In Week 13, the Patriots (6-6) posted one of the oddest box scores you will ever see. They crushed the Chargers, 45-0, despite gaining just 291 total yards. Touchdowns off of a punt return and a blocked field goal gave the Pats all the “offense” they needed. Quarterback Cam Newton threw for fewer than 100 yards for the second straight game. But he connected with N’Keal Harry for a score and also ran for two short TDs. Running back Damien Harris grinded out 80 yards on 16 carries, but no other Patriot running back or receiver achieved even 60 yards from scrimmage.
The Rams (8-4) rebounded from their Week 12 clunker to beat the Cardinals in Arizona, 38-28. Quarterback Jared Goff was on point, completing 37 of 47 throws for 351 yards and one score. That touchdown went to tight end Tyler Higbee. The Rams’ leading wideouts, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, were very serviceable in PPR formats. Kupp caught eight of nine targets for 73 yards. Woods was just a bit better, securing 10 of 11 targets for 85 yards. The biggest development for fantasy owners was the apparent separation in the Rams’ backfield. While Darrell Henderson Jr. and Malcolm Brown took on just three carries each, rookie Cam Akers handled 21 carries and ran for 72 yards plus a touchdown.
Date: Thursday, Dec. 10
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Channel: FOX, NFL Network, Amazon
Notable Statistical rankings (Football Outsiders)
Patriots: #21 Overall — #23 offense, #23 defense, #3 special teams
Rams: #6 Overall — #4 offense, #5 defense, #30 special teams
Fantasy football start/sit advice
Cam Newton, QB, $5,900
Although Cam has completely cratered as a passer, Week 13 was evidence why he still requires fantasy consideration. He’s on pace for 15 rushing scores, which would break his own league record of 14 rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season. Russell Wilson ran for 60 yards against this Rams defense just a few weeks ago, so there is potential here. But unlike Wilson, Newton is a probable bust if he doesn’t run across the goal line once or twice. Buy at your own risk.
Damien Harris, RB, $5,300
With that passing game being non-existent, Harris is maybe the only other Patriot of interest for fantasy owners. Week 13 provided him with the perfect game script as New England led from the start, allowing him to stay on the field and eat up carries. Sony Michel returned to the lineup and got 10 carries, but most of them came after halftime (aka, garbage time). If the Patriots can stay ahead of the chains and the Rams, Harris could be worthwhile as an RB2 or flex in season-long formats. But in DraftKings’ PPR format, Harris is a low-floor, low-ceiling afterthought as he has caught only four passes all year. This matchup also isn’t in Harris’ favor; Los Angeles is allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to RBs.
Cooper Kupp, WR, $6,500
The Patriots will try to take away either Kupp or Woods, but it’s difficult to guess which one. Kupp is cheaper on DraftKings by $200 even though he has tallied double-digit DraftKings points in five of his last six games. He has averaged 10 targets per game and seen a 23.6 percent target share during that span. Kupp’s ability to move all around the formation makes him a tough player to shadow. He should be able to get open often enough against New England.
Cam Akers, RB, $5,200
This once-nebulous backfield now seems to have some order. Akers played a season-high 63 percent of the snaps against the Cardinals while Henderson and Brown were on the field for 22 and 16 percent of the snaps, respectively. Brown hasn’t been a factor for close to a month, and although Henderson ran for a 38-yard TD late in Week 13, he hasn’t topped 10 carries in a game since Week 7. The Rams deployed Akers as their clear lead back, and he has gained 156 rushing yards over 30 carries through the past two weeks. He’s a fine play against the Patriots’ so-so run defense.