This article is part of our Sunday Night DFS Breakdown series.
Sunday night we get a repeat primetime showing of the Los Angeles Rams. Well, hopefully not a repeat. Last week the Rams ran into the buzz saw that is the Chicago Bears defense. The Bears (including last weeks dominating performance against the Rams) have given up the third-fewest FanDuel points the last four weeks. The Rams will get a reprieve this week as they face the Philadelphia Eagles, who have allowed the third-MOST FanDuel points the last four weeks. This should be a much different Rams team this week. As for the Eagles, they'll be without starting quarterback Carson Wentz. We could see a much different Eagles team this week as well.
As of this writing, the Eagles are 11-point dogs to the Rams with the over/under at 52.5. The implied score for this game is 32-21, Rams. The line opened at Rams -9 before the Wentz news and has been as high as -11.5. Seems like the line makers don't have a lot of faith in reigning Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.
There are reasons people live in Los Angeles. A low of 52 degrees in mid-December with no rain is one.
The Rams have no injuries of note; in fact, the injury report they released Wednesday was blank.
The Eagles, on the other hand, have several notable injuries.
QB Carson Wentz OUT – Wentz was listed as doubtful on the Friday injury report before being declared out Saturday.
DT Timmy Jernigan OUT – Jernigan will miss a third consecutive game.
CB Sidney Jones OUT – Jones will miss his fifth consecutive game.
This list doesn't account for the many players the Eagles lost for the season already (Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Rodney McLeod and others). Not sure a team has been hit harder by injuries this year than the Eagles.
Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff predictably struggled against an elite Chicago Bears defense last week. The Bears have given up the fewest FanDuel points to quarterbacks the last four weeks. This week's opponent, the Eagles, have given up the eighth most. This is a prime bounce-back spot for Jared Goff. The Rams are returning home after back-to-back road games. Jared Goff shines at home. In six home games this year, Goff has 18 touchdowns to two interceptions with a completion percentage higher than 70. He averages more than 360 passing yards per game at home with a quarterback rating of 124.5. With the rash of injuries the Eagles are dealing with on defense, I love Goff this week.
Goff's weapons should bounce back right along with him. Robert Woods was the target leader last week when it seemed like he was the only receiver who could create separation against the Bears. Despite that, Woods performance against the Bears wasn't that far off what he's been doing since Week 6. His catches since Week 6 are 5, 5, 5, 4, 4, 5 and 7. His receiving yards since Week 6 are 78, 70, 71, 89, 72, 67 and 61. So, despite the matchup being infinitely better for the Rams this week than the week prior, I'm not any higher on Robert Woods.
Brandin Cooks has cooled off since his three consecutive 100-yard games Weeks 9-11. Cooks has at least 74 yards in every home game this season, so he should bounce back after being held to 84 total receiving yards the last two weeks. I don't think we'll see him hit the 12 targets he got in Weeks 10 and 11 but if he catches five or six of his eight targets, instead of three or four, we should see a spike in production.
Let's not forget that the New Orleans Saints new version of Brandin Cooks, Tre'Quan Smith, burned these Eagles for 10/157/1 in Week 11. Cooks didn't show up for us last week, but some home cooking and a weak Eagles secondary should create opportunities for him.
Josh Reynolds let us down last week but I'm not ready to give up on him. Reynolds still received seven targets last week, finished second on the team in air yards and played 100 percent of the snaps. Last week was the first time Reynolds has not seen MULTIPLE red-zone targets since the Cooper Kupp injury.
If the Rams move the ball the way we expect them to, there should be several opportunities for Reynolds to get red-zone looks. We just saw Amari Cooper score the game-winning touchdown in the red zone against the Eagles last week. Reynolds is getting a lot of opportunities to make plays for a high-scoring offense and is playing a struggling defense. One of these weeks he's going to pop a couple of scoring plays, and we want to capitalize on that.
Gerald Everett hasn't topped 50 yards in a game this season. Even last week when he saw seven targets he could only muster 29 yards. The tight ends just aren't a big part of this offense. There's always a chance Everett finds his way into the end zone, but with only three touchdowns this year and two of those in one game, I'm not counting on it.
Todd Gurley had his worst game of the year last week against the Bears. His final line of 58 total yards, three catches and no touchdowns left all of us wanting more. I suggest we just put that game behind us. Here are Gurley's stats in the games following a game where he had less than 100 total yards.
Week 3 – 156 total yards, 5 receptions, 1 touchdown
Week 8 – 195/6/1
Week 10 – 160/3/1
Week 12 – 165/3/2
This is Todd Gurley. He's arguably the best running back in the league. It shouldn't take much convincing to play him. But, if you need more convincing, the Eagles have given up the most FanDuel points to running backs the last four weeks and the third most DraftKings points in the same time span. Avoid Todd Gurley at your own peril.
The Philadelphia Eagles
To understand what to expect from the Eagles this Sunday is to understand Nick Foles. We all remember the run Foles went on last year, leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory. What might not be as fresh in people's minds are the two games Foles started earlier this season. Foles' first matchup was against a Falcons team that had a healthy Deion Jones and Keanu Neal. That Falcons held Foles to 117 yards passing, no touchdowns and one interception. The Eagles won that game despite only scoring 18 points behind Foles' poor showing.
In Foles' second start, against the Buccaneers, he threw for 334 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. The Bucs have given up the fifth-most FanDuel points and third-most DraftKings points to QBs this season, so I'm not terribly impressed by Foles' output in that game.
This week, Foles will face a Rams defense that has put a stranglehold on the two QBs they've faced since the Monday night game against the Chiefs. In the two games since then, the Rams have allowed a total of 355 yards, two touchdowns, four interceptions and a 57 percent completion rate. They've also recorded five sacks in that span. All that to say I don't like Foles' chances this week and will not be playing him in any lineups.
The most consistent of the Eagles' pass catchers this season has been Zach Ertz. I don't expect that to change with Foles at the helm. In the five games since the Golden Tate trade, 35 percent of the Eagles' targets have gone to tight ends. In the two games Foles played to start the year nearly 40 percent of his targets went to the tight end. That should give us some comfort that Ertz's role will remain unchanged with Foles. On top of that, the Rams have given up the eighth-most points per game to tight ends in the last four weeks. I'm firing up Ertz with confidence.
In Foles' two starts, the second tight end averaged more than four targets a game. Dallas Goedert has been that second tight end for the Eagles most of the season. His snap percentage has been higher than 50 percent each of the last three weeks with at least three targets in each of those games. In Week 13, Goedert scored his first touchdown since Week 8. Goedert could have had a second TD from 75 yards out against Dallas, save for a questionable offensive pass interference call. If you want to differentiate your lineup and come off Ertz, Goedert is in a good spot to put up some numbers. An even better strategy might be to play both and take full advantage of the Rams' weak play against tight ends.
Jeffrey, Tate, Tate, Agholor, Jeffery. That's the order of the target leader among of the wide receivers since Tate came to Philadelphia. It's hard to pin down exactly who's going to be the main receiver to roster from Philadelphia. Even if you can figure that out, it might not matter. When the Rams played the Bears, the Chicago receivers combined for eight catches for 64 yards. When the Rams played the Lions, the Detroit receivers combined for 11 catches for 100 yards. This is even more troubling for Eagles' receiver production since in Foles' two starts only 42 percent of his throws went to receivers whereas the last five weeks they've received 54 percent of the looks. With the Rams giving up so little production to wide receivers, the Eagles not having a concentrated target share and a limited amount of targets to go around, it's hard to trust any of them.
Golden Tate's snap share has dropped each of the past four weeks to a season-low 41.3 percent last week. Outside of his Week 11 performance against Washington (7/85/1) Tate hasn't topped more than five catches or 48 yards since becoming an Eagle. He's an easy fade.
Alshon Jeffrey is still seeing nearly 100 percent of the snaps each week but hasn't topped 50 yards since Week 7. He did manage to get in the end zone last week, but that was his first score since Week 7. Don't get fooled by season-long stats about WR1 production against the Rams. Kenny Golladay and Allen Robinson would be the first to tell you that this is not the same Rams defense that continually got lit up by receivers during the first 11 weeks of the season. I'm avoiding Jeffrey this week.
Nelson Agholor gobbled up targets during Foles' two starts earlier this year with 10 and 12 in the first two games. I find it difficult to project out similar volume for Agholor this time around considering the only other wide receivers to get targets those first two games were Mike Wallace, Kamar Aiken, Shelton Gibson and Deandre Carter. With a little more competition for looks, a stouter defensive opponent and the emergence of Dallas Goedert I will not play Nelson Agholor this week either.
The Chicago run game last week chewed up the Rams for 170 yards on 28 carries. Jordan Howard's size between the tackles proved to be an effective way to attack the defense while Tarik Cohen managed to catch all four of his targets out of the backfield. The Rams have given up at least three catches to running backs each of the last five games. Darren Sproles and Josh Adams have handled nearly 90 percent of the running back snaps between them once Corey Clement went down with a season-ending injury, and they are the only two running backs worth considering from the Eagles in this matchup.
Darren Sproles has scored in each of the last two games, albeit on limited touches. He's had only four total touches in each of the two games. His snap share rose to 44 percent in Week 14, essentially combining his 12 percent from Week 13 and Corey Clement's 31 percent from Week 13. Foles targeted RBs on 18 percent of his throws during his two starts earlier this year compared to only 10 percent of Wentz's targets going to running backs since the Golden Tate trade. We saw what Tarik Cohen was able to do against the Rams last week with nine carries and four catches for 89 total yards. I wouldn't be surprised to see a good game from Sproles in a plus matchup and his activity level within the offense rising.
Josh Adams had handled 20-plus carries in Weeks 12 and 13 before being limited to seven against a formidable Dallas defense. He turned those seven carries into 36 yards with 33 yards coming after he evaded the first tackler. Josh Adams is a bigger back, like Jordan Howard, with a bit more elusiveness to him. He hasn't caught a pass since Week 11, but we saw Jordan Howard surpass 100 yards rushing against this same Rams defense a week ago. If the Eagles get into a rhythm with the RPOs that Foles loved running so much in 2017, some nice running lanes could open for Josh Adams. I think Josh Adams is a strong play this week, coming off of a poor statistical game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Rams (DraftKings Only) - The Rams have multiple sacks in three of their last four games. They have at least one interception in three of their last four games. The Rams have recovered at least one fumble in three of their last four games. If you want to play a defense in this matchup, it should be the Rams.
Eagles (DraftKings Only) - The Eagles have multiple sacks AND an interception in its last three games. The Rams have given up multiple sacks the last four games, so there's an opportunity here for the Eagles to create some pressure. However, Goff hasn't thrown an interception at home in his last four starts. If he's not turning the ball over it will be tough for the Philadelphia defense to make major noise in this game. Avoid.
Greg Zuerlein - Zuerlein has hit multiple field goals in every game he's played this season and was the only person to put points on the board for the Rams last week. However, I expect a few more touchdowns from the Rams in this game. This is not the game to play the contrarian-kicker strategy.
Jake Elliott - Elliot has put together another strong season nailing 83 percent of his FG attempts this year. The downside is after hitting five of his six attempts from 50-plus last year he's only hit one out of three this year. Just like Zuerlein, I expect this to be a more touchdown heavy game, and I'm going to avoid using Elliot because of that.
We probably saw the worst game the Rams are going to play all year last year. There's a chance this week against the Eagles is one of their best showings. We'll also get a chance to see if Foles can capture some of that magic he had last season. The Eagles' season is on the line every game the rest of the way and the Rams are fighting for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Should be a good one. Enjoy and good luck.