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Go here for this week's Passing Matchups.
Top 5 Rushing Matchups
New Orleans vs Carolina
The Saints could be shorthanded this week as Taysom Hill could miss. He did not practice on Wednesday and will "continue to be evaluated prior to Sunday's game." The Saints also could be without Rashid Shaheed, Derek Carr, and Michael Thomas, who remains on IR. Last week, with similar injuries, we saw game script hurt this rushing attack as Alvin Kamara only had 14 carries but did have 6 receptions in that game. This week's game script against the 1-11 Panthers should be more favorable for the rushing attack. For Kamara, there should be opportunities galore, especially if Hill misses, as he is the only other consistent red zone threat they have. This year, Alvin Kamara has 35 red zone opportunities, while Taysom Hill has 32. No other player on this team has more than 10, so it should be even more concentrated toward Kamara once the Saints get into the red zone this week.
Carolina's run defense continues to be a defense that opponents thrive against. On the season, Carolina is allowing 4.8 yards per carrier to opposing running backs, which is the third highest in the NFL, the most rushing touchdowns, and the fourth-most rushing yards per game to opposing running backs. A big problem for this defense continues to be the non-existent linebacker play. If you've been reading this for long enough, you know about Deion Jones's inability to stop the run, a trend throughout his time in Atlanta, Cleveland, and now Carolina. If there is good news for the Panthers, they should see more of Jeremy Chinn this week, who played just seven snaps after missing the last five games. Chinn is an excellent tackler who can slide into the box and help the run, but even in games he played, this defense still showed vulnerability. The starting running back has scored a touchdown in all but two games against the Panthers, so Alvin Kamara should be in a premier spot this week.
Indianapolis at Cincinnati
The Colts will miss Jonathan Taylor, one of football's most productive backs of the past three years, down the 2023 stretch. That said, they're in strong hands with Zack Moss, who led the NFL in rushing from Weeks 2-8. Moss struggled in Week 13's win as he had just 51 rushing yards but did have 19 carries against a Titans defense that has been inconsistent. When they are good, they are amongst the league's best run-stopping units, and they sold out to stop Moss in this game. Most importantly, Moss has overwhelming control of this workload; he's claimed 94% of the carries in Taylor's absence. That kind of volume is a near-lock to produce against a struggling group like the Bengals. The Colts have one of the league's best offensive lines, as they are 6th in Matt Bitonti's offensive line rankings. Being led by center Ryan Kelley and guard Quenton Nelson should help this rushing attack improve over the next few weeks.
The talented Bengals have struggled in all phases here in 2023, and their underrated defense isn't immune. A year after finishing 7th in run defense (9th on a per-carry basis), they've slipped to 27th and 31st in a nearly-lost season. They've been burned most by power backs able to work through arm tackles. Najee Harris (15 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown) and Gus Edwards (12 for 62 and 2) have posted big lines of late, while Devin Singletary (30 for 150 and 1) found success all over the field. The Bengals line is stocked with strong, proven bodies, but linebackers Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt are mediocre at best. Overall, the group lacks discipline in the box and misses the run support of last year's safeties, Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell. Until further notice, we can project most opponents to grind between the tackles whenever possible. For Week 14, that means high projections for hard-nosed Colts runner Zack Moss.
Green Bay at NY Giants
The Green Bay Packers have seen recent victories propelled by their passing game, while their ground attack has been quieter. However, they're poised for a potentially productive outing in an upcoming game. The team is optimistic about having Aaron Jones back, although his status remains uncertain after missing the previous week's game. If Jones is unable to return, AJ Dillon will continue as the primary running back, a role in which he's averaged 15.6 carries per game in Jones' absence. Dillon showcased his abilities by rushing for 73 yards against a tough Chiefs defense last week. Should the Packers establish an early advantage and control the game, they're expected to rely on the ground game to secure the win.
On the flip side, the New York Giants have struggled to bolster their defensive front, particularly against the run, for several seasons. Their run defense remains a significant weakness in the current season, allowing an average of 136.1 rushing yards per game, a figure surpassed by only three other teams. Their struggles have been evident, conceding over 70 yards to ten opposing running backs individually. The departure of Leonard Williams via trade at the deadline has left a void in the defensive line that replacements like Rakeem Nunez-Roches or Jihad Ward have been unable to fill adequately. Furthermore, the linebacker corps, aside from the breakout performance of Bobby Okereke, lacks consistent strong play. This deficiency on defense could potentially be exploited by the Packers' rushing attack.
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