TOP RUSHING MATCHUPS
To view all of our Week 6 Matchup content, please see the links below:
Top 5 Passing Matchups Week 6
Bottom 5 Passing Matchups Week 6
Top 5 Rushing Matchups Week 6
Bottom 5 Rushing Matchups Week 6
Rushing Matchup Chart Week 6
Passing Matchup Chart Week 6
Indianapolis vs Cincinnati
Colts rookie running back Jonathan Taylor has looked sharp to start his NFL career, serving as the clear lead rusher as he has led the Colts in rushing attempts week in and week out. Taylor hasn’t had top-notch efficiency with just 3.8 yards per rush attempt, but he has scored in three of the last four weeks and saw a nice ceiling of 26 carries against the Vikings in Week 2. Nyheim Hines remains involved both on the ground and through the air, but his role as third-down back should not challenge Taylor’s involvement on the ground and around the goal line--especially considering Taylor is averaging four red-zone looks per game. The offensive line for Indianapolis is typically as strong as they come, but the status of starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo remains in question after he missed Week 5 with a rib injury. Backup LeRaven Clark did a decent job in run blocking as the replacement last week and should play well enough to keep this line clearly above average should Castonzo miss this week.
The case for why the Bengals run defense remains a unit to target was strengthened in Week 5 after two more injuries to their defensive line. The most notable loss includes their top offseason addition, defensive tackle D.J. Reader, who was lost for the season with a quad injury. Reader marks the fourth defensive tackle to be lost for the Bengals, and he leaves behind an absolute dearth of talent on this interior beyond veteran Geno Atkins--who made his season debut last week but did not play a single snap against the run. The other notable injury to this defensive line includes defensive end Sam Hubbard, who left last week’s game early with an elbow injury and is expected to miss time. With an already weak linebacker group and this patchwork defensive line squaring off against a top-notch Colts offensive line, expect the Colts rushing offense to find plenty of room to run on Sunday
Chicago at Carolina
The Bears rushing offense has been a below-average unit to start the season, averaging just 95.4 rushing yards per game with a meager 4.1 yards per rush and only one rushing touchdown--the fewest in the league. Lead running back David Montgomery is coming off back-to-back disappointing performances with only 10 carries and sub-30 yards in each outing. Montgomery is the clear leader of this backfield though, playing over 80 percent of snaps since the loss of Tarik Cohen. These previous two weeks have been against two of the toughest run defenses in football--the Colts and Buccaneers. This offensive line has some talent that ranks them near the middle of the league according to Matt Bitonti of Footballguys, however, they did lose starting left guard James Daniels for the season last week and may soon be falling in those rankings. Undrafted free agent Alex Bars took over in relief and settled in nicely despite the tough matchup. While the Bears offensive line may be in tough shape against other defenses moving forward, they should still be in a great spot this week to help their rushing offense bounce back.
The Panthers have proven to be one of the worst run defenses in the league to start 2020, allowing an average of 133.4 rushing yards per game and 5.4 yards per rush attempt through five games. The inexperience of this rebuilt Panthers defense has certainly shown to start the season, and last week they took a big hit with five injuries to this defense--three of which included defensive linemen. Monitoring practice participation will be big, but potential absences of edge defenders Brian Burns and Yetur Gross-Matos, along with their most experienced defensive lineman Kawann Short, certainly add up to a dismal outlook for this week. Add in the continued poor play from these Panthers linebackers, and even a mediocre Bears offensive line should have a clear edge as David Montgomery tries to finally take advantage of his top-dog status in this Bears backfield.
Jacksonville vs Detroit
The Jaguars rushing offense may have mediocre stats when looking at their total rushing yards per game (98.4, seventh-fewest), but the new leader of this backfield--James Robinson--continues to provide a spark for this offense as a whole. Averaging 4.6 yards per carry with three touchdowns along with plenty of involvement in the passing game, Robinson continues to excel when afforded the workload to do so. Game scripts continue to limit opportunities on the ground as the Jaguars have often been trailing due in part to defensive woes, but no other running back has rushed more than twice while Robinson has reached double-digit carries in all five starts. The offensive line for Jacksonville was back to full health in Week 5 as center Brandon Linder returned to the field. At full strength, this can be a slightly above-average group blocking for Robinson.
The Lions sit near the bottom of the league in rushing defense, giving up 170.3 rushing yards per game while allowing six rushing touchdowns. Opposing running backs are averaging a whopping 152 rushing yards per game--most in the league--while also scoring the most fantasy point per game (non-PPR) when facing Detroit. While the big performance from Green Bay in Week 2 certainly pads these numbers, the Lions have consistently given up production to opposing running backs--including three rushing touchdowns and 151 rushing yards to the Saints in their last game before the bye week. Defensive tackle Nick Williams has played particularly poorly and will be facing off against a pair of solid Jaguars guards while also dealing with the side of left tackle Cam Robinson. Lions linebackers, particularly Jarrad Davis, have also been challenged when trying to bring down opposing runners. The Jaguars offensive line is good enough to win this matchup in the trenches, and James Robinson should be looking forward to this plus matchup.
Tennessee vs Houston
The Titans ground game has been strong to start the season, ranking above average in rushing yards per game despite a sub-par 3.9 yards per rush attempt. Derrick Henry remains the king of this backfield, but the Titans did choose to mix it up in their last game after a 16-day layoff, spreading out snaps and carries amongst rookie Darrynton Evans (2) and Jeremy McNichols (9) after Evans exited with an injury. Henry’s 19 carries were low by his standards last week but still managed to log two touchdowns for the second straight game and will remain the focal point of this offense. Ryan Tannehill has been dangerous with his legs at times, but he broke several long runs last week with flashes of speed and elusiveness, logging 42 yards and a touchdown for his best rushing performance as a Titan. The offensive line continues to play relatively well, but left tackle Taylor Lewan remains banged up even after an extra week of rest. He did play last week but exited the game briefly due to his recurring shoulder injury. His status should not be in doubt this week, but it is worth watching as Lewan is a key piece of this line that lacks depth.
The Texans run defense has not been sharp to start this season as they are giving up the second-most rushing yards per game both overall (160.4) and specifically to opposing running backs (141). Three lead backs have exceeded 100 yards while a trio of Ravens running backs each exceeded 45 rushing yards against this defense in Week 2. The defensive interior has been a big weak spot as nose tackle Brandon Dunn has played poorly while fellow tackle Charles Omenihu looks to have regressed in his second NFL season. Both should struggle against a strong Titans offensive line. Linebacker Zach Cunningham also continues to struggle in run defense despite leading the team in tackles. It will be tough for the Texans to sell out against the run considering how dynamic the Titans passing offense has been this season, which should make for plenty of holes that Derrick Henry can take advantage of this week.
Houston at Tennessee
The Houston offense came alive last week as they amassed 30 points for the first time this season while David Johnson had his best rushing day as a Texan, amassing 96 yards on 17 carries. Johnson has struggled for most of the season as the overall Houston offense has lacked the explosiveness displayed in previous seasons. Johnson has no shortage of opportunity on the ground in this offense, as despite his lack of usage in the passing game, he has rushed at least 11 times in every game while no other running back has more than 13 carries in total this season. Deshaun Watson also adds some dynamism on the ground as he is capable of easily exceeding 20 rushing yards in any given week when he gets moving. Houston’s offensive line is a middle-of-the-road unit that has seen challenges to start the season with left tackle Laremy Tunsil battling through a shoulder injury and left guard a position in flux. However, Senio Kelemete has now settled in at the left guard position for two straight games as this unit begins to build some cohesiveness.
Tennessee has struggled to defend the run to start this season, ranking near the bottom of the league allowing 148 rushing yards per game. While this run defense did look strong against Devin Singletary last week, the Bills offense as a whole was struggling to perform and maintain drives while playing from behind the entire game. The Titans defense has been impacted by a few positive COVID-19 tests, with the most notable loss being defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons. Simmons may be eligible to return to practice this week, but any after-effects of COVID on his performance are yet to be determined. His status will be worth monitoring as he is the best player on this defensive line. At linebacker, both Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans have had slow starts to the season as they have struggled to contain both opposing running backs and quarterbacks. The secondary has also been a weak spot both in coverage and defending against perimeter runs. All in all, one solid week against the Bills will not be enough to prove that the Titans run defense has turned a corner, especially when facing a dual-threat rushing offense led by Deshaun Watson and David Johnson.