Thursday Night Showdown – Patriots Rams – DFS Showdown Strategy & Picks

Can you believe we are now beginning Week 14? For all of the craziness 2020 has provided including shifted games and players being suddenly absent, is it just me or has this season flown by? It can’t be just me…. none the less we carry on, undaunted that our friendly DFS sites will have some action for us to partake. I do have to wonder though how much action we are going to see tonight.

On one side you have a Rams defense that has been a world beater all season long, but especially lately. Since their bye the Rams Defense has had an Interception or two in each game, a sac or multiple in each game and has scored 2 defensive touchdowns. They are holding opposing running games to under 100 yards and opposing passing games to under 220 yards. This stretch includes games against Seattle, Tampa Bay and Arizona three of the most explosive offenses in the league.

On the other side is the Patriots who just held the San Diego Chargers to a goose egg. Easier said than done to an offense that is loaded with weapons and has been hot. I know it is going to sound like I’m fibbing but I’m not. I saw it coming. 2 seasons ago en route to their 6th title, the Pats faced largely the same Chargers team (obviously not Justin Herbert, at that time Phillip Rivers) and destroyed them similarly. There aren’t too many different pieces to the Chargers now two years removed, so I had a lot of the Pats Defense last week in DFS (yay!). The thing is, the Pats opponent in THAT Superbowl – this LA Rams team minus of course the current running backs and Jaylen Ramsey. So this is a eerily similar situation for the Pats and I don’t think anyone else is talking about that. Don’t be surprised if this game ends 13 – 10 again, or something in that neighborhood.

But we need to treat this like a fresh set of downs. Someone is going to move the ball so lets do our best to capture who that will be, maximize some fantasy points and win some cash!

My Captain/MVP Picks

I will be honest, I don’t have a lot of interest in rostering Cam Newton or Jared Goff at Captain on DK. I think both will have their struggles and while I favor Cam from a fantasy perspective over Goff because of his rushing, he is coming in a little roughed up in the ribs and I am concerned that if he gets hit the wrong way, we are going to see Jared Stidham. While the Patriots don’t generate anything close to the Rams’ pass rushing rate, I think Goff will find issues in the Patriots secondary and we have seen Goff go under 200 yards twice already against the 49ers and once against the Bears, both of whom have defenses that I would put on par with the Patriots this season. So I am not projecting a 300 yard game for Goff, which limits his upside on DK. I think they are both fine plays on FanDuel at MVP where bonuses don’t come into play.

Cam has certainly been up and down this season but when he has been up he has really been up. Since coming back from a Covid-19 scare, Cam has rushed the ball 9 or more times in 6 of his last 8 games with 6 Rushing Touchdowns during that span. One of the two games he did not rush the ball that much was against Houston where he threw for 365 yards and a touchdown. However he has only gone over 300 passing yards 3 times in total this season and even in the rout of the Chargers last week he only attempted 12 passes for a paltry 69 yards. So the challenge is trying to understand which Cam we will see tonight. Running Cam or Passing Cam. The one thing I will say to Cam’s credit though is since week 7 he has only thrown 2 interceptions and they both came in the same game against the Cardinals in Week 12. A game that the Pats won in an upset. Cam has gone for 20 Fantasy Points 7x this season. So if you do choose to roster him in Captain/MVP you are banking on this being his 8th time going over 20 Fantasy Points. Against Aaron Donald and Jaylen Ramsey and company, I will personally use Cam in the Flex. But that is just me.

Jared Goff also has what I’d consider an up and down season. 6 times this season he has scored over 300 Fantasy Points, with passing attempts never dipping below 27 all season including a high of 61 attempts against Miami. In that game he completed roughly half of his passes but threw 2 interceptions and only one touchdown. In fact if you look at Goff since the bye week he has thrown as many Touchdowns as he has Interceptions – 4 each. Despite all of this Goff has also had more weeks with Fantasy Points under 20 points (7) than he has had over 20 points (5). We have seen him scrambling a bit more this season with 4 or more attempts in 3 of the last 4 games and he even had a rushing score last week. So there are reasons for and against using Goff as the MVP tonight as he goes against the reigning defensive player of the year Stefon Gilmore and the current NFL Interception Leader JC Jackson. Much like with Cam, I will be using Goff mainly in the Flex – but that is just me.

The other reason I am mostly off the QBs is ownership and Salary. Jared Goff and Cam are your two highest priced players tonight and your two highest owned players both projected at close to 70%. That is a tough pill to swallow if you are like me and believing that the Quarterbacks are going to have a tough go tonight.

Where I will mainly be going with my Captain picks tonight will be the running backs and the wide receivers. It has become clear that the Rams have found a stride with Cam Akers of late. In week 12 he took 9 touches for 84 yards and a score and last week he saw 21 touches for 72 yards and a score. Cam also saw a target last week. I like Cam as a pivot from Goff or one of the receivers, the difficulty is you still have Darrell Henderson seeing a fair amount of touches (to be fair he only saw 3 last week but he did have a touchdown) and Malcolm Brown also figuring in as well, though his role does seem to have lessened significantly since the bye week. So I will be multi-entering and heaviest on Cam Akers, with a little Henderson and I think Brown is a decent contrarian flex play on lineups that don’t contain either of the other two. The Patriots have been middle of the road against running backs this season and I believe a lot of their focus on the Rams will be slowing down Goff and his pass catchers which could allow some running room for the backs.

I also like the Patriots running backs tonight as well. The Rams have given up yardage on the ground this year and one way that the Patriots have minimized tough pass rushes this year has been to run, run and run. Sony Michel surprised me and likely everyone last week 10 Touches and even a target. I think he has some sneaky appeal tonight. Damien Harris though has been the Patriots Work Horse on the Ground with 3 100 yard games under his belt and 14 or more carries in 5 of his last 6. He also saw a target last week. I think he has positive touchdown regression coming. Then there is the constant James White. Sweet feet didn’t need to do a lot last week but the week prior he actually had more rushes than catches for the first time in his career and two rushing touchdowns. So perhaps his role isn’t as clearly defined as it has been. The difficulty of rostering any Patriots back is the threat that touchdowns from the goal line will be rifled by Cam, which is a real fear. But I don’t mind taking shots on any of the 3.

Outside of Malcolm Brown, all of the above running backs are priced north of $7,000. So it isn’t as much a salary saver concept for me to have interest in the running games, it is more a leverage pivot from Cam or Goff in the Captain/MVP.

I also have interest in the Wide Receivers for the same reasons – Pivots from the Ultra Chalk. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods for the Rams stand out of course, but I think a sneaky play may be Josh Reynolds. Kupp should see more of McCourty and Jackson when he is lining up inside and Gilmore on the outside so I think the Patriots may key in on him and try to slow him down. I actually prefer Woods to Kupp tonight as I like how the Rams mix him into the Run Game and if Kupp sees a lot of double teams, Woods could have some free looks to rack up yards. I bring up Reynolds because of a few reasons. Three of the last 4 games he has seen 6 or more targets and if the Patriots are able to contain Kupp and Woods, Goff could be looking Reynolds way. Reynolds makes an interesting pivot from Kupp and Woods both seeing close to 45% ownership currently.

With the Patriots I think the obvious choice will be Jakobi Meyers but I think you can take a look at Damere Byrd and even N’Keal Harry as pivots from Meyers who while not as highly owned as Kupp and Woods, is pretty chalky at close to 35%. Jakobi Meyers has been Cam’s favorite target for sure but I have to wonder if he will see a lot of Jalen Ramsey floating in zone coverage over the middle. Byrd has been the deep threat on this team and Harry finally saw more than one target last week. We are nearing the return of Julian Edelman and when that happens one of Byrd or Harry will see a decrease in snaps. So both guys could be looking to show what they can do tonight and I do kinda want to see Harry and Ramsey matchup along the sidelines on a contested catch.

I think both defenses and sets of Kickers are viable picks. Defenses are only available on DK but we have seen both Defenses perform and specifically against one another in the Superbowl and using a defense in Captain, while not often optimal – could be a strong play tonight if you believe this will be a low scoring affair. Rostering a Kicker in the top spot may give you the ultimate leverage against the entire DFS field. Nick Folk for the Patriots has carried a questionable tag all week but is expected to play. He has seen 2 or more Field goal attempts in 6 of his last 8 games and hit a 50 yard game winner just two weeks ago. The Rams may need to call up a practice squad kicker tonight but if he plays Matt Gay since starting with the club in week 11 has seen 2 or more field goal attempts in each game.

Flex, Flex, Flex it up.

My Patriots strategy tonight will be to use a running back or wide receiver at Captain with Cam in the Flex. I’ll include one more pass catcher in that group be it one of the other wide outs or Larry Izzo the tight end who has seen at least 1 deep look from Cam in each of the last 3 games. I don’t mind using Nick Folk in that stack as well. If you are going onslaught, I’d include the Defense but I think a more balanced approach is going to be more optimal tonight.

For a Rams run back on a Patriots stack you can include Goff and a Pass Catcher, but I think it may be a more contrarian move to use a running back and pass catcher. If you think Cam Akers and Cooper Kupp or Josh Reynolds all go off and force the Patriots to throw more I’d use them as run backs on a Patriots team that has a Wide Receiver at Captain. If you think this game is a grinder, use a running back with Robert Woods for example.

On the Rams Side, you can’t forget Tyler Higbee or to a lesser extent Gerald Everett. If the Patriots are keying in on the Wide Outs, the Tight Ends may have room to navigate like we saw in the Houston Texans game against New England. So I will roster either Akers or Henderson or a Wide Receiver at Captain. I’ll use Goff in the Flex with one other pass catcher – be it Higbee or another wide receiver. I don’t mind using the Rams defense in stacks too.

For a Patriots run back on a Rams stack I think using Cam Newton is fine with one of his pass catchers, such as Meyers or Byrd. Due to his rushing upside and his potential for rushing Touchdowns I could see Cam being vital to a winning lineup. If you want to go contrarian I don’t mind including two Patriots running backs as run backs. Be it Harris or Michel and White for example.

I do think a 3 – 3 build tonight will be the optimal approach. I could easily see this being Goff an two pass catchers and Cam and a pass catcher and a running back. I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see a Nick Folk Captained or Defense Captained lineup take the whole thing down either.

I hope my takes here help you build a winning lineup!

Good Luck in your contests!

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