Last updated: November 7th at 6:15pm ET
Team Totals: Rams 23.5, Steelers 20.5
Jared Goff returns from the Rams’ bye for a worrisome spot based on his negative road splits and inability to function under pressure. Goff’s TD-to-INT ratio and YPA fall from 36:9 and 8.91 at home to 21:17 and 7.42 in away games over the past two seasons – averaging 9.2 fewer fantasy points outside of L.A. – while Pittsburgh’s 2019 defense ranks top five in sack rate (8.9%) and No. 1 in QB Hit Rate (19.6%). Whereas the Steelers’ D/ST is an underrated play, Goff is a low-floor QB1 option. … With Malcolm Brown due back from his pre-bye ankle injury and bursty rookie Darrell Henderson earning a defined change-up role, this matchup is also concerning for Todd Gurley visiting the run-tough Steelers, who’ve stymied enemy backs for 181/695/4 (3.84 YPC) rushing. Held to 70 total yards or fewer in every game since Week 1, Gurley’s fantasy production has been almost entirely tied to touchdowns, and Pittsburgh has allowed just four all-purpose running back TDs in eight games. Gurley is a low-floor RB2 option.
Goff’s 2019 target distribution: Cooper Kupp 87; Robert Woods 60; Brandin Cooks 45; Gerald Everett 44; Gurley 24; Tyler Higbee 23; Josh Reynolds 18; Henderson 6; Brown 3. … Kupp easily draws the Rams’ best Week 10 skill-player matchup; Pittsburgh’s biggest pass-defense deficiency is on interior routes, where it’s permitted 585 yards and six TDs on 80 slot targets (7.3 YPA) this year. Kupp has topped 100 yards in 5-of-8 games and has a combined 98/1,358/11 receiving line over his last 16. … Perimeter-oriented WRs Woods and Reynolds will have their hands full with stingy Steelers outside CBs Joe Haden and Steven Nelson, who’ve collectively allowed just 453 yards and three TDs on 66 targets (6.86 YPA). Cooks is likely facing an extended absence after suffering his fifth-known concussion since 2015 and second this season. Ultimately, Woods and Reynolds are chase-opportunity, fade-matchup plays at Heinz Field. As Cooks exited Los Angeles’ pre-bye win over Cincinnati early, Reynolds drew eight targets and led the Rams in Air Yards (138), playing 88% of the team’s offensive snaps. … An alternative Sean McVay could take against the Steelers would be implementing more two-tight end sets rather than plug-and-playing Reynolds straight up for Cooks. Steelers opponents are 40-of-53 passing (75%) for 398 yards (7.51 YPA) and five touchdowns when targeting tight ends over Pittsburgh’s last seven games. Everett has been a hit-or-miss TE1 all year, but there is a conceivable path for this to be a boom week for him.
With James Conner (shoulder) slated to sit again, Benny Snell still recovering from a knee scope, and Week 9 sledgehammer Trey Edmunds (ribs) banged up, the Steelers will turn to Jaylen Samuels for feature-back usage against the Rams. Although Los Angeles has limited enemy backs to 3.81 yards per carry, run-defense strengths and weaknesses are far less relevant for Samuels than most runners due to his pass-catching prowess. In six career games where he’s played at least 45% of Pittsburgh’s offensive snaps, Samuels’ receiving lines are 13/73/0 > 8/57/0 > 7/40/0 > 3/11/1 > 2/30/0 > 7/64/0. A locked-in RB1 in PPR leagues, Samuels played 65% of last week’s snaps and should veer into the 80% range this week based on Edmunds’ compromised health. … Mason Rudolph has cemented himself as a low-end two-QB-league play lacking any hint of rushing value and failing to eclipse 251 passing yards in all of his five starts. 6-of-8 quarterbacks to face the Rams’ defense have logged QB15 fantasy results or worse.
Rudolph’s 2019 target distribution: JuJu Smith-Schuster 34; Diontae Johnson 29; Samuels 24; James Washington 21; Vance McDonald 19; Conner 15; Nick Vannett 6. … The relative box-score success of fellow slot WRs Chris Godwin (12/172/2), Tyler Boyd (6/65/0), Tyler Lockett (4/51/1), and Dante Pettis (3/45/0) against the Rams within L.A.’s last five games should give JuJu Week 10 bounce-back hope after last week’s 16-yard clunker. Nevertheless, Smith-Schuster’s extreme volume departure from last year has pushed him into risky WR2/3 range regardless of matchup. … Johnson’s big-play-dependency caught up with him versus Indianapolis’ big-play-preventing zone, managing three yards on two Week 9 targets. This week’s matchup isn’t better; the Rams have allowed the league’s fourth-fewest completions of 20-plus yards (18), while Johnson is likelier to encounter Jalen Ramsey on the perimeter than is JuJu in the slot. Ramsey has played 94% of his snaps outside since joining the Rams. … Coach Mike Tomlin praised Washington for making contested catches en route to a season-high 69 yards against the Colts last week, yet Washington played his fewest snaps of the year (43%) and remains scoreless through eight games. He’s tough to trust in any fantasy format. … McDonald parlayed an 81% snap rate and seven targets into last week’s 5/30/1 receiving line and catches another plus draw in Week 10. Via George Kittle (8/103/0), Will Dissly (4/81/0), Tyler Eifert (6/74/0), Austin Hooper (4/46/1), and Cameron Brate (3/36/1), the Rams have been slammed for top-12 fantasy tight end scores in five straight games.
Score Prediction: Steelers 21, Rams 20