[sc name=”Author – Taylor Maxton”]
Welcome back to another Thursday Night Football matchup preview, Rotoballers!
Week 2’s game between the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals was a tough one to watch with a battle of the defenses making for slow and boring football. Perhaps the most intriguing story line was rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson stepping up in his first official start (on his birthday no less!). He lead the Texans to a 13-9 victory with 125 passing yards and 67 rushing yards, including an exciting rushing touchdown between multiple defenders. Still, Thursday Night Football should be “just ’bout that action boss”, and it failed to deliver overall.
The hope for this week is that the divisional matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers can give us some eventful football. On paper, that doesn’t seem to be the case, but we can always hope! Let’s take a look at some of the players in this game and how I expect them to perform in Week 3.
Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers
Date and Start Time: Thursday, September 21 at 6:25 p.m. EST
Notable Injuries and Status:
- Gerald Everett (TE, LA) – Thigh – Active
- Kayvon Webster (CB, LA) – Shoulder – Inactive
- George Kittle (TE, SF) – Hip – Active
- Eric Reid (S, SF) – Knee – Inactive
- Rueben Foster (LB, SF) – Ankle – Inactive
Offensive and Defensive Rankings (2016):
Top Performers That Have To Be In Your Lineup
Todd Gurley (RB, LAR)
Gurley’s series of games against porous run defenses continue with a soft 49ers crew that ranks near the bottom of the league. However, the ease of schedule isn’t the only thing that should make you confident about starting him this week. The receiving element that was missing from Gurley’s toolbox has emerged as of late, with him tacking on 104 receiving yards on his 128 rushing yards this season. He is clearly a three-down back that is finally getting an appropriate workload for how talented he is, making him an easy must-start.
Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR)
Kupp has clearly developed a strong rapport with quarterback Jared Goff, as he currently sits as the leading wide receiver for the Rams two weeks into the regular season. His 33-yard effort against the Washington Redskins last week may be a warning sign at face value, but he was one yard away from a touchdown that didn’t come to be because of a fluky slip near the goal line. Despite not having the flashy name value of a Sammy Watkins, Kupp is all but a lock for six-plus targets and has plenty of upside lining up in the slot.
Carlos Hyde (RB, SF)
Hyde has been the centerpiece of Kyle Shanahan’s new offensive scheme this season, receiving 71% of the team’s carries and getting at least six targets per game. While Aaron Donald’s return has made the Ram’s defensive line one to watch out for, they currently rank 30th against the run and should give Hyde plenty of room to run as the x-factor for the 49ers. With the Washington Redskins’ running backs accumulating 229 rushing yards against the Rams last week, assign high expectations for Hyde to burst through a few gaps.
Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup
Rams’ Tight Ends (LAR)
Although it was noted before the start of the season that Rams’ head coach Sean McVay was going to help his tight end group prosper in 2017, it has become fairly clear early on that neither Tyler Higbee or rookie Gerald Everett will be getting the target volume necessary to put up consistent fantasy points. Everett has looked like the much better option of the two with 134 yards on four catches compared to Higbee’s 17 yards on two catches, though he now has a thigh contusion that could see him missing time. The Rams will be running their offense through Todd Gurley with some sprinkling in of Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins on Thursday, leaving little receiving work for tight ends.
Brian Hoyer (QB, SF)
Hoyer had to fall back on some of his game-losing tendencies when playing against the Seattle Seahawks last week, rushing throws and missing open receivers that could have easily boosted his awful 99-passing yard effort. That being said, the 49ers are a wasteland for fantasy relevance in the passing game and Hoyer has yet to throw a touchdown pass this season. If there is one thing that the Rams can do effectively on defense, it’s disrupt wide receiver’s routes with the likes of cornerback Trumaine Johnson and free safety Lamarcus Joyner. There is virtually no chance for Hoyer to put up start-worthy yardage or touchdowns in this matchup.
Marquise Goodwin (WR, SF)
The 49ers’ passing game has accumulated 292 total yards in two games largely on the backs of Carlos Hyde, Pierre Garcon, and George Kittle, who have accounted for 67 percent of that yardage. Goodwin is the fourth man up as a field stretcher who averages three receptions per game and 7.8 yards per catch. Unless you are in an incredibly deep league, he offers next to nothing in this particular game and even the rest of the regular season for fantasy purposes.
Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?
Solid Option – Sammy Watkins (WR, LAR)
Would it shock you to hear that Watkins currently has the fourth most receiving yards on the Rams? It becomes a tough task to project his chance for fantasy production in any given week because he seems to be unable to find a niche for himself in the offense. That being said, he is tied with Cooper Kupp for receptions with seven and should be able to create separation against 49ers cornerback Dontae Johnson for a 50-plus yard game along with the possibility of a touchdown.
Solid Option – Pierre Garcon (WR, SF)
If Carlos Hyde is the x-factor, Garcon is the reliable chain-mover that keeps the offense on schedule. The 49ers clearly want him to get the football, as he is averaging seven targets per game thus far and has converted those targets into nine receptions for 107 yards. Garcon makes for an enticing option in PPR formats, but it is unlikely that we will see much action while being shaded by Pro Football Focus’s eighth ranked corner in Trumaine Johnson.
Sleeper – Jared Goff (QB, LA)
Goff showed that he can throw when needed in a Week 1 stomping of the Indianapolis Colts where he threw for over 300 yards, but cooled down a little bit last week against the Washington Redskins. Don’t get me wrong, the Rams will still be running the football on the majority of their offensive snaps on Thursday. However, those lacking a solid quarterback option heading into Week 3 would do well to consider streaming Goff against a lackluster 49ers pass defense.