), LB Dontarrious Thomas (Questionable)


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

Thomas Jones ripped up the once-feared Baltimore defensive front for 25/139/0 rushing last week, adding a reception that went the wrong way (1/-5/0) to his tally, netting a total of 134 yards against the Ravens. He is playing very well right now behind the Bear's solid offensive line (Chicago is tied for 8th in the league averaging 4.3 yards per carry). The Chicago rushing attack has got it going right now. Over the past 3 weeks, he's the 11th fantasy RB in the land with 72/365/2 rushing and 4/6/0 receiving to his credit. Cedric Benson will be staying on the bench.

The Lions gave up 22/118/0 to the Browns last week (a 5.4 yards per carry average) and have averaged 110.3 rushing yards allowed per game during the past 3 weeks. However, they have only allowed 2 rushing scores this season (tied for 2nd-least in the league) while averaging 105.5 yards per game overall (13th in the NFL). The Lions are playing very solid rush defense this season.

Jones has been very good during recent weeks, but at Ford Field he faces a big challenge in the form of Detroit's defensive front. This one looks like a neutral matchup between top-shelf units to us.

Weather: Inside beautiful Ford Field's dome, the conditions should be perfect. Weather won't be an issue in this matchup.

CHI Injuries: QB Rex Grossman (Out), RB Thomas Jones (Probable), WR Mark Bradley (Probable), WR Bernard Berrian (Out)
DET Injuries: DL Dan Wilkinson (Probable), DL Marcus Bell (Questionable), DL Shaun Rogers (Questionable), DB Dre Bly (Out)


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Rudi Johnson had a decent outing vs. the Steelers, considering how hard they are to run on - 12/65/0 (a 5.4 yards per carry average) is nothing to sniff at, although the Bengals played from behind a lot on Sunday which limited Johnson's opportunities to carry the ball. He also had 2/1/0 receiving. Chris Perry didn't get much done carrying the ball (3/1/0), but he snagged 5/43/0 receiving. Over the past 3 weeks, Johnson is the 27th ranked fantasy back with 48/221/1 rushing and 5/11/0 receiving - he hasn't gotten into the end-zone enough lately. Perry ranks 35th with 16/84/0 rushing and 16/109/1 receiving during the same 3-week span.

The Packers average 101.8 rushing yards allowed per game this season (only 2 rushing scores given up to date), and have limited their last 2 opponents to an average of 101.5 rushing yards per game, including Minnesota's 26/108/0 effort last week. They don't surrender much in the way of points this year, and are pretty stingy with yards (tied with Philadelphia for 10th in the league in yards allowed per game).

Johnson has home-field advantage at his back, but he and Perry won't find it easy to score on the Packers. This one looks pretty even to us.

Weather: The forecast for Paul Brown Stadium calls for a high of 60F and a low of 39F with a 10% chance of rain - crisp fall weather, ideal for playing (and watching) football.

CIN Injuries: RB Rudi Johnson (Probable), WR Tab Perry (Questionable)
GB Injuries: DL Cullen Jenkins (Probable), LB Nail Diggs (Questionable), LB Robert Thomas (Questionable), DB Jason Horton (Probable), DB Nick Collins (Questionable), DB Earl Little (Questionable)


Denver Broncos Rushing Offense vs Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Denver's two-headed monster continues to grind out big chunks of yardage - last week it was Mike Anderson's turn to shine, with 24/120/1 rushing. Tatum Bell was a big boost, too, with 8/60/0 rushing (2/1/0 receiving), but he didn't manage to bust a long one all the way to the end-zone last week. All told, the Broncos boast the second-ranked rushing attack in the league, averaging 158.7 rushing yards per game this year (3rd in yards-per-carry at 5.0 per tote). Anderson and Bell will continue to get lots of touches week in and week out - which guy shines on any given Sunday will be hard to predict as a lot of factors like weather, half-time adjustments and more will dictate which guy handles the ball more often, although Anderson looks like the favored short-yardage back at this time. Over the past 3 weeks, Anderson is the 25th ranked fantasy back in points per game, with 50/211/2 rushing and 2/16/0 receiving, while Bell is 9th during that span with 33/301/3 rushing and 6/26/0 receiving (52 touches to 39 touches). They are splitting the workload in half, more or less.

The Eagles' coaching staff put together a brilliant game plan last week and absolutely smothered LaDainian Tomlinson and his offensive line, holding the all-world back to 17/7/0 rushing and 4/26/0 receiving. That's a heck of a job on defense, friends. The Eagles are tied for 10th in the NFL allowing an average of 101.8 rushing yards per game this season, with 3 scores surrendered, but over the past 3 weeks they've averaged 94 rushing yards allowed (2 games) - the Eagles are on the rise in this phase of the game.

Denver fields a top rushing attack and will be playing at home - but the Eagles sport a very solid defensive front that shut down LaDainian Tomlinson. That's enough to make this a tough matchup for us.

Weather: Mile High Stadium expects a high of 59F with a low of 38F and a 30% chance of precipitation on Sunday. At this time of year on the high plains, precipitation could be rain, sleet, or snow - field conditions may cause problems for both teams if the weather turns ugly around game time.

DEN Injuries: QB Jake Plummer (Probable)
PHI Injuries: DL Darwin Walker (Probable), DL Trent Cole (Probable), LB Jason Short (Doubtful)


Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Offense at San Diego Chargers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Kansas City's tandem had their way with the Dolphins' defensive front last week, slapping down 45/185/3 on the Dolphins (23/93/1 rushing with 1/26/0 receiving for Larry Johnson; 18/90/2 rushing and 1/6/0 receiving for Holmes). Right now this two-headed monster is producing piles of fantasy points: Holmes is the 4th ranked fantasy RB over the past 3 weeks (2 games) with 32/108/3 rushing and 6/106/1 receiving, while Johnson is 24th during that span with 36/146/1 rushing and 2/28/0 receiving.

The Chargers are very tough to run on this season, averaging 76 yards allowed per game (but they have coughed up 7 rushing scores). Part of the reason for the low yards-allowed average is due to their horrible secondary - teams simply choose to throw at San Diego (the Eagles passed 54 times last week and rushed the ball only 14 times for 24 yards and 0 TDs. Part of that is their offense but the Chargers were a factor too). In any case, this group is not tough in the red-zone - and the Chiefs rely on their backs to score around the goal-line.

The Chiefs field two impressive backs and have a dominant offensive line, while the Chargers are soft at the goal-line and but solid in the yards allowed department. We think the Chiefs' backs and line are more talented than the Chargers' defensive front 7 - advantage, Chiefs, but it's still a pretty tough matchup.

Weather: Qualcomm Stadium is forecast to have a high of 76F with a low of 55F and a 20% chance of rain - another beautiful day in Southern California, what a surprise!

KC Injuries: WR Samie Parker (Questionable)
SD Injuries: LB Randall Godfrey (Questionable), LB Donnie Edwards (Questionable), LB Steve Foley (Questionable), DB Sammy Davis (Questionable), DB Drayton Florence (Questionable)


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense at Denver Broncos Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

When you only rush the ball 14 times and pass 54 times, it tends to depress the production of the running game. So it was last week, when the Eagles scraped up 14/24/0 on the ground. Since Brian Westbrook is such an integral part of the passing game, his fantasy owners didn't get totally shafted, as he led the Eagles in receptions and yards receiving with 10/75/0 - but as far as the ground game goes, the Eagles really don't bother too much with establishing the run. It's not what they do (they are 32nd in the league with an average of 57.5 rushing yards per game this year, and have only 2 rushing scores to their credit).

Denver has a solid rush defense that averages 89.6 yards allowed per game this year (5th in the NFL), with 5 rushing scores allowed. The Giants managed 20/97/1 against them last week, just slightly more than the team's season average. Don't expect the defensive front to get tested very much by the Eagles.

The Eagles' coaches don't seem focused on rushing the ball. And this defense is tough. Advantage, Denver.

Weather: Mile High Stadium expects a high of 59F with a low of 38F and a 30% chance of precipitation on Sunday. At this time of year on the high plains, precipitation could be rain, sleet, or snow - field conditions may cause problems for both teams if the weather turns ugly around game time.

PHI Injuries: QB Donovan McNabb (Probable), RB Ryan Moats (Probable), WR Terrell Owens (Probable), TE Stephen Spach (Probable)
DEN Injuries: LB Keith Burns (Probable), DB Nick Ferguson (Probable), DB Champ Bailey (Probable), DB Lenny Walls (Questionable), DB Sam Brandon (Doubtful)


San Diego Chargers Rushing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Chargers' starting C Nick Hardwick was sidelined on Sunday due to his injured ankle (questionable on Friday's injury report). LaDainian Tomlinson had a hard time finding room to roam on Sunday, partly due to the banged-up condition of the OL. The Eagles physically dominated the Charger's linemen all day long. Said RT Shane Olivea "The (linemen) are hurting right now, physically, emotionally and mentally. We felt if we got this game we would be on a huge roll. It's a long flight home right now. We didn't play well enough to win offensively." The Eagles used an innovative game plan that attacked the running lanes of the Chargers' offensive line, collapsing the space through which LaDainian Tomlinson needs to run. The result: 17/7/0 rushing and 4/26/0 receiving for Tomlinson. He's been great most weeks, but the Eagles showed the rest of the NFL how to defense Tomlinson/the Chargers. The question is, can other defenses imitate the Eagles with equal success? Also, can the Chargers get their linemen healthy? Pay attention to the official NFL injury report to see if the Chargers' linemen are practicing later this week or not.

Kansas City surrendered 14/94/1 to the Dolphins last Friday night, including a long 65 yard TD run by rookie Ronnie Brown. They are the league's 8th ranked rush D this year, averaging 95.5 rushing yards allowed per game (with 4 scores given away to date). Over the past 3 weeks (2 games), they have averaged 97.5 rushing yards allowed per contest - the Chiefs field one of the league's better defensive fronts this year.

Tomlinson and company have home-field advantage at their back, but the O-line is in serious trouble with numerous physical complaints afflicting the players. K.C. isn't a pushover in this phase of the game - we think this looks like a tough matchup for the limping Chargers' unit.

Weather: Qualcomm Stadium is forecast to have a high of 76F with a low of 55F and a 20% chance of rain - another beautiful day in Southern California, what a surprise!

SD Injuries: TE Ryan Krause (Out)
KC Injuries: DL John Browning (Questionable), DL Ryan Sims (Out), DB Dexter McCleon (Questionable), DB Jerome Woods (Questionable)


St. Louis Rams Rushing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Coach Martz is out for the season due to his heart condition, and rumor has it that the front office wants to make his absence permanent. From here on out, it's Joe Vitt's team. For Steven Jackson owners, that is good news - he's been a fantasy star since Vitt took over (54/262/4 rushing and 13/120/0 receiving over the last 3 weeks, 5th among all fantasy RBs in points per game during that span). Last week, the team was forced to start backup Jamie Martin at QB due to Bulger's shoulder injury, and Jackson shone in his featured role with 20/97/2 rushing and 2/19/0 receiving. He's positioned for a strong run of fantasy points during the second half of the season.

The Jaguars are one of the toughest defensive fronts at the goal-line, allowing only 2 rushing scores to date. However, they have been fairly generous between the 20's, averaging 120.8 rushing yards per game allowed. Before their bye week, the Jags held Pittsburgh's powerful ground game to 30/73/0, though, so it appears that they are stiffening as the year goes along.

Jackson has been producing solid numbers in recent weeks, while the Jaguars are well-rested and hard-nosed in this phase of the game. We like Jackson but this looks like a tough matchup for the Rams.

Weather: This game will be indoors, at the Edward Jones Dome - weather won't be an issue.

STL Injuries: QB Jamie Martin (Probable), QB Marc Bulger (Questionable), WR Isaac Bruce (Questionable), WR Torry Holt (Doubtful)
JAX Injuries: LB Mike Peterson (Probable)


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense vs Oakland Raiders Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Tennessee is crossing their fingers that Chris Brown can shake off the shoulder stinger that sidelined him last week (10/37/0 rushing before he was forced from the game). If he can't get into game shape, Travis Henry is due to return from a league suspension this week, and the team has Jarrett Payton to help carry the load, too. The team averages 98.3 rushing yards per game this season (a 3.9 yards per carry average) with 4 rushing scores to date - the Titans need to have a strong rushing game as their WR corps is very inexperienced and injury-depleted right now. Last week, Payton managed 12/30/0 in relief of Brown.

The Raiders have been stout defenders during the past 2 games, giving up only 556 total yards in that span. However, their secondary lost 2 starters to injury last week, which means that the Titans are likely to test Oakland's secondary often in this game. In the rushing phase of the game, Oakland did a good job vs. Willis McGahee and the Bills last week, containing him to 16/50/0 rushing (23/84/0 as a team on the ground) and 3/36/0 receiving. They come into this game on the upswing vs. their opponent's backs.

With the chaos in Oakland's secondary, it would be no surprise to see the Titans attack through the air more than on the ground - this looks like a tough matchup and situation for the Titans' backs.

Weather: The Coliseum in Nashville expects a high of 66F with a low of 41F and a 10% chance for rain on Sunday - ideal football weather, in other words.

TEN Injuries: QB Steve McNair (Questionable), RB Jarrett Payton (Questionable), RB Chris Brown (Questionable), RB Troy Fleming (Questionable), WR Brandon Jones (Questionable), WR Drew Bennett (Out)
OAK Injuries: LB DeLawrence Grant (Doubtful), DB Jarrod Cooper (Probable), DB Charles Woodson (Out), DB Derrick Gibson (Out)


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Cardinal's top rusher last week was "rookie sensation" J.J. Arrington (5/30/0). WR Anquan Boldin (2/15/0) was second on the team, followed by "savvy veteran" Marcel Shipp (14/8/0). Overall, the Cards eked out 22/55/0 rushing. The team ranks next-to-last in rushing yards per game this year (71.2)- only pass-happy Philly is worse - and they have exactly 0 rushing scores to date. Oh, and they are dead last in yards per carry this season, averaging 3.0 yards per carry. It's time to bench their backs until (if ever) they start approaching respectable fantasy numbers.

Dallas fields one of the best rush defenses in the NFL, averaging 91.7 rushing yards allowed per game this year, with only 2 rushing scores given up to opponents including hot backs like: Shaun Alexander (last week, 21/61/0); Tiki Barber; Lamont Jordan; Clinton Portis and LaDainian Tomlinson - these guys are playing top-notch defense against top-shelf running backs.

The Cardinals are pathetic at rushing the football - the Cowboys are staunch at run defense. Dallas has home field advantage too - they have a monster edge in this matchup.

Weather: Texas Stadium expects a high of 70F with a low of 54F and a 30% chance of rain. If the precipitation comes down heavily at game time, footing and ball handling could become issues for both teams.

ARI Injuries: QB Kurt Warner (Probable), RB Harold Morrow (Probable), WR Reggie Swinton (Probable)
DAL Injuries: DB Anthony Henry (Probable)


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense at Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Let's just say it - Jamal Lewis is a fantasy bust this year. Any back who averages 2.8 yards per carry and is 32nd in fantasy points per game would be considered a bust, no matter how storied his career in years past. Until Lewis shows some burst and some fire, we advise looking elsewhere for your starter, unless 15/34/0 rushing and 2/6/0 receiving (his totals last week) is enticing to you. As a team, Baltimore is 24th in the NFL averaging 3.5 yards per carry, and that's with Chester Taylor's 6.0 per carry average (37/223/0) thrown into the mix.

That's doubly true this week, considering that the 6th-ranked Steelers are ready to welcome Lewis and company to Heinz Field on Halloween night. The Steelers have allowed an average of 90 rushing yards per game this season (5 scores); over the past 3 weeks their average is 83.3 rush yards given up per contest. The Bengals managed 19/91/1 against Pittsburgh last week, but their offense is much better than Baltimore's at this juncture of the season. These guys are tough, folks.

Lewis and Taylor will have a nightmarish evening against the Steelers, we think. Advantage, Pittsburgh.

Weather: On Halloween, the temperature at Heinz Field is expected to range between 54F and 45F (at 9 PM it'll be closer to 45F) with a 10% chance for precipitation. Unless ghouls and ghosts take over the stadium, Heinz Field should be a nice place to watch and play a football game on Monday night.

BAL Injuries: QB Kyle Boller (Doubtful), RB Ovie Mughelli (Questionable), RB Alan Ricard (Out), WR Mark Clayton (Questionable)
PIT Injuries: DL Aaron Smith (Probable), DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (Questionable), LB Clint Kriewaldt (Probable), LB James Farrior (Probable), LB Clark Haggans (Probable), DB Deshea Townsend (Probable), DB Ricardo Colclough (Questionable), DB Mike Logan (Out)


Dallas Cowboys Rushing Offense vs Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Dallas has been making do with a assortment of backup RBs while Julius Jones rehabilitates his injured ankle. Last week Marion Barber the Third rushed for 22/95/0 against the Seattle defense (39/164/0 as a team) to lead the committee. This season, the Cowboys average 3.3 yards per carry (not very impressive) and are the 14th ranked rushing offense in yards per game (119 on average) - they keep banging the ball into the line no matter what. Keep an eye on Jones' injury/practice status as the week goes along.

Tennessee managed 28/90/0 rushing against the Cardinals defensive front last week. Their #1 back, Chris Brown, left the game with a shoulder stinger, but it was still a solid defensive effort. This season, the Cardinals rank 12th in the NFL allowing an average of 103.3 rushing yards per game, with 8 rushing scores allowed to date. Over the past 3 weeks, they've coughed up an average of 88.5 rushing yards per contest (2 games) - Arizona is being stubborn vs. the run recently.

The Cowboys don't overpower people in this phase of the game, and may be without their #1 back - Arizona is playing respectably in this phase of the game, meanwhile. This matchup looks kind of tough to us.

Weather: Texas Stadium expects a high of 70F with a low of 54F and a 30% chance of rain. If the precipitation comes down heavily at game time, footing and ball handling could become issues for both teams.

DAL Injuries: RB Julius Jones (Questionable), WR Patrick Crayton (Out)
ARI Injuries: LB Karlos Dansby (Probable), DB Eric Green (Probable), DB Antrel Rolle (Out)


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

Kevin Jones was in and out of the lineup last week, and squandered some scoring opportunities at the goal-line. He ended the day with 21/74/0 rushing and 2/10/0 receiving, but he has yet to provide the explosive fantasy points his owners were expecting when they drafted him this year. In any case, he continues to get lots of touches, so the coaching staff hasn't lost faith in him (yet). As a team, the Lions put up 37/119/1 vs. the Browns.

The Bears crushed the Raven's stable last week, allowing a mere 22/66/0 to Jamal Lewis and company. They are the league's 4th ranked rush D in terms of yards allowed per game (83), and lead the league with zero rushing scores given up so far. This is one of the top defensive fronts in the NFL, folks.

Jones and company haven't been very impressive this year (27th in the NFL averaging 3.3 yards per carry), so we don't expect much from them against the dominant Bears.

Weather: Inside beautiful Ford Field's dome, the conditions should be perfect. Weather won't be an issue in this matchup.

DET Injuries: WR Eddie Drummond (Questionable), WR Roy Williams (Questionable)
CHI Injuries: none


Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense at Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Viking's rushing attack continues to sputter, with 19/67/0 generated by Mewelde Moore and Michael Bennett last week (Daunte Culpepper added 7/41/0 to make the team average of 26/108/0 look respectable, but the backs averaged 3.5 yards per carry). Mewelde Moore used his receiving skills to amass a decent outing, with 13/45/0 rushing but 4/60/1 receiving to go over the 100-yards combined barrier last week. He's the guy to start if you are invested in this rushing attack, which ranks 26th in the NFL averaging 84.5 rushing yards per contest to date, with a mere 1 rushing score.

The Panthers are very hard to rush against, ranking 3rd in the NFL this season limiting opposing backs to an average of 77.7 yards per contest (3 rushing scores allowed to date). Over the past 3 weeks (2 games), they average 62 rushing yards given up per game, allowing a mere 24/52/0 to the Lions two weeks ago. This group forms an elite defensive front, friends.

Moore and Bennett will find the going tough against the stern Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.

Weather: Bank of America Stadium expects a high of 66F with a low of 43F and a 20% chance of rain - a lovely day is on tap for the Piedmont region.

MIN Injuries: none
CAR Injuries: DL Julius Peppers (Probable), LB Dan Morgan (Questionable), DB Chris Gamble (Probable)


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Kevan Barlow had a good game going last week (14/54/1 rushing), but exited the game due to a quadriceps injury (he's expected to play as normal this week). In his absence, Frank Gore ran very well, with 9/89/1 including a long of 72 TD yards (but that came at the end of the game when the Redskins were up 52-10 - it was a garbage-time score, but those count in fantasy football). Said Gore "It was my first touchdown in the NFL. Hopefully, it will show my coaches that they can believe in me when I'm in the game that I'm going to keep fighting no matter if we are up or down." As the passing game is almost non-existent, expect Barlow and Gore to see lots of touches until Smith gets settled into his new role.

This week, though, a lot of carries aren't going to help Barlow or Gore much, as Tampa Bay is coming to town. Tampa, who ranks #1 in the NFL allowing an average of 62 rushing yards per game (4 rushing scores allowed to date). Tampa, who have averaged only 63 rushing yards allowed per game over the last 3 weeks (2 games) and average 259.5 total yards allowed per game during that span. These guys are one of the elite defensive units around this year.

Barlow and Gore will have their work cut out for them against the Buccaneers.

Weather: The forecast for the Bay area calls for a high of 66F with a low of 53F and a 20% chance for rain. A great day for a football game is coming up for the 49'ers faithful - they'll witness another...well, lets not get into that.

SF Injuries: QB Alex Smith (Questionable), WR Arnaz Battle (Questionable), WR Otis Amey (Questionable)
TB Injuries: DB Jermaine Phillips (Probable), DB Dexter Jackson (Out)




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