Kickoff: Sunday, January 2nd at 1:00 PM ET
Location: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
Betting Odds: LAR -3.5, 46.5 total via Oddsshark
Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford (Start, QB1)
Matthew Stafford was incredibly disappointing against the Vikings last week. He had his lowest fantasy total of the season, threw three interceptions for the first time this year, and threw for less than 240 yards for the first time in 2021. Hopefully, Stafford didn’t cost too many fantasy managers a trip to the championship.
It will be tough benching Matt this week if you still have a shot at fantasy glory. Despite his stinker last week, Stafford is still the overall fantasy QB7 on the season and the match-up is enticing. The Ravens allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year and have conceded the most passing yards in the league. Stafford should be capable of a bounce-back QB1 performance this week.
Sony Michel (Start, Low-end RB1), Darrell Henderson (Sit), Cam Akers (Sit)
With Darrell Henderson on IR with an MCL injury, it looks like it’s officially the Sony Michel show in Los Angeles. There has been some talk from head coach Sean McVay about Cam Akers potentially making his return this week, but fantasy managers shouldn’t worry much about Akers. Cam has not played at all this year after tearing his Achilles in July, so if he plays, I believe it will be in an extremely limited capacity.
That leaves us with Sony Michel. The young back saw a season-high 27 carries after Henderson went down last week and put up 131 yards and a touchdown with the opportunity. The Baltimore rush defense has done well this year, allowing the fewest ground yards among all NFL teams, but Sony’s usage should be enough to place him just inside low-end RB1 territory this week. Either way, Michel is a dependable start.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Cooper Kupp (Start, WR1), Odell Beckham Jr. (Start, Low-end WR2), Van Jefferson (Sit, WR3), Tyler Higbee (Start-able High-end TE2)
If you’ve found yourself in the fantasy championship this week, chances are Cooper Kupp is a massive reason you’ve made it so far. The overall WR1 on the season has been unstoppable. The Ravens’ secondary has struggled this year, so Kupp should be in line for yet another impressive performance. Continue starting Kupp with extreme confidence.
Odell Beckham Jr. seems to have settled into his WR2 role in Los Angeles. He had a disappointing game in Week 15, but Odell bounced back in Week 16. He’s scored four touchdowns in his last five games and had the second-most targets among Rams receivers last week. The juicy match-up against a poor Baltimore secondary has me ranking OBJ in WR2 territory this week. Beckham’s floor should be reliable as well.
Van Jefferson has become more of a deep threat receiving option in Los Angeles since Beckham took over WR2 duties. Jefferson has had some impressive weeks thanks to some big plays, but he’s also become pretty boom-or-bust. Jefferson averaged 16.4 fantasy points per game between weeks 12 and 14 but has only averaged 3.45 points per game over his last two. Jefferson is too inconsistent for me to earnestly recommend starting in fantasy championship games.
Tyler Higbee hasn’t been dominant by any means this year, but he’s been more consistent than most tight ends. The Ravens have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends this year and Higbee seems to have a safer floor than most. Honestly, if Tyler has gotten you this far in your fantasy league, it’s probably a good idea to stick with him. I’m placing him just outside TE1 territory, but Higbee is certainly start-able.
Lamar Jackson (Start, Low-end QB1), Anybody Else (Sit)
Josh Johnson had a respectable 19.2 fantasy points last week, but I wouldn’t tell anybody to start him this late in the season if Johnson is active again. Josh is still too much of an unknown to trust in fantasy championships.
Head coach John Harbaugh is hopeful that Lamar Jackson can return this week, so fantasy managers will need to monitor Jackson’s practice status throughout the week. I wouldn’t be surprised if Baltimore does everything they can to get Lamar back. The Ravens are still fighting for a playoff spot and they will need their QB1 down the stretch. If he’s good to go, Lamar should be in the low-end QB1 conversation this week, even against a tough Rams defense.
Devonta Freeman (Sit, Low-end Flex)
Devonta Freeman has only seen six carries per game over his last two. That alone should be enough to bench him, especially if you’ve found yourself in the fantasy championships. To make matters worse, Lamar Jackson could take some rushing opportunity away from Freeman if the former returns this week. Freeman isn’t dependable enough this late in the fantasy season.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Marquise Brown (Start-able High-end WR3), Mark Andrews (Start, TE1)
Marquise Brown has had a stretch of mediocrity lately. He’s averaging just 11 points per game over his past six. Still, Brown is the WR1 in Baltimore, commands a high target share, and could have his starting QB back under center. Brown could warrant some start consideration in 3WR leagues, but managers starting two wide receivers should probably look elsewhere.
The match-up isn’t great for tight ends, but that won’t matter much for the overall TE1 on the season. Mark Andrews is having a fantastic year and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. He’s averaging a whopping 30.2 PPR points per game over his last three. Continue starting with confidence.
-Ryan Kruse (@ryanpkruse)
Curious if you take weather into account (GB vs. Minnesota)?