Sunday Night Football
LA Rams @ Chicago
Team Totals: Rams 27.5, Bears 24.5
Back from his two-game absence due to a throwing-shoulder injury, Mitchell Trubisky is a boom-bust QB1 option against a Rams pass defense that got pummeled for two and a half months after losing LCB Aqib Talib (ankle) in Week 3. Talib returned on a limited basis in Los Angeles’ Week 13 win over Detroit and is slated to be a near-full-time player at Soldier Field. Talib’s value is immense in DC Wade Phillips’ defense because of his man-coverage skills. Due to the area of his injury and any lingering effects in the unideal Windy City elements, Trubisky can only be viewed as an unknown until we see him in action. … Tarik Cohen is the Bears’ lone trustworthy backfield member with double-digit touches in four straight games and the NFL’s second-most receiving yards among running backs (659), behind only Christian McCaffrey. Even as Jordan Howard injected first-half life into Chicago’s Week 13 rushing attack versus the Giants, the Bears turned away from him in the second half. No. 3 back Taquan Mizzell’s siphoning of eight touches in the last two weeks doesn’t seem like much but is enough to leave a dent in what was already a full-fledged committee. Cohen is a quality RB2/flex play in PPR.Howard is a touchdown-or-bust flex who hasn’t hit pay dirt since Week 9 and has almost no passing-game role to buoy his floor.
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Deep, inconsistent, and game-plan based, the Bears’ passing offense is one of fantasy’s least-stable investments. It also must contend with Cohen – who has team highs in targets (22) and catches (19) over the last two weeks – plus Trubisky’s uncertain arm health and Sunday night’s sub-optimal environment. Allen Robinson is the top WR3/flex bet, but his fantasy results are all over the map. Taylor Gabriel has reached pay dirt in 1-of-12 games and lost a back-breaking fumble inside the Bears’ own 20-yard line in last week’s loss to the Giants. It is noteworthy that Gabriel is Week 14’s No. 4 buy-low target in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards model. (Robinson is No. 7.) Rookie slot WR Anthony Miller is a touchdown-reliant WR4 with 50-plus yards in 1-of-11 games. Sophomore TE Adam Shaheen returned from his concussion against the G-Men and caught a red-zone TD, while Trey Burton went catch-less. When trying to pinpoint which Bears pass catchers are going to have big nights, your guess is as good as mine.
A Cal-Berkeley grad born in California who now plays in L.A., Jared Goff has had very few football exposures to sub-freezing temperatures in his entire life. Goff visited Denver for an October 14 game with temperatures in the 20s and had his worst fantasy performance of the season, completing 14-of-28 throws for 201 scoreless yards with a pick and five sacks. Sunday night’s forecast calls for temperatures in the high 20s. As just three of the last 11 quarterbacks to face Chicago logged top-16 fantasy scores, Goff was already catching a tough matchup. Albeit with more-bankable health than Trubisky, Goff should be viewed similarly as a high-variance fantasy bet. And Goff lacks Trubisky’s rushing floor. … Although Chicago has defended running backs stoutly in both the run and pass games all year, Todd Gurley can draw Week 14 optimism from Saquon Barkley’s 146 yards from scrimmage in last week’s Giants win over the Bears after Lions backs poured 206 total yards and two touchdowns on DC Vic Fangio’s defense on Thanksgiving. Gurley runs behind a far-better offensive line than both the Giants and Lions bring to the table and is always a matchup-proof RB1 with elite talent and workloads.
Goff’s target distribution sans Cooper Kupp (ACL): Robert Woods 33; Brandin Cooks 31; Gurley 20; Josh Reynolds 19; Tyler Higbee 13; Gerald Everett 11. … Woods’ stat lines in Kupp’s four missed games are 5/78/0 – 5/70/1 – 4/72/1 – 5/67/1. No Rams pass-catcher matchups stand out as favorable on Sunday night, but Woods has been Goff's most-reliable target all season and runs Los Angeles’ highest-percentage routes in the slot. Last week, Woods beat Lions top CB Darius Slay for his first-half touchdown from eight yards out. … Chicago’s allowance of the NFL’s second-fewest 20-plus-yard completions (30) is the biggest concern for big-play specialist Cooks, whose 13.5-yard Average Depth of Target (aDOT) is highest on the team. A boom-bust WR2, Cooks’ stats with Kupp out are 4/64/1 – 3/74/0 – 8/107/0 – 4/62/0. … Reynolds’ are 2/19/0 – 3/42/2 – 6/80/1 – 1/19/0, putting him in touchdown-or-bust territory. … Higbee and Everett haven’t benefited from Kupp’s injury in an offense that rotates and doesn’t feature its tight ends. No tight end has reached 50 yards against the Bears all year.
Score Prediction: Bears 24, Rams 23
Monday Night Football
Minnesota @ Seattle
Team Totals: Seahawks 24, Vikings 21
Sending TD-rate truthers into hibernation, Russell Wilson enters Week 14 with touchdown passes on a league- and career-best 8.9% of his attempts to go with top-12 fantasy results in eight straight starts. Wilson is on far too hot a heater to fade in a difficult on-paper matchup softened by RCB Xavier Rhodes’ suspect hamstring health and LCB Trae Waynes’ latest concussion. … Chris Carson maintained clear lead-back duties with 16 touches on 59% of Seattle’s Week 13 offensive snaps, while Rashaad Penny (7, 21%) and Mike Davis (4, 17%) brought up the rear. As the Vikings’ run-defense stoutness is no secret, bets on Carson are made on his stable workload with 16-plus touches in six of his last eight games and Seattle’s home-favorite status, setting up the Seahawks for positive run-first script.
Wilson’s Weeks 4-13 target distribution: Doug Baldwin 48; Tyler Lockett 39; David Moore 37; Davis 27; Nick Vannett 24; Carson 9; Jaron Brown and Ed Dickson 7; Penny 5. … Despite up-and-down results in Seattle’s low-volume passing attack, Baldwin has a team-high 21 targets over the past three weeks with five-plus catches and/or a touchdown in four straight. If Baldwin (hip) can't play -- he is considered a game-time decision -- Lockett would occupy the slot with Brown and Moore outside. … Lockett has been more consistent and dynamic with 70-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 10-of-12 games in a true breakout season. Last week, the Seahawks got Lockett matched on 49ers LB Malcolm Smith for a 52-yard first-quarter TD. Late in the third, Lockett drew a 40-yard DPI flag on 49ers S Antone Exum. With Rhodes playing at less than full health and Waynes ruled out, the Vikings will start UDFA rookie Holton Hill and shaky slot CB Mackensie Alexander with special teamer Marcus Sherels in a potentially major role. There are no cornerback-wideout matchups to fear here. … Even after destroying Carolina in Seattle’s Week 12 upset win, Moore ran a six-week low 14 routes on a seven-week-low 48% of the Seahawks’ Week 13 snaps and was out-produced by Brown, who scored twice and led Seattle in receiving. An individual named “Malik Turner” has entered the mix. Until Moore’s usage picks back up, Baldwin and Lockett will be Seattle’s only playable wideouts. … Vannett and Dickson continue to rotate in a value-sapping timeshare.
Although playing fantasy quarterbacks in Seattle never feels comfortable, doing so this year has paid off with six straight signal callers logging top-15 fantasy results against the Seahawks, three occurring at CenturyLink Field. Working against Kirk Cousins is Minnesota’s untrustworthy offensive line, Stefon Diggs’ (knee) sub-standard health, and this game’s low-scoring projection. Cousins is more QB2 than QB1 in this spot. … The good news for Dalvin Cook is that Seattle is vulnerable on the ground, yielding a combined 84/491/4 (5.85 YPC) rushing line to enemy backs in Weeks 9-13. The Seahawks have also allowed the NFL’s second-most receiving yards per game to running backs (62.1). The bad news is Vikings rookie OC John DeFilippo has shown minimal commitment to the run, and Cook arrives at The Clink as a road dog with a low floor in desperate need of DeFilippo to feed him in the pass game. He's a low-end RB2.
Cousins’ post-bye target distribution: Stefon Diggs 35; Adam Thielen 31; Kyle Rudolph 15; Cook 16; Aldrick Robinson 13; Laquon Treadwell 8. … Playing through a swollen knee, Diggs’ Week 13 usage was only slightly below his norms with six targets on 39 routes. He should be confidently started as a WR2 with WR1 upside against the Seahawks, who’ve been carved by fellow perimeter WRs Davante Adams (10/166/0), Dante Pettis (5/129/1), Marvin Jones (7/117/2), Brandin Cooks (10/100), and D.J. Moore (8/91/0) lately. … Thielen is a never-fade commodity with 100-plus yards and/or a touchdown in 11-of-12 games. As Minnesota’s road-dog status increases its pass-attempts projection, Thielen stands to benefit as the most-targeted player on the team this year with 15 more than Diggs. … Rudolph is a touchdown-or-bust TE2 who doesn’t score anymore and provides no floor or ceiling. Seattle has allowed the NFL’s ninth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 24, Vikings 23