BOTTOM 5 RUSHING MATCHUPS WEEK 13
To view all of our Week 13 Matchup content, please see the links below:
Top 5 Passing Matchups Week 13
Bottom 5 Passing Matchups Week 13
Top 5 Rushing Matchups Week 13
Bottom 5 Rushing Matchups Week 13
Rushing Matchup Chart Week 13
Passing Matchup Chart Week 13
Atlanta vs New Orleans
The Falcons are occasionally able to grind out a successful run game, though it’s not always predictable and rarely very efficient. And to make matters worse, this week’s personnel may not even be clear until Sunday morning. Todd Gurley looks like an iffy proposition to suit up after mercifully sitting out last week. Still plagued by knee woes and an evaporating skillset, Gurley had produced just 2.7 yards per rush over his last 5 healthy games. The Falcons can draw the same (and arguably better) production from change-of-pace guys Brian Hill and Ito Smith, who combined for 120 yards over 20 carries last week. Of the two, Smith looked like the more impressive running back with most of his work coming in the second half of last week.
The Saints remain among the NFL’s gold standard of run defenses. You’d have to go back to 2018 to find the last regular-season runner over 90 yards in this suffocating matchup. That stretch includes a Week 11 date with these very Falcons, who managed just 52 as a team that day. This unit boasts a dominant front led by David Onyemata, who’s putting up an All Pro-caliber season on the interior. He and nose tackle Malcom Brown head up a front seven that’s both stout and nimble against the run. New addition Kwon Alexander is a questionable fit at linebacker, but the team won’t complain as long as Demario Davis is playing on such an elite level next to him. Overall, it’s hard to find exploitable spots anywhere here, and it’s never wise to chase fantasy production against this group.
Buffalo at San Francisco
The Bills continue to field a productive ground game, which dazzled last week (172 yards) in beating the Chargers. Unfortunately, they tend to split that production along fairly strict lines among three different backs, which leaves everyone’s fantasy outlook murky. Devin Singletary and Zack Moss both bring value, while quarterback Josh Allen still siphons off 8-10 rushes - several near the goal line - to complicate things further. Their big Week 12 aside, this unit has sputtered out more often than not as the offensive focus keeps veering to the pass. The trio works behind a solid front line, which has worked its way up to a B+ run-blocking grade from Footballguys’ Matt Bitonti. But if one is going to erupt, it will almost certainly require one (or both) of the others to disappear.
The 49ers have weathered a devastating rash of injuries to enter Week 13 with one of the season’s top defenses. Over the past five weeks, as this unit has rounded back into health, they’ve shut down opposing runners on an elite level. Aaron Jones (15 carries for 58 yards), Alvin Kamara (8 for 15), and Darrell Henderson (10 for 19) found no room whatsoever against this deep, hard-nosed front seven. Despite losing DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa, and Solomon Thomas by the end of Week 2, the 49ers have filled in the gaps with a handful of intriguing youngsters. Guys like Javon Kinlaw, Dre Greenlaw, and others have filled in seamlessly and with high upside. And it’s unlikely the team will find itself missing Kwon Alexander, one of the league’s more overrated linebackers and a net liability. Besides, Fred Warner continues to shine as a two-way linebacker in his absence.
Houston vs Indianapolis
The Texans ground game has yet to take flight at all here in 2020. It’s not hard to see why, with the backfield tied up entirely in the ineffective David and Duke Johnson Jr. It’s no given David will even be cleared to return from injured reserve this week - the team is easing him back patiently from a Week 9 concussion. Judging by his start to the season (4.0 yards per carry and just 56 a game), they’re not missing out on much. Most likely, Duke will take on his fourth start in his place, which doesn’t inspire excitement. He’s a valuable piece of this real-life offense but simply isn’t a special runner, managing just 54, 15, and 37 yards in those first 3 starts. How he’ll create room against the Colts’ imposing front is anyone’s guess.
The Colts have spent most of 2020 locking down opposing run games on an elite level. It does appear Tennessee’s Derrick Henry is immune to that - he shredded the Colts in both their meetings this season. But all non-Henry runners have produced just 3.2 yards per rush, with not a single one topping 75 on the day. That’s a list that includes the likes of Aaron Jones, Joe Mixon, Dalvin Cook, and James Robinson, none of whom made a significant dent on this matchup. It’s worth noting that the Colts were down two crucial pieces up front, DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry, when Henry ran wild last Sunday. Both should return for this one, right alongside nose tackle Grover Stewart, whose breakout year earned him a hefty payday last week. They still work in front of All-Pro middle linebacker Darius Leonard, who sets the NFL standard in pursuit and tackling. As long as this unit bounces back to health as expected, they’ll prove a suffocating matchup for the banged-up Texans backfield.
New Orleans at Atlanta
The Saints offense looks completely different with Taysom Hill under center than with Drew Brees, which is to be expected. But it was still surprising to see Latavius Murray take on clear control of the ground game in Week 12, with 19 carries to Alvin Kamara’s 11. That imbalance was likely just a situational move by coach Sean Payton, but it was stark enough to strike a chord. It appears Murray will lead the way on running downs, if only for the time being. That’s a blow to Kamara’s week-to-week floor, and there’s less overall upside in Hill’s offense than in one run by Brees. With Hill himself taking on a hefty chunk of rushing opportunity himself - particularly near the goal line - both Kamara and Murray are shakier plays than usual. And that’s before even considering the stingy defensive matchup.
The Falcons have seen their season bounce back to life over the past month, and some of the credit goes to what’s developed into a truly stout run defense. After years spent as a laughingstock, this group now weekly shows the ability to shut down opposing ground games. Only two of their 11 opponents have topped 100 yards as a team, and only two runners have cleared 75 on their own. The Falcons use a wide rotation of bodies up front, with two strong anchor pieces in tackle Grady Jarrett and linebacker Deion Jones. Jarrett in particular has posted yet another All Pro-worthy season on the interior, rattling offenses in both phases of the game. Against the run, he’s both a powerful space-eater and dynamic in pursuit. Jones heads up a linebacking crew that’s definitively improved from previous years, thanks in large part to hybrid safety Keanu Neal staying healthy full-time. Overall, this group isn’t one that comes to mind for most as a shutdown unit, but it probably should. Several upper-tier running games have stalled out in this matchup - including these Saints just two weeks ago.
Washington at Pittsburgh
The Football Team has wisely turned lead-back duties over to explosive rookie Antonio Gibson, who’s excelled over the past two weeks (209 yards, 4 touchdowns). Gibson is by far the best ground option on the roster, a fact on full display in his Thanksgiving romp over the Cowboys. Still, it bears noting that most of his production has come against a handful of bottom-barrel run defenses. A whopping 52% of his rushing yardage has come over three matchups with the Cowboys (32nd in run defense) and Bengals (30th). He’s been held firmly in check by the stout defenses of the Rams, Ravens, and Giants, and his sledding will get no easier this weekend.
The Steelers run defense has come down a peg over the past month or so. They finished Week 6 second league-wide on a per-carry basis, but have run at 29th ever since. But much of that production came on a handful of chunk runs; overall, this remains an imposing group against the run. Cameron Heyward looks destined for yet another All-Pro selection as the anchor on the line. He’s been just as stout and dynamic as ever, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see teammate Stephon Tuitt join him in honors. The team is still seeking out its best linebacker combinations, and for now, Robert Spillane and Vince Williams are putting in subpar work. Perhaps new addition Avery Williamson will factor in more in his third active appearance for the Steelers. All in all, this doesn’t look like quite the shutdown unit it did around midseason, and there are holes here and there to exploit. But they’re strong enough up front to still be considered a tough matchup - particularly for a one-gear offense like Washington’s.