Kickoff Sunday, Jan 23rd 3:00pm Eastern

Rams (
22.5) at

Bucs (
25.5)

Over/Under 48

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Notes

Key Matchups
Rams Run D
4th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per carry
Buccaneers Run O
26th DVOA/26th Yards per carry
Rams Pass D
22nd DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per pass
Buccaneers Pass O
18th DVOA/1st Yards per pass
Buccaneers Run D
10th DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per carry
Rams Run O
14th DVOA/25th Yards per carry
Buccaneers Pass D
1st DVOA/21st Yards allowed per pass
Rams Pass O
16th DVOA/5th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By hilow >>
  • Whereas the second Sunday game pits two of the top three offenses in pass rates, this one pits two of the top three offenses in pace of play, as the Rams check in third in the league in situation-neutral pace of play while the Bucs ranked second this season.
  • Left tackle Andrew Whitworth and safety Taylor Rapp have yet to practice this week for the Rams.
  • Tampa Bay’s journey to the Super Bowl will be far different this year when compared to last, when their health stayed relatively consistent throughout the post season; this year, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown are out, and no fewer than five starters have yet to practice this week, including wide receivers Cyril Grayson and Breshad Perriman, running back Ronald Jones II, and two All-Pro offensive linemen in Ryan Jensen and Tristan Wirfs.
  • No COVID concerns for either team as of Thursday.

How los angeles Will Try To Win ::

Cam Akers szn has officially arrived. The Wildcard Round marked the first time in his career that Akers ran as the lead back for an NFL team, which is quite remarkable considering he tore his Achilles before the season. Even more remarkable is the fact that his coaching and training staff felt he was healthy enough to see 32 offensive snaps in a blowout win, indicating that they were prioritizing getting him NFL game action. As in, Akers saw 19 running back opportunities in a game the Rams controlled throughout last week, and he did so six months removed from a torn Achilles. Let’s take a moment to appreciate how insane that is. Okay, that was fun. Back to the write-up. The Rams have shown to be one of the more adaptable offensive units in the league this year, capable of both in-game adjustments and altered game plans. Why is that important to us this week? Well, their opponent in the Divisional Round faced the fewest rushes against of any team this season and should be considered one of the more pass-funnel defensive units in the league. This should serve to filter additional volume to the passing game for as long as this game remains competitive (spoiler alert, it should be competitive throughout).

Darrell Henderson, Jr., who has lost his hold on this backfield over the second half of the season, remains on IR, meaning backfield duties should be split between incumbent starter Sony Michel and the electric Cam Akers moving forward. The dynamic abilities of Akers on the ground (and through the air) give this offense exactly what they have been searching for, a running back with plus vision and plus burst, capable of hitting gaps in a heavy zone-blocking run scheme. The matchup against the Bucs tilts expected volume to the air, but I wouldn’t expect the Rams to completely ignore the run game here, meaning both Akers and Michel should see a minimum of 10-12 rushes with pass game work mixed in. It bears mention that the Rams targeted the running back position at a bottom-five rate this season (13%). Back to the matchup – the pure rushing matchup yields a below-average 4.18 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Bucs defense that faced the fewest rush attempts against and filtered the second-most targets to opposing backfields (144). This makes the low running back target rates shown from the Rams notable.

Pass-catcher snap rates for the Rams depend heavily on game flow and subsequent rush rates, as Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee are the only two pass-catchers to play almost every offensive snap on a consistent basis since the team’s Week 11 bye (Higbee missed two games in that span). The snap rates of Van Jefferson, Odell Beckham, Jr., and the rotational tight ends have varied depending on game flow and subsequent rush rates, which plays a large role in our attempt to dissect how they are likeliest to attack here. As in, the Rams have exhibited a bias towards heavier sets and increased rush rates in games they control and heavy 11-personnel (3-wide sets) in games they are playing from behind. The big picture here is I don’t expect those tendencies to change much here, even in a game against the Buccaneers. Something that has gone largely unnoticed or not talked about is the fact that the Bucs have ceded a very NFL-average 4.4 yards per carry this season, a far cry from their top marks last season.

How tampa bay Will Try To Win ::

The Buccaneers were the league’s most aerial-aggressive offense this season in about any metric you look at, leading the league in situation-neutral pass rate, overall pass rate, pass rates over the second half of the season, pass rate when leading. They also ran the league’s fastest offense in the first half of games this season, finishing the year with the second-fastest situation-neutral pace of play. When we combine those offensive tendencies with a defense that faced the fewest rushing against of any team this season, we start to see how the Buccaneers were involved in so many offensive shootouts this year. They quite literally invite it through their game planning and execution. Now consider the fact that lead back Leonard Fournette has been out for a month, number two back Ronald Jones II has yet to practice this week, and the Rams boast a top-five run defense, and we’re left with yet another game where the Bucs should lean heavily into the passing game.

Leonard Fournette was seen participating in practice on Thursday, which would mark his first practice action since injuring his hamstring in Week 15. Head coach Bruce Arians was quoted as saying the plan for Fournette was to take a “wait and see” approach, so his return to practice on Thursday bodes well for his chances to return in time for Sunday’s game. Keep an eye on the Friday practice report and subsequent Saturday IR-return deadline. As things currently stand, I tentatively expect Fournette to make his return to the starting lineup this week. The same cannot be said for fellow back Ronald Jones II, who missed practice both days this week (as of Thursday). The backfield split is likely to be most influenced by health, and I would tentatively expect Fournette to not be charged with his same featured role should he return in time for the Divisional clash with the Rams. As in, I expect Fournette to be joined by both Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard (who returned last week from a four-game absence of his own) as regular contributors to the offense here. That leaves little to like from a fantasy expectation perspective when you also consider the matchup and Tampa Bay play-calling tendencies. Should both Fournette and Jones miss once more, expect a relatively even split in backfield work between Bernard and Vaughn, with Gio the back more likely to be utilized heavier in a negative-to-neutral game script (when the Bucs are trailing and in close games). The matchup on the ground yields a below-average 4.26 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Los Angeles defense that allowed only 21.7 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields during the regular season.

Things don’t get any easier for the Bucs through the air, at least from the standpoint of their expected level of health. Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown remain out (or no longer with the team), while Cyril Grayson and Breshad Perriman have yet to practice this week with hamstring and hip ailments, respectively. That leaves Mike Evans, Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, and special teams ace Jaelon Darden as the only remaining healthy wide receivers currently on the active roster, which could serve to increase the already high 12-personnel packages from the Bucs as the team fights to get healthy pass-catchers onto the field. The final major discussion point surrounding this pass offense is from the other side of the ball, as I don’t expect Jalen Ramsey to shadow this week. Since Tom Brady is a veteran quarterback that has shown a historical propensity to target the players he either has a connection with or trusts, and since neither Tyler Johnson nor Scotty Miller has seen more than just seven targets in any game this year, we should expect the vast majority of the passing volume to flow through Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate (OJ Howard has seen his role morph into a primary-blocker role), and the running backs.


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Likeliest Game Flow :: 

Although it arguably isn’t the most likely scenario as far as game environment and game flow are concerned, the Rams bumped their pass rates all the way up to 70% when trailing this season. Either way, we should expect both of these teams to primarily turn to the air as they fight their way towards the NFC Championship game, particularly considering the matchup for the Rams and the offensive play calling tendencies exhibited by the Bucs throughout the season. This does a couple of things for us that help to raise the overall game environment here: (1) it generates a high likelihood of additional offensive plays run from scrimmage, (2) it reduces the variance associated with pass volume by providing more “outs,” or paths to each team passing, and (3) it raises the already sky-high floors and ceilings of the individual pass-catchers from this game, who already play on extremely concentrated pass offenses. The actual likeliest game flow almost doesn’t matter to us from a DFS perspective at that point, but the likeliest scenario involves a back-and-forth affair with neither team pulling away from the other – another boon to this game environment. Expect there to be passing, a lot of passing.


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DFS+ Interpretation ::

LAR @ TB

By LexMiraglia10 >>

Overview:

  • Rams have beat Brady Bucs 27-24 in 2020 and 34-24 in W3
  • Brady has thrown 48 & 55 times, while Goff & Stafford have thrown 51 & 38 times
  • The teams combined for just 79 rush yds, 1 TD on 38 att in the 2020 matchup
  • In W3, Brady led TB with 14 rush yds and Michel led LAR with 67 yds on 20 att
  • There have been 138 & 134 combined plays in the two matchups
  • After 2 INT each by Goff/Brady in 2020, neither team turned the ball over in W3

Tom Brady:

  • TB has scored 30+ in all four Brady playoff games thus far
  • Brady in the two Rams games: 26/48 for 216:2:2 and 41/55 for 432:1, rush TD
  • The Rams allowed 17.5 DK pts/g (8th fewest)
  • Brady averaged 24.2 DK pts/g
  • Brady since losing Godwin: 14.4 // 30.4 // 28 // 18.8
  • The Rams allowed just 16 TDs to 19 INT
  • Brady has scored multiple TDs in 14/18 games
  • The Rams allowed the 9th most pass yds
  • Brady has passed for 250+ yds in 13/18 games (9/18 over 300yds)
  • The Rams had the 3rd most sacks (50)
  • TB’s two best linemen, Wirfs & Jensen are questionable with Aaron Donald on deck
  • The Rams ranked 6th in def pass DVOA
  • Brady vs other top-10 pass DVOA: BUF (1st: 363:2) // DAL (2nd: 379:4:2) // NE (3rd: 269:0) // NOR (4th: 375:4:2; 214:0:1) // MIA (9th: 411:5)

TB WRs:

  • TB WRs since losing Godwin & Brown: Evans (47:1, 89:2, 117:1) // Johnson (50, 22, 30) // Grayson (81:1, –, –) // Perriman (41, 44, 5)
  • Top-level WRs vs LAR: Pittman (8:123) // Evans (8:106), Godwin (6:74) // Hopkins (4:67) // Metcalf (5:98:2), Lockett (5:57) // Cooks (6:83:1) // AJ Brown (5:42) // Deebo (5:97:1, 36:1) // Adams (8:104) // Hopkins (5:54) // Metcalf (6:52) // Jefferson (8:116), Thielen (3:40) // Deebo (4:95, 45:1)
  • The Rams allowed the 5th most overall WR DK pts/g (38.4) behind the 3rd most rec & 4th most yds
  • The Rams did only allow the 2nd most WR TDs (10)
  • 16 WRs had 70+ vs the Rams
  • Evans has 70+ yds in 10 of 17 games
  • Grayson’s 6:81:1 vs NYJ is the only useful thing a non-Evans WR has done in absence of Godwin/Brown, and a lot of his production (including the long TD) came on the final GW-drive

TB TEs:

  • Gronk’s full games: 8:90:2 // 4:39:2 // 4:55 // 6:71 // 7:123 // 4:58:2 // 5:62 // 2:29 // 1:23 // 7:115 // 7:137 // 5:31:1
  • Gronk has just three games below 8 tg all season (5, 2, 6), (8, 8, 8, 10, 8, 9, 11, 10, 10)
  • One of those games (6) was last week; with Wirfs injury, it is possible Gronk has more blocking snaps
  • Gronk went 2:25 vs Rams in 2020 and then 4:55 vs Rams in W3 when he broke his ribs
  • TEs with 40+ yds vs LAR: Kmet (42) // Doyle (64) // Gronk (55) // Williams (66:1) // Hock (48) // Akins (53), Jordan (41:1) // Kittle (50:1) // Ertz (42) // Everett (60) // Conklin (44) // Andrews (89) 
  • Since Gronk’s return in W11, Brate has 3-4 tg in 8/10 games (6 & 1 in others)

TB RBs:

  • Only three teams allowed fewer RB DK pts than LAR in 2020 (6th fewest RB rush yds)
  • Only six teams allowed fewer RB DK pts than LAR in 2021 (9th fewest RB rush yds)
  • RBs with 15+ touches vs LAR: Monty (118:1) // Taylor (53) // Edmonds (139), Conner (66:2) // Collins (72) // Booker (69) // Swift (144:1) // Mitchell (91) // Dillon (90:1) // Conner (125:2) // Mattison (70:1) // Freeman (77) // Mitchell (85)
  • Fournette has 15+ touches in 12/14 games
  • Fournette has 6 games of 60+ rush yds (5 of 80+)
  • Fournette has 3+ rec in 13/14 games, 5+ rec in 7/14 games
  • Fournette has 40+ rec yds in 6 games
  • Gio may steal some pass game work if TB finds themselves trailing more in this game, as his best game of the season came in W3 vs LAR (9:51:1 on 10 tg)
  • RBs in W3: Fournette (4:8, 3:26) // RoJo (5:11)
  • RBs in 2020: Fournette (7:17:1, 1:9) // RoJo (10:24)
  • Fournette’s playoff career (touches:yds:TDs)::
  • 2017 (JAC): 26:76 // 29:119:3 // 27:89:1
  • 2020 (TB): 23:132:1 // 23:107:1 // 19:74:1 // 20:135:1

Matthew Stafford:

  • TB allowed 6 QBs over 300 yds in 20 games last year
  • TB has allowed 5 QBs over 300 yds in 18 games this year
  • Stafford has thrown for 300+ yds in 7/18 games (4 more of 280+)
  • TB faced the most pass att/g (only team of 40+)
  • TB has allowed 2+ TDs to 9 QBs; 3+ TDs to 5 QBs
  • Stafford has 2+ TDs in 14 games; 3+ TDs in 10 games
  • TB had the 2nd highest rate of pressure and the highest blitz rate per PFR
  • Stafford vs TB in W3: 343:4

LAR WRs:

  • LAR WRs vs TB in 2020: Kupp (11:145) // Woods (12:130:1) // Van (1:7:1)
  • LAR WRs vs TB in W3: Kupp (9:96:2) // Woods (3:33) // Van (4:42) // DJax (3:120:1)
  • TB has allowed 16 WRs of 60+ yds; 5 WRs of 100+ yds
  • TB allowed the 4th most WR rec and the 11th most WR yds on the 3rd most WR tg
  • Kupp has averaged 111.6 yds/g on 11 tg/g over the 18 games in 2021 (17 TDs)
  • WRs with 10+ tg vs TB: Cooper (139:2), Lamb (104:1) // Ridley (63:1) // Kupp (96:2) // Meyers (70) // Toney (40) // Pittman (53) // Gage (130) // Diggs (74), Beasley (64) // Robby (58), Moore (55) // Berrios (65:1) // Moore (87) // Smith (60)
  • Odell has caught a TD in 6 of his last 8 games
  • Odell has under 40 yds in 6 of his 9 Rams games
  • He has 81:1, 77:1, 54:1 in the other 3

Tyler Higbee:

  • TB allowed 14.2 & 14.0 DK pts/g to TEs in Bowles first two TB seasons
  • TB allowed 12.6 DK pts/g to TEs in 2021
  • TEs with 40+ yds vs TB: Schultz (45) // Pitts (73, 48) // Higbee (40:1) // Gesicki (43) // Kmet (43) // Doyle (81:1) // Knox (60:1) // Goedert (92)
  • Other TEs to score vs TB: Henry, Jonnu, Ertz
  • Higbee since returning: 5:41 // 6:69 // 6:55:2 // 3:46
  • TEs in 2020 matchup: Higbee (4:19) // Everett (4:27)

LAR RBs:

  • TB has allowed the fewest RB rush yds in each of the last three seasons under Bowles
  • In 20 games last season, Kamara, CMC, & Cook were the only RBs to break 20 DK pts vs TB, and AK & CMC both needed 2 TDs to get there
  • Gurley & AK were the only two RBs to break 20 DK pts in 2019 vs TB, and they combined for 17 rec in those 2 games
  • TB has allowed four 20+ DK pt scores to RBs in 2021
  • The four RBs: Patterson (7:11:1, 5:58:1) // Gaskin (5:25, 10:74:2) // Herbert (18:100, 5:33) // Gibson (24:64:2, 2:14)
  • TB allowed the 2nd most RB rec in 2021 after allowing the most in 2020 (5th most RB rec yds allowed this year)
  • Targets last four weeks: Michel (4, 5, 4, 0) // Akers (–, –, 3, 2)
  • Touches:yds last two weeks: Michel (25:49 // 13:58) // Akers (8:13 // 19:95)
  • RBs in 2020: Akers (6:19:1) // Henderson (11:9) // Brown (4:28)
  • RBs in W3: Michel (24:79)