This article is part of our DFS NFL series.
As we see every week, nothing is a sure thing in the NFL. However, the most likely outcome is certainly that we see more scoring in the Rams-49ers Monday Night Football matchup than we did in last week's Cowboys-Giants game. The over/under for the Week 4 matchup is 42 or 42.5, depending on the book, and features a few superstars highlighted by Cooper Kupp and Deebo Samuel. There's plenty more to dig into as well.
Whether it's due to his lingering elbow injury or lack of continuity in his pass catchers, Matthew Stafford (DK $10,600, $15,500 FD) has gotten off to a relatively slow start this season. While his attempts per game have gone down slightly compared to 2021, the primary source of his downturn in production has come from a loss in efficiency in nearly metric imaginable. On paper, a matchup against the 49ers looks tough, as they have allowed only 10.9 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. It's important to provide context to that number, however, as they've taken on Justin Fields, Geno Smith and Russell Wilson. Vegas lines aren't foolproof, but the over/unders for Stafford's stats include 34.5 attempts, 252.5 yards and 23.5 completions.
Jimmy Garoppolo's ($10,000 DK, $15,000 FD) price is shockingly close to Stafford's, which admittedly is deserved based on his fantasy production to this point — he's averaging only 0.9 fantasy points per game fewer than Stafford. Garoppolo has also been more efficient than Stafford this season, albeit in a small sample. The real problem in relying upon Garoppolo from a fantasy perspective is that the 49ers want to run their offense through the ground game. In Week 3, Garoppolo's first full game as starter, he attempted only 29 passes. His props include an over/under of 28.5 attempts, 19.5 completions and 224.5 yards.
As was the case last week, there's a case to leave both quarterbacks out of lineups. Considering the minimal difference in cost, Stafford is comfortably the preferred option on paper. In addition to the skill difference, there's a path to Stafford taking over the game with his arm. If you believe the Rams win this game, Stafford could lead that effort. The same isn't true in San Francisco. If the 49ers were to win, it would likely be on strength of their defense and running game. The case to make for Garoppolo is that the Rams score enough to force the 49ers out of their preferred style. Even so, it's not clear that he would take advantage with a big fantasy performance.
It may be time to drop the narrative that the 49ers' backfield is unpredictable. Jeff Wilson ($8,200 DK, $12,500 FD) has 37 total rushing attempts this season, including 18 and 12 in the last two weeks, respectively. He won't be confused with J.D. McKissic, but Wilson has multiple catches out of the backfield in all three games this season. What he has yet to do is find the end zone, though that's not due to usage. This season, Wilson has eight rushes inside the red zone, six inside the 10-yard line and three inside the 5. He also has two targets inside the red zone and one inside the 10-yard line. The usage is there, but the matchup is a different question. The Rams have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs this season by nearly five fantasy points per game. Context is needed once again, as they have faced the Bills — one of the heaviest passing teams in the league — Falcons and Cardinals. Even so, they are still a tough matchup. There's not much else to the San Francisco backfield. Tyrion Davis-Price and Elijah Mitchell are out. Jordan Mason ($1,200 DK, $7,000 FD) appears to be the backup to Wilson, but he had only one carry in Week 3 and is still primarily a special teams player. Marlon Mack ($200 DK,$6,500 FD) played exclusively on special teams in his 49ers debut. Both are OK dart throws, but there's not much of a case to play them beyond that. The biggest threat to Wilson's production is Deebo Samuel.
Contrary to narrative, the Rams' backfield has been the more difficult to gauge, as it has taken a full 180-degree turn since Week 1. Darrell Henderson ($6,800 DK, $11,000 FD) began the season as the lead back, but ceded those duties to Cam Akers ($7,000 DK, $10,000 FD) in Week 3. Akers appears to have the upper hand in role and the momentum heading into Monday Night Football, but ultimately the better play may depend on the projected game script. Even with Akers out-carrying Henderson 12-4 in Week 3, Henderson ran 15 pass routes to Akers' zero. If the Rams jump out to an early lead, Akers is likely to be the back to drain the clock. If the game is close or if the Rams fall behind, the split could be more even with Henderson getting the work as the pass catcher. There is similarly no clear preferred option in the red zone. Henderson dominates those touches in Weeks 1 and 2, with Akers gaining the advantage in Week 3. Sticking with the theme to this point, the 49ers are a strong run defense (again consider past opponent).
Akers appears to the better play on paper, as he's served as the lead back more recently. However, the public may overestimate the likelihood that he sticks in that role, in which case Henderson is a nice leverage play that has a relatively high likelihood of occurring.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
There's no better place to start than with Cooper Kupp ($12,000 DK, $17,500 FD). He's the highest-priced player on both sites, and deservedly so. Anyone who follows football even remotely closely understands just how dominant he's been the last 20 regular season games, but we can spell it out a bit. Entering Sunday's games, Kupp led all NFL wide receivers with a 35 percent target share. He ranked third in air yards share behind Courtland Sutton and Amari Cooper.
Things get a bit more interesting when looking at the second pass catcher role in Los Angeles. On DraftKings, Allen Robinson ($6,200 DK, $9,000 FD) is the second-most expensive Rams pass catcher. On FanDuel, it's Tyler Higbee ($5,200 DK, $10,500 FD) that most closely follows Kupp. Ironically, each of that duo is priced cheaper on the site with the scoring that suits their style of play best. Robinson has seen 12 targets this season, four of which have come inside the 5-yard line, and six of which have come inside the red zone. With seven catches in three games, PPR scoring has yet to benefit him. In contrast, Higbee has 24 targets. He has one target inside the 5-yard line and four total inside the red zone. His aDOT is 3.0, with Robert Tonyan the only notable fantasy tight end that had a lower mark entering Sunday's games. Higbee is a cheat code for PPR scoring, so he is a better fit on DraftKings. Robinson is a better fit on FanDuel.
There's less nuance to the Rams' fourth pass catcher, Ben Skowronek ($4,400 DK, $7,500 FD). To start, it's worth noting he has run two fewer routes than Higbee and six fewer routes than Robinson through three games this season. Skowronek's targets per route run rate is higher than Robinson, which makes it tempting to see he is a superior point-per-dollar play on DK. I have much less interest on FanDuel, but if Skowronek fits well into a build, don't be afraid to play him.
San Francisco's pass catchers also offer some intrigue. George Kittle made his season debut in Week 3, so data from that game may give us an idea of what things look like with the unit at full strength. Brandon Aiyuk ($7,600 DK, $9,000 FD) led the team in routes run, though he only out-paced Deebo Samuel ($10,400 DK, $14,000 FD) by a single route. Of course, Samuel also recorded five carries. The bottom line is that both had solid roles in the offense. Digging one step further, each seemed to serve a clear role. Aiyuk had an aDOT of 14.1, while Samuel's was 6.5. George Kittle ($6,600 DK, $8,500 FD) ran 22 routes, and his excellence as a blocker will continue to hurt his involvement as a pass catcher. Even so, he's at worst the third option in the passing game. All three are fine options, just remember that the 49ers aren't likely to air it out offensively unless they are forced to keep pace with the Rams.
Two other 49ers are worth noting. The first is Jauan Jennings ($2,000 DK, $7,500). He had decent involvement in Week 1 but has done little since. With the return of Kittle, he's a punt play only. Kyle Juszczyk ($1,000 DK, $5,500 FD) fits in best in the running back section. However, his involvement in the offense — if any — comes primarily as a route runner. His role is minimal (he has two rushing attempts and one catch in three games), but if he scores a touchdown in either role he'll be a strong punt play.
Defense + Special Teams
It should be clear by now, but both defensive units are fairly strong in this game. The way San Francisco ($4,200 DK, $9,500 FD) is viewed by the general public is likely slightly inflated due to the soft schedule to begin the season but there is no doubt it is a strong unit. After being sacked seven times in Week 1, the Rams offensive line has allowed Stafford to be taken down with the ball in his hand only twice combined across the last two weeks. In neutral game script, the Rams are the more likely team to take to the air, which helps the case for the 49ers' defense.
The potential for the Rams ($3,600 DK, $9,500 FD) defense to be a good play comes down almost exclusively to projected game script. If the 49ers jump out to a lead, they are likely to run the ball a lot. That would hurt the Rams' ability to produce fantasy points on defense. In contrast, if the Rams can jump out to a lead and force Garoppolo to the air more often, we can feel fairly comfortable with the idea that mistakes are on the way.
Robbie Gould ($4,000 DK, $8,000 FD) is consistent and has accounted for 17 points through three games. His price as compared to Aiyuk's on FD is notable, particularly if you believe San Francisco is chasing points. Matt Gay ($3,800 DK, $8,500 FD) has yet to miss a kick this season, and he has one kick of more than 50 yards while accounting for 19 points in three games. Weather isn't projected to play a factor in the kicking game.