Last updated: December 18th at 6:33am ET.
Team Totals: 49ers 25.5, Rams 19.5
Their Weeks 13-14 hot run exposed as small-sample fraudulent in last week’s blowout loss at Dallas, the Rams enter another trouble spot Saturday night in the Bay Area. For Jared Goff, the good news is San Francisco’s defense has sprung leaks caused by injuries to CB Richard Sherman (hamstring), DE Dee Ford (hamstring), NT D.J. Jones (ankle), SS Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), CB K’Waun Williams (concussion), MLB Kwon Alexander (ACL), and DE Ronald Blair (ACL), most of whom will miss Saturday night. The bad news is top CB Sherman is on track to return, RE Nick Bosa, DT DeForest Buckner, and LE Arik Armstead remain capable of creating up-front havoc, and Goff’s passer rating nosedives from 99.1 when kept clean to an abysmal 56.8 under pressure, while Goff’s yards per attempt dip from 8.14 at home to 6.94 on the road. It certainly doesn’t help that Goff will play through “stiffness” in his right (throwing) thumb after smacking it on LT Andrew Whitworth‘s helmet last week. … Todd Gurley maintained bellcow usage in Week 15’s defeat, setting or equaling year highs in playing time (96%) and routes run (51) and essentially luckboxing a useful fantasy game with a garbage-time touchdown and ensuing two-point conversion to “cut” the Cowboys lead to 37-15. Nevertheless, Gurley’s every-down role, San Francisco’s defensive depletion, and McVay’s commitment to leaving in his first-team skill players during blowouts keep Gurley in the RB1 crosshairs. Gurley is averaging 19.6 touches over Los Angeles’ last five games.
Goff’s Weeks 12-15 target distribution: Robert Woods 45; Tyler Higbee 39; Cooper Kupp 26; Brandin Cooks 16; Gurley 15; Josh Reynolds 10; Johnny Mundt 4; Gerald Everett 2. … Woods entered Week 15 as one of football’s hottest receivers, only to exit with a 4/17/0 clunker. Woods dropped a pass and was tackled almost instantly by a Cowboys defender whenever he got the ball. It’s also slightly concerning that San Francisco held Woods catch-less in these clubs’ Week 6 date. Still averaging 11.2 targets over his last five games, Woods is at worst an upside WR3 play in Saturday night’s rematch. … Legitimately the NFL’s hottest tight end, Higbee visits San Francisco coming off three straight 100-plus-yard games while leading all players at his position in targets (33), catches (26), yards (334), and yards after catch (168) during that span. The 49ers’ tight end defense isn’t nearly as imposing without Tartt, and Higbee will rarely come off the field if Everett (knee) remains sidelined here. … Kupp’s Week 15 snaps returned to normalcy (92%) following Week 14’s opponent-specific hiccup, and he’s now reached pay dirt in three straight games. While clearly not the every-week WR1 Kupp teased in the season’s first half, he remains a quality WR3 with WR2 upside against San Francisco’s injury-riddled back seven. … Cooks led the Rams in Week 15 Air Yards (100) but is scoreless since Week 2 with fewer than 60 yards in eight straight. He is tied for fifth on the Rams in red-zone targets this year (4). Cooks is a Hail Mary WR4/flex best deployed on Saturday-only DFS-tournament slates. … Reynolds played 37% of the Rams’ Week 15 offensive snaps.
Favored by nearly a touchdown at home, Raheem Mostert projects to spend his third straight game as 49ers lead back against a Rams defense Seahawks and Cowboys backs obliterated for 52/326/3 (6.27 YPC) rushing in the last two weeks. Matt Breida hurt himself with two Week 15 fumbles – one lost – while Tevin Coleman flubbed a blitz pickup and touched the ball four times. With touch counts of 21 > 12 > 15 on snap rates of 73% > 59% > 53% in Weeks 13-15, Mostert warrants RB2 utility in this plus spot. … A wildly uneven fantasy scorer even as his on-field play improves late in the year, Jimmy Garoppolo is best treated as a boom-bust option against a Rams defense that’s held 11-of-14 quarterbacks faced to box-score outcomes of QB15 or worse. Garoppolo has flashed upside with four top-six fantasy results, but he’s finished QB16 or lower in 9-of-14 games and draws a suboptimal matchup on Saturday night.
Jimmy G’s Weeks 13-15 target distribution: George Kittle 29; Emmanuel Sanders 19; Deebo Samuel 15; Kendrick Bourne 9; Mostert 6; Kyle Juszczyk 5; Breida 3; Coleman 2. … Wade Phillips’ Rams defense has consistently lacked answers for Kittle, who drilled Los Angeles for receiving lines of 9/149/1 > 5/98/1 > 4/100/0 in these teams’ last three meetings. The Cowboys’ far-inferior tight ends tagged Phillips’ unit for 6/76/1 receiving on eight targets last week. … With fewer than 25 yards in 3-of-8 games but a pair of eruptions mixed in, Sanders has defined boom-bust WR3 since joining the 49ers. He’s still topped 60 yards just twice since Week 4. Sanders is also the Niners’ likeliest wideout to command Jalen Ramsey’s shadow coverage, although Ramsey has been far from a shutdown force with L.A. … Samuel has four targets or fewer in three of San Francisco’s last four games, his usage diminishing as Kittle and Sanders overcome midseason injuries. As the No. 3 pass option on a run-first, defense-oriented team, Samuel is a boom-bust WR4/flex option more worthy of consideration on Saturday-only DFS slates. … Held to 42 yards or fewer in eight straight weeks, Bourne is an entirely touchdown-or-bust dart throw each week.
Score Prediction: 49ers 24, Rams 20