*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
What a well-played game by the Lions here, which I initially judged as a poor game by the Rams. How could the Rams allow such a thing? Actually, re-looking at this game…it was a good game by the Lions, and then the Rams just played better down the stretch/in crunch time. It wasn’t the Rams sharpest game, but then you look up and see 30 points scored…5 of 11 (46%) on 3rd-downs…held the Lions to 16 points with 10 TFLs and 11 QB hits.
The Lions were ‘game’, however. It was 13-3 Rams at the half. 16-13 Rams after three. It was still 16-13 with 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Things were getting tense…the explosive Rams scored only 1 TD/16 points in 52 minutes. The Rams then scored a TD, got a sack/fumble/turnover, scored again to put it away. A really nice game by the Lions, but the Rams did what champions/the Patriots do – they find a way to win when they don’t play their best/the opponent is playing better in spurts. ‘Wins’ for both teams here.
The Rams move to 11-1. This game was a lot closer than the score. The Rams prior 6 wins have been by 2-3-29-2-5-3 and then this 16-point win that felt more like ‘a draw’. The Rams are not crushing teams more so that they are finding a way to win. They face the Bears this week…facing another top NFL team…in bad conditions for offense (below 30 degrees ‘feel’). Give them a loss there and then the Rams should win out their final three games and have to hope the Saints fall to a 3rd loss in order to get the #1 seed. If the 10-2 Saints end up tied with the Rams in record – the Saints are the #1 seed due to their early win over the Rams by NO.
If the Rams lose to the Bears, then they will have to play full throttle every game to win the ROS…unless the Saints start losing every game – which is unlikely, so a Rams loss to the Bears quells any ‘resting’ of Rams things fears for fantasy.
A Rams win over the Bears then bring ‘resting’ into play. Likely, more Week 17 only…but possibly some in Week 16 in the 2nd-half. If the Rams get a two-game lead on the Saints, they would still need/want Week 16 to put NO away for that #1 seed. Both teams play at 4pmET in Week 16, so the Rams would need to win to nail the #1 seed (in this scenario).
I see very low odds of a Rams disruption of ‘normal’ offense until Week 17, and then it’s a ‘maybe’ for Week 17.
The Lions fall to 4-8. Could’ve been a playoff contender had they not run into such a terrible mid-season schedule. When Detroit got to 3-3, after winning three of 4, including pasting the Patriots, the Lions then lost to SEA-MIN-CHI-CHI-LAR in a six-game span. Five losses to playoff teams, two/maybe three Super Bowl teams.
The Lions are playing tough but are 99% out of the playoff picture with this loss…so, who knows what Lions team will head to Arizona. I like the -2.5 bet with Detroit this week based on their recent play and bad schedule fortune holding them back, but they’re a team without a lot to play for – so, I’m a bit wary. I’ll bet it medium.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- I want to say once again…Kenny Golladay (3-50-0/8) looks FANTASTIC. I know I keep saying that, but I (a) feel I need to, so you make a confident move in dynasty/the offseason, and (b) because he does look fantastic. He keeps looking/playing like a star. He has the ‘it’ factor of a #1 WR. He has the size, athleticism, and hands…and plays in a dome 8+ times a year.
When the Lions add another ‘real’ WR, and/or Marvin Jones is back – Golladay can go to the next level in 2019+. Totally bought in here.
-- Coming into this game, Levine Toilolo (4-90-0/6) had 6 targets/6 catches and 60 yards in 11 games. He nearly toppled all his season stats in this one game.
In TE desperation, I put an extra eye on Toilolo on the re-watch. How did this burst of output happen? Toilolo wasn’t bad. He played 75% of the snaps. He was open and making catches. He’s not the greatest TE but he’s super-tall and available…I’ll take any port in a TE-storm.
Will this keep up/is it a sign of an upward trend? Not sure. Probably not, but it was pretty impressive here…the simplicity of it on a team needing other non-Golladay weapons. You beat the Rams defense by throwing to the TE, so it may be a one-off…and Michael Roberts was out, if he returns there may be some red zone hope lost.
I think this was at least enough to keep an eye on Toilolo for a late break to TE2+dom.
-- Malcolm Brown (2-8-0) got hurt and is gone for the season. The Rams used no other RB besides Gurley the rest of the game.
So, who is the Gurley handcuff now? John Kelly or Justin Davis?
Justin Davis has been on the team for a couple of years now, and he’s the more experienced option and the better actual runner of the ball. He has not played an offensive snap this year. A solid RB, good athlete out of USC…lost his draft stock when he hurt his ankle his draft year. Undrafted, made the Rams roster in 2017…been there for two years.
John Kelly is a drafted rookie…a ‘try hard’ RB with low athleticism. To me, I’ve not been impressed with his tape at all. A very slow runner. Can catch in the passing game. Will run tough with a head of steam but will definitely not make you forget Todd Gurley.
If Gurley disappeared, I think it would be a Davis-Kelly split/hot hand. No clear winner. My talent evaluation would say Davis, but my knowing NFL teams like draft status thinks it would be Kelly as more of a lead.
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-- Josh Reynolds (2-19-0/5) looked fine here, but it was ‘one of those games’ for the whole offense. Jared Goff only completed 17 passes for 207 yards and had just 1 TD…rare low output for him. Not a lot of passer numbers to go around to the WRs.
-- Bruce Ellington (7-35-0/10) has 6-6-7 for catch counts in his three Lions starts…but only 52-28-35 for yards…and no TDs. It’s like Theo Riddick became a WR.
Ellington is a solid talent and is a PPR WR3-4 option on these catch counts, but not much else going on besides the catch counts.
-- One of our top CB sleeper prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft was Mike Ford (6 tackles)…undrafted out of SE Missouri. He got elevated from the practice squad and has started the last 3 weeks and he looks TERRIFIC. A legit starting NFL CB just fell into the Lions’ lap for free, essentially.
6’0”/196, 4.47 40-time, 6.63 three-cone, 40.0” vertical. Here’s the thing…great athleticism, but he hits ‘like a mother’. He plays CB like a strong safety. Wildly impressed with him…and he’s a reason why I think the Lions defense is suddenly looking better again.
6.0 tackles, 0.5 PD, 0.5 TFLs per game the last two games.
He’s a reason why I think the Lions-DST may be a sleeper this week against the Cardinals.
-- The Rams-DST vs. the Bears this week? I think it’s not out of the question. With Aqib Talib back, this is a defense on par with the Bears.
Would you rather your ace DST face Goff or Trubisky? Also, considering Trubisky is not 100%, maybe?
It will be cold for the Bears too.
Would you rather face McVay or Nagy…Nagy, who occasionally slips into too-much-Jordan-Howard mode?
-- Fantasy Playoff Notes for these two teams…
@ARI-@BUF-MIN for DET Weeks 14-16. Not loving the Buffalo cold game at all, and Golladay would get Tre’Davious White. Week 16 KG gets Xavier Rhodes…not good either. A bad schedule to finish for Golladay/Stafford. Should keep Bruce Ellington perked up.
Week 14-16 for LAR is @CHI, PHI, @ARI. Week 14 is a bad matchup for offense + the cold. Don’t like Week 14 at all.
Last season, Week 16, Goff faced tough Tennessee in 39 degrees/felt like under 30 with 11 MPH winds. Goff threw for 301 yards and 4 TDs/0 INT. He has one cold game in the NFL, and it was sweet…BUT this is the Bears defense, not Tennessee.
Snap Counts of Interest:
54 = Toilolo
50 = L Willson
70 = Golladay
50 = TJ Jones
38 = Ellington
47 = Higbee
24 = Everett