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  Passing Matchups  

Week 9 Rushing Matchups

[ARI] [ATL] [BAL] [CAR] [CHI] [CIN] [CLE] [DET] [GB] [HOU] [IND] [JAX] [KC] [MIA] [MIN] [NE] [NO] [NYG] [NYJ] [OAK] [PHI] [PIT] [SD] [SEA] [SF] [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.


Chicago Bears Rushing Offense at New Orleans Saints Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Great news for the Bears and Thomas Jones owners came out on Tuesday, when head coach Lovie Smith stated his injured ribs weren't a serious problem and that Jones was O.K. As Jones has been steadily productive - 156/713/6 rushing with 16/72/0 receiving, 7th best fantasy RB this season; 70/300/2 rushing and 5/26/0 receiving over the past 3 weeks, 15th RB over that span (3 games) - his continued presence in the lineup is crucial for the Bears.

New Orleans got trampled by Steven Jackson and company two weeks ago (27/109/3), gave up 47/188/0 to the Dolphins last week, and rank 27th in the NFL vs. the rush this season allowing an average of 133.9 yards per contest (tied for 2nd-most rushing scores allowed with 10 surrendered to date). They have played poorly in this phase of the game most of the season, and they played poorly during the past 2 weeks.

Jones and the Bears are playing for a division crown, while the Saints are struggling - advantage, Bears.

Weather: Tiger Stadium expects a high of 83F and a low of 50F with a 30% chance for rain. If the rain comes down hard around game time, field conditions could be a problem for both teams - this field does double duty as the home of the Tigers and the wandering Saints right now, so it sees a lot more wear and tear than, say, Bank of America Stadium up in Charlotte.

CHI Injuries: QB Rex Grossman (Out), RB Thomas Jones (Probable), WR Bernard Berrian (Out), WR Mark Bradley (Out)
NO Injuries: LB T.J. Slaughter (Questionable), DB Mike McKenzie (Questionable)


Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Offense vs Houston Texans Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Fred Taylor shook off his sore ankle last week (although he said after the game "There were some cuts out there that I could have made that I couldn't really get to because of my ankle.") and threw down 22/165/1 rushing and 2/-1/0 receiving to lead the charge vs. St. Louis. Ultimately, his NFL team lost by a field goal, but Taylor rewarded those fantasy owners who started him with a big game. Over the past 3 weeks, he's only played in last week's game, so we can't really say that he's on a roll - let's just say that "he's back" and leave it at that.

The Texans have been miserable vs. the rush all year long, ranking dead last in the NFL giving up an average of 165.1 rushing yards per game, and they are tied for 2nd-most rushing scores allowed with 10 given away to date. Over the past 3 weeks, teams have averaged 227 rushing yards per contest against this lame defensive front: last week, the Browns racked up 33/156/0 on them.

Taylor won't see a more favorable matchup all year. Advantage, Jacksonville.

Weather: The forecast for Jacksonville's Alltel Stadium calls for a high of 83F with a low of 66F and a 20% chance for rain. As long as the skies don't open up, it should be a great day to play some tackle football.

JAX Injuries: WR Reggie Williams (Probable), WR Cortez Hankton (Questionable)
HOU Injuries: DL Gary Walker (Probable)


New York Giants Rushing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Tiki Barber was on a mission last week, and it showed with 24/206/1 rushing and 1/5/0 receiving against a fairly decent defensive front. The huge game vaulted Barber into the top ten among fantasy backs over the past 3 weeks, with a total of 57/356/2 rushing and 8/34/0 receiving. In a disturbing development for Barber owners, though, Brandon Jacobs returned to action with 8/14/1 rushing, stealing a 3 yard touchdown from Barber. Other than the lost opportunity, though, it was all good for Barber last week. We'll see if the Giants can maintain their intensity after an emotionally charged/draining week surrounding owner Wellington Mara's passing.

The 49ers did quite a job on rookie sensation Cadillac Williams last week, holding him to 13/20/0 rushing (the Bucs managed only 20/43/0 as a team). The fact that the team didn't give up a rushed TD (they've allowed 10 rushing scores to date, 2nd most in the league) was a definite improvement over past weeks. Over the past 3 weeks, the Niners have averaged 123.5 rushing yards allowed per game - last week was an extraordinarily good outcome for this normally squishy defensive front.

Barber and the Giants are on a roll - we think last week's solid game from the 49ers was the exception to the rule. Advantage, Giants.

Weather: Out by the Bay, the 49ers faithful can expect a high of 65F with a low of 55F and a 10% chance of rain. Heck, these guys showed they can beat the Buccaneers fielding their 3rd-string QB - the home team can beat anybody on any given Sunday! The weather will be outstanding for playing and watching pro football.

NYG Injuries: WR David Tyree (Questionable)
SF Injuries: LB Saleem Rasheed (Out), DB Ahmed Plummer (Doubtful)


San Diego Chargers Rushing Offense at New York Jets Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

LaDainian Tomlinson's numbers have cooled somewhat since the Eagles stuffed him 2 weeks ago (17/69/0 rushing, 2/23/0 receiving, and 1/1 for 17 yards and 1 TD passing last week) - but he is still producing as a passer, rusher and receiver. During the last 3 weeks, he threw 2/2 for 21 yards, 2 TDs passing; rushed for 65/216/1 and hauled in 9/88/1 in the receiving department. Even though he's been "down" in the rushing phase of the game, Tomlinson is still the 7th ranked fantasy RB in points per game during the past 3 weeks (3 games). His beat-up offensive line has hampered Tomlinson on the ground, but he is still finding ways to be productive.

The Jets stink at rush D, allowing an average of 140.6 rushing yards per game this season (30th in the NFL), with 8 TDs surrendered to date. Over the past 3 weeks they've coughed up an average of 191 rushing yards per game (2 games), including a 38/205/2 steamrolling at the hands of Atlanta two weeks ago.

Tomlinson is a top back - the Jets sport one of the worst rush defenses around - advantage Tomlinson and the Chargers.

Weather: The forecast for Giants Stadium calls for a high of 65F and a low of 53F with a 20% chance for rain - sounds like great football weather to us.

SD Injuries: RB Andrew Pinnock (Doubtful), TE Ryan Krause (Out)
NYJ Injuries: DB Oliver Celestin (Out)


Seattle Seahawks Rushing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Rushing Defense (Great Matchup)

Shaun Alexander went into the bye week with 21/61/0 vs. the tough Dallas defensive front - not terrible, but hardly a fantasy bonanza for his spoiled owners (Alexander is the 2nd ranked fantasy RB this year with 152/776/12 rushing and 7/32/0 receiving in only 7 games to date). Never fear, Alexander owners - Arizona is waiting to welcome Alexander into the end-zone again this week. Last time he saw this defense, back in week 3, he tore them up for 22/140/4 rushing. Start him if you've got him.

The Cardinals have allowed 10 rushing TDs this season (t-2nd most in the NFL) while averaging 109.4 rushing yards given up per game. Last week, the Cowboys ripped them for 32/146/2 - you saw Alexander's history against them this year above.

Advantage, Seahawks.

Weather: At this time of year, people who live in cold climates see the allure of Arizona - a high of 82F with a low of 60F and a 0% chance of rain is forecast for Sun Devil Stadium this weekend.

SEA Injuries: WR Bobby Engram (Probable), WR Darrell Jackson (Out)
ARI Injuries: DL Chike Okeafor (Probable), LB Karlos Dansby (Probable), LB Lance Mitchell (Questionable), DB Eric Green (Probable), DB Antrel Rolle (Out)


Detroit Lions Rushing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Kevin Jones has been slowly coming to life during the past weeks, and rewarded his long-suffering owners with some fantasy points last week (18/66/1 rushing and 5/13/0 receiving, 14th fantasy RB overall during week 7). He hasn't been overpowering in recent weeks, ranking 34th in the NFL with 51/161/1 rushing and 9/26/0 receiving over the past 3 games. He has been banged up for stretches of time (in and out of the lineup during the games) - as a team, the Lions are the 22nd ranked rushing offense in the league this year, averaging 93.7 rushing yards per game and they have 7 TDs rushing as a group. Last week, Shawn Bryson had the second-most rush attempts with 4/6/0. As a team, the Lions rushed for 29/93/1 - right on pace for this unit.

The Vikings are very weak in this phase of the game, allowing an average of 137.9 rushing yards per game, with 9 scores surrendered to date. They haven't been so giving over the past 3 weeks allowing only 83.6 rushing yards per game (but they have been awful at pass D so teams just aren't rushing the ball much against them right now, week in and week out). Carolina stuffed in 39/111/2 against the Vikes last week, though - people aren't afraid to attack the Viking defensive front.

Jones hasn't been a top performer this year, but found a spark last week - the Vikings defense is weak and they've allowed 11 total TDs over the past 3 weeks. Advantage, Detroit.

Weather: Inside the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, we expect conditions to be perfect. Weather won't be a factor in this matchup.

DET Injuries: QB Jeff Garcia (Questionable), RB Paul Smith (Doubtful), WR Roy Williams (Questionable), WR Mike Williams (Questionable)
MIN Injuries: LB Napoleon Harris (Probable), DB Fred Smoot (Probable)


Houston Texans Rushing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Domanick Davis continues to produce fantasy points at a steady rate, with 28/91/0 rushing and 2/25/0 receiving last week (74/229/1 rushing and 5/60/1 receiving over the past 3 weeks, 20th among fantasy RBs in fantasy points per game). As we've said before, if he played on a better team he'd be a top ten fantasy back - right now, he's still a solid #2 for most teams, despite all the adversity the Texans' offense in general faces.

The Jaguars have been generous with rushing yards this season, giving up an average of 132.1 per game (26th in the NFL), but they get very stubborn in the red-zone. Jacksonville is tied for the 2nd-least rushing TDs allowed, with only 2 given up in 7 games. Over the past 3 weeks (2 games), they are right on pace averaging 136.5 rushing yards per game; last week, St Louis ripped them for 33/200/0.

Davis always seems to find a way to move the ball between the 20's, while the Jaguars are giving in that portion of the field. Expect some quality yardage numbers from Davis this week, but TDs may be scarce-to-nonexistent.

Weather: The forecast for Jacksonville's Alltel Stadium calls for a high of 83F with a low of 66F and a 20% chance for rain. As long as the skies don't open up, it should be a great day to play some tackle football.

HOU Injuries: RB Domanick Davis (Probable), WR Andre Johnson (Questionable)
JAX Injuries: DL Marcus Stroud (Questionable), DB Deon Grant (Questionable)


Indianapolis Colts Rushing Offense at New England Patriots Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Edgerrin James went into the bye week hot, with 21/139/2 rushing and 1/8/0 receiving against the Texans. He has been steadily productive week in and week out this season, with 163/801/7 rushing and 19/172/1 receiving over 7 games to date (3rd among fantasy RBs in points per game behind Tomlinson and Alexander) - start him if you've got him, as he's a big part of the Colts' game plans this year.

The Patriots rank 24th in the NFL this season giving up an average of 128.4 rushing yards per game, with 7 scores surrendered to date. The Bills' Willis McGahee sliced through them for 31/136/0 last week (the Bills had 39/147/0 as a team). During the past 3 weeks (2 games played) the Patriots have averaged 162.5 rushing yards allowed per game - they are sinking fast in this phase of the game, folks. The lack of DL Richard Seymour last week didn't help matters any - if he can get back in the game it might help stiffen the defensive front.

James should find room to roam against the fading Patriots' defense on Monday night - advantage, Colts.

Weather: The forecast for Gillette Stadium on Monday calls for a high of 56F with a low of 37F and a 50% chance for rain. Since the game starts at 9 PM ET, it'll be closer to the low, which means precipitation could fall as rain, sleet or snow. Conditions could lead to footing and ball handling issues for both teams - NFL passing games are usually limited by snowstorms, for example. If you have Colts or Patriots on your roster, it will be worth your while to check a shorter-range forecast at the end of the week before plugging in your lineup.

IND Injuries: TE Ben Utecht (Probable)
NE Injuries: DL Jarvis Green (Questionable), DL Marquise Hill (Questionable), DL Richard Seymour (Questionable), DL Ty Warren (Questionable), LB Willie McGinest (Questionable), DB Randall Gay (Questionable), DB James Sanders (Questionable)


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

The Chiefs slapped down 36/125/2 against the Raiders back in week 2 - both Priest Holmes (19/75/1) and Larry Johnson (9/41/1) scored during the 23-17 victory. Holmes suffered a head injury last week, but the team expects he'll be OK for this divisional rivalry. Over the past 3 weeks, Holmes is the 9th ranked fantasy RB 46/146/3 rushing and 9/121/1 receiving. Johnson has notched 42/201/1 rushing and 5/56/0 receiving during that span (26th in the league during that span). As a team they are 6th in the NFL averaging 131 rushing yards per game, and tied for 3rd with 10 rushing scores to date. This is one of the best attacks in the league.

Oakland surrendered 25/140/1 rushing to the Titans last week, and have given up an average of 138 rushing yards per game during the past 3 weeks (3 games). This season, they average 115.9 rushing yards allowed per game - the team is moving in the wrong direction as we hit the midpoint of the season.

K.C. averages 4.2 yards per carry (tied for 10th in the NFL) this year, and boast two fine backs - meanwhile, the Raiders have gotten softer in this phase of the game during recent weeks. Advantage, K.C.

Weather: Fans at Arrowhead Stadium can expect a high of 61F with a low of 40F and a 20% chance of rain. At this time of year, the wind can really start whipping across the plains, which makes Arrowhead a trickier-than-usual place to pass and kick the football - Tynes and Janikowski owners especially will want to check on wind conditions closer to game time to see what's going on in K.C.

KC Injuries: QB Trent Green (Probable), RB Priest Holmes (Questionable), WR Samie Parker (Questionable)
OAK Injuries: DL Bobby Hamilton (Questionable), LB DeLawrence Grant (Doubtful), DB Nnamdi Asomugha (Probable), DB Jarrod Cooper (Probable), DB Charles Woodson (Out)


Miami Dolphins Rushing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

In case you missed it, the Dolphins got their 2-headed monster cranked up last week against the wandering Saints, with 23/106/0 rushing and 2/12/0 receiving for Ronnie Brown, and 17/82/0 rushing for Ricky Williams. After a couple of weeks re-acclimating to the NFL, Williams averaged 4.8 yards per carry last Sunday. Brown went over 100 yards rushing - the team notched 47/188/0. This tandem could be a real juggernaut. Over the past 3 weeks, Brown is the 18th ranked fantasy RB in the land, with 40/223/2 rushing and 7/61/0 receiving to his credit (Williams had 2 slow games to start that span, landing him 52nd on the list with 28/89/0 rushing and 6/22/0 receiving). We'll see if they can build on their momentum on Sunday.

Atlanta has been plain awful at run D lately, especially at the goal line, averaging 124 rushing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks (2 games) - they coughed up only 37 yards but 2 scores to the Jets going into their bye week (32/211/2 to the Saints the week before that) - it's fair to say that the Falcons have been erratic at defending opposing rushers during the recent past. This year they rank 20th in the league allowing average of 119.7 rushing yards per game (7 rushing scores surrendered to date).

Atlanta has been bouncing up and down vs. the rush lately, while the Dolphins are gathering a head of steam - advantage, Miami.

Weather: Opa Locka, Florida expects a high of 86F with a low of 74F and a 30% chance of rain on Sunday. Depending on when and how hard the rain comes down, the field conditions could adversely affect both teams.

MIA Injuries: WR David Boston (Questionable)
ATL Injuries: DL Brady Smith (Questionable)


Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Offense at Washington Redskins Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Philadelphia ran the ball more than usual last week against the Broncos (19/79/0), but they still did not come close to 100 yards rushing as a team (Brian Westbrook managed 13/48/0 rushing and 4/56/1 receiving, scoring more fantasy points receiving than rushing, as we've come to expect). There isn't much more to say about the Eagle's rushing attack - it's limited at best, anemic at worst, but Westbrook is such a proficient receiver that he still rewards his owners with solid fantasy points (he's the 10th ranked fantasy RB this season with 78/304/1 rushing and 39/423/4 receiving).

The Redskins were destroyed by Tiki Barber and company last week, surrendering 45/262/2 to their rivals. Washington was totally dominated, and comes into this game reeling. They now rank 25th in the NFL allowing an average of 130.4 rushing yards per game, with 9 scores surrendered to date.

An anemic attack faces off against a reeling defense in this matchup - we can't get too excited but it is a pretty good matchup.

Weather: Fed Ex Field expects a high of 68F with a low of 50F and a 20% chance of rain on Sunday - a nice, crisp evening is in store for this game. Weather shouldn't be too much of an issue for either team.

PHI Injuries: QB Donovan McNabb (Probable), WR Terrell Owens (Doubtful)
WAS Injuries: DL Philip Daniels (Probable), DL Cornelius Griffin (Questionable), DL Joe Salave'a (Questionable), DB Omar Stoutmire (Questionable)


Tennessee Titans Rushing Offense at Cleveland Browns Rushing Defense (Good Matchup)

Tennessee has lost a huge chunk of their receiving corps to injury, and are leaning on the running game as a result. Last week, the Titans put together 25/140/1 rushing (19/97/1 rushing for Chris Brown, 5/41/0 for Steve McNair, and 1/2/0 for Travis Henry). Brown has put together 47/218/3 rushing and 5/41/0 receiving during the last 3 weeks (3 games), to rank 17th among fantasy RBs during that span. He's been on a roll lately.

The Browns have been generous with rushing yards this season (averaging 133.9 rushing yards allowed per game), but they don't break down at the end-zone line much (only 3 rushing scores given away to date). The Texans put up 37/117/0 against them last week; over the past 3 weeks they average 128.6 rushing yards given up per game - right on their sub-par pace.

The Browns are weak vs. the rush - Brown is gathering steam as the centerpiece to the WR-deprived Titans' offense. Advantage, Tennessee.

Weather: It looks like Browns Stadium will be soggy on Sunday, with a 60% chance for rain in the region. That means a slippery ball and less-certain footing for both teams, most especially if the sky is pouring rain at game-time. With a high around 61F and a low of 42F forecast, it'll be pretty chilly standing around in the damp, too.

TEN Injuries: QB Steve McNair (Questionable), RB Troy Fleming (Questionable), RB Damien Nash (Questionable), WR Tyrone Calico (Questionable), WR Brandon Jones (Questionable), WR Drew Bennett (Out), TE Ben Troupe (Questionable)
CLE Injuries: DL Alvin McKinley (Questionable), DB Chris Crocker (Questionable), DB Ray Mickens (Questionable)


Atlanta Falcons Rushing Offense at Miami Dolphins Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Atlanta has an awesome rushing attack. They are 1st in the NFL averaging 188.1 rushing yards per game. They are 1st in the NFL averaging 5.4 rushing yards per game. They ground out 35/208/2 going into the bye week, without big-back T.J. Duckett (Dunn gained 24/155/0 vs. the Jets, while Mike Vick hogged the scores with 9/18/2). This week, they figure to have Duckett back in the lineup (he of the 45/183/4 rushing in 6 games this year). He said on Tuesday of his running during early workouts "It was mostly straight-ahead stuff, but it felt real good." Duckett expects to practice on Wednesday - keep an eye on the injury report later in the week to see how he holds up - if he's in, he'll detract some from Dunn's value (but Dunn has piled up 135/732/2 rushing and 9/56/0 receiving in only 7 games, so unless you're in a basic scoring league he's still really good - 14th in fantasy points per game so far this year).

Miami is mediocre at run D this year, ranking 17th in the NFL allowing 111.9 rushing yards per game on average. At the goal line they stiffen, giving up only 5 rushing TDs to date. New Orleans managed 17/90/0 against Zach Thomas and company last week. The Dolphins have been up and down in this phase during recent weeks, with an average of 151.6 rushing yards surrendered per game over 3 games. They gave up 185 yards and 3 rushing scores to the Chiefs two weeks ago.

Atlanta is consistently excellent in this area, while the Dolphins have been up and down from week to week but overall pretty average. We see this one as a neutral matchup.

Weather: Opa Locka, Florida expects a high of 86F with a low of 74F and a 30% chance of rain on Sunday. Depending on when and how hard the rain comes down, the field conditions could adversely affect both teams.

ATL Injuries: RB T.J. Duckett (Questionable), WR Michael Jenkins (Questionable)
MIA Injuries: LB Junior Seau (Questionable), LB Eddie Moore (Out), DB Sam Madison (Questionable)


Baltimore Ravens Rushing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Jamal Lewis didn't show much improvement over past weeks vs. the tough Steeler defensive front (nobody really expected him to) - 17/61/0 rushing and 1/0/0 receiving is nothing to write home about. The Ravens are 23rd in the NFL this season with 93.3 rushing yards per game on average - even more surprisingly, they have a mere 1 rushing score to their credit as a team. Lewis and the OL are not getting the job done - although Chester Taylor doesn't usually seem to have trouble finding running room in his chances (45/232/0 rushing (a 5.2 yards-per-carry average), though the Steelers stuffed him on Monday night (8/9/0). Not much is going right for the Ravens' backs right now.

Cincinnati is in the bottom half of the NFL vs. opposing rushers this season, allowing an average of 125 yards per game (22nd in the NFL) with 6 TDs surrendered to date. The injury-depleted Packers managed 22/76/1 against them last week - over the past 3 weeks, they've given up an average of 138.3 rushing yards per contest. The most glaring weakness of the Bengals is their rush defense.

Two struggling units face off in this matchup - it looks pretty even from where we sit.

Weather: M&T Bank Stadium should see a high around 68F with a low of 55F and a 20% chance for rain on Sunday. A nice, cool autumnal day - perfect football weather, in our book.

BAL Injuries: QB Kyle Boller (Doubtful), RB Ovie Mughelli (Questionable), WR Mark Clayton (Questionable)
CIN Injuries: DL Justin Smith (Probable), LB David Pollack (Questionable)


New England Patriots Rushing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Corey Dillon stepped back into the featured role last week when Patrick Pass suffered an ill-timed hamstring injury (just as Pass was getting on a roll, he went down with a painful-looking pull). When it was all said and done, Dillon had piled up 18/72/2 rushing, a solid 4.0 yards per carry - it was his 3rd consecutive game at or above 4.0 yards per carry this season (his slow start of sub 3 yards-per-carry games seems to be in the rearview mirror at this point). After the game he reported being "Banged up, as usual" but his sore ankle seemed to hold up well during the game.

The Colts' rush D is tied for 2nd-least rushing scores allowed this season, with only 2 surrendered. They rank 14th in the NFL as far as yards allowed per game, with an average of 108.6 given up - over the last 3 weeks (2 games) they have given up an average of 119 yards per contest, including the 33/133/1 that the Texans ran up on Indy week 7. It's been tough to score points on the Colts in general this season, but the Texans found a few chinks in the armor and punched in 1 rushing and 1 passing.

Dillon is running more strongly of late, and he's about the only back left standing in New England - he'll see a lot of touches. The Colts are stiff-necked, though - this one looks pretty even from where we sit.

Weather: The forecast for Gillette Stadium on Monday calls for a high of 56F with a low of 37F and a 50% chance for rain. Since the game starts at 9 PM ET, it'll be closer to the low, which means precipitation could fall as rain, sleet or snow. Conditions could lead to footing and ball handling issues for both teams - NFL passing games are usually limited by snowstorms, for example. If you have Colts or Patriots on your roster, it will be worth your while to check a shorter-range forecast at the end of the week before plugging in your lineup.

NE Injuries: QB Tom Brady (Probable), RB Corey Dillon (Questionable), RB Patrick Pass (Questionable), RB Kevin Faulk (Out), WR Troy Brown (Questionable), WR Tim Dwight (Questionable), WR David Givens (Questionable), TE Ben Watson (Questionable)
IND Injuries: DL Dwight Freeney (Probable), DL Robert Mathis (Probable), DL Vincent Burns (Probable), DL Larry Tripplett (Questionable), LB Cato June (Probable), LB Keith O'Neil (Doubtful), DB Joseph Jefferson (Probable), DB Bob Sanders (Probable)


Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Offense at Green Bay Packers Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Willie Parker continues to be the starting, and featured, back in the Steeler offense, with 14/63/0 rushing (a 4.5 yards-per-carry average) and 2/18/0 receiving last week. It's clear that his TDs are going to come on break-away plays, though. When the team is in short-yardage situations (or make-or-break downs), Jerome Bettis is in the game. Bettis had 8/22/0 to his credit last week. This season, Parker is the 18th ranked fantasy RB in the land with 127/602/3 rushing and 5/74/0 receiving over 7 games. In most leagues, he's the guy to own/start, although Bettis has some appeal in basic scoring leagues due to the chance for goal-line action (only 42/136/1 over 4 games so far, though). Bettis isn't looking likely to play this week though with his leg injury.

Green Bay's rush D is actually solid this year, allowing only 2 rushing TDs to date and averaging 100.9 yards given up per game (10th in the NFL). Over the past 3 weeks, they've paced at 101.5 yards allowed (2 games), including holding the Bengals to 27/95/0 last week. The Packers aren't weak in this department.

Pittsburgh boasts the league's 5th ranked rushing offense this season, averaging 131.3 yards per game, but the Packers are not pushovers in what may be less-than-ideal weather conditions. This one looks like an even matchup to us.

Weather: Welcome to Wisconsin in November - Lambeau expects a high of 48F with a low of 31F and a 50% chance for rain, sleet or snow on Sunday. If the precipitation comes down hard around game time, ball handling and footing may be adversely affected - both teams are from cold-weather towns, so they are used to these challenges, but conditions probably won't be optimum for a high-scoring, shoot-out type contest...time will tell. If you have Packers or Steelers on your squad, it will be worth your while to check a shorter-term forecast on Friday or Saturday before selecting your starters.

PIT Injuries: QB Ben Roethlisberger (Questionable), RB Willie Parker (Probable), RB Jerome Bettis (Questionable), WR Antwaan Randle El (Probable), WR Hines Ward (Probable)
GB Injuries: LB Nail Diggs (Questionable), LB Robert Thomas (Questionable), DB Al Harris (Probable)


Washington Redskins Rushing Offense vs Philadelphia Eagles Rushing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Washington was completely dominated on the ground last week. Clinton Portis had 4/9/0 rushing, and 3/13/0 receiving. The team only attempted 13 rushes (13/38/0) after falling behind from almost the opening gun. Portis had finally found the end-zone two weeks ago against the hapless 49ers (19/101/3 rushing and 1/12/0 receiving), but the door was slammed in his face last week.

Philly was also dominated last week, steam-rolled by Denver's tandem of backs for 36/255/3, allowing 2 100+ yard rushers (21/126/1 for Anderson, 14/107/2 for Bell). The Eagles rank 21st in the NFL this year, allowing an average of 123.7 rushing yards per game, with 6 rushing scores allowed to date - over the past 3 weeks (bye + 2 games), they held LaDainian Tomlinson and company to 21 yards rushing, but then get blown out the very next game vs. Denver. This squad has been all over the map in recent weeks.

Two stumbling units face off in this matchup - neither one has a clear edge over the other from where we sit.

Weather: Fed Ex Field expects a high of 68F with a low of 50F and a 20% chance of rain on Sunday - a nice, crisp evening is in store for this game. Weather shouldn't be too much of an issue for either team.

WAS Injuries: RB Ladell Betts (Probable), WR Santana Moss (Probable), TE Chris Cooley (Probable), TE Robert Royal (Questionable)
PHI Injuries: DL Darwin Walker (Probable), DL Ndukwe Kalu (Questionable), DL Jevon Kearse (Questionable), DL Sam Rayburn (Questionable), LB Jason Short (Probable), LB Jeremiah Trotter (Probable), DB Michael Lewis (Probable), DB Lito Sheppard (Probable)


Arizona Cardinals Rushing Offense vs Seattle Seahawks Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The first time these teams met, back in week 3, Marcel Shipp led the team with 10/41/0 rushing and 2/16/0 receiving. Last week, Marcel Shipp put up 12/44/0 rushing and 4/25/0 receiving against the Cowboys (he is the 42nd ranked fantasy RB in the land this year with 84/221/0 rushing and 23/177/0 receiving to date). At least Shipp is consistent, if nothing else.

Seattle ranks 16th in the NFL this season, allowing an average of 110.4 rushing yards per game - but they are tough at the goal-line, with only 2 rushing scores allowed (tied for 2nd-least in the NFL). Before the bye week they averaged 115.5 yards given up over 2 games, including the Cowboy's 39/164/0 during week 7. The Seahawks don't shut people out, but they do limit their success in this phase of the game.

Arizona's rushing attack is pathetic. Unless and until we see a solid performance from one of the backs, the presumption is that they will underperform in every game. The Seahawks are tough to score on, and have something to play for - advantage, Seattle.

Weather: At this time of year, people who live in cold climates see the allure of Arizona - a high of 82F with a low of 60F and a 0% chance of rain is forecast for Sun Devil Stadium this weekend.

ARI Injuries: QB Josh McCown (Probable), RB Harold Morrow (Probable), WR Reggie Swinton (Doubtful), WR Anquan Boldin (Out), TE Teyo Johnson (Questionable)
SEA Injuries: LB D.D. Lewis (Questionable)


Carolina Panthers Rushing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Despite the fact that Carolina loves to run the ball - they pound it into the line an average of 30 times per game so far during 2005 - the Panthers aren't very successful in this phase of the game. They average a mere 3.1 yards per carry, and are 24th in the league at 92.6 rushing yards per game as a result. Despite the poor yards-per-carry average, though, Stephen Davis is the 12th ranked fantasy RB in the land this year with 121/358/9 rushing and 4/44/0 receiving - only LaDaininan Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander have more rushing scores at the mid-point of the season. Change-of-pace back DeShaun Foster is 36th in the league with 53/236/0 rushing and 13/196/0 receiving (he has some value in point-per-reception leagues). Last week, they notched 17/40/2 and 1/7/0 receiving for Davis and 12/51/0 rushing and 1/8/0 receiving for Foster.

Visiting Tampa isn't likely to improve the Panthers' yards-per-carry average any. The Bucs are 1st in the NFL allowing an average of 75.7 rushing yards per game this year, with 4 rushing scores allowed to date. They did trip up against the scrappy 49ers last week, surrendering 39/158/0 and that's the only thing keeping us from labeling this one a "bad" matchup. But we're leaning toward thinking last week was an aberration, not a trend. In this divisional contest, you can bet they'll bring their "A" game.

Carolina has a long, hard fight in front of them this Sunday. The advantage flows to the home-team Buccaneers.

Weather: Raymond James Stadium expects a high of 83F with a low of 67F and a 20% chance for rain. If the precipitation holds off, it should be a great day to play some football.

CAR Injuries: RB Stephen Davis (Probable)
TB Injuries: LB Derrick Brooks (Probable), DB Dexter Jackson (Doubtful)


Cincinnati Bengals Rushing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Rudi Johnson chugged his way to 22/72/0 last week, while change-of-pace back Chris Perry ran for 3/18/0 and caught 6/25/1. Overall, the Bengals managed 27/95/0 on the day. With the passing game so prominently featured from week to week, Johnson's fantasy prospects have been mediocre so far during 2005 (he's not a great receiving threat, with 1/0/0 last week) - he's the 25th ranked fantasy RB in the land to date, with 162/681/2 rushing and 11/24/0 receiving to his credit. However, don't despair Johnson owners - the colder, sloppy weather of winter is just around the corner, which should help pump up Rudi Johnson's number of carries (and opportunities). This week, though, the forecast for M and T Bank Stadium is pretty mild (see below).

The Ravens allowed 28/101/0 to the Steelers on Monday night (starting MLB Ray Lewis and DL Tony Weaver were both sidelined with injuries) - they haven't been shutting people down in this phase of the game during recent weeks, averaging 104.6 rushing yards allowed per game during their last 3 contests (Their season average is creeping upwards, now at 99.1 rushing yards allowed per game, 9th in the NFL). They are still a top ten rush D, though.

The Bengals' featured back has ground out a lot of yards, but not many TDs this year - the Ravens are slipping somewhat due to injury woes, but they are still tough to score on (only 4 rushing scores allowed to date) - this one looks like a tough matchup for the visiting Bengals.

Weather: M&T Bank Stadium should see a high around 68F with a low of 55F and a 20% chance for rain on Sunday. A nice, cool autumnal day - perfect football weather, in our book.

CIN Injuries: RB Rudi Johnson (Probable), RB Chris Perry (Probable), WR Chad Johnson (Probable)
BAL Injuries: DL Anthony Weaver (Doubtful), LB Ray Lewis (Out), DB Ed Reed (Doubtful)


Cleveland Browns Rushing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Reuben Droughns was arrested this week for DUI - that's bad news any way you look at it. Right now, expect the team to say things about "letting the justice system take its course" - no word yet on if Droughns' status as a starter is to be affected, but we suspect it won't be, for now at least. Keep an eye on what the Browns do this week. Lee Suggs isn't an option, thanks to his injured thumb, so the Browns would lean on William Green if Droughns were limited - Green had 10/48/0 rushing last week to Droughns' 20/99/0). None of the Browns have scored a rushing TD this year.

The Titans have allowed an average of 106 rushing yards per game this season (12th in the NFL to date), but only 3 rushing scores this season. Over the past 3 weeks, they average 88.6 rushing yards given up (a significant improvement), with 23/92/0 given up to Oakland last week. The Titans are stiffening vs. the oppositions' running backs at the season's mid-point.

The Browns don't have much luck scoring TDs, even against generous rush defenses, so don't expect a bunch of 6 pointers this week and you won't be disappointed. This looks like a tough matchup for the underwhelming Browns.

Weather: It looks like Browns Stadium will be soggy on Sunday, with a 60% chance for rain in the region. That means a slippery ball and less-certain footing for both teams, most especially if the sky is pouring rain at game-time. With a high around 61F and a low of 42F forecast, it'll be pretty chilly standing around in the damp, too.

CLE Injuries: RB William Green (Doubtful), RB Lee Suggs (Out)
TEN Injuries: DL Antwan Odom (Questionable), LB Rocky Boiman (Questionable), LB Peter Sirmon (Questionable), DB Andre Woolfolk (Questionable)


New York Jets Rushing Offense vs San Diego Chargers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Jets ran into a lot of trouble two weeks ago in Atlanta, and crawled to a mere 18/37 rushing as a team - however, both Curtis Martin (14/28/1) and Vinny Testaverde (2/1/1) scored rushing TDs, saving the Jets and their fantasy owners from a completely worthless outing. Martin had been running the ball very well in the weeks leading up to the Monday night game, with 32/172/2 rushing and 5/29/0 receiving over the last 3 weeks (2 games). We'll see if the bye week helped him recharge his batteries.

San Diego's defensive front is a study in contrasts - they rank 3rd in the NFL allowing an average of 78.4 rushing yards per game (partly because their secondary is awful, leading other teams to attack them through the air), but also coughing up 7 rushing scores to date (in the middle of the NFL range of 1 - 13 rushing TDs allowed by the various teams to date). The Chiefs piled up 21/95/0 last week; San Diego has averaged only 52.6 rushing yards given up per game during the past 3 weeks.

The Jets' stable struggled heading into the bye week, while the Chargers tend to keep opposing backs below 100 yards rushing per game (for whatever reason) - this looks like a tough matchup for Martin and company.

Weather: The forecast for Giants Stadium calls for a high of 65F and a low of 53F with a 20% chance for rain - sounds like great football weather to us.

NYJ Injuries: QB Vinny Testaverde (Probable), QB Jay Fiedler (Out), RB Curtis Martin (Probable), RB Derrick Blaylock (Out), WR Justin McCareins (Probable)
SD Injuries: LB Steve Foley (Questionable), LB Randall Godfrey (Questionable), DB Drayton Florence (Questionable), DB Terrance Kiel (Questionable)


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

LaMont Jordan is paying huge dividends to the Raiders and his fantasy owners in recent weeks, with 60/225/5 rushing and 15/167/1 receiving over the past 3 games (2nd fantasy RB in the land during that span). He compiled 20/67/0 rushing and 5/69/1 receiving vs. the Titans last week - Jordan is on a roll. Back in week 2, he wasn't quite as good, with 15/59/1 rushing and 6/32/0 receiving vs. K.C., but he still scored a respectable amount of fantasy points.

The Chiefs are 8th in the NFL this season, giving up 93.7 rushing yards per game on average, with 4 TDs given up to date. LaDainian Tomlinson and company scraped up 22/83/0 against them last week; over the past 3 weeks teams average 92.6 rushing yards per game vs. K.C. Their defensive front 7 is playing stout rush D this year.

Jordan is hot, but he comes into a hostile venue and faces a hard-nosed defensive front this week. He is a dual-threat back, so he'll contribute in the passing game, too - but rushing yards may be hard to come by for Jordan this week.

Weather: Fans at Arrowhead Stadium can expect a high of 61F with a low of 40F and a 20% chance of rain. At this time of year, the wind can really start whipping across the plains, which makes Arrowhead a trickier-than-usual place to pass and kick the football - Tynes and Janikowski owners especially will want to check on wind conditions closer to game time to see what's going on in K.C.

OAK Injuries: RB Zack Crockett (Probable), RB Justin Fargas (Probable), WR Randy Moss (Questionable), TE John Paul Foschi (Questionable)
KC Injuries: DL John Browning (Probable), DL Ryan Sims (Out), DB Dexter McCleon (Questionable), DB Patrick Surtain (Questionable), DB Eric Warfield (Questionable), DB Jerome Woods (Questionable)


San Francisco 49ers Rushing Offense vs New York Giants Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The 49ers won another game, against one of the toughest defenses in the league. Their stable of running backs was a big part of the effort, as the team only managed 50 yards passing all day long. 39/158/0 was the stable's combined effort, with 26/101/0 from Kevan Barlow and 10/40/0 on Frank Gore's part. Kevan Barlow has clawed his way into starting-fantasy-back territory over the past 3 weeks, with 40/155/1 rushing and 2/21/0 receiving in 2 games (24th fantasy RB in points per game during that span). He's not a world-beater, but neither are the 49ers.

The Giants stuffed the Redskins' stable last week, allowing a mere 13/38/0 to the team as a whole (4/9/0 to Clinton Portis on the ground). They rank 11th in the league this year allowing 104.9 rushing yards per game (5 rushing scores allowed) - over the past 3 weeks, Big Blue is pacing 107 rushing yards allowed per contest. They aren't pushovers, but they don't shut the opposition down most weeks, either.

Barlow and company are getting some good things done lately, and they will be asked to do a lot on Sunday. The Giants come into the game fired up (if they can maintain their intensity after a emotional week surrounding Wellington Mara's death), but are usually only mediocre. That sounds like a tough matchup to us.

Weather: Out by the Bay, the 49ers faithful can expect a high of 65F with a low of 55F and a 10% chance of rain. Heck, these guys showed they can beat the Buccaneers fielding their 3rd-string QB - the home team can beat anybody on any given Sunday! The weather will be outstanding for playing and watching pro football.

SF Injuries: QB Ken Dorsey (Questionable), QB Alex Smith (Questionable), RB Chris Hetherington (Questionable), RB Maurice Hicks (Questionable), RB Terry Jackson (Questionable), WR Arnaz Battle (Questionable), WR Otis Amey (Questionable)
NYG Injuries: DL Justin Tuck (Questionable), LB Carlos Emmons (Questionable), DB Shaun Williams (Probable), DB William Peterson (Out)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Rushing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman had a miserable outing against the 49ers last week, as the opposing defense loaded up against the run and challenged new starter Chris Simms to win the game throwing the ball. Williams had 13/20/0 rushing and 1/5/0 receiving, while Pittman put up 4/5/0 rushing and 1/3/0 receiving - it was not a good day to own Buccaneers. They were surprised by the lowly 49ers' effort. We'll see if Williams can get back on track this week - last week he was returning from foot and hamstring injuries and may have had some rust to knock off.

Tampa's rush defense is followed closely by the Panthers, who rank 2nd in the NFL allowing only 78.3 rushing yards per contest, with 4 scores surrendered to date. Minnesota scraped together 18/82/1 against Carolina last week; they average only 67 rushing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks (2 games). This defensive front is jelling just in time for the stretch run to the playoffs.

Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman are a fine tandem of backs, but the Panthers won't make things easy for them.

Weather: Raymond James Stadium expects a high of 83F with a low of 67F and a 20% chance for rain. If the precipitation holds off, it should be a great day to play some football.

TB Injuries: RB Michael Pittman (Questionable)
CAR Injuries: DL Mike Rucker (Probable)


Green Bay Packers Rushing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Tony Fisher did what he could vs. the Bengals (17/51/1 rushing and 2/7/0 receiving) - don't expect the 3rd-stringer to play like an All-Pro, and you won't be disappointed. Even when Ahman Green was handling the ball, the Packer's yards-per-carry average languished at the bottom of the league (currently they average 3.1 yards per carry, tied for 30th in the league). Fisher will get opportunities to make good things happen because he's the last decent back left standing.

Pittsburgh won't be gentle with Fisher this week - they are the league's 5th ranked rush D allowing an average of 87.4 yards per game (5 scores to date). They have averaged 85.3 rushing yards allowed per game over the past 3 weeks (3 games), including 27/72/0 to Baltimore on Monday night. The Steelers don't give much to opposing backs.

On paper, this looks like a bad matchup for the Packers.

Weather: Welcome to Wisconsin in November - Lambeau expects a high of 48F with a low of 31F and a 50% chance for rain, sleet or snow on Sunday. If the precipitation comes down hard around game time, ball handling and footing may be adversely affected - both teams are from cold-weather towns, so they are used to these challenges, but conditions probably won't be optimum for a high-scoring, shoot-out type contest...time will tell. If you have Packers or Steelers on your squad, it will be worth your while to check a shorter-term forecast on Friday or Saturday before selecting your starters.

GB Injuries: WR Robert Ferguson (Doubtful), TE Bubba Franks (Probable), TE David Martin (Questionable)
PIT Injuries: DL Travis Kirschke (Probable), LB James Farrior (Probable), LB Larry Foote (Probable), LB Clark Haggans (Probable), LB James Harrison (Probable), LB Joey Porter (Probable), DB Ricardo Colclough (Probable), DB Mike Logan (Out)


Minnesota Vikings Rushing Offense vs Detroit Lions Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Minnesota's rushing attack is not impressive this year. They rank 27th in the NFL averaging 84.1 rushing yards per game, and have only managed 2 scores as a group this year. Last week, the team lost Daunte Culpepper for the season, so the passing game is going to be in transition this week, allowing Detroit to key on the backs. Uh oh. Mewelde Moore had 9/30/1 rushing and 1/1/1 receiving to lead the stable of backs in yards (and scores) last week. He's the "best" Viking back this year, ranking 31st in the NFL with 81/319/1 rushing and 19/186/1 receiving to his credit - only suitable for bye-week duty more often than not.

The Lions have allowed only 2 rushing scores season, tied for 2nd-least in the NFL, and are ranked 13th in the NFL averaging 106.9 yards per contest. Over the past 3 weeks, they've coughed up 95.6 rushing yards per game - they're getting even tougher to run against. Chicago managed 29/115/0 against this group last week.

The Viking's offense is shaken, and their running back stable hasn't been very impressive to date. The Lions' D is on the rise, and they have something to play for - advantage, Detroit.

Weather: Inside the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, we expect conditions to be perfect. Weather won't be a factor in this matchup.

MIN Injuries: RB Moe Williams (Doubtful), WR Marcus Robinson (Questionable)
DET Injuries: DL Marcus Bell (Questionable), DL Jared DeVries (Questionable), DL Shaun Rogers (Questionable), LB Teddy Lehman (Out), DB Terrence Holt (Questionable), DB Dre Bly (Out)


New Orleans Saints Rushing Offense vs Chicago Bears Rushing Defense (Bad Matchup)

6 players contributed to the Saint's team total of 32/119/0 rushing two weeks ago - Antowain Smith led the "charge" with 14/56/0 - and compiled 17/90/0 vs. Miami last week. Aaron Brooks edged Smith for the team lead in rushing with 6/34/0 vs Smith's 6/33/0. Not much is happening on this unit, fantasy-wise or otherwise. We suggest you look elsewhere for your starters.

That suggestion is reinforced by this week's opponent - the Bears have given up a league-low 1 rushing TD this season, and rank 4th in the NFL allowing 84.4 rushing yards per game. Over the past 3 weeks, they have surrendered 79.6 rushing yards per game on average, including last week's total of 29/93/1 given up to Kevin Jones and company. The Bears field an elite defensive front, folks.

A struggling rushing attack faces a rock-solid rush defense in this matchup - advantage, Chicago.

Weather: Tiger Stadium expects a high of 83F and a low of 50F with a 30% chance for rain. If the rain comes down hard around game time, field conditions could be a problem for both teams - this field does double duty as the home of the Tigers and the wandering Saints right now, so it sees a lot more wear and tear than, say, Bank of America Stadium up in Charlotte.

NO Injuries: WR Az-zahir Hakim (Questionable), TE Ernie Conwell (Questionable), TE Shad Meier (Questionable)
CHI Injuries: DB Charles Tillman (Probable)




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