Odell Beckham Jr. in, Robert Woods out for the season and Von Miller a maybe for Monday Night Football. Quite a bit going on with the Rams as they travel up the coast to San Francisco.
I expect this guy to be a favorite DFS play in Monday’s DraftKings Showdown. With Robert Woods on the shelf and Odell Beckham Jr. having limited time to work with his new team before this contest, Matthew Stafford will need to rely on the other pass-catchers he’s worked with all season. Higbee has been one of those guys, especially in the red zone.
Cooper Kupp, of course, has been Stafford’s favorite receiver to target in that area of the field (14-for-21 with nine touchdowns), but Woods (9-for-16 for four touchdowns) was his second-favorite target in the red zone to this point. However, Higbee (8-for-13 for two touchdowns) has the second-best red zone catch percentage (61.54%) on the team — only to Kupp (66.67%) — and ranks third on the team in red zone targets.
San Francisco has only given up three touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season, but opposing quarterbacks have been able to hit their big-bodied targets pretty much at will vs. the 49ers. Opposing tight ends have logged 30 receptions on 42 targets vs. San Francisco this season.
Stafford has gone over this number six times in nine games for the Rams. The last time he went under was Week 6, when he only managed a season-low 251 yards. In the other two instances Stafford went under DraftKings Sportsbook’s passing yards total for this Monday Night Football matchup, the L.A. quarterback logged 278 and 280 yards.
Couple that with the fact the 49ers are 25th in pass DVOA, and the over on Stafford’s passing yards prop becomes a no-brainer. As much as losing Woods hurts, Stafford still has other quality targets. And if the Rams can even just unleash Beckham on a handful of plays, Stafford is going to have himself a day.
Also worth noting: San Francisco is sixth in rush DVOA. Not that I expect the 49ers to shut down Darrell Henderson Jr., but the fact the 49ers are solid against the ground attack should only provide Stafford more chances to let loose.
Unlike the 49ers, L.A. has been much tougher on the passing game this season, ranking fifth in pass DVOA. But opposing tight ends have been able to make some noise vs. the Rams throughout the season. While only two individual tight ends have eclipsed the 60-yard mark in a game vs. the Rams this season, we’ve seen opposing tight end pairings reel in 60-plus yards four times in nine games — of course, the tight end targets don’t exactly get split up evenly between Kittle and his teammates who also play tight end. The position, on the whole, has averaged 60.89 yards per game and 10.34 yards per reception vs. L.A.
Backing Kittle to score a touchdown (+180) or register six-plus receptions (+115) offer more value. But as much as he scored in his return from IR, the San Francisco tight end hadn’t logged one touchdown in the four games before his injury — and he had no shortage of targets in those games. That said, Week 9 was only the second time in five games Kittle has logged six-plus receptions. But, he’s still managed over 60 yards in three of those contests.
Jimmy Garoppolo may be in a groove, but his back-to-back 300-yard games only mean so much. The Cardinals obliterated San Francisco last time out, and logging 300 passing yards vs. the Bears doesn’t have the same meaning it might have in other years. I have a hard time imagining what he’s done is going to manifest into anything meaningful against the team ranked fifth in pass DVOA.
On the other side, losing Woods absolutely hurts. Beckham should help make up for that in a more impactful way in the long haul, but he can absolutely serve a purpose vs. the 49ers. Even still, Kupp, Higbee and Van Jefferson make a strong trio of pass-catchers, plus a sprinkling of Henderson (on top of what he provides on the ground).
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