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Top 5 Rushing Matchups
Philadelphia vs LA Chargers
Philadelphia may have found a bright spot after Miles Sanders went down as Boston Scott and Jordan Howard had tremendous games last week to a surprise to most people. Scott and Howard combined for 24 carries, 117 yards and 4 touchdowns. The reason this was a surprise was the lack of involvement that Kenneth Gainwell had as while he led the team in attempts with 13 carries, these were all when the game was well out of hand as Scott/Howard played the main role for the Eagles. The Eagles offense is a run-first offense as they have been extremely effective with it averaging 5.0 yards-per-carry which is third in the NFL this season and a big part of that is the versatility that Jalen Hurts brings to this offense.
There is not much more to say about the Chargers rushing defense other than they are the worst in the league, surrendering 159.4 yards per game, more than 10 yards per game worse than the Houston Texans (148.1). The Chargers also rank last in the league in yards per carry (5.1) surrendered. Opponents have been a high floor rushing production against the Chargers, as all but the Raiders (48 yards) have produced more than 126 rushing yards this season. The linebacker situation which has been a significant problem all year may get slightly better this week as Kenneth Murray will return, but Murray has struggled tremendously in his two seasons as an NFL starter. The defensive line also needs to greatly improve outside of Joey Bosa who is their one bright spot on this front seven, as Uchenna Nwosu has been one of the worst run-stopping defensive ends in the NFL, while Linval Joseph and Christian Covington have both struggled up the middle for the Chargers.
LA Chargers at Philadelphia
The Chargers rank 18th in rushing yards per game (104.4) and are led by Austin Ekeler, who averages just 12 carries per game and 60 yards per game. The backup situation behind Ekeler is unclear, as Larry Rountree III, Justin Jackson, and Joshua Kelley have alternated in usage in recent weeks with middling success as the team looks to find a consistent answer at the backup position. The Chargers are coming off a home loss to the Patriots after a bye in which Ekeler had a very typical performance with 11 carries for 66 yards. This is an offense that is going to be somewhat limited running the ball simply because of the number of carries as they have the second-fewest attempts in the NFL, but when they run they are effective averaging 4.6 yards-per-carry.
The Eagles are coming off their best performance against of the season, surrendering only 57 yards in Week 8. However, the performance was against the Detroit Lions in a 44-6 blowout. The Eagles on the season have been consistently one of the worst run-stopping units in the NFL as they have surrendered more than 100 yards in every other game this season and have given up the 9th most rushing yards per game (123.5), but rank 2nd in fantasy points allowed to running backs (30.7). This is a unit that is trying to find a combination at linebacker that can provide different results than what they have had this season as Alex Singleton and Gernard Avery have seen their snap counts decrease in each of the last three weeks while Davion Taylor and T.J. Edwards have seen their roles increase.
Green Bay at Kansas City
Green Bay is going to be forced to lean heavily on their rushing attack after Aaron Rodgers was ruled out of this weeks game due to Covid-19. The Packers rushing offense this season has been an effective, but low volume unit as they rank 17th in rushing yards per game (108.1). Over the past four games, this is an offense that has turned into a committee as Aaron Jones has 12 carries per game compared to 9.5 for A.J. Dillon. Jones ranks 10th in fantasy scoring at running back in scoring over the span while Dillon is 35th. Green Bay’s offense went run heavy against the Cardinals, with 31 carries for Jones and Dillon, while the top three wide receivers, Davante Adams (COVID-19 list), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Injured Reserve), and Alan Lazard (COVID-19 list) all missed the game. Expect a very similar game plan this week as Jordan Love will be making his first start in what should be a game that they can have success running the ball against Kansas City.
Kansas City’s defense has been better against the run since Week 2, after starting the season against Cleveland and Baltimore and averaging over 200 yards surrendered on the ground. This is a pivotal week for this defense that has largely been untested outside of a Derrick Henry performance in which they held up holding him to 86 yards on 29 carries, but have largely faced a number of low volume rushing teams or committee running backs who had efficiency, but not a significant volume. On the year, Kansas City is allowing 4.6 yards-per-carry which is the 5th-most in the NFL this season. Linebacker play has been the issue for the Chiefs as Ben Niemann and Nick Bolton have both struggled with consistency and Jarran Reed/Derrick Nnadi have not done them any favors keeping blockers off of them.
Miami vs Houston
Miami’s rushing attack simply lacks a consistent identity. On the year, Miami ranks 30th in rushing yards per game (78.6) and have struggled to have any ceiling in the rushing game this season. The Dolphins only have two games with more than 80 yards, a 133 rushing yard performance against the Dolphins in Week 3 and 132 yards against the Falcons in Week 7. The team may be forced to continue to give Myles Gaskin the ball as he has 27 carries over the last two weeks due to Malcolm Brown being placed on IR. Gaskin has been all over the place when it comes to a pure running back as the team seems incredibly reluctant to give him a consistent role unless they must. He has been productive in games that he has seen volume with the exception of a difficult matchup against the Bills he is averaging 4.9 yards per carry in games that he has more than 5 carries.
Houston’s defense is the combination of a horrendous defense and a game script that is going to allow teams to run the ball the entire game. has given up the second most rushing yards per game to opposing running backs on the season (129), with the fifth most running back carries per game (25). Houston has been shredded the past three weeks, giving up 174 yards, 172 yards and 165 yards, when they have a scoring margin of -28, -26 and -16. The big issue for the Texans is their linebacker play as they are boasting one of the worst linebacker combinations in the NFL. Christian Kirksey has been a very subpar run defender throughout his career, and Zach Cunningham’s season has completely fallen apart.
Arizona at San Francisco
Arizona is one of the teams that are in a pure running back committee with James Conner and Chase Edmonds. Over the past four weeks Conner is averaging 10.3 carries for 46 yards per game, while Edmonds has only 8 carries for 43 yards per game. The key difference between the two has been in the red zone, as Conner has been the goal line back for this team with four touchdowns over the last four weeks compared to Edmonds who has just one touchdown in that time. Arizona faced the 49ers in Week 5 and San Francisco has their best performance of the season holding Arizona to just 94 rushing yards. The status of Kyler Murray, who was injured on Thursday night, should be a monitor during the week with an ankle injury which should limit his rushing upside. We have not seen Kyler run hardly at all over the last four weeks as he has just 38 total yards rushing. While the matchup may be good, it may be difficult to exploit it with a full-blown committee at running back.
San Francisco’s defense has been a funnel defense as they are one of the best pass defenses in football, but against the run they have struggled mightily. On the year, they have given up the 6th most rushing yards per game (127.1), but have been slightly better against just running backs as they are12th in rushing yards surrendered per game (83). San Francisco’s rushing defense has been susceptible to rushing performances by quarterbacks, including against Justin Fields (103 yards) and Jalen Hurts (82 yards), which inflates their rushing yards allowed per game. The San Francisco defense has struggled with injuries, including Javon Kinlaw missing the remainder of the season with a knee surgery as well as Maurice Hurst missing all but Week 4 and Week 5 with injuries. The big issue for San Francisco has been the outside linebacker play as Demetrius Flannigan-Fowler and Samson Ebukam have both been horrendous at outside contain this season.
Bottom 5 Rushing Matchups
Atlanta at New Orleans
Atlanta’s rushing offense has struggled to find an identity this season. On the year, Atlanta ranks 27th in rushing yards per game (87.0) and has only broken 100 yards twice on the season, in Week 1 against Philadelphia (124) and Week 5 against the Jets (108). There does seem to be a shift in Atlanta moving away from Mike Davis and towards Cordarelle Patterson as over the three games, Mike Davis has averaged 8.7 rushes per game, and only 8.9 fantasy points per game, while Cordarelle Pattterson has averaged 12.3 rushes per game while adding 4.7 receptions per game. This is an offense that has gone to a pass-first mentality utilizing Cordarelle Patterson as an extension of the run game. The Falcons have a bottom tier offensive line which is causing some of the issues as rookie guard Jalen Mayfield and the tackles Kaleb McGary and Jake Matthews have all struggled with consistent run blocking this season.
New Orleans run defense continues to be in the discussion as the best in the NFL. ON the season, they have given up the second fewest rushing yards per game (79.4) and have six out of seven opponents to 90 yards or fewer. The lone performance where a team achieved more than 100 yards has been the Washington Football Team in Week 5 (131 rushing yards). This is a unit that simply does not have any holes as both their defensive line along with their linebacking groups are incredibly solid. The Saints have added two of their stalwarts on the defensive line back to this defense after missing them for a majority of the season so far as Marcus Davenport and David Onyemata both played in Week 8 which if they can stay healthy will make this defense nearly impossible to run on. At the linebacker and safety position, the Saints have two of the best in veterans Demario Davis and Malcolm Jenkins who hardly ever are out of position.
Denver at Dallas
Denver’s rushing attack is nothing short of frustrating at this point in the season as while it is efficient, it is a full-blown committee between Melvin Gordon III and Javonte Williams. Denver ranks 18th in rushing yards per game (103.6), with Gordon leading the team with 11 carries per game and 49.6 yards per game to Williams’s 9.8 carries per game and 44.4 yards per game. Gordon has carried 42.9% of the red zone carries while Javonte Williams has 28.6% of the rushes in the red zone. Denver ranks 15th in red zone plays, so the scoring opportunities are difficult to come by without a running back consolidating the role.
Dallas’ run defense has been one of the bright spots this season after a poor showing in 2020. On the year, the Cowboys have allowed just one 100-yard rusher, have given up the 6th fewest rushing yards to opposing defenses (88.3), and 6th fewest rushing yards to opposing running backs (68). Dallas is fresh off a good win against the Vikings where they held Dalvin Cook to only 78 yards rushing. This is a defense that still has its flaws as the linebacker play has been inconsistent as Leighton Vander Esch moves back inside after starting the year as an outside linebacker while the defensive line is desperately awaiting the return of Demarcus Lawrence who is still on IR at the moment is unlikely to play against Denver. This is likely a defense that is playing better than what they are, but at the moment, it is tough to argue that they are a difficult matchup for just about any offense.
Cincinnati at Cleveland
Joe Mixon is having an up and down season so far this year as a combination of inconsistent volume combined with performances like last week have been frustrating. Mixon in the first four weeks of the year averaged 20 carries per game, but since getting banged up against the Jaguars is averaging just 13.5 carries per game. Last week, Mixon could not get anything going as he was able to muster just 33 yards on 14 carries against a Jets defense that has struggled this season against the run. On the year, the Bengals rank 23rd in rushing yards per game (98.6). The Bengals were held to a season low 41 rushing yards in a road loss against the Jets in Week 8, but will be a small home favorite in Week 8 against the Browns.
Cleveland has surrendered the third lowest rushing yards per game through eight weeks (84.8), but there have been cracks in the defense as of late. Over the last four weeks, the Browns have surrendered an average of 103 rushing yards. In wins this year, the Browns have given up 58.5 rushing yards, compared to 111 rushing yards in losses. The key to this defense is whether you can get past their elite defensive line led by Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney on the outside. The middle is more susceptible as Malik Jackson and Malik McDowell have both struggled with consistency this season. With Baker Mayfield struggling and Cleveland a road underdog, Cleveland may be susceptible to the running volume against Cincinnati.
New York Jets at Indianapolis
The Jets rushing attack has been one of the best in the league over the last few weeks as both Michael Carter II and Ty Johnson have been outstanding. In the past two weeks, Michael Carter II has been the best running back in the NFL averaging 25.3 points per game. Much of the production has been through the air (17 receptions and 162 receiving yards), but the lack of drop off with Mike White at quarterback is a notable development as well as Carter’s 21.5 touches per game. Over the same two weeks, Ty Johnson is also an RB1, with 16.4 points per game, but with only 9 carries and 21 yards. His work has been essentially entirely in the passing game (11 receptions, 136 yards, and a touchdown). Tevin Coleman missed Week 8, and his status is a watch on a short Week 9.
The Colts rushing defense is one that is picking up as of late as their latest performance held Derrick Henry to just 68 yards on the ground. This is a defense that statistically has been in the middle of the pack, as they are allowing 108.9 yards rushing per game which is 15th in the NFL, but they are 8th in the NFL in yards-per-carry while being the only team that has faced Derrick Henry twice this season. This is a team that has the talent to make a significant improvement in the second half. The Colts will be without Khari Willis this week as he is dealing with a calf injury which means George Odum will once again have to take the primary safety role. Odum played well last week accounting for 5 tackles which will be much needed as Willis is one of the team leaders in tackles this season.
Jacksonville vs Buffalo
James Robinson injured his heel in Week 8 and should be a monitor on injury reports during the week. He is day-to-day, but did not practice Wednesday. If Robinson is unable to go this week, expect Carlos Hyde to see a vast majority of carries. In either scenario there is not much to get excited about the Jaguars backfield as game script has been the story for the entire season causing them to abandon the run. The Jaguars rank 26th in rushing attempts per game (19.1), but when they do run the ball they are efficient as they are 15th in rushing yards per game and second in the NFL with 5.1 yards-per-carry. The Jaguars are one of the biggest underdogs of the week, which may create a difficult game script for the running offense.
Buffalo’s defense has been one of the stingiest in the league through 8 weeks, allowing only one opposing rusher over 45 yards on the ground which was Derrick Henry’s 143-yard breakout performance in Week 6. Buffalo is allowing the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs on the season as they are allowing just 16.6 PPR points per game to the position. This is a defense that is solid across the board, but it all starts up front for this run defense as Star Lotulelei and Ed Oliver up the middle just make it nearly impossible for opponents to get a push up the middle allowing the linebackers to not have to shed blockers. If there is one question for the Bills defense it is the schedule, as they have faced a very fortunate schedule thus far this season as four of their seven games have been against rushing offenses that rank in the bottom 5 in terms of rushing yards per game.
|Week 9 Rushing Matchups|
|Philadelphia||vs LA Chargers||Great|
|LA Chargers||at Philadelphia||Great|
|Green Bay||at Kansas City||Great|
|Arizona||at San Francisco||Great|
|Kansas City||vs Green Bay||Good|
|Indianapolis||vs NY Jets||Good|
|NY Giants||vs Las Vegas||Good|
|San Francisco||vs Arizona||Good|
|Las Vegas||at NY Giants||Good|
|New England||at Carolina||Neutral|
|Carolina||vs New England||Neutral|
|New Orleans||vs Atlanta||Neutral|
|Tennessee||at LA Rams||Tough|
|LA Rams||vs Tennessee||Tough|
|NY Jets||at Indianapolis||Bad|
|Atlanta||at New Orleans||Bad|