A month ago, this may not have seemed like a friendly fantasy football game, but it certainly has some intrigue now! The Los Angeles Rams‘ fantasy preview revolves around their star receiver’s ability to produce at a high level, while the Indianapolis Colts‘ fantasy outlook is tied to their lead back, who is overperforming all of our expectations.
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Los Angeles Rams at Indianapolis Colts
- Spread: Colts -1
- Total: 46.5
- Rams implied points: 23.8
- Colts implied points: 22.8
Matthew Stafford: It feels like the Rams have overachieved massively, given how the media treats them. And yes, they’ve been more competitive as a team than I thought they would be. That’s true. But that success hasn’t resulted in Stafford mattering (his next finish better than QB17 this season will be his first), and I don’t think that changes this week.
The Colts held Lamar Jackson without a passing touchdown last week, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if both teams approached this game with a run-heavy script. Stafford sits comfortably outside of my top 15 this week and is a below-average QB2 for those Superflexers out there.
Anthony Richardson: The rookie was tracking for a monster fantasy day against the Texans through two drives (56 passing yards, 35 rushing yards, and two rushing scores) of the Week 2 win, but his head slammed against the turf and cost him the rest of that game and resulted in a DNP last week against the Ravens.
He opened this week in concussion protocol, but if he can clear the medical hurdles, he will waltz right back into my top 12 at the position against a Rams defense that ranks 24th in yards per carry (4.5). I make note of the weakness in the run defense because that forces them to crowd the line of scrimmage, thus opening the door for Richardson to break a few big plays, either with his legs or arm.
Assuming Richardson is good to go, I’ll have him ranked over Kirk Cousins and his near 6,100-yard pace.
Gardner Minshew: In fill-in duty, the Mustache threw for 227 yards and a score against the Ravens. He isn’t a fantasy option as a starter, but it was good to see him support the three Colts skill guys who are rostered the most.
Kyren Williams: I had Williams as a top-15 RB last week after consecutive top-10 performances. Results-wise, I was wrong, as he finished as the RB26. Process-wise, I stand by it.
He was the only Rams RB with an opportunity against the Bengals, and the stat line looks much better if Stafford doesn’t routinely misfire on dump-off red-zone passes. The role is nothing short of elite, and Williams needs to be locked into fantasy lineups until proven otherwise. My ranking of him this week is identical to what it was last week: RB11.
Zack Moss: “He has posted consecutive top-10 weeks and is coming off of a week in which he turned 32 touches into 145 yards and two touchdowns.”
If I told you six weeks ago that I’d use that sentence to describe a Colts running back in the Week 4 Cheat Sheet, you wouldn’t have been surprised at all. Moss has assumed the Jonathan Taylor role and looks the part. He had a beautiful 17-yard touchdown catch last week and dominated Trey Sermon 64-18 in terms of snaps.
It’s possible that Sermon could work into more of a role with a full week with the team, but much like Akers in Minnesota, I don’t see significant work coming off the starter’s plate.
Moss was responsible for every two-minute RB snap and every short-yardage RB snap. Sermon may spell him at times, but the role isn’t changing. He is a top-20 option for me and continues to be a strong player in all formats.
Trey Sermon: He saw seven opportunities on his 18 snaps, an indicator that the Colts want to see what he can do. That said, I don’t think he has any chance to overtake Moss in this backfield or hold standalone value next to him. Sermon is not a player who needs to be rostered in anything but the deepest of leagues.
Cooper Kupp: Just your friendly neighborhood fantasy analyst reminding you that Kupp is eligible to play next week against the Eagles. Of course, this will be a situation we will be tracking, but if you want to roll the dice on him, this time of relative uncertainty should make him reasonably available if the manager with him rostered is off to a rough start.
Puka Nacua: Five catches for 72 yards last week, and fantasy managers were disappointed by a receiver who they may not have known existed a month ago! That tells you just how good Nacua was through two weeks. And with him leading the team in catches and yards last week, he remains a fantasy starter.
The upside is capped (Stafford has two touchdowns on 126 pass attempts this season), and we saw the Colts limit the per-catch production of the Ravens last week. With the limited scoring equity, Nacua relies on volume, a role that will result in him being ranked in the 18-24 range at the position until Kupp returns.
Tutu Atwell: It is clear that the Rams label the speedy Atwell as their home-run threat, a unique role for a 165-pound receiver. The downfield targets are going to be hit-and-miss (four catches on nine targets against the Bengals), but the fact that they weaponized his speed in a Tyreek Hill-lite sort of way on a play from the 1-yard line is encouraging.
.@tutuatwell finds the endzone for 6️⃣!
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) September 26, 2023
With a pair of top-15 performances already under his belt, Atwell is worthy of consideration this week. That said, he does come with a downside due to the limited nature of this passing game and the target-vacuum stylings of Nacua. In Week 4, he serves as my Mike Evans line in his always troublesome matchup with New Orleans. That is, he is the last receiver I have ranked over Evans.
Michael Pittman Jr.: Not all volume is created equal, and Pittman is a prime example of that. Through three weeks, he ranks in the top six in both catches and targets, yet, in the two weeks he failed to score, he finished outside the top 25 at the position.
Don’t get me wrong; the target count for a receiver holding this route depth has a nice value because he is unlikely to fail in a big way. I have him ranked as an average WR2 this week, and that’ll be the case for most weeks moving forward until we see his aDOT trend upward.
Josh Downs: He seems to be the player on this roster most impacted by the quarterback. Through two weeks, the third-round pick was the owner of a 16.7% target share, but in the Minshew start, he saw 28.6% of the targets. He’s going to rank outside of my top 40 no matter the starting QB, but my interest in DFS formats will hinge on who is starting under center.
Tyler Higbee: Five targets per game isn’t what we thought we’d see from Higbee with Kupp sidelined, but that’s the role he has settled in on, and it seems unlikely to change. Stafford was accurate when throwing to Higbee (5 of 5) and inaccurate when going elsewhere (13 of 28), a level of confidence that gives Higbee some hope.
Higbee is the third option in an average offense that runs when in close. That’s not a profile I trust, and that is why I have him ranked outside the top 15 at the position.
Should You Start Tutu Atwell or Garrett Wilson?
Atwell looks fast and explosive in a surprisingly effective offense, while Wilson … well, you know the story in New York. This Jets offense is struggling to produce much of anything, and while the quantity of targets has been there for Wilson, they hold so little potential that it almost doesn’t matter.
The Rams have flashed some creativity in getting the ball into the hands of their undersized, overperforming receiver, and I see no reason to think that changes this week.
Should You Start Zack Moss or Rhamondre Stevenson?
Moss’ role in this Colts offense is nothing short of elite, something I can’t say at the moment about Stevenson. With Richardson back, Moss’ touch count may dip a little bit, but I expect the quality of touch to improve with defenses forced to fear QB runs.
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Stevenson has moved outside of my “must start” tier at the running back position, and this matchup is far from an ideal one to get him back into my good graces.
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