Kickoff: Sunday, January 3rd at 4:25 PM ET
Location: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA
Betting Odds: Evens, 39.5 total via Oddsshark
Kyler Murray (Start, QB2 if active), Chris Streveler (Sit, if Murray inactive)
Suffering in recent weeks with shoulder and lower leg injuries, Kyler Murray has looked noticeably restricted especially when using his legs as highlighted in the loss to the 49ers. Murray threw 2 interceptions in the red zone which was an uncharacteristic aspect of what his play has been like this season. Murray has a 26:12 TD: INT ratio going into this tough matchup against a stout Rams secondary. He has upside only because the Cardinals season is on the line with a true “win and in” situation against a Rams team in the same boat. Murray will need to use his feet to get results this weekend which can only be good for fantasy output.
Kenyan Drake (Start, RB2), Chase Edmonds (Start, FLEX if active)
Former Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake failed to take advantage of Chase Edmonds missing the game against the 49ers but did punch in his 10th rushing TD of the season. Drake has hit paydirt in 5 of Arizona’s last 6 games and continues to get all the carries in the red zone. There is no volume upside here but he should produce solid RB2 numbers given his usage around the goal line. If Edmonds is active, Drake usually benefits more than if he is not on the field. Edmonds should be a sneaky FLEX option as the Cardinals will need to try maneuver around Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
DeAndre Hopkins (Start, WR1), Christian Kirk (Start, FLEX), Larry Fitzgerald (Sit), KeeSean Johnson (Sit), Dan Arnold (Sit)
Speaking of Ramsey, he did a stellar job in restricting D.K. Metcalf last weekend and will look to do the same with DeAndre Hopkins. Saying that Hopkins has been simply a sensational week in, week out and is as good as matchup proof for fantasy purposes. The rest of the Cardinals’ receiving room has really struggled to find any consistency and can be classed as a bunch of WR3s and WR4s at best. Christian Kirk did see 10 targets last week and will have a similar game plan against the Rams – a worthy FLEX start.
Los Angeles Rams
John Wolford (Sit, QB3)
Jared Goff has undergone surgery on his broken throwing thumb and will miss the crucial Week 17 game against the Cardinals. Given how bad Goff was last week that actually might be a blessing in disguise. Set up, John Wolford – he has never taken an NFL snap but did lead the short-lived AAF in passing touchdowns as the quarterback of the Arizona Hotshots. Sure, roll the dice, why not!?
Cam Akers (Start, RB1 if active, )Darrell Henderson (Start, RB2 if active), Malcolm Brown (Start, RB2 if Henderson and Akers inactive. Sit otherwise)
The Cardinals’ run defense has been atrocious over the last month, ranking in the bottom 5 for fantasy points allowed to running backs. If Cam Akers is fit then expected a healthy return despite a possible snap count/hot hand approach by Sean McVay. Otherwise, it will be the unremarkable Malcolm Brown leading the backfield. Brown failed to punch the ball in from inside the 2-yard line 3 times against the Seahawks. Yikes!
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Robert Woods (Start, WR2), Cooper Kupp (Start, FLEX), Josh Reynolds (Sit), Tyler Higbee (Sit, TE2), Gerald Everett (Sit)
If Wolford is given the nod to air it out in search of firing the Rams into the playoffs, Robert Woods stands to be the primary beneficiary. Woods has been targeted at least 8 times in each of the Rams’ last 6 games and is the clear No.1 option in the passing game. Both Woods and Cooper Kupp have been hamstrung by Goff’s dreadful season yet this may be an opportunity to pepper them both with targets and let their quality show. The tight end room is still not worthy of a strong start. If desperate, Tyler Higbee is your best bet to see something in the red zone.
-Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)