Cardinals vs. Rams
Will David Johnson live up to expectations this time around?
Star running back David Johnson disappointed in his debut, not because of production, but because of opportunity. Rushing only nine times in the loss to Washington, Johnson still finished with 37 yards and a touchdown. However, a horrible deficit created in the second quarter limited his chances. Taking on the Rams this week, Johnson should be relied upon more heavily. Los Angeles’ defense benefitted from offensive production last week, which forced the Raiders into more passing. Before that point Marshawn Lynch delivered an impressive touchdown run. Johnson plays at the lower end of this week’s RB1s, but he’s a must play in any situation anyways.
What can be expected of the passing game?
For a quarterback or receivers, there may not be a worse defense to face than the Los Angeles Rams. Bradford will be under duress as the likes of Michael Brockers, Aaron Donald, and Ndamukong Suh all focus on him. To make matters worse, there is little reason to believe Arizona’s lackluster wide receiver depth and an aging Larry Fitzgerald can create regular separation. Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib line up on the outside with Lamarcus Joyner, Sam Shields, and Nickell Robey-Coleman all offering threatening coverage skills.
The bright side is that Ricky Seals-Jones may be eyeing a breakout performance. Oakland found regular success in the middle of the field as Jared Cook set a franchise record with 180 yards. Seals-Jones flashed ability last season and was targeted a meaningful six times a week ago. There is little trust to be placed in Seals-Jones, but he may be an eye to watch as waiver fodder come Monday morning.
Can Jared Goff find rhythm earlier this week?
Look, I’m basically grasping at straws here. The offense started out pretty slow last week, sure, but that’s an extension of the preseason. Chemistry is still being fortified and the flow of the speed of the game is still being adjusted to. Week one wasn’t all that impressive for QB Jared Goff and Co., but after going the majority of the first half with just four completions, he finished 18 of 33 with two touchdowns. I’d say he’s ready for a complete effort against the Arizona Cardinals, who, on paper, might present a larger challenge. The Rams can attack from so many different angles, that I’m not worried about the passing game in the least. Remember, RB Todd Gurley can handle that part of the game now – 3 catches for 39 yards last week. With the Rams offense expected to be on the field a ton in this one, I think Goff goes 20 of 37 for 321 and 3 touchdowns.
Who to target at WR?
Given the stats I just predicted for QB Jared Goff, I’d say any of the three receivers for Los Angeles should be serviceable for your fantasy lineup. Robert Woods is always a good bench stash and might be an ambitious play here, but heck, he was targeted on a few long balls last week and I’m giddy about the Rams (Go Bears!). The Arizona Cardinals allowed 255 yards through the air to QB Alex Smith last week. This bodes well for an even more dynamic group of pass-catchers. I’d expect WRs Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp to have even more productive days playing on a normal field; the Coliseum isn’t exactly your ideal football field. As far as predictions, I’ll go with Cooks being targetted eight times, turning them in seven catches for 95 yards and a score. As for Kupp, he’ll get around the same amount of targets with seven, turning them all into catches for 89 yards and a touchdown. Robert Woods will catch four balls for 53 yards and a touchdown.
Can the defense shut down David Johnson?
Last week against the Washington Redskins, RB David Johnson racked up a whopping 37 yards on just nine carries, as the ‘Skins were playing catch-up the entire contest. He did manage 30 yards receiving, however. The LA Rams’ linebackers will want to keep track of him on all downs and all situations. If the defensive front of Suh and Donald can keep Sam Bradford to being….Sam Bradford, then things should be a breeze. I’d say the defense gets three sacks, 10 knockdowns, 20 hurries and 2 interceptions – an obvious fantasy start.