Wed Nov 24 10:00pm ET
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) passes as San Francisco 49ers defensive back K'Waun Williams (24) applies pressure during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) At least until the past two games, Matthew Stafford had smoothly handled just about every aspect of the enormous adjustment in moving from the Detroit Lions to the Los Angeles Rams.
This week, he faces another new challenge: A Thanksgiving without a football game to play.
''I loved playing on Thanksgiving,'' Stafford said after practice on a 77-degree Wednesday with the Rams (7-3), who travel to Green Bay on Sunday. ''For the tradition, for the game, for all of that, but also ... because I was back in my house at 5, 5:30. Could have a normal Thanksgiving meal, watch some football with your family. Almost felt like a fan for a little while. And then it was fun having the next couple of days off so you could eat leftovers.''
Stafford grew to enjoy the Lions' annual fixture of a holiday game on a short week, but he's got plenty of work to do this week with the Rams, who are on the first losing streak of his tenure.
Back-to-back defeats heading into their bye week have forced the Rams to take stock of themselves after an eight-game start in which Stafford appeared to be capable of leading this team to the Super Bowl with a supporting cast and a coaching staff to maximize his talents.
Stafford passed for 309.6 yards per game with 22 touchdowns, four interceptions and a 118.0 rating in the Rams' first eight games. His play in a new offensive system was undeniably impressive and worthy of MVP discussion.
In Los Angeles' two losses since, Stafford has passed for 268.5 yards per game with two touchdowns, four interceptions and a 69.4 rating while getting sacked seven times. Those four interceptions were critical: Stafford made glaring mistakes on three of the picks, and two of the four were returned for touchdowns that contributed to putting Los Angeles in a hole it couldn't escape.
Fixing those problems at Lambeau Field is a particularly difficult task, as the quarterback knows well. Stafford faced the Packers 20 times during his dozen seasons with Detroit, going 7-13 with 37 touchdown passes - the most he has thrown against any opponent - and 20 interceptions. Stafford and Aaron Rodgers went head-to-head 16 times, with the Packers winning 12 of those.
''It's one of my favorite places to play in the NFL,'' Stafford said. ''Got to do it a bunch of times. Played some fun snow games. I loved playing in the snow there. That's what you dream about as a kid, is getting to play the Packers at Lambeau Field in the snow. Don't think it's going to snow this week, but it's going to be nice and chilly this week, which is always fun.''
The Rams' solid foundation has moved under their feet in the past few weeks, particularly with Robert Woods' season-ending injury and the arrival of Odell Beckham Jr. Stafford and Beckham and working to establish a connection quickly before arriving at Lambeau Field.
As they began their Packers preparation, Stafford, coach Sean McVay and offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell all pointed to the glaring obvious reason for the Rams' only defeats this season: The Rams committed more turnovers than their opponents in their three losses, and they didn't in their seven wins.
O'Connell repeatedly pointed out fundamental areas for improvement in the past two games, most related to winning the turnover battle and not falling into early deficits.
''We've got to get off to better starts on early downs and be efficient,'' O'Connell said. ''I think we can kind of, as a group, coaches included, we can all get into a rhythm early and figure out how we want to attack opponents.''
NOTES: LB Leonard Floyd felt ill and missed practice. The pass-rushing specialist incurred a concussion in the Rams' last game, but McVay remains optimistic Floyd can play Sunday. ... CB Dont'e Deayon didn't participate in practice with a thigh injury, but he attended the workout.
New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin has seen four or more targets in three of his last four games. Sadly, Griffin has only surpassed 30 receiving yards in one of those contests. The good news is, his workload has increased with Tyler Kroft (chest) unavailable. Although, the lack of yardage does make Griffin a tough fantasy option. He should be able to find some success against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. However, Griffin isn't anything more than a deep league option. It's unlikely that he gets heavily involved in the passing attack.
New York Giants rookie wide receiver Kadarius Toney (oblique, quadriceps) was working on a side field again on Thursday with a trainer and seems doubtful to play in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins. It's Toney's second straight day of missed practice after he was inactive in the Week 12 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The first-round pass-catcher has looked electric with the ball in his hands at times this year, but the problem is the Giants offense as a whole has mostly been beat up this year and has never really hit its stride. Fantasy managers should obviously look to pivot away from Toney this weekend, especially with Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) trending towards playing after a long layoff. In his first nine games, Toney has 35 catches for 392 yards and no touchdowns on 48 targets.
New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios put together a couple surprisingly solid performances to begin the season. However, his fantasy appeal has disappeared since then. In fact, Berrios has three or less targets in every game since Week 3. Last week, Berrios hauled in two receptions for 47 yards in the win over the Houston Texans. He could be involved with Corey Davis (groin) banged up and Keelan Cole Sr. (Covid) sidelined. That being said, Berrios could see more action than normal during the Week 13 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. At the moment, Berrios isn't someone worth starting in almost any formats. Berrios should be more involved, assuming Davis sits out alongside Cole. However, it sounds like Davis should suit up, which means Berrios might only see a handful of targets at best.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) is doing light work at practice on Thursday and has an outside chance to play in Week 13 against the Miami Dolphins. Shepard was listed as not practicing on Wednesday, so this represents some progress. But it's also not a ringing endorsement to consider him in fantasy lineups this weekend, since Shepard has been out since suffering his quad injury in Week 8. The 28-year-old was involved heavily in the passing attack in his first five games of the season, but there's a good chance that he'll have his snaps limited if he's back on Sunday against the Dolphins. That'll make him a pretty risky WR4/flex if he's active this weekend.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder is coming off his worst game of the season. Last week, he hauled in his lone target for five yards in the win. To be fair, it's not all his fault with quarterback Zach Wilson only targeting him once. Possibly, the chemistry between the two isn't there yet. That being said, Crowder could have a tough time finding success against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. A defense that has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to wideouts this season. Wilson appears to be in line for another start, so Crowder could be looking at another dud. At this point, Crowder is basically a desperation flex option in PPR formats.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (heel, knee) did not practice on Thursday after he was limited on Wednesday. It's unclear yet if the Jaguars were just resting Robinson on Thursday or if he actually had a setback with heel and knee injuries that he's been managing in recent weeks. Regardless, fantasy managers should be on the lookout for an update on his status, but if he misses another practice on Friday, it will likely be Carlos Hyde time on Sunday in the Week 13 meeting with the Los Angeles Rams. If Robinson is active, he'll be on the RB1/2 borderline against Los Angeles, a defense that has allowed just over 100 yards rushing per game to their opponents. Hyde had a season-high 21 carries in Week 9 when Robinson sat out, but he gained just 3.19 yards per carry and has a low fantasy ceiling even with a starter's workload.
New York Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore has been much more involved in the offense since the Week 6 bye. In fact, Moore has seen six or more targets in each of his last five games. That trend should continue against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. A defense that ranks 23rd in pass DVOA this season. This certainly appears to be a favorable matchup for Moore despite him and quarterback Zach Wilson having little playing time together. That being said, Moore is worth a look as a flex play in most fantasy formats for this Week 13 matchup.
The Pittsburgh Steelers placed linebacker Robert Spillane on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. Spillane has played in 10 games for the Steelers this year, with just one start. He's recorded 17 tackles (one for a loss). Offensive lineman Joe Haeg and linebacker T.J. Watt were placed on the COVID-19 list earlier this week. The 25-year-old Spillane has also been dealing with a knee injury, so even if he clears the league's COVID-19 protocols, he may not be available to return in Week 14 next Thursday when Pittsburgh takes on the Minnesota Vikings. If Watt ends up missing this Sunday's game against the division-rival Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers defensive unit in fantasy could struggle.
New York Jets running back Ty Johnson saw only six carries despite Michael Carter (ankle) being out last week. Although, those six carries were actually Johnson's highest total since Week 2. Despite that, Johnson wasn't able to do much with his chances with Tevin Coleman and Austin Walter getting a majority of the carries. It's uncertain if Walter will play during the Week 13 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. His absence could mean more chances for Johnson. Although, there's not a lot of upside for Johnson with Zach Wilson under center. Fantasy managers should consider him a low-end flex option in deep leagues. There's PPR value here with Johnson, but his workload is uncertain.
Miami Dolphins running back Phillip Lindsay (ankle) was not seen at practice on Thursday at the portion open to the media. Lindsay was a limited practice participant on Wednesday, so this would represent a downgrade if he in fact is listed as missing Thursday's session. Friday will be big for the former Houston Texan and Denver Broncos as the Dolphins head into their Week 13 game against the New York Giants. The 27-year-old played 20% of the offensive snaps in his team debut in the Week 12 win over the Carolina Panthers, seeing a season-high 12 carries for 42 yards. That's a good sign for Lindsay, but Myles Gaskin remains Miami's lead back. If Lindsay cannot play this Sunday, Salvon Ahmed, who played 18% of the snaps and had five carries, will see more playing time as Gaskin's backup.
New York Jets running back Tevin Coleman took over the lead back job for last week's matchup against the Houston Texans. He rushed 11 times for 67 yards and hauled in two receptions for three additional yards. It was surprisingly a decent outing from Coleman, but fantasy managers shouldn't get too excited. The Jets offensive line is horrendous and it was tough for Michael Carter (ankle) to have any success when he was healthy. His absence should mean another start for Coleman, but it doesn't guarantee success. The Philadelphia Eagles are ranked 16th in rush DVOA this season. This isn't a favorable matchup, but Coleman does have some deep league flex appeal for this Week 13 matchup. The touches should be there without Carter available, but the results are tough to predict.
Washington Football Team running back J.D. McKissic (concussion) is in the league's concussion protocol and didn't practice for a second straight day on Thursday. McKissic scored the team's only two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) in the Monday night win over the Seattle Seahawks, but he suffered a head/neck injury late in the game and is now seriously in danger of missing the Week 13 contest against the Las Vegas Raiders. Antonio Gibson would be in line for a huge workload against a vulnerable Raiders run defense if McKissic is unable to play, giving him easy RB1 upside. Rookie Jaret Patterson would see a bigger role behind Gibson if McKissic is unable to play, but it's debatable whether he'll have standalone value. Friday's practice will be big for McKissic's weekend status.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (ankle) said he feels good and expects to play on Sunday in a plus matchup against the Jets. With Jalen Hurts (ankle) also battling an ankle injury, head coach Nick Sirianni had mentioned that Hurts would likely run less this weekend. That would likely mean more carries for Sanders and Boston Scott, especially with Jordan Howard still banged up and unlikely to play. Given the strong matchup, both Sanders and Scott could be started this weekend, with Sanders being a risky RB2 option with clear upside.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) was able to fully practice on Wednesday. That means, Wilson should be in line to start against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 13. Last week, Wilson put together a lackluster performance against the below average Houston Texans pass defense. It's unlikely going to get better against the Eagles despite them being ranked 23rd in pass DVOA this season. There should be better streaming options in just about every fantasy format. Wilson is a desperation option, but it's hard to imagine many worse options right now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (ankle) was not seen at practice on Thursday as he continues to struggle coming back from an ankle injury. At this point, it would be safe to assume that Brown will miss Sunday's game against the Falcons, which will mean Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski continue to hog almost all of the receiving work. The Bucs have another good matchup against the Falcons this week and with the passing game taking a backseat in last week's win, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Bucs come out and allow Tom Brady to sling the ball around the field. As with every week, you should start Brady and all three of receiving options with confidence.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (neck) looks like he may be trending towards playing on Sunday against the Dolphins. Interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens said he expects Jones to practice today "like regular times." Obviously, we'll need to monitor practice to ensure that's the case, but Jones was able to finish the game last week, so it's entirely possible. With Sterling Shepard also working himself back from injury, Jones could be a playable option in two-quarterback leagues against a Miami secondary that has been friendly to opposing passing games despite playing better of late. Still, with Jones likely not 100% and Miami's defense playing much better lately, Jones wouldn't be a streaming option outside of deeper leagues.
The New Orleans Saints ruled out Alvin Kamara (knee), offensive tackles Ryan Ramczyk (knee), and Terron Armstead in Thursday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. Kamara was initially listed as questionable, but the Saints ultimately decided to play it safe and rule the star running back out. The 26-year-old will miss his fourth consecutive game with a knee sprain. His next chance to return will be next Sunday against the New York Jets. This week, Mark Ingram II (knee) was a full participant in practice and will lead the Saints backfield against the Cowboys. The 31-year-old was cleared to play after he missed the Thanksgiving game loss to the Buffalo Bills with a knee injury. Ingram is a mid-range RB2 against a Dallas defense that ranks fourth in rush DVOA this season.
New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara (knee) has been ruled out for Week 13.
Fantasy Spin: Mark Ingram had 16 rushes for 88 yards and six grabs for 25 yards last week. He'll be an RB2 again this week.
Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen has just eight catches for 135 yards and no touchdowns in the last three games against the Detroit Lions the last two seasons.
Fantasy Spin: This could mean absolutely nothing as Thielen is seventh in fantasy points at the position in PPR leagues. He's going to start for you no matter what, but it's worth investigating if he's bottled up again.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin is coming off a modest performance in the Week 12 win over the Indianapolis Colts. He caught four of five targets for 24 yards and lost a fumble in last Sunday's win. The 25-year-old will look to bounce back in week 13 against a Falcons defense that ranks 30th in DVOA against WR2s. Godwin has been excellent this season, hauling in 67 catches for 805 yards and five touchdowns over 11 games in 2021. The Penn State product is a low-end WR1 in a plus matchup against a Falcons defense that surrenders the 10th most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.