2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 14: Rams 30, Cardinals 23 (By Ross Jacobs)
This was an exciting one that also had massive implications for seeding in the NFC.
The Cardinals started off the game with a sack and false start. Things were already looking bleak, but then Kyler got in gear and drove the team down for a FG. They would stop the Rams first drive and promptly drive down looking to extend their lead.
Instead, Kyler was intercepted at about the 5 yard line and the Rams returned it for good field position. It was a momentous play and set the tone for the rest of the night. Watching live I thought Kyler just never saw the linebacker, but after watching it back the pass was tipped. Just an unfortunate play that ultimately proved to be a 14 point swing.
The Rams would score after that interception, but the Cardinals weren't about to roll over. The Rams got up 10-3 but the Cardinals fought back to tie the game with yet another James Conner 1-yard TD run. A pair of field goals, one from each team, would round out the first half at 13-13.
The first 3 minutes after the half would ultimately cost the Cardinals the game. The Rams got the ball first and hit a fantastic long bomb to Van Jefferson for a score and a 20-13 lead. On the next possession, Kyler rolled out to his left and tried to throw a pass over Leonard Floyd's head but didn't get enough air on the ball and it was intercepted.
The Cardinals defense stopped the Rams after the interception, but a penalty was called on them on 3rd down giving the Rams a new set of first downs. They scored and suddenly it was a 27-13 lead for the Rams.
Arizona still wasn't quitting because they are one of the toughest teams in the league and took the next drive down the field. They got a 4th and 2 inside the 20 yard line but the ball clanked off DeAndre Hopkins's hands for what would have been a tough catch. More points the Cardinals were denied.
They managed to stop the next Rams drive, got the ball back, and this time put it in the endzone to finally cut the lead to 27-20. LA came back with a FG drive and it looked like the game was over with time winding after the Rams stopped the next Cardinals drive.
Arizona somehow got the ball back one last time and they had to have a score. They kicked a FG with about 30 seconds remaining and miraculously got the ball back. They had a pulse.
But as usual it was not to be. A holding call brought back a huge Kyler run on 1st down and Aaron Donald's 3rd sack of the night ended the game.
This loss drops Arizona to 10-3 and they are now the 3rd seed in the NFC with some problems. Losing home field advantage is going to be huge if they have to go to Green Bay for the championship game. They are probably out of the picture for the #1 seed because their remaining schedule is much more difficult than either Green Bay or Tampa's.
Right now though they can't be worried about the top seed because they have to work just to hold off the Rams now. LA is only a half game back and has a slightly easier schedule. My best guess is both teams finish up strong at 3-1 and the Cardinals take the division, but it's not a guarantee now.
My takeaway from this game is that the Cardinals are definitely the superior team. No questions about it. They had multiple things work against them here, poorly timed penalties, failed 4th down conversions, goofy turnovers and none from Stafford who had been handing out pick 6's like candy on Halloween.
Arizona is still right in the mix for best team in the league along with Tampa and Green Bay. It's a shame all three are in the same conference. There are going to be some wild battles between them, and it only gets worse if Dallas can get healthy.
The Rams are definitely in that next tier, good enough to beat anyone on any given day, but just a tick worse than the best teams. You can't count them out, but I have a hard time seeing how they get to the Superbowl because they'll have to win 3 straight games against the best teams. I don't know that they are consistent enough to do that. Consistency is why Tampa and Green Bay are on top right now over Arizona even though I think top to bottom Arizona is likely the best team.
Let's not get too carried away thinking the Rams are suddenly fine though. They got a good win here aided by some good fortune, but it is not guaranteed that they'll beat Seattle this week, especially with so many players battling COVID. If they lose this game then it's a wildcard for sure.
--Kyler Murray (32-49 for 383 yards 0 TD/2 INT, 7-61-0) had a somewhat muted fantasy night, but it was mostly fluky that he didn't score a few TD's. He still threw for nearly 400 yards and would have been at nearly 100 rushing but for a holding call. He's still one of the best fantasy QB's in the game when healthy and I expect him to finish up strong.
--I'm not saying too much here about James Conner (13-31-2, 9-94-0/9) here. You know my stance. The rushing totals tell the true story. He's not a good back. I don't give a damn that he caught a one-handed catch on national tv. That does not automatically make him a good back. He's working for fantasy because he's been the lucky beneficiary of short TD's all season while Edmonds got hurt, and now they think he's an amazing player because he scores, so they are throwing every checkdown pass to him while the defense chases all the actually good players around the field.
It's a joke, a fraud based on circumstances, but it's working so you ride it for now. Just know, Conner is going to be an early 2nd round pick in fantasy drafts next year...if I catch any of you drafting him I'm petitioning RC to kick you out of FFM. I'm not having it.
*RC NOTE: I was thinking about this as James Conner was being inducted into Canton Monday night…
Last year, Kenyan Drake was annoyingly good for Fantasy in a similar way as Conner – lower yards per carry, stuffed too many times on 3rd & 1 and 4th & 1’s but a flurry of short TDs and RB1 status late in the season. At the same time, Chase Edmonds was putting up RB2 numbers as, essentially, a WR playing RB. Once Edmonds went down, Conner has taken the Drake-Edmonds role from 2020 and mashed it together just recently and is grabbing all the FF-gold.
We’ll see if it is Conner or Drake or Edmonds or whomever in 2022, but I think the thing we’ve learned in 2021 and 2020 is that the lead back for Arizona is an FF gold mine – and they will be worth a 2nd-Round redraft pick. I thought that player was gonna be Chase Edmonds to start 2021…and they tried, but it failed into a split role of ‘meh’ but Conner scoring TDs. Now, with Edmonds out, Conner has consolidated all the power…he’s Thanos collecting all those stones (I’m not sure what I’m saying, I don’t really watch those movies…but hopefully it makes sense).
If Conner is the lead back for Arizona in 2022, and Kobra Ky is still there – Conner is a 2nd-round redraft pick, maybe a 1st-rounder.
…thus, I may be petitioned to kick myself out of FFM…that’s trouble for my family to eat in 2022. Can I be kicked out of FFM? Can God create a rock so big He can’t move it? He made James Conner a top 5 PPR asset all of a sudden, so He can do anything.
--Chase Edmonds will play this week, but I don't think it hurts Conner at all. They think he's a star now and are going to give him 70-80% of the touches including all the juicy redzone stuff. Edmonds doesn't look playable to me in championship games unless you are seriously desperate.
At least with mild frauds like Deebo Samuel and Ja'Marr Chase, they have some natural talent. They aren't bad players, just not the gods they are made out to be. Conner isn't good at all. This won't hold up in the long run.
*RC NOTE: Look at the difference of Kenyan Drake in Miami v. Arizona v. now in Las Vegas.
Look at Conner in PIT v. ARI.
It’s ‘Arizona’ to ‘blame’, not Conner. But, in FF…we buy situations as much as player talent…we want both, but if you can only have one…you want the ‘starts at RB for Arizona’ attribute more than ‘runs a fast 40-time at 220 pounds’ (see: Saquon Barkley).
--DeAndre Hopkins went down with a foot injury in this game and he's done for the year. In his place it looks like AJ Green is the top target. Some people are going a little too crazy with this by assuming Green steps into the Hopkins void and takes all those stats, but that line of thinking has two problems. 1. Hopkins hasn't been playing much this year and Green wasn't all that great without him. And 2. Hopkins wasn't getting massive targets when he was healthy.
Kyler is spreading th
e ball around to the open man. Has been all year. Green looks like he's finally developed some chemistry with Kyler though, so he might be the de facto #1, but this isn't prime AJ anymore. He's just ok these days. It's probably good for WR2 numbers to finish out though.
--I'm sorry to dunk on an FFM favorite, but I think I'm losing interest in Rondale Moore. He's not a bust or anything. He looks fine. But I don't see any signs of special like we hoped. He's just another small fast guy out there, and in this offense there's no volume to be had. Kyler is spreading the ball around too much. Unless I see a real push next year I'm moving on to more lucrative pastures. I'd take Elijah Moore over Rondale now heads up.
*RC NOTE: You go where the scouting and real results take you, and I’ve jumped ship to Elijah as my favorite Moore (after Dinty). But I’m ready to jump back on Rondale in a hot minute. He;s starting to flash some subtle signs. Don’t give up on Rondale yet.
--For all the OBJ truthers out there thinking he's a megastar...no, just no. He's still the same overrated guy he was in Cleveland. The offense here is better and he's not the focal point, so he's producing some WR2 stats, but all he's done is replace what Robert Woods was doing. If he's not better than Woods then how is he a superstar?
The TD here was just a simple slant. They force it to him to prove they are smart, not because he's so amazing. And most of his yards came from one shallow cross where his man got caught in traffic and he ran wide open for 40 yards. On his other 5 catches he got a mere 35 yards. I'm sorry, but he's just not that guy anymore. He's just another ok receiver that still can't catch in traffic.
--Sony Michel (20-79-0) looks slow. Maybe it was just the Arizona defense, but I did not like what I saw from him here. If that's the best he can do then this isn't a competition once Henderson comes back. I think Darrell is going to take this job completely once he's healthy. No split.
--Man, Marco Wilson (2 tackles) had a rough day giving up a couple of short TD's that were just out of his reach, but that dude can play. He was a guy RC liked in the draft for his natural movement skills and coverage ability. The only concern was his consistency.
I watched him a lot in this game and it's official, he's very talented and I think the consistency is going to come with time. Give this guy 2-3 years and we might be talking about one of the best corners in the league. He is so smooth and athletic. Just needs to work on his technique more. Great showing Marco.