Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
- Spread: Rams -1
- Total: 44.5
- Rams implied points: 22.8
- Cardinals implied points: 21.8
Matthew Stafford: Despite the receiver talent at his disposal, Stafford has been held under 200 passing yards in consecutive games and under 235 in five straight. In his first month, he was averaging 307.3 yards per game. With inconsistencies through the air and no rushing equity, Stafford shouldn’t be rostered in any single QB format.
Kyler Murray: I’m officially OK with trusting Murray for the remainder of the season after posting finishes of 13th and sixth at the position in his first two starts of the season. In both of those games, he has at least 30 rushing yards and a score on the ground, elevating his floor to that of a fantasy start.
Could he access a top-five ceiling? Probably not consistently, given the lack of support around him, but with his aDOT through two games up 47.9% from last season, there is certainly a ceiling to chase.
You know I like Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff and Jacksonville Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence plenty, but I have Murray ranked ahead of both of them against a below-average defense in terms of yards per play.
Kyren Williams: Williams will return from IR (ankle) after a minimal stay, and it’s important to remember just how productive he was before the injury. He had four top-seven finishes at the position in six games.
I’m not comfortable in ranking him as an elite option in his first game back, but he is starting for me wherever I have him against a defense that allows 4.5 red zone trips per game.
How big is that number? No other team this season allows even four red zone trips per game. That was the case last season, as well. This defense puts opponents in a position to score fantasy points in bunches, and Williams has excelled at taking advantage of those opportunities with seven touchdowns.
Williams may not be a bell cow in his return to the lineup, but with the team waiving RB Darrell Henderson on Tuesday, they are confident in his health. Williams is my RB19 this week, ranking right next to his counterpart James Conner.
Royce Freeman: By holding a 42-24 snap edge over Henderson last week, it was clear that the Rams landed on Freeman as their preferred Williams insurance, making the waiving of Henderson not overly surprising.
Freeman can’t be started with confidence this week, and if Williams makes it through this week healthy, Freeman will be a reasonable cut option when we talk next week.
In four games with the Rams, Freeman doesn’t have a single catch. A lack of versatility in a role behind a trusted touchdown scorer isn’t ideal. I’m viewing him as a handcuff that doesn’t carry standalone value.
James Conner: The veteran has 16 touches in both of his games since returning, and that usage figures to continue in an offense that carries more upside now with Murray back than it did for the first two months.
I’ll be watching this game for Conner’s usage patterns. He has gained three feet in the receiving game since returning and averages 2.0 more yards per carry than per reception this season. A featured back with a goal-line role is a starter in all formats. If he can rediscover his role in the passing game (3.5 catches per game last season), we’re talking about a top-15 RB.
The Rams miss the fourth-most tackles per game, a flaw that has Conner ranking ahead of Cincinnati Bengals RB Joe Mixon (vs. PIT) this week.
Cooper Kupp: The Rams have been consistent since the injury was suffered that their star receiver is day-to-day with an ankle. It’s been a bumpy ride for the former All-Pro after a sparkling run to open his season.
- First two games, total: 15 catches for 266 yards and one TD (71.4% catch rate)
- Last four games, total: nine catches for 109 yards and zero TDs (36% catch rate)
It should be noted that he and Stafford were just barely off on a free play last week that should have been a 35-yard TD. His status directly impacts Puka Nacua, so you’ll want to monitor it, even if you don’t roster Kupp.
Should he play, he’ll join Nacua in the low-end WR2 tier against the seventh-worst defense in terms of yards per pass.
Puka Nacua: I voiced concerns last week about Nacua’s floor when Kupp is right and earning targets at a high rate. Those concerns are still there, they just may not matter in Week 12 if the ankle injury limits him.
With Kupp out for the majority of Week 11, Nacua saw his customary seven targets (a number he has reached in every game of his young career) and scored for the third time this season.
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The production floor in PPR leagues is strong if Kupp sits and he’d be a high-end WR2 for me if that’s the case. He falls a handful of spots should he end up splitting opportunities with Kupp, but without a health guarantee on Kupp, Nacua can be counted on as a starting option this week in all formats.
Marquise Brown: Much was made of Brown’s spike in value with Murray under center, but through two weeks, there have been zero signs of that coming to fruition.
In those two games with Murray, Brown has seen 15% of the targets and that is far from the most damning of numbers. How about 9.9% of Arizona receiving yards or 7.7% of receptions? I still think there is potential to chase as we come down the homestretch of the fantasy regular season, but I’m chasing it by way of roster depth — not starting lineup commitment.
The matchups with the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles in Weeks 16-17 remain interesting. Be patient, Hollywood has a chance to be an asset for those with their focus on the big picture.
Michael Wilson: The rookie sat out last week after suffering a setback (shoulder) late in the work week. In his absence, Greg Dortch led the Cards in catches (six), targets (eight), and receiving yards (76), while Rondale Moore caught a 48-yard TD.
Some would read that as Arizona having other pass catchers who are capable of producing. I, however, read that this team can provide value to multiple pass catchers.
I’m not too concerned about Wilson losing his role as the WR2 in this offense when healthy, and the Cardinals are certainly motivated to see what they have in their third-round pick.
I might not be buying more Wilson stock, but I’m not interested in selling the shares I do have. Wilson is very much worth stashing as long as his health trends in the right direction.
Rondale Moore: The 48-yard touchdown was a thing of beauty (over-the-shoulder catch, all air yards) on Arizona’s first drive in Houston. Fact. Moore would not be targeted again for the remainder of the game. Fact.
Moore isn’t typically used as a downfield option, making the lack of targets more concerning than the big play is encouraging. He was well behind Dortch in terms of targets last week, and if that’s going to continue to be the case, he might be the fifth option through the air when Wilson returns.
Moore is roster depth at best, and his skill set isn’t the top I trend toward when filling out my roster. The same applies to Greg Dortch, a player who was hardly used in the first 10 weeks of the season. At best, this offense can sustain value to two pass catchers – Brown and Trey McBride.
Trey McBride: If last week was something we consider a “down” game from McBride, then we are going to be just fine. He caught five of seven targets for 43 yards against the Texans, a production that certainly isn’t elite, but that’s a viable floor compared to the dozen or so tight ends that rarely see five targets, let alone five receptions.
The super sophomore played every single snap and ran a route on every single Murray dropback. McBride graduated from the TE blob at the beginning of the month and that status isn’t going anywhere – you can count on him weekly as your starter and feel good about it.
Should You Start Davante Adams or Puka Nacua?
I have Davante Adams ranked two spots higher, something that could change if Kupp were to suffer any sort of setback pregame and thus open up a greater target share for Nacua.
The concerns for Adams remain, but him being the focal point of this offense over the past two weeks (26 targets) is a role I’ll gamble on, even if the quality of those looks is a concern.
Should You Start Rashee Rice or Marquise Brown?
I’m hanging in there on Rashee Rice. He hasn’t flashed much upside in the way of target count, but Brown has totaled just nine targets over Kyler Murray’s two starts. If we are assigning similar target expectancies for these two, I’m happy to bet on the Patrick Mahomes weapon.
Rice’s role near the red zone is also a big plus for him in this specific head-to-head – the best is yet to come from this rookie while I think Brown’s profile will continue to be up-and-down.
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