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Fantasy Football Picks: Cardinals vs. Rams DraftKings NFL DFS MNF Showdown Strategy

Garion Thorne preps you for Monday’s 8:15 p.m. ET Wild Card contest between the Rams and the Cardinals with game-script analysis and Captain’s Picks.

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

If you’re getting a distinct feeling of déjà vu looking at the matchup for the final game of this super-sized Wild Card weekend, you’re not alone. Not only is this Round 3 between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams this season, but we had this exact contest just over a month ago in Week 14 — it was even on Monday Night Football, too.

So who will take the rubber match and meet up Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional Round next week? Let’s break things down from a Showdown perspective.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL Showdown $2.25M Monday Night Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Entry] (ARI vs LAR)




SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

Captain’s Picks

Cooper Kupp ($19,500 CP) - The Cardinals had been an above-average defensive team against opposing wide receivers for the first three quarters of the season, then Kupp broke the secondary in Week 14. I mean, that’s not exactly what happened, but the timelines match up. In a 30-23 victory, Kupp turned a season-high 15 targets into a season-high 13 receptions. He’d end the win with 123 yards, a touchdown and 34.3 DKFP. It was one of five times in 2021-22 that Kupp exceeded 30.0 DKFP and it was part of a finishing kick that saw the former third-round pick eclipse 20.0 DKFP in each of his final six starts of the regular season. For Arizona, it was a sign of things to come. Over their last five contests, the Cardinals surrendered a whopping 73% target share to opposing wideouts, with the likes of Amon-Ra St. Brown, Michael Pittman and Tyler Lockett giving them fits. Suddenly, Arizona’s defense has conceded the fourth-most DKFP per game to opposing WRs, and I don’t think the unit’s luck is going to change in the playoffs. Kupp should eat once again.

Kyler Murray ($16,800 CP) - I can see both side of the argument with Murray’s viability on this slate. On the one hand, the former first-overall pick has tended to struggle in the second-half of seasons and the Rams D/ST ($3,800) has been incredibly stout against opposing QBs. On the other hand, he’s Kyler Murray. The diminutive pivot averaged an impressive 0.59 DKFP per drop back in 2021-22 — the fourth-highest qualified mark in the NFL. Also, while Los Angeles might’ve allowed the fewest passing touchdowns per game of any NFC squad (1.0), Murray offsets that strength with his scrambling ability. In fact, it’s an aspect of Murray’s game which we’ve seen emerge more often as the year’s gone along. After producing just 18.4 rushing yards per start prior to a multi-week injury absence, Murray racked up 46.0 rushing yards per game from Week 13 onward, including 61 yards against this same Rams defense. As long as he’s using his legs, Murray’s a high-ceiling DFS asset.


FLEX Plays

Zach Ertz ($6,200) - The biggest beneficiary of the continued absence of DeAndre Hopkins (knee) is Ertz. In the four games the Cardinals have played since the lost their No. 1 wideout back in Week 14, Ertz has seen target shares of 22%, 33%, 24% and 26%, respectively. In total, the veteran has averaged 10.8 targets and 7.0 receptions per contest within that span; yet his overall fantasy impact has remained low due to a lack of touchdowns. It’s not for lack of trying, though, as Ertz has seen seven red zone targets since Week 15. At some point, you’d have to assume he’s due for a little normalization, especially in a matchup with a team that tends to funnel pass attempts towards the middle of the field. You know, the place where Jalen Ramsey usually isn’t located.

Antoine Wesley ($1,800) - Wesley showed up on the fantasy radar of every person in America after a two-touchdown performance in Week 17, and while it’s unlikely he’ll ever have that type on impact again, the wideout’s recent volume can’t be questioned. Since the Cardinals lost Hopkins — and with Rondale Moore ($4,600; ankle) having missed the past three contests — Wesley’s logged at least 75% of Arizona’s offensive snaps in three of the four games. He’s also seen at least four targets in each of those matchups. If Moore is eventually ruled out once again, Wesley would have to do very little to bring back value at this modest price tag. He’d be difficult to ignore.


Fades

James Conner ($9,400) - Well, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Conner’s a risk solely due to his current game designation. The veteran back is listed as questionable for tonight’s contest after leaving Week 18’s loss to Seattle with a ribs issue. Still, even if Conner does end up active, it’s hard to envision him having much impact on this slate with his price point as high as it is. This trepidation is about more than injury, too. Mainly, it’s about Chase Edmonds ($5,000). Conner and Edmonds have been ships passing in the night since early November, with the two only being active for the same game once since Week 9 — a defeat against Green Bay where Edmonds logged just a single snap. That was a disappointing Week 15 loss to the Lions where Conner finished with a paltry 9.0 DKFP. Simply put, Conner isn’t involved in the passing attack when Edmonds is available and that limits his upside. He’s a couple thousand dollars too expensive on Monday and Edmonds is by far the more viable of the two RBs.


THE OUTCOME

These are both pretty flawed teams. The Cardinals scuffled to a 4-6 finish after starting the season 7-0, while the Rams’ demoralizing Week 18 loss to the 49ers looms large, especially considering Los Angeles is a putrid 1-5 ATS in its last six games against opponents above .500. Still, I believe that the Rams have more talent and that Arizona’s offense takes a major step back when the aforementioned Hopkins isn’t available. As long as Matthew Stafford ($10,800) can keep the turnovers to a minimum, Los Angeles should survive on its home field.

Final Score: Los Angeles 28, Arizona 21

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: NFL Showdown $2.25M Monday Night Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Entry] (ARI vs LAR)


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