If you’re competing in a DFS tournament or 50/50 competition for Monday’s playoff game between the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve run through dozens of potential game scripts to arrive at the most likely scenarios, and how these scenarios would impact fantasy football performances. Here are our top recommended NFL DFS picks and lineups for the Cardinals vs. Rams, based on FanDuel pricing.
Top NFL DFS picks for Cardinals vs. Rams | Lineup No. 1
This lineup assumes a strong passing attack from the Rams, led by their top receiver, as well as higher-than-expected production from an undervalued DFS running back. It also assumes the Cardinals lean on their de facto No. 1 receiver while playing in catch-up mode.
Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals ($17,000)
Kyler Murray exceeded 33 fantasy points in each of his first two games this season. He’s exceeded 23 fantasy points only twice since.
The loss of DeAndre Hopkins and his backfield’s continual injury woes have slowed an offensive attack that began the 2021 campaign with six 30+ point efforts in the first seven games. But Week 18 was only the second time since Week 10 that they’ve hit that mark.
Through it all, however, Murray’s floor remains solid. The biggest question is whether his ceiling is enough to warrant his high price tag.
In this lineup, we’re assuming Murray wills his team to offensive relevance. The Rams defense is seventh-best in the league when it comes to backfield fantasy points. It’s not hard to imagine the Cardinals backfield getting held in check. If that happens, it will be up to Murray to carry his team on his back.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams ($16,000)
Can Arizona stop Cooper Kupp? That’s the obvious question, and the answer is probably not. The more nuanced DFS question is whether Kupp is worth his price. Well, he has 15 games with 10+ targets and 16 games with 90+ receiving yards. He’s also averaging just shy of 1 touchdown per contest.
In other words, Kupp is the safest start in this DFS slate and belongs in your MVP slot. We could try to talk ourselves out of it. (“Maybe he’ll only get 5 catches for 50 yards.”) But if you’re expecting him to have his worst game since 2020, then nothing more needs to be said.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Los Angeles Rams ($10,500)
Odell Beckham Jr. is relatively cheap because he’s been incredibly inconsistent for years. We could understand it when he was in Cleveland. It’s a bit harder to understand in LA, where this exceptional offense should bring out shades of “prime OBJ,” if not “almost-prime OBJ.”
His painfully low catch rate has not improved much since leaving Cleveland. He’s caught only 27 of 48 passes with the Rams (56%), which is one of the worst rates for any NFL starting wideout. So why would we start him in this lineup?
Because we have to consider ceiling. OBJ’s a big-play receiver; 19% of his receptions in Los Angeles have been for touchdowns.
The Cardinals are yielding the third-most fantasy points to opposing WRs, including a league-high 27 touchdowns (for context, the Bears are No. 2 with only 23). Bluntly speaking, Monday’s game was made for OBJ. Start him as a boom-bust DFS option.
Zach Ertz, TE, Arizona Cardinals ($9,000)
Arizona’s midseason acquisition of Zach Ertz was a win-win-win. A win for a Cardinals team desperate for a playmaking tight end, a win for a then-30-year-old player perceived to be on the downside of his career, and a win for fantasy managers who now had another good streaming option.
Ignore Ertz’s TD issues (aside from Week 11, he hasn’t scored since Week 7). Instead, look at his targets, particularly after Hopkins went on injured reserve. Ertz has earned 9+ targets in each of his last four games. Furthermore, his catch rate has jumped 11 points since leaving Philadelphia. Ertz has enormous chemistry with Murray, is producing at a high level, and is a great DFS investment.
Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams ($7,500)
How much run will Cam Akers get? For $7,500, we’re willing to pay to find out.
After suffering what first appeared to be a season-ending Achilles injury over the summer, the dynamic Akers returned last week, logging 5 carries and 3 receptions. Presumably, he’ll get much more than 8 touches in the Rams’ first of possibly several playoff games.
Akers is the wild card in this offense. When healthy and back in football shape, he’s the best running back on the team. We can assume he’ll get plenty of run. The only question is whether he’ll take another step forward as he works his way back from a serious injury.
Top NFL DFS picks for Cardinals vs. Rams | Lineup No. 2
In our second lineup, Matthew Stafford thrives by spreading the ball around. He replaces Kupp in the lineup, as well as in the DFS MVP slot. Meanwhile, Van Jefferson replaces Akers.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams ($15,500)
What a difference a team makes. Stafford has long been underappreciated in fantasy and NFL circles. This year, he’s conquered demons in both realms.
The overall QB6 took a big hit when Robert Woods was knocked out for the year. But OBJ arrived on the same day, and now Akers has returned to the backfield. This is the most complete team he’s quarterbacked. One of the league leaders among numerous major QB metrics, Stafford is a great DFS start.
Van Jefferson, WR, Los Angeles Rams ($8,000)
If Kupp doesn’t earn his $16,000 price tag, there’s a good chance Jefferson will. The 2020 second-round draft pick might be a No. 1 receiver on some teams. Instead, he’s struggled with inconsistent usage, culminating in a rough stretch since Week 15: 9 catches for 123 scoreless yards. That’s 5.3 fantasy points per game.
But as always, we’re not concerned with past stats when past stats don’t tell the whole story. Jefferson has an impressive 50-802-6 receiving line this season despite regularly serving as the No. 4 or even No. 5 offensive option. Like OBJ, he has big-play ability, which should come in handy against a beatable pass defense.