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FFL: Week 14 | NFL: Week 14

Bears-Rams Preview

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Players: Brandin Cooks, Allen Robinson, Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp, Jared Goff, Mitch Trubisky

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff calls signals during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)


Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) takes a snap during the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)


Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky throws against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)


Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) avoids a tackle byf Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers (90) during the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


LOS ANGELES (AP) Even Sean McVay realizes there’s a strong argument to be made that the Chicago Bears ended the Los Angeles Rams’ two seasons of offensive brilliance with their 15-6 victory at Soldier Field last season.

McVay, Jared Goff and the Rams (5-4) get a chance to reply when the Bears (4-5) visit the Coliseum on Sunday night in a game that could wreck the loser’s realistic playoff hopes.

That loss on a chilly, biting night last December still stings for McVay and Goff, who threw a career-high four interceptions while the Rams were held without a touchdown for the first time in McVay’s tenure.

“They were a great defense, period,” McVay said. “They still are a great defense, but they did do some different things schematically that - I don’t run away from the fact that I didn’t handle that night well at all.”

Los Angeles was 11-1 and cruising through a season that would bend with a Super Bowl trip, but Vic Fangio’s defense reduced McVay’s offense to a wan shadow of its usual self. Todd Gurley produced only 28 yards rushing, Goff went 20 of 44 for 180 yards, and the Rams managed only 214 yards - less than half of their season average.

Fangio largely did it with a deceptively simple 6-1 alignment: Six defenders right at the line of scrimmage, with one linebacker just behind them looking to snuff out the run game. When Gurley couldn’t move the ball on the ground against that setup, the Rams’ play-action strategies were largely useless - and then Goff made mistakes.

“All of these teams, at some point, you hit some patches where you have to figure some things out and re-adjust and all that,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said of the Rams’ struggles in Chicago last season. “We’re going through that right now offensively.”

Other teams copied the Bears’ strategy, and New England played its version to perfection while holding the Rams to three points in the Super Bowl. But with Gurley still largely ineffective this season, opponents haven’t even needed the strategy to beat the Rams lately.

“I wouldn’t say what they did has shown up a lot,” Goff said, recalling the Bears’ setup. “It’s something that teams have tried, and we’ve beat it at times, and we haven’t at times. It’s definitely part of a scheme that people have played not only to us, but across the league. Nothing too crazy. Pretty simple. We’ll be ready if they do it again.”

Chuck Pagano runs the Bears’ defense now, and it has scarcely lost a step statistically despite Chicago’s overall struggles.

The Rams’ offense is a shadow of its former self, sitting in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories and coming off an inept performance at Pittsburgh in which it scored only three of Los Angeles’ 12 points.

The Bears’ biggest concern this time around likely should be Aaron Donald and the Rams’ defense, which has been on a roll since the week before it acquired shutdown cornerback Jalen Ramsey from Jacksonville.

“Really good defense,” quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said. “I think it starts up front for them. They’ve got obviously really talented players in Donald, and they do a lot of stuff up front with twists and getting pressure. Last year, they kind of zoned us out and tried to keep everything in front and take away our big plays.”

Here are more things to know about the prime-time showdown between 2018 division winners:

OLD FRIENDS

Allen Robinson figures he’s in for a physical confrontation and plenty of trash talk from Ramsey.

The Bears’ leading receiver and Rams’ brash star cornerback figure to be matched against each other just like old times, when they would go at it in practice as teammates in Jacksonville for two seasons. Robinson was three years into his career when the Jaguars drafted Ramsey with the No. 5 overall pick in 2016, and the rookie went at him right away.

“It’s gonna be physical, it’s gonna be competitive, it’s gonna be fun,” Robinson said. “I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

Robinson signed with Chicago last year, while Ramsey forced a trade to Los Angeles last month. But during their time together, Robinson heard plenty from him.

“I talk, he talks, so it’ll be fun,” Robinson said.

SHAKY LINE

Khalil Mack will be lining up against a Rams offensive line with four of the five starters in unfamiliar positions. Los Angeles lost center Brian Allen and right tackle Rob Havenstein to injuries last week, so guard Austin Blythe moves to center and untested youngsters David Edwards, Austin Corbett and Bobby Evans likely join the starting lineup. The Rams’ line struggled against Pittsburgh even before the injuries, so McVay is scheming to help his profoundly inexperienced unit - but Mack still could be in for a feast.

WORK IN PROGRESS

The Bears got the win they needed last week against Detroit, ending a four-game skid with Trubisky throwing three TD passes to match his season high. But the defending NFC North champions still have plenty of room to improve. Though they scored on three consecutive possessions in the second and third quarters, the offense went long stretches without moving the ball.

The defense held Detroit to 98 yards rushing on 27 attempts, but the Bears lost linebacker Danny Trevathan to a left elbow injury, and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks is on injured reserve with an elbow injury, leaving Chicago without two disruptive players inside against Los Angeles.

KUPP COMEBACK

McVay is still disappointed after leading receiver Cooper Kupp was held without a catch last week. The Steelers felt free to double-team Kupp more frequently with Brandin Cooks sidelined by a concussion, and Cooks is out again this week. Goff and McVay both believe their offense needs the ball in Kupp’s hands to reach its potential.

Player Notes
Jacoby Brissett Dec 9 3:50pm ET

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett had a good matchup in Week 14, and he took advantage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He finished the day 19-of-36 for 251 yards and two touchdowns. He also added four carries for 26 yards. Brissett has been without a number of receiving weapons this year due to injuries, but he was able to utilize the weapons he did have on Sunday afternoon. Brissett's matchups get difficult down the stretch, and he'll be trending downward with the Colts playoff hopes taking a major hit with the latest loss.

From RotoBaller

Marcus Johnson Dec 9 3:50pm ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marcus Johnson took advantage of a great matchup and opportunity in Week 14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With a number of other pass catchers out, Johnson was quarterback Jacoby Brissett's second-favorite target on the day. He caught three of his seven targets for 105 yards and a touchdown. As long as wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (calf) remains out, Johnson will likely continue to see work while the Colts' coaching staff looks to determine their key pieces for the future.

From RotoBaller

Marlon Mack Dec 9 3:50pm ET

Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack, in his return from a hand injury, was inefficient in Week 14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he was able to get into the end zone to salvage his day. He finished with 13 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown. He didn't add anything in the passing game, but, in a big shootout, he wasn't utilized a ton. In the final weeks of the season, Mack won't be counted on for a ton of production, but he's still giving you an RB2 level of play on an every week basis.

From RotoBaller

Zach Pascal Dec 9 3:50pm ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal has shown the ability to be a great player this season, and he showed that again in Week 14. Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he caught five his nine targets for 74 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett consistently relies on Pascal as his top wideout option every week, and it's just a matter of him completing the catches to be a good play in fantasy. His matchups are less-than-stellar down the stretch, but he still has the volume every week to give him consistent upside.

From RotoBaller

Jack Doyle Dec 9 3:50pm ET

Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle exploded in Week 13, but he struggled in a big way in Week 14 despite a great matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He caught two of his six targets for 27 yards, and he failed to get into the end zone. Doyle gets the volume to be a consistent fantasy tight end, but he didn't convert on it this week. He'll be a consistent option down the stretch, but he'll never be a high-ceiling player like some of the other guys at the position.

From RotoBaller

Auden Tate Dec 9 1:23pm ET

Updating a previous report, Cincinnati Bengals WR Auden Tate (knee) was diagnosed with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee after an MRI on Monday, Dec.9, showed no structural damage, according to ESPN's Ben Baby.

Fantasy Spin: It most likely means he's out for Week 15 and perhaps the rest of the season. Owners can wait for further confirmation if they want, but he can be dropped in most leagues. Alex Erickson figures to see a few more snaps and targets in his absence, although it's unlikely he'll be worth using in fantasy the rest of the way.

From TheHuddle

J.D. McKissic Dec 9 1:20pm ET

Detroit Lions running back J.D. McKissic rushed one time for two yards and made four catches for 16 yards in a loss to the Vikings Sunday. McKissic continues to be the passing downs option in the Detroit backfield but isn't getting enough work to warrant starting in fantasy. He has a good matchup with the Buccaneers in Week 15, but is nothing more than an inexpensive DFS dart throw in the hope he scores in a game that could turn into a shootout.

From RotoBaller

Bo Scarbrough Dec 9 1:10pm ET

Detroit Lions running back Bo Scarbrough rushed 19 times for 65 yards in a loss to the Vikings Sunday. Scarbrough added one catch for five yards through the air. Scarbrough has completely taken over this backfield as no other Lion had more than two carries. Despite the work, Scarbrough's fantasy value is capped somewhat by the Lions offense starting rookie David Blough at quarterback making scoring opportunities rare in the Motor City. Still, Scarbrough can be trusted as a borderline RB2/3 based on volume alone with more value in non-PPR leagues.

From RotoBaller

Richard Sherman Dec 9 1:03pm ET

San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman (hamstring) underwent an MRI on Monday, Dec. 9 on his injured hamstring, which he reported felt pretty sore after the Week 14 game against the New Orleans Saints. His status for Week 15 versus the Atlanta Falcons is 'in doubt,' but he'll do everything he can to be ready, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

From TheHuddle

Marvin Jones Dec 9 1:00pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones caught just three of seven targets for 38 scoreless yards in a loss to the Vikings Sunday. Jones hasn't had more than 46 yards in four straight games now and has been reliant on nine touchdowns this season to find fantasy production. Rookie QB David Blough starting for Detroit hasn't helped matters for Jones but a matchup with the Buccaneers in Week 15 should keep Jones in fantasy lineups as a WR3.

From RotoBaller

Danny Amendola Dec 9 1:00pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Danny Amendola made five catches for 34 yards in a loss to the Vikings Sunday. Amendola had eight targets, which was tied for the team lead, but couldn't do much with them vs a stout Minnesota defense. Amendola continues to have more fantasy value in PPR leagues as he gets a lot of targets but with not a lot of air yards. Amendola has a great matchup with the Buccaneers in Week 15 but will be hard to trust in fantasy as the third receiving option on a team starting a rookie, third-string quarterback.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Golladay Dec 9 12:50pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay caught six of eight targets for 58 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the Vikings Sunday. Golladay was having a quiet afternoon before a 10-yard touchdown with about two minutes to play gave his fantasy owners something to smile about. Golladay has the talent but will be hard to trust with rookie David Blough under center in Detroit. A matchup with a porous Buccaneers secondary in Week 15, however, will keep Golladay as a must-start fantasy receiver.

From RotoBaller

Roquan Smith Dec 9 12:43pm ET

Chicago Bears LB Roquan Smith (pectoral) suffered a torn pectoral muscle in Week 14 versus the Dallas Cowboys and will miss the rest of the season, according to head coach Matt Nagy.

From TheHuddle

David Blough Dec 9 12:40pm ET

Detroit Lions quarterback David Blough went 24-for-40 passing for 205 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in a loss to the Vikings Sunday. Blough connected with Kenny Golladay for a touchdown in garbage time but overall played like a rookie who was third on the depth chart most of the season. Blough shouldn't be owned in typical fantasy leagues but does have streamer appeal in 2QB leagues with a matchup against an atrocious Buccaneers pass defense in Week 15.

From RotoBaller

Cameron Brate Dec 9 12:20pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate caught all four of his targets for 30 yards and a touchdown in a Week 14 win over Indianapolis. Brate had one target less than O.J. Howard and both should see their target share increase with wide receiver Mike Evans injuring his hamstring in the game. Fantasy managers would need to see it with Brate before buying in as his usage has been sporadic all season making it almost impossible to trust Brate in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

Peyton Barber Dec 9 12:10pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber had 11 carries for 36 scoreless yards in a win over the Colts Sunday. Barber caught both of his targets for 19 yards in the passing game. Tampa Bay abandoned the run game early in this one falling behind by multiple scores making Barber a spectator on the sidelines for most of the second half. Barber and fellow running back Ronald Jones both played less than 40 percent of the offensive snaps and will be hard to trust moving forward as part of a timeshare backfield on a pass-first team. Barber will be a touchdown-dependent dart throw in deep leagues at best in Week 15 at Detroit.

From RotoBaller

Justin Watson Dec 9 12:00pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Justin Watson launched himself into fantasy relevance Sunday making five catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. Watson, who had just one catch coming into the game, played 43 snaps after starting receiver Mike Evans (hamstring) left with an injury. Head coach Bruce Arians said he's be shocked if Evans played in Week 15 so expect Watson to play in three-wide receiver sets which should get him on the field plenty for the pass-happy Bucs. Watson's eight targets Sunday were second on the team to Chris Godwin so Watson has some fantasy appeal in deeper leagues, but is too untested to trust in 10 or 12 team leagues.

From RotoBaller

Breshad Perriman Dec 9 11:50am ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Breshad Perriman caught three of five targets for 70 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Colts Sunday. Perriman played a season-high 83 percent of the team's offensive snaps with star receiver Mike Evans (hamstring) making an early exit in this game. Perriman has been the third receiver in this offense but should be a starter as long as Evans is sidelined. Fantasy owners scrambling to replace Evans should look to Perriman as a possible replacement. There are worse situations to be in than the starting wide receiver in a potent Tampa Bay passing attack. Expect Perriman to be a flex-worthy starter in Week 15 at Detroit.

From RotoBaller

Mike Evans Dec 9 11:40am ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (hamstring) is scheduled to undergo an MRI Monday for a hamstring injury. Evans pulled up lame at the end of a 61-yard touchdown catch in the first half which was his only production in the game. Head coach Bruce Arians said he's be "shocked" if Evans can play in Week 15 vs Detroit. Breshad Perriman was working as the number two receiver after Evans' injury with Justin Watson playing in three-WR sets. Expect both to see more targets with Evans sidelined with tight end O.J. Howard also expected to see a bump in production.

From RotoBaller

Odell Beckham Jr. Dec 9 11:33am ET

Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. has reportedly told players and coaches on other teams to 'come get me' in reference to him wanting out of Cleveland.

Fantasy Spin: It has been a trying season with just a 59-844-2 line that likely cost you a first-round pick to draft him. He can still be a game changer any given week the rest of the way, but his ceiling is as a WR2 right now.

From TheHuddle