The St. Louis Rams treated their fans to a victory in what could be the final game played in St. Louis for the franchise, as they topped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23. The St. Louis defense was locked-in for the first three quarters of this game, allowing the Rams to build a lead behind the surprisingly strong play of quarterback Case Keenum. Tampa Bay made a fourth quarter surge, which helped pad the fantasy stat lines in this game’s box score, but fell short as both teams moved to 6-8 on the season.
Case Keenum made his third start of the season on Thursday, having thrown for 136 and 124 yards in his first two outings. Naturally, Keenum came out of the gates hot, throwing two first quarter touchdowns including a 60-yard bomb to Kenny Britt. Keenum finished with 234 yards and the two scores, as he wasn’t asked to do much with the Rams holding a 21-3 lead at halftime, but the performance was solid and looked better than the slop Nick Foles served up for most of 2015. With Todd Gurley being bottled up for 48 yards and a score on 21 carries, Tavon Austin did the most damage of the Rams skill players, scoring once via the run and once via the pass while showing his blazing wheels along the way. The versatile Austin finished with 73 total yards with the pair of scores in one of his finest performances of the season.
Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin turned in a nice outing with 91 yards on 18 carries, but was left out of the fun in the second half as the Bucs leaned on the Jameis Winston-Mike Evans combination while they tried to catch-up on the scoreboard. Winston threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns after the up-and-down fourth quarter expired, with Mike Evans on the receiving end of nine of his 29 completions. Evans finished the night with nine catches and 157 yards on a whopping 17 targets and was Winston’s top option with Vincent Jackson sidelined. The effort was the fifth time this season Evans went over the 100-yard mark and pushed the second-year receiver over 1,000 yards for the season.
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Buccaneers at Rams Quick Slants
Kenny Britt finished with just two catches for 71 yards after the early touchdown reception. … Charles Sims tallied 72 total yards while working behind Doug Martin and has hit that mark in each of his last three games. … Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught three of six targets, including a late red zone score. ASJ wasn’t a factor in this game before the garbage time stats started stacking up. … Tight end Jared Cook caught four passes for 64 yards in his best performance since Week 1 while leading St. Louis in targets with six. Cook is still without a touchdown on the year and is not on the fantasy radar at the tight end position.
In Other News…
Jonathan Stewart (foot) was officially ruled out for Week 15 by coach Ron Rivera, an unsurprising move considering the record of the undefeated Panthers. Rivera specifically mentioned Fozzy Whittaker, Mike Tolbert, and rookie Cameron Artis-Payne as candidates to split the Carolina backfield work, creating an unpleasant situation for fantasy purposes. Whittaker seems like the best bet for early-down work at this point and will reportedly “start” on Sunday, although Tolbert will hold his usual role as the Carolina red zone tank. The Panthers have the second-best rushing attack in the league however, so there should be production to be had in this situation although it could be cut into three slices.
Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley declared it is “too soon” to rule out T.J. Yeldon (knee) for Week 15, leaving at least the possibility that the rookie will make an appearance this week. Yeldon being active would squash the potential of Denard Robinson, Week 15’s top waiver wire addition, but more news should surface over the weekend concerning Yeldon’s status. Robinson will likely get the opportunity to build upon his Week 14 performance of 87 total yards and a score, but stay tuned to Rotoworld in coming days for more news on Yeldon’s aching knee.
Julian Edelman (foot) was “limited” in practice on Thursday as he attempts to grind his way back from a foot injury and give fantasy squads a late-season boost. As always, injury news from New England is tough to decipher, but Edelman appears like a decent bet to suit up this week in a home date with Tennessee. Edelman caught at least four passes each week and scored seven times in the nine games he played earlier this season, so the potential for Edelman to make an imprint on fantasy playoff matchups is real. More news on Edelman’s troublesome foot will emerge after Friday’s practice.
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Injury Quick Slants
Tyler Eifert (concussion) did not practice on Thursday and is looking like a long shot for Sunday. Eifert’s absence would rob the fantasy tight end position of a top option, and push Tyler Kroft into a starting role for Cincinnati. … Alshon Jeffery (calf, illness) has missed practices this week for various issues including an illness and calf injury, so stay tuned to his Friday status for an indication of whether he will be ready to play on Sunday. … Lamar Miller (ankle) was limited in practice on Thursday but is in no serious danger of missing a nice Week 15 matchup with San Diego. … C.J. Anderson (ankle) was limited on Thursday and appears ready to rejoin Ronnie Hillman in the Denver backfield this week against Pittsburgh. … Andy Dalton (thumb) is out this week and is reportedly “unlikely” to play Week 16 according to coach Marvin Lewis. A.J. McCarron will fill-in while Dalton is out. … Matt Hasselbeck (rib, arm) practiced on Thursday, but is apparently not a lock to play this week, per Mike Wells of ESPN. If Hasselbeck sits, Charlie Whitehurst would get the start and make the Houston D/ST a prime fantasy play. … Matt Schaub (chest, shoulder) practiced on Thursday and looks like a good bet to play against the Kansas City Chiefs this week, where he will be a bottom-tier fantasy option. … Greg Olsen (knee) was limited at practice on Thursday, but check his status over the weekend as the Panthers may opt to give him more rest with a huge cushion in the standings. … Heath Miller (ribs) practiced in full on Thursday and should be good to go on Sunday after catching 10 passes last week. … Danny Amendola (knee) and Scott Chandler (knee) were limited in practice on Thursday, but the fantasy potential of both players is capped by the presence of Rob Gronkowski and possibly Julian Edelman this week. … Donte Moncrief (foot) did not practice on Thursday but insisted he will be ready to go on Friday. Moncrief was wearing a walking boot earlier this week, so he should still be viewed as a dicey bet to play on Sunday. … Charles Clay (back) missed practice on Thursday and is highly unlikely to play on Sunday against Washington. Chris Gragg would start in Clay’s place. … Andre Ellington (toe) was absent from practice on Thursday and likely won’t play for the Cardinals this week. David Johnson remains a top fantasy play. … Alfred Blue (back) was “banged up” last week according to coach Bill O’Brien, but should return to the rotation in the Houston backfield this Sunday with Jonathan Grimes and Chris Polk. … Karlos Williams (shoulder) has been “limited” in practice this week, which is an improvement from recent weeks as he works his way back from a shoulder injury. Williams is no sure bet to play in Week 15 but is inching closer to game action. … Dontrelle Inman (neck) is back practicing regularly, which will give Philip Rivers one more target on Sunday while Stevie Johnson (groin) remains out.