Fri Dec 4 7:34pm ET
By DAN GREENSPAN
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Jalen Ramsey thought he was done playing DeAndre Hopkins twice a season when he got traded to the Los Angeles Rams.
But just like the blanket coverage the cornerback is used to dishing out, Ramsey just can't seem to shake Hopkins.
''I follow him during the games, he followed me to the division, that's what it seems like,'' Ramsey said Friday.
Ramsey will renew his friendly rivalry with Hopkins when the Rams face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. It will be the eighth matchup between the two, but the first outside of the AFC South.
Ramsey spent four seasons with Jacksonville before he was dealt to the Rams (7-4) in October 2019. Hopkins got traded to the Cardinals (6-5) in March after seven seasons in Houston.
''We've had some good battles,'' Ramsey said. ''I've won some, he's won some and, more importantly, the team I was on won some of those games. Unfortunately, we also lost some of those games, and that's what matters at the end of the day is that team win.''
The Jaguars went 2-5 in those games, but Ramsey typically fared well in his individual assignment. He had 27 tackles, defended 12 passes, made one interception and recovered one fumble. Hopkins had three touchdown catches and topped 100 yards receiving just once when Ramsey was in Jacksonville's secondary.
While the familiarity of division play can breed contempt, especially when the outspoken Ramsey is involved, his relationship off the field with Hopkins has been cordial.
''We cool, for sure,'' Ramsey said. ''But on Sunday we won't be. On Sunday we gonna be competing. I'm gonna try to hold it down for my team and he gonna try to make big plays for their team. We got mutual respect because of that too. Because of the mindset. We can be cool outside of the field. Outside of the game we have a lot of respect for each other, but when it's time to play, when it's time to buckle our chinstraps and go make plays for our team, we both not gonna hold nothing back.''
Ramsey was limited in the Rams' 23-20 loss to San Francisco last week because of a hip injury that flared up during warmups. He played 50 of 72 defensive snaps, but coach Sean McVay said Ramsey is back to full strength and should see his usual workload against the Cardinals.
That doesn't mean Ramsey will be shadowing Hopkins on every play.
''You definitely don't want to be so predictable that the only thing he's doing is just traveling around with DeAndre all day,'' McVay said. ''Those two have tremendous respect for one another. They're two of the best in the world at what they do.''
Hopkins showed that elite ability when he caught the ''Hail Murray'' to beat Buffalo in Week 10, but it was the lone bright spot in an otherwise lackluster November. Subtract that 43-yard touchdown catch, Hopkins' other 19 receptions last month produced just 220 yards without scoring, which might explain why he didn't have much to say about his reunion with Ramsey.
That left others to do the talking about the anticipated showdown in a crucial NFC West game.
''I definitely will have my popcorn out watching it from the sideline, for sure,'' Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson said. ''It's going to be another clash of the titans.''
NOTES: DT Sebastian Joseph-Day is questionable to play against the Cardinals because of a hip injury. Joseph-Day, who returned to practice on a limited basis Friday, leads the team with 25 tackles on run plays. . The Rams re-signed LB Jachai Polite to their practice squad after clearing waivers. Polite, a third round pick of the New York Jets in 2019, has played in 11 games for Los Angeles this season.
Five Hot Plays: Week 13
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen is not a viable starter this week against the Dolphins. The new backup QB had 136 yards with one touchdown and one interception last week in his first game as a starter and with only one game's worth of sample size, it would be hard to trust him this week. Keep Allen on waivers.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown had gone through weeks of struggle heading into Week 12's meeting with the Steelers, averaging 1.5 catch for 13.8 yards per game over a four game stretch. Yikes. But with backup quarterbacks playing, Brown finally looked like the player he was drafted to be, catching four passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. He might be back to being irrelevant in Week 13, especially if Lamar Jackson is back at quarterback, but the Cowboys Defense has struggled against the pass, giving Brown some solid upside. You shouldn't trust him as more than a WR4 play, but there is a decently high ceiling here.
Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas has been better for fantasy in recent weeks but has a brutal matchup in Pittsburgh for Week 13. The Steelers allow the fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends and Thomas has struggled to put up fantasy points when he doesn't find the end zone. Thomas has eclipsed 60 yards in a game just twice this season as he's been very touchdown-dependant. Thomas is a risky play for this matchup and most fantasy managers should be able to find a better streaming tight end on waivers.
Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards got a crack at the lead back role in Week 12 with J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II on the COVID list. He responded with 10 yards on nine carries, though he did find the end zone once. Edwards has finished with two yards per carry or fewer in four of the last six games, and while he continues to get some red zone work, the fact that Justice Hill had the same number of carries as him last week shows just how limited his upside is. Even against a Cowboys Defense allowing the second-most rushing yards in the league, Edwards is a touchdown-dependent RB4.
Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith has been held under 200 passing yards two straight weeks and now faces a brutal matchup with the Steelers. Pittsburgh allows the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season meaning Smith will have an uphill battle to finish as a start-worthy QB in fantasy. Smith has just three touchdown passes in four starts this season and offers no rushing upside. Smith should be avoided in fantasy this week if at all possible.
While his status for Tuesday's game against the Dallas Cowboys remains up in the air due to his placement on the COVID-19 list, Lamar Jackson could theoretically be activated and ready to go based on the timeline of when he was placed on the list. Jackson hasn't had the same kind of numbers and success this year as last year, in part because his completion percentage has dropped three points and his touchdown rate has fallen from nine percent to 5.4 percent. The Dallas Cowboys are allowing more touchdown passes per game than any other NFL team though, and if there's going to be a week where Jackson gets back to form, this is it. Start him as a mid-tier QB1.
Baltimore Ravens rookie running back J.K. Dobbins is off the COVID list and should be active on Tuesday when the Ravens face the Dallas Cowboys. Considering Dobbins worked as the lead back the last time he was on the field and Gus Edwards had just 10 rushing yards in Dobbins's place against the Steelers Wednesday, we should probably go ahead and consider Dobbins the No. 1 guy here in a backfield that's trending out of being a committee. The Cowboys allow the second-most rushing yards per game to opposing running backs, making this a great matchup for Dobbins. Consider him a high-end RB2.
The Detroit Lions plan to waive wide receiver Marvin Hall, opening up chances for younger players like Quintez Cephus to see time at receiver over the rest of the season. Outside of the injured Kenny Golladay, Detroit hasn't had much youth at wide receiver lately, so this will give them the chance to see if Cephus can be a future contributor. We'll see if Hall latches on somewhere for the end of the season, but overall this move doesn't have much season-long fantasy impact.
Already on the Injured Reserve, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams (foot) might not be back on the field this season, with ESPN's Cameron Wolfe suggesting the injury may keep him out the rest of 2020. Williams could very well return for the final couple of games of the year, but by that point, fantasy managers aren't going to be in a position to play him with championships on the line, right?
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron has caught a touchdown in three of his past five games while drawing at least five targets in each game over that span. He draws a decent matchup against the Washington Football Team in Week 13. While Washington's defense is excellent at limiting opposing wide receivers and running backs, they are only average at defending tight ends. On the year, Washington is allowing the 15th most fantasy points per game to the position. That weakness in their defense could push extra targets in Ebron's direction on Monday evening. Considering how hard it has been to get production out of the tight end position in fantasy this year, gamers can treat Ebron as a low-end TE1 for Week 13.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense sets up as an excellent fantasy option against the Washington Football Team in Week 13. Washington's offense has struggled this season and now they find themselves in a tough position in a road game against one of the better defenses in the NFL. The Steelers are installed as seven-point home favorites in a game with a low 43.5 over/under. Fantasy gamers can trust the Steelers as a top-five fantasy defense on Monday evening.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster managed to find the end zone in Week 12 against the Baltimore Ravens, giving him six scores on the season. Smith-Schuster will look to score again in Week 13 against the Washington Football Team, although he will have his work cut out for him in what sets up as a difficult matchup. Washington's defense has been tough on opposing passing attacks, ranking third in DVOA and allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position. They have, however, shown some cracks of late, giving up big games to Marvin Jones (eight catches for 96 yards and a touchdown), Tyler Boyd (9/85/0), and Amari Cooper (6/112/1) over the past three weeks. Smith-Schuster can be treated as a low-end WR2 in fantasy for Week 13's game.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool draws a tough Week 13 matchup against the Washington Football Team. Washington's defense has been tough on opposing passing attacks this season, ranking third in pass-defense DVOA and allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position. That being said, Claypool has shown a nose for the end zone this season, having scored 10 total touchdowns in 11 games. He will be safe to treat as a low-end WR2 in Week 13.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson sets up as a WR2 in fantasy for his Week 13 matchup against the Washington Football Team on Monday evening. Johnson continues to be targeted heavily by Ben Roethlisberger, having seen double-digit targets in each of his past four games. Washington's secondary has been tough on wide receivers this season, ranking third in pass-defense DVOA and allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to the position. That being said, Johnson's high target share keeps him in the conversation as a WR2 in fantasy, despite the tough matchup.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. saw the majority of the backfield work for his team in Week 12 with James Conner on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week after testing positive for the virus. Although the team has yet to comment on Conner's status for Week 13, he is looking unlikely to play against the Washington Football Team. If Conner sits, Snell will get another turn as Pittsburgh's lead back on Monday evening. It's not a great matchup, however, as Washington's run defense has been solid this year, allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game and ranking 13th in run-defense DVOA. Fantasy gamers can treat Snell as a high-end flex option if Conner remains inactive.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger turned in a slow performance in a 19-14 win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12, throwing just one touchdown despite attempting 51 passes. He will look to bounce back in Week 13 against the Washington Football Team in a contest that will be on Monday evening at 5:00 PM EST. Washington's pass defense has been solid this season, ranking third in DVOA and allowing the 11th-fewest fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. Roethlisberger has enough weapons around him to trust as a low-end QB1 in fantasy but don't expect a ceiling game out of him this weekend.
Las Vegas Raiders RB Theo Riddick was removed from the Exempt/COVID-19 list Friday, Dec. 4, and now counts toward the active roster.
Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Chase McLaughlin is not a viable starter this week. Though he has made all three of his field-goal attempts and both of his extra-point attempts in two games played this season, the sample size is too small and it's fair to question his reliability compared to other kickers who have played most of the season. As a result, there are better options to start at the position for Week 13.
Las Vegas Raiders DB Lamarcus Joyner was removed from the Exempt/COVID-19 list Friday, Dec. 4, and now counts toward the active roster.
Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Tyler Eifert is not a worthy starter this week against Minnesota. In nine games played, the TE has only surpassed 40 yards once, and he has also been very inconsistent in his weekly numbers. Because the Jaguars don't have a strong passing attack, this makes Eifert too risky to start and thus irrelevant for fantasy purposes.