Thursday Night Football
LA Rams @ San Francisco
Team Totals: Rams 21.25, 49ers 18.75
The Rams travel to San Francisco for this week’s second lowest-totaled game (40.0) in a contest that figures to feature high-volume running back play on both sides. Todd Gurley’s 136 total yards in last week’s loss to Washington were a 21-game high, and Gurley’s passing-game usage has been particularly promising under new coach Sean McVay with ten targets through two weeks and the NFL’s fourth-most receiving yards (104) at his position. The 49ers did show run-defense improvement from last year by holding Panthers and Seahawks backs to a combined 57/210/3.68/0 rushing line in Weeks 1-2, although Chris Carson stung them for 100 total yards last week, averaging 4.65 yards per carry and dominating the second half of Seattle’s 12-9 win. Still, this should be another opportunity for Gurley to stay hot before his schedule soon takes a drastic turn for the worse. After facing the 49ers this week and the Cowboys in Dallas next week, the Rams will face the Seahawks, Jaguars, Cardinals, Giants, Texans, and Vikings all in a row from Weeks 5-11 with a bye mixed in. … Jared Goff has looked much more confident and poised in his first year with McVay, but his fantasy appeal remains limited. Through nine NFL starts, Goff has thrown multiple touchdowns once and reached 250 passing yards once. Quarterbacks haven’t been lighting up the 49ers’ pass defense either; Cam Newton managed the QB17 fantasy finish against San Francisco in Week 1, and Russell Wilson was last week’s QB16. Neither cleared 200 passing yards.
Goff’s Weeks 1-2 target distribution: Cooper Kupp 12; Gurley 10; Robert Woods 9; Sammy Watkins 7; Gerald Everett, Tyler Higbee, and Tavon Austin 4; Derek Carrier 3. … Kupp has been Goff’s favorite target early on, but the rookie slot receiver is playing only 59% of the Rams’ offensive snaps, and has yet to exceed six targets in a game. Kupp has played his way into PPR flex discussion, but neither his floor nor his ceiling looks high in what projects as a low-scoring, run-heavy game. … Watkins has caught all seven of his targets from Goff, but he has 88 scoreless yards to show for it. In Weeks 1-2, no enemy wideout cleared 65 yards against the 49ers, who most notably checked Kelvin Benjamin (1/25/0), Doug Baldwin (6/44/0), Tyler Lockett (6/64/0), Devin Funchess (2/20/0), and Paul Richardson (2/19/1). As the Rams have not treated Watkins as a high-volume receiver to this point, he will likely need to break a big play or two to pay off as a WR3 start. The 49ers have allowed only three completions of 20-plus yards, fifth fewest in the league. … Woods is getting a lot of playing time (76%), but he has caught just 4-of-9 targets for 61 scoreless yards through two weeks. Woods lacks both a high-volume role and big-play potential. … The Redskins regrettably left rookie TE Everett uncovered for a 69-yard RAC-heavy gain down the right sideline last week, finally tackling him at the three-yard line. Unfortunately, Everett played 31% of the offensive snaps and ran just 11 routes against Washington. Everett is only a Dynasty-league prospect.
The 0-2 49ers’ best chance to get their first win of the season will be to put the ball in Carlos Hyde’s belly as much as possible. Hyde’s touch totals through two games are only 15 and 18, but his 7.04 yards-per-carry average ranks second among 28 NFL backs with at least 20 attempts. New coach Kyle Shanahan is using Hyde more than ever in this passing game; Hyde topped 20 pass routes run in each of the 49ers’ first two games after exceeding that number in just 5-of-34 career games entering this season. The Rams struggled in run defense in Weeks 1-2, surrendering a combined 58/295/5.09/3 rushing line to Colts and Redskins backs. After trampling the Seahawks in Seattle for 143 total yards last week, Hyde should be viewed as a high-floor, high-upside, borderline RB1 play on Thursday night. … Albeit against Carolina and Seattle’s strong pass defenses, Brian Hoyer has been a disaster to the extent that I wouldn’t be shocked if we see rookie C.J. Beathard sometime soon. Through eight quarters, Hoyer has engineered zero touchdown drives and committed three turnovers, and he hasn’t thrown a TD pass since last October 9. The Rams are far from a pushover pass defense, having held each of their first two 2017 opponents (IND, WAS) below 200 passing yards after allowing 300 passing yards in just one of their final 12 games last season. Increasingly at risk of an in-game benching, Hoyer is a poor two-quarterback-league play.
Hoyer’s Weeks 1-2 target distribution: Pierre Garcon 16; Hyde and Marquise Goodwin 12; George Kittle 8; Trent Taylor 5; Kyle Juszczyk 4; Aldrick Robinson and Matt Breida 2. … Garcon is always a big favorite to lead San Francisco in targets, but his Week 3 matchup isn’t ideal against a Rams secondary that has yet to allow an enemy pass catcher to reach 60 yards two games in. Los Angeles has checked T.Y. Hilton (3/57/0), Donte Moncrief (1/50/0), Terrelle Pryor (2/31/0), and Jamison Crowder (4/47/0), permitting just one touchdown pass in Weeks 1-2. Garcon is best approached as a low-ceiling WR3/flex option. … Goodwin showed chemistry with Hoyer in training-camp practices, but it hasn’t translated to settings that matter. Goodwin has 47 scoreless yards on 12 targets and has topped 50 yards twice over his last 32 games. … Kittle logged snap rates of 95% and 88% in Weeks 1-2. While it is impressive that a fifth-round rookie tight end has already earned an every-down role, Kittle hasn’t yet earned serious streamer discussion. The Rams contained Jack Doyle (2/41/0) in Week 1 and Jordan Reed (6/48/0) in Week 2.
Score Prediction: 49ers 21, Rams 17
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