Last updated: September 12th at 2:30pm ET
Team Totals: Rams 27.5, Saints 24.5
The Rams return home looking to rebound from last week’s dismal offensive effort in which Jared Goff’s negative road splits reared their ugly head and Los Angeles eked out a three-point win thanks largely to Panthers turnovers. A California native who attended Cal-Berkeley, Goff was infinitely better at home in L.A. all last season with a 22:3 TD-to-INT ratio, 9.03 yards per attempt, and 342.1 passing yards per game. Goff also faced the Saints twice, combining to complete 53-of-80 throws (66.3%) for 688 yards (8.60 YPA), four touchdowns, two picks, and 27 rushing yards. New Orleans surrendered Week 1’s QB4 fantasy result to Deshaun Watson. In Week 2’s second-highest-totaled game, Goff should be restored as a locked-in QB1 and considered in DFS-tournament stacks with Cooper Kupp. … Todd Gurley is a screaming sell in season-long leagues after an overwhelmingly discouraging opener where he ran well late in the game but was on a highly restrictive load-management plan. He didn’t touch the ball once in the red zone, was vultured twice by Malcolm Brown, and drew one target among Goff’s 40 dropbacks in Carolina. Gurley can still be an effective real-life player for the Rams, but his loss of money touches in scoring position and the passing game are huge fantasy red flags, capping his ceiling in RB2 territory. Brown is a touchdown-or-bust flex option. Darrell Henderson played two snaps and is an RB4/5 stash.
Goff’s Week 1 target distribution: Robert Woods 13; Cooper Kupp 10; Brandin Cooks 6; Tyler Higbee 5; Gurley and Gerald Everett 1. … As usual, Woods is a WR2 floor play facing New Orleans after managing stat lines of 5/71/0 and 6/33/0 against them in last season’s two meetings. Including playoffs, Woods does have at least five catches in 16 of his last 19 games (84%) and is less likely than Cooks to draw Saints top CB Marshon Lattimore’s coverage. … Kupp is my favorite DFS-stack partner with Goff because Kupp played 89% of the Rams’ offensive snaps in his first game back from last year’s ACL tear, draws burnable Saints CB P.J. Williams in the slot, and has home-away splits that align with Goff’s. Since Sean McVay took over the Rams, Kupp averages 23.5 more yards and 4.3 more PPR points at home. … Cooks has played four career “revenge games” against teams that traded him, in them logging stat lines of 8/120 > 7/107/0 > 6/114/1 > 2/37/0. As DeAndre Hopkins showed last Monday night, Lattimore is hardly an invincible foe. In his career, Cooks averages 0.62 touchdowns per game at home versus just 0.29 TDs on the road. Needless to say, Cooks is a critical component of Saints-Rams game stacks in DFS. … Avoid chasing Higbee’s 4/20/1 Opening Day receiving line after he ran just 15 routes to Everett’s 19.
In last Monday night’s shootout thriller versus the Texans, Alvin Kamara reinforced why he belonged as a top-three fantasy pick by out-touching Latavius Murray 20 to 8 and out-snapping him 76% to 27% as the Saints played from behind. New Orleans again projects to trail in Los Angeles as a three-point road dog. Although Kamara’s workload won’t be as high as CMC’s, the Panthers provided a Week 1 template to attack Rams DC Wade Phillips’ unit with their own all-purpose back as Christian McCaffrey dumped 209 yards from scrimmage and two scores on L.A. … Murray still paid flex dividends with 47 yards and a touchdown against Houston but will be a more-bankable play in games where the Saints are protecting leads. His Week 2 floor is too low for comfort. … This game’s shootout potential keeps Drew Brees in QB1 play, but his negative road splits deserve mentioning. Brees’ TD-to-INT ratio dove from 21:1 to 11:4 moving from the Superdome elsewhere last season, and his yards per attempt sank from 9.5 to 6.9.
Brees’ Week 1 target distribution: Michael Thomas 13; Kamara 8; Ted Ginn 7; Murray and Jared Cook 3; Tre’Quan Smith and Taysom Hill 2; Josh Hill 1. … Thomas reaved souls in last Week 9’s Rams matchup (12/211/1), then was shut down in their playoff rematch (4/36/0) as Phillips refused to let Thomas beat him. The Saints added weapons in the offseason to relieve the pressure on Thomas, and he came out like gangbusters last Monday night (10/123/0). There aren’t five better WR1 plays than Thomas in this projected shootout. … Ginn was also extremely sharp in last week’s win over the Texans (7/101/0) and maintains WR4/flex viability in this likely up-tempo affair. Ginn’s draw is toughest among Saints pass catchers, however, facing LCB Aqib Talib and RCB Marcus Peters outside. … Smith surprisingly operated as New Orleans’ primary slot receiver in Week 1, running nearly 60% of his routes inside yet managing an uninspiring 4.6% target share. Smith looks like he’ll be a boom-bust, probably touchdown-dependent dart throw moving forward. … Cook’s Week 1 usage was slightly discouraging. A top-eight tight end pick by ADP, Cook was largely ignored in the passing game and finished 11th among NFL tight ends in routes run. Cook did miss time late in training camp with an undisclosed injury. At least for this week, I’d be willing to play guys like Darren Waller and T.J. Hockenson over Cook, then reevaluate entering Week 3.
Score Prediction: Rams 28, Saints 23