It’s the Buffalo Bills vs. the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football this week. The game figures to be a defensive battle but the running game for each team should be effective.
Despite the Bills struggles on offense without their top playmakers, they still have the second leading rushing attack in the league averaging 154.1 yards per game. Even if you remove Tyrod Taylor’s average of 40 rushing yards per game, they would still be in the top ten.
Buffalo’s rushing game could get a huge boost this week as it looks like LeSean McCoy will be healthy enough to go. The big question becomes, is he healthy like he was in Miami where it was obvious he was still limited or is he truly healthy enough to be a featured back this week.
It’s impossible to tell, but something tells me if he does play it will be under one of two scenarios. The team would be insane to risk the health of their top offensive player this season for the second time so if they play him he will be close to 100 percent. The other scenario would be that while he isn’t full speed, they will use him on a very limited amount of plays in key situations.
Even if McCoy is in, I would still expect Bills second string back Mike Gillislee to get more touches than he did earlier in the year when McCoy played. They should use Gillislee to spell McCoy and keep him from being overworked in his first game back in the lineup.
Due to the uncertainty surrounding McCoy’s health, and how many carries he will get, neither he nor Gillislee are very good starts this week. If reports come out that McCoy won’t play, then Gillislee becomes a great option for a start even against a stout Seattle defense.
The Seahawks have also dealt with an injury to their top running back. Thomas Rawls suffered a hairline fracture to his fibula earlier this year and in his absence, Christine Michael has stepped up. They were always expected to split carries to some extent but with Michael’s performance so far, he may be the lead back when Rawls is ready to go.
Michael is averaging 4.2 yards per carry and is on pace for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. The interesting part is outside of one game in which he went over 100 yards he hasn’t topped 66 yards this season. He’s stayed in a narrow range of between 40 to 66 yards in the other weeks which is not very impressive.
Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus will not play on Monday Night which should make Michael’s job a bit easier. When Buffalo wants to key in on the rushing game they have been effective limiting LeGarrette Blount (43 yards and 54 yards), Carlos Hyde (52 yards), and Todd Gurley (72 yards) this year.
When they don’t key in on the run, or don’t tackle well, it’s quite the opposite. The Bills were hurt by Matt Forte (100 yards, 3 TD), David Johnson (73 yards, 2 TD), and Jay Ajayi (214 yards, 1TD).
While I don’t expect Christine Michael to have nearly as good of a performance as those three, I do think the Bills will try to stop Russell Wilson first which could allow Michael to get around 80 yards and a touchdown this week. That’s worth a start so I’d have him in your lineup unless you only play two backs in your league and have better options on your roster.