Go here for this week's Passing Matchups.
Top 5 Rushing Matchups
Washington at NY Giants
The Washington Commanders have an efficient ground game, primarily led by the north-south running style of Brian Robinson. While their 3-3 record may not scream success in terms of rushing yards per game, they're actually quite efficient, ranking 12th in yards per rush with an average of 4.3 yards per carry. Robinson has been a reliable contributor, surpassing 55 yards or scoring a touchdown in four of the six games played this season. Regardless of their Week 7 quarterback situation, the lackluster Giants are unlikely to pressure the Commanders into abandoning their run-heavy approach. Dual-threat Antonio Gibson has seen his role diminish, making Robinson the primary ball carrier, accounting for 77% of the carries in 2023. This sets up Robinson for at least an RB2 workload in Week 7. One area for concern for the Commanders has been the offensive line, as they have struggled so far this season, ranking 28th in Matt Bitonti's offensive line rankings. This unit has struggled, particularly up the middle, as center Nick Gates and guard Saadhiq Charles have been sub-par run-blockers this season.
On the other side of the ball, the Giants continue to struggle with their run defense. Following a 2022 season where they ranked 31st in yards allowed per rush and 27th in rushing yards allowed per game, they haven't improved much in 2023, currently sitting at 30th and 27th, respectively. This weakness poses a significant problem for a team that frequently finds itself trailing in games. Surprisingly, the subpar performance of the Giants' front line has been most detrimental. Despite investments in players like Leonard Williams and A'Shawn Robinson to anchor the interior of the defensive line, neither has made a substantial impact against the run. Williams excels as a penetrator and pass-rusher but offers little as a space-eating run-stopper. Robinson, a veteran disruptor, is having one of his worst years as a pro. The Giants desperately need these tackles to occupy the middle and protect the mediocre linebackers behind them. While top linebacker Bobby Okereke had a standout performance against Buffalo in Week 6, these performances are inconsistent, and Okereke is more valuable against the pass than as a run-stopper. In summary, all signs indicate a productive day for the Washington ground game against the struggling Giants' run defense.
Seattle vs Arizona
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, traditionally known for his run-dominant offense, has adapted this season with a more balanced approach. Despite running the ball just 41% of the time (ranking 21st leaguewide), Seattle's ground game has been efficient. The dynamic duo of Ken Walker and Zach Charbonnet has been a force, averaging 91 yards per game and 4.3 yards per rush. What excites fantasy enthusiasts the most is their scoring prowess. Walker, in particular, has capitalized on red zone opportunities, garnering a significant number of carries and targets inside the 10-yard line. He has found the end zone five times in such situations, making him a reliable bet for touchdown production. The upcoming matchup against the 1-5 Cardinals presents a favorable scenario, as Arizona's struggling run defense will likely be exploited. Given the game flow and the opponent's weaknesses, Carroll's strategy of a slow, grind-it-out win that heavily involves Walker seems probable.
The rebuilding Cardinals have been unable to staunch opponents' ground attacks. Their front seven has faltered when facing deficits, allowing opponents to exploit weak spots in their defense. This decline started after a strong beginning, where they managed to contain Brian Robinson and Saquon Barkley. However, subsequent lead backs have capitalized, averaging impressive stats and frequently reaching the end zone. The primary issue for Arizona seems to be personnel, with many premium-round defenders from previous years no longer on the roster. Replacement-level players have taken their place, leading to a lack of pass rush and run-stopping abilities inside. This deficiency puts pressure on linebackers Kyzir White and Josh Woods, who often find themselves in challenging situations due to the team's defensive struggles.
Green Bay at Denver
Coach Matt LaFleur's offense currently faces more questions than answers. Jordan Love has not appeared to be the solution at quarterback, and the receiving corps lacks top-tier talent. However, in a matchup like this, this situation could benefit fantasy managers relying on running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. The run play rate, which is 40%, could easily increase in a game against Denver. The Packers would prefer not to rely heavily on the passing game, especially considering the Broncos' well-documented struggles against the run in 2023. The key story to watch during the week will be the health of Aaron Jones.
In the recent Thursday night game, the Denver run defense showed some improvement after a rough start to the season. Isiah Pacheco became the first lead back since Week 1 to be held to less than 87 rushing yards. However, the defense's issues aren't limited to one game; they have struggled throughout the season. The running backs that found success against Denver include Raheem Mostert, De'Von Achane, Breece Hall, Brian Robinson, and Khalil Herbert, with impressive yards per carry and touchdown totals. Slowing down Pacheco and the pass-heavy Chiefs didn't significantly alter the perception of the Broncos' struggling defense. The team is undergoing a significant transformation, even on the defensive side, where many key front-seven players from a few years ago are no longer with the team. This roster lacks bulk up the middle, putting pressure on one of the league's weaker linebacking units to make plays in space. Josey Jewell is a capable tackler, but neither he nor Alex Singleton can be counted on to chase down ball carriers. While loaded with coverage skills, the secondary provides little support against the run. The outcome is typically a large area of open field that running backs can exploit, making both speed and power backs viable options against the Broncos.
New England vs Buffalo
The Patriots have faced significant challenges recently, with their running game suffering due to unfavorable game scripts. Falling behind early in games has limited their ability to establish a consistent ground attack. This has led to a timeshare in the backfield, with Ezekiel Elliott and Rhamondre Stevenson receiving fewer than 10 carries over the last two weeks. Stevenson, who had a more prominent role earlier in the season, has struggled with inefficiency, averaging just 3.0 yards per carry without a run over 15 yards. Elliott, while slightly more efficient, has also found it difficult to generate significant yardage, with his standout performance being an 80-yard effort in Week 3, the Patriots' only win so far.
The Bills have been dealing with a slew of injuries that have significantly impacted their performance. Notably, the absence of cornerback Tre’Davious White and linebacker Matt Milano has been deeply felt, especially in run defense. Although more renowned for his pass-defense skills, Milano was a reliable presence in stopping the run. However, even before these injuries occurred, the Bills' run defense struggled. They were notably exploited by various running backs in the early weeks of the season, including Breece Hall, Brian Robinson, De’Von Achane, and Travis Etienne, who collectively averaged a remarkable 7.1 yards per rush over a three-week span. Although they managed to contain the Giants in Week 6, they still allowed Saquon Barkley a substantial 34-yard run, showcasing their vulnerability to big plays on the ground.
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