Bottom 5 Rushing Matchups Week 8
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Top 5 Passing Matchups Week 8
Bottom 5 Passing Matchups Week 8
Top 5 Rushing Matchups Week 8
Bottom 5 Rushing Matchups Week 8
Rushing Matchup Chart Week 8
Passing Matchup Chart Week 8
NY Giants vs Tampa Bay
The Giants’ hopes for a viable ground game cratered in Week 2, when Saquon Barkley was lost to an ACL tear. Unsurprisingly, there’s been virtually no sign of life in this razor-thin unit since. Devonta Freeman has added nothing of note (just 172 yards through 4.5 games), and he’s unlikely to suit up through last week’s ankle injury. Most likely, the plodding Wayne Gallman will lead the pack Monday night, with Dion Lewis offering change-of-pace relief. But neither inspires much hope for productivity. Gallman is a one-speed runner with a career 4.0 average, while Lewis is slotted strictly into his part-time role. And both will run through a shaky front line, one with real talent at a few spots but still finding its footing. Footballguys’ Matt Bitonti ranks it 27th currently, with a C+ mark in run-blocking.
The Buccaneers continue to smother opposing run games like few in recent memory. They haven’t allowed a 60-yard rusher all season - in fact, you’d have to go back to Week 11 of last year for the last instance. Over that span, they’ve held running backs to just 2.6 yards per rush - including the likes of Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, and a handful of other elite runners. They’ve weathered the loss of their backbone, rising star tackle Vita Vea, who’s on injured reserve with a fractured leg. In the 2 games since Vea’s injury, Aaron Jones and Josh Jacobs were held to a combined 32 yards on the ground. The Week 7 addition of Steve McLendon, a dependable, run-stuffing nose tackle, should pay off well next to playmakers Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul. Together they do a fine job keeping blockers off the second level, allowing linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White to roam and strike. David has been particularly stout against the run; he’s enjoying the best stretch of his career. Simply put, no one likes facing this unit in fantasy, and that goes for far better offenses than the Giants. With or without Freeman, it’s hard to project even a 35-yard rusher here.
Detroit vs Indianapolis
The Lions have settled into a full-on timeshare in the backfield, with -year-old Adrian Peterson contrasting with explosive rookie D’Andre Swift. Eventually, Swift will take control of this attack - he’s a truly dynamic open-field runner. But for the time being, coach Matt Patricia wants Peterson crashing into the line 10-15 times a game. Peterson enjoyed an explosive start to the season but has put up just 3.1 per carry since Week 3. Swift brings reason for weekly optimism, as does the improving front line. But as long as this attack remains weighed down by predictability, it will be difficult to trust in fantasy circles. And it carries all but no value when pressed into a daunting matchup like this one.
The Colts run defense has opened the year against a handful of strong, run-focused offenses - and they’ve just about dominated all comers. In matchups with James Robinson, Dalvin Cook, Kareem Hunt, and Joe Mixon, they’ve given up just 3.7 yards per attempt and 63 a game. Most impressively, they’ve held together for 2.5 games without superstar and defensive captain Darius Leonard, who’s still nursing a groin injury and may not suit up Sunday. Anthony Walker is no replacement for Leonard, but he’s held down the fort behind a truly dominant front line. DeForest Buckner has come over from San Francisco as advertised - a run-stuffing menace who also blows up plays in the gaps - while Grover Stewart may merit All-Pro consideration of his own on the nose. And the team loves what Denico Autry brings to the table, bouncing all over the line to create mismatches. There’s so much depth and tenacity in this front seven that the Lions are facing an uphill battle as it stands. Leonard’s return - still very possible - would turn that into a mountain.
Seattle vs San Francisco
The Seahawks ground game has dipped in volume from its usual levels but remains solidly productive on a per-touch basis. Chris Carson hasn’t dominated the backfield, but he has taken yet another step forward as an all-around runner, putting up 4.9 yards per rush thus far. Unfortunately, the oft-injured Carson is nursing a hamstring injury, and the team won’t have his services for at least this week. Backup Carlos Hyde is also questionable (at best), and even if he does suit up, he won’t inspire much confidence. There’s a good chance rookie DeeJay Dallas leads this backfield Sunday. He’s an intriguing prospect but is entirely unknown (just 6 touches over 23 snaps). The Seahawks will likely have to lean more than they ever have on Russell Wilson’s arm - especially in such an imposing matchup - so it’s hard to expect much from here.
The 49ers run defense has battled a ferocious rash of injuries throughout the young season. They lost linemen Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas in Week 2, then saw WILL linebacker Kwon Alexander go down with an ankle sprain in Week 6. And they faced the Patriots last week with both starting safeties out, with no word yet on their availability for Sunday’s showdown. And yet, this has remained one of football’s stingiest units through it all. Opposing running backs are putting up just 3.6 yards per rush, with lead backs averaging 55 a game - and only 2 touchdowns thus far. That’s an incredibly resilient response, and much of the credit goes to coordinator Robert Saleh’s depth and rotations. Arik Armstead and rookie Javon Kinlaw have led a seven-man rotation that swarms to free up the linebackers. Alexander, Fred Warner, and company are ordinary at best against the run, but they do well with the blockers tied up in the trenches. The Seahawks weren’t set up well here even before Carson went down, and now they check in as hands-off for fantasy purposes.
Baltimore vs Pittsburgh
The Ravens have toned their ground game down a hair from 2019 levels, dropping from 37 rushes a game to 30. But this remains a run-dominant offense, pounding the ball at a league-high 50% rate. It’s always hard to project the distribution in this messy platoon, which uses all of Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram II, Gus Edwards, and J.K. Dobbins liberally. “Lead” back Ingram is averaging just 38 yards a game - he’s yet to reach 60 in a game - and his efficiency (4.5 per rush) has dipped along with his volume. And while all four backs work behind an elite run-blocking line, they’ve yet to be tested quite like they will be Sunday. Their typical front-line advantage won’t be as obvious as usual - or perhaps not even there at all. The Steelers thoroughly shut down both Ingram and Edwards when they all met last season, after all.
The Steelers run defense simply won’t let up. They’ve faced a daunting slate of runners thus far - Saquon Barkley, Melvin Gordon III, Miles Sanders, Kareem Hunt, Derrick Henry - but held each one almost entirely in check. That cohort of backs posted just 3.5 yards per rush and 54 per game; apart from a single 74-yard run by Sanders, those numbers would fall to 2.6 and 39. The magic starts up front, where Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt form a dominant duo that both clogs lanes and blows up plays. They do a great job of keeping the linebackers clean - though they’ll spend the rest of 2020 without building block Devin Bush. Replacement Robert Spillane doesn’t boast nearly the same dynamism but isn’t a huge drop-off at this point. For all his speed and quickness, Bush often played out of control and left his assignment open. His loss can be mostly papered over by Spillane and the rest of this deep, talented group. With or without Bush, this looks like the run-obsessed Ravens’ toughest challenge to date. Jackson and the running backs are capable of big stat lines in any matchup but will need to get creative against this front.
LA Chargers at Denver
The Chargers were fully prepared this offseason for life without Melvin Gordon III in the backfield, allowing him to move on (to these very Broncos). But with Austin Ekeler on injured reserve, they now find themselves grasping for productivity on the ground. Rookie Joshua Kelley is a one-speed plodder, and Justin Jackson isn’t built for a high-usage role. Together, they’ve averaged just 3.2 yards over 103 rushes, and neither has found the end zone since Opening Day. Still, Kelley and Jackson only shoulder part of the blame for this anemic attack. Our Matt Bitonti ranks it 30th at the moment, with a C- run-blocking grade. It should improve somewhat when its right side, guard Trai Turner and tackle Bryan Bulaga, can return to the field. But Sunday doesn’t look likely, and Week 8 is shaping up as another one-dimensional air raid for the Chargers.
The Broncos opened 2020 giving up a pair of 100-yard performances, to Derrick Henry and James Conner. Over the 4 games since, they’ve allowed just 244 total (2.7 per carry), and no lead runner has reached 55 on his own. The line rotation, headed by DeMarcus Walker and the underappreciated Shelby Harris, is deep and stout at the point. And the inside linebackers, while limited as overall players, are generally able to take advantage. This isn’t exactly a dominant unit, and there have been lapses for sure. Last week the Chiefs’ front line mostly won the trench battle, allowing Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell to turn 14 attempts into 90 yards. Still, the results overall have been solid, and this unit is certainly strong enough to control the Chargers’ banged-up line. It would be a surprise to see the struggling Jackson or Kelley generate much of note.