If there was ever a quarterback who needed a short week, it’s Jared Goff ($10,200). After losing four turnovers and dropping a contest to Tampa Bay in which Los Angeles was favored by double-digit points at home, I’m sure there was a bit of relief to see that the pivot didn’t have to stew on that performance for more than four days. Although, after nearly setting an NFL record for passing attempts, I guess you could be slightly worried about arm fatigue. Still, Goff wasn’t the only person anticipating this Thursday Night Football matchup. For the second week in a row, we’ve got two great teams squaring off for our mid-week pleasure in the Rams and the Seahawks. Dare I say TNF is on MNF in terms of enjoyability?
Let’s break this evening’s game down from a Showdown perspective.
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
FIVE BETTING TRENDS
— The Seahawks have covered the spread in 18 of their last 22 night games at CenturyLink Field.
— Chris Carson has scored the first touchdown in each of the last two night games at home for the Seahawks.
— Tyler Lockett has scored a touchdown in each of the Seahawks’ last three home games.
— Russell Wilson has thrown three or more touchdowns in each of the Seahawks’ last five games in October
— Todd Gurley has scored three or more touchdowns in each of the Rams’ last two road games vs. the Seahawks.
Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
Seattle SeahawksIt might be a little hyperbolic to say that no player’s value has been as sporadic as Chris Carson’s ($8,200) through four weeks of the season, but the former seventh-round pick has definitely been a roller coaster ride. At the beginning of September, Carson was the undisputed lead back in an offensive system that promoted the running game more than any other in the league. However, by Week 2, he’s losing snaps to Rashaad Penny ($5,000) and fumbling for a second consecutive game. Then, as chalk the following Sunday with Penny sidelined, Carson laid an absolute egg against the Saints; only to then rebound last weekend against a porous Cardinals defense.
I guess what I’m trying to get across is that Carson’s been an enigma to fantasy owners in 2019 and things don’t get any easier this evening. Los Angeles ranks inside the top 10 in the NFL in both rushing yards allowed per game (91.8) and opponent rushing yards per carry (3.8). They’ve also surrendered just six receptions to opposing backfields since being torched by Christian McCaffrey in the season’s opening contest – a span of time that includes a matchup with Alvin Kamara. Considering how stout the Rams’ front seven has shown the ability to be and Penny’s return to full health, I’m not overly enticed by Carson on this slate. The fact that Seattle’s offensive line has produced the fewest adjusted line yards per rushing attempt of any NFC team doesn’t help much, either (3.47).
So, that means putting a lot of faith in Russell Wilson ($10,600) as it pertains to the Seahawks scoring points. That’s honestly never a bad idea. Wilson is having an incredible campaign entering Week 5. He leads all quarterbacks in his conference with an 80.6% adjusted completion rate, he’s one of four qualified players at the position averaging more than 0.6 fantasy points per drop back, and he trails only Patrick Mahomes is adjusted passing yards per attempt (9.8).
Again, few QBs have looked better than the veteran so far this season. Of course, at his slate-high salary, there is some risk when it comes to volume. Seattle’s pass rate has jumped to 56.6% in 2019, yet it still sits in the lower third of the league as a whole. It’s also a number that’s slightly inflated due to the fourth quarter of a lopsided game-script in Week 3 versus New Orleans. There’s always a chance that Wilson doesn’t exceed 30 passing attempts in any given contest; however, with his elite efficiency, and on the heels of Jameis Winston tearing this Los Angeles secondary apart, it’s hard to ignore an asset of Wilson’s caliber.
Tyler Lockett ($9,400) remains the obvious piece to stack with Wilson, despite the recent surge of tight end Will Dissly ($7,600). Lockett not only leads the team in targets through four weeks of action (32), but he owns the NFL’s second-highest catch rate among wide receivers with over 100 routes run (83%) and he’s managed that efficiency while still producing an eye-popping 2.53 yards per route. My days of questioning Lockett’s stability are over. I’ve accepted that he’s simply one of the conference’s finest WRs. He’ll also have the added benefit of mostly avoiding Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters by primarily operating out of the slot.
Heck, the same concept goes for Dissly, who played a career-high 79.0% of the Seahawks’ offensive snaps in last week’s victory over Arizona. We’re not dealing with the largest sample size in the world, yet, when Dissly’s been healthy, he’s been viable. It has honestly been that straight-forward. In the six games Dissly’s played that he hasn’t suffered an injury during, he’s exceeded 13.0 DKFP in five and averaged 16.0 DKFP in total. Yes, the fact that DK Metcalf ($6,400) leads the squad in air yards is tempting, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that Lockett and Dissly are Seattle’s one-two punch in the passing attack.
Los Angeles RamsAs was the case in 2018, the Rams enter Week 5 as one of the league’s most predictable offenses in terms of their player rotations. Despite having massive issues moving the ball in the Super Bowl, Sean McVay has continued to rely primarily on the 11 personnel grouping that allows all three of his explosive wideouts to be on the field simultaneously. Additionally, though his snap count isn’t quite at the level it was in the first half of last season, Todd Gurley ($8,800) has remained the bell cow back in Los Angeles’ system, with his workload steadily increasing week-after-week. Best of all, Gurley’s re-inhabited his role as the Rams’ goal line running back. Where Malcolm Brown ($3,800) saw five carries inside the opponent’s 10-yard line in Los Angeles’ first two games of the season, the backup didn’t see a single such opportunity against either the Browns or the Buccaneers.
Gurley, on the other hand, scored twice in last weekend’s loss to Tampa Bay, while also seeing 11 targets in Goff’s near record-breaking performance. While the latter half of that statement is likely unsustainable going forward, what we’re left with is important to note. Gurley’s value will always be judged opposite his insane viability from the beginning of last year; however, we currently have an RB that’s involved in the passing game, is the No. 1 option at the goal line, and is safely seeing over 70% of his team’s snap share. If this were anyone other than Gurley, we’d be rejoicing. I think he’s slightly under-priced because of this perception, especially with Seattle allowing 4.51 adjusted line yards per carry.
This also seems like a matchup where you can capitalize on Goff’s status in the collective consciousness. Public opinion hasn’t been lower on the quarterback in over two years and, if there’s one narrative nearly anyone on the street could regurgitate, it’s the fourth-year pivot’s inability to succeed on the road. Going back to the start of 2018, Goff’s managed just 15.5 DKFP in starts away from Los Angeles, while he’s put up an impressive 25.5 DKFP at home. That’s quite the disparity. Still, we’re talking about a QB that’s second in the league in attempts (173) and third in the league in passing yards (1,255) coming into Thursday night. We’re talking about a QB with one of the best receiving corps in the NFL and one of football’s best offensive play-callers. We’re talking about a QB that’s leading a team that started the week with an implied total of 25 points.
I’m not necessarily suggesting that Goff’s shown himself to be a better quarterback on the road than the stats reveal; I’m simply pointing out that the 24-year-old has all the ingredients that combine to produce a towering ceiling. In a one-game setting where differentiation is key, I’m going to have some exposure to the high-upside QB that not many people are going to want a piece of. Sometimes you have to let ownership trends dictate your lineup constructions.
As for Goff’s weapons in the passing attack, it’s impossible to argue with Cooper Kupp ($9,600) supplanting his teammates as the Rams’ most expensive option at WR. Kupp is being targeted on 28% of his routes, a figure that sits behind only the likes of Keenan Allen and Michael Thomas in regard to the entire league. Kupp has also exceeded 100 yards receiving in three straight games and is slotted fourth in the NFL in receptions with 32. He always had the floor and now it appears he’s reached his ceiling. Still, that leaves us with choosing between Robert Woods ($8,000) and Brandin Cooks ($7,800) as the next best asset.
For me, its got to be Cooks. The former first-round pick not only leads all Los Angeles wideouts in air yards (404) and aDOT (13.0), but he would appear to have the easiest matchup when it comes to Seattle’s secondary. Tre Flowers has not had an encouraging start to his season, as the sophomore is currently the second-lowest graded corner on PFF among the 32 CBs who have covered at least 100 routes so far in 2019. That’s the sort of thing that will happen when receivers are catching 83% of targets under your watch. Cooks always has the potential to break a slate.
Finally, if you’re looking to save some cash with a Rams TE, I’d recommend pivoting off Gerald Everett ($3,200) with Tyler Higbee ($2,000). With the latter returning from injury in Week 4, Everett’s snap count fell from 87.5% in Week 3 to just 56.2% versus Tampa Bay. Also, though it was Everett who eventually scored the touchdown, Higbee garnered a comparable seven targets to Everett’s eight and, on top of that, it’s Higbee who leads the team in targets inside the opponent’s 10-yard line with four. They’re essentially the same guy, so just play the cheaper option, especially considering his ownership should be lower.
THE OUTCOMEThis is a difficult slate to budget for. Aside from Tyler Higbee and Jaron Brown ($1,400), there’s really not any inexpensive pieces that even see the field with any regularity between these two teams. As such, I feel you’ll have a difficult time using your Captain’s pick on either quarterback, so that opens the door for Todd Gurley ($13,200 CP) at 1.5x value. You could also talk me into Tyler Lockett ($14,100 CP) or Brandin Cooks ($11,700 CP), but I feel like Gurley’s volume is the most secure aspect of tonight’s matchup.
Final Score: Los Angeles 28, Seattle 24
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.