Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff looks downfield during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford looks to throw during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) Jared Goff was the Rams' first draft pick after their return to Los Angeles a half-decade ago - the new quarterback for the franchise's new era.
The tall, blond California native was a face of the Rams during their transformation from a longtime loser to a perennial title contender under coach Sean McVay. Goff made two Pro Bowls while leading Los Angeles to three playoff berths, two NFC West titles and a Super Bowl appearance.
And he was blindsided when McVay and the Rams traded him to the Detroit Lions last winter.
Goff claims he sensed no discontent with him from McVay or general manager Les Snead, and he had a massive new contract extension that hadn't even started before Los Angeles shipped him out for Matthew Stafford.
Nearly nine months later, the shock has worn off for Goff, even if the disappointment lingers.
''I've got so many great memories, and so many friendships and lifelong bonds,'' Goff said. ''I think the sourness is there still from how it ended, but there are so much more good things that happened, that make you appreciative for those times, and appreciative that you're able to experience them.''
Goff leads the Lions (0-6) into SoFi Stadium on Sunday to face the powerhouse Rams (5-1) in a potentially one-sided matchup that's much more interesting because of the franchises' mingled history. Along with that blockbuster swap of quarterbacks, Detroit also got top executive Brad Holmes and stalwart defensive tackle Michael Brockers from the Rams over the past year.
Goff led the Rams to their first victory in owner Stan Kroenke's multibillion-dollar football palace last season, but he never got to play there in front of a crowd. Goff seems likely to get pregame cheers from the fans who appreciate his role in the Rams' growth, even if Stafford appears to be taking them to a higher level.
''I think it would be selfish to me to let any emotion get to me,'' Goff said. ''Of course, pregame you're going to see your friends and your old teammates, old coaches, old staff members, and it will be good to see them. But when that whistle blows, it's the same as any other game.''
If Goff leads the Lions to a monumental upset, it will be the first victory of his six-year NFL career without McVay coaching him. The Rams went 0-7 with Goff as their rookie starter in 2016.
McVay strenuously avoids any public criticism of any players, so he has never openly discussed why he gave up on Goff. The coach acknowledges he should have orchestrated their breakup with more grace, and he expects a warm reunion before the game.
''There are certainly things I would do it a little bit differently when those situations arise in the future,'' McVay said. ''But I think Jared knows the respect that I have for him. ... To say that it was perfectly handled on my end, I wouldn't be totally accurate in that.''
Although Stafford spent a dozen years in Detroit, he won't see as many familiar faces as Goff on Sunday. The Lions are rebuilding, but Stafford is still looking forward to going against the young Detroit defensive backs he faced in practice.
''There's a bunch of people out there that I don't know that are on the Lions now,'' Stafford said. ''I'll enjoy getting the chance to see some of those guys that I've spent a lot of time and played a lot of meaningful football with.''
Brockers spent nine years with the Rams as a team leader and a defensive cornerstone, playing at Aaron Donald's side for the superstar's entire career. But Brockers chose financial comfort over Super Bowl contention: The Rams wanted to restructure his contract to fit under the salary cap, while the Lions gave him a new three-year, $24 million deal through 2023 with $11 million guaranteed.
''We wanted to be able to continue to work (together), have him back here,'' McVay said. ''And for whatever reason, it didn't work out.''
There are levels to losing, and the Lions seem to find them. The first franchise to have an 0-16 season already has fans grumbling about the possibility of witnessing an 0-17 season with first-year coach Dan Campbell. The league's only winless team hasn't snapped the ball on offense with the lead this season, the fourth team since 1991 to do that in its first six games. The Lions also became the first team in league history to lose two games in a season on game-winning kicks of 50-plus yards with no time left.
The Rams are 15 1/2-point favorites, but they're also less than a year removed from the most embarrassing day of McVay's career: A 23-20 home loss to the New York Jets, who were 0-13. The game was a career lowlight both for McVay, who made several head-scratching play calls and timeout decisions, and for Goff, who went 22 of 34 and couldn't lead a touchdown drive until the Rams were down by 17 points.
The Rams' slow offensive starts have bothered McVay, but the Lions have gone scoreless in the first half in three of their past four games. Detroit hasn't had a touchdown in the first half since the opening drive in Week 2.
''We're not equipped to throw the ball 40, 50 times a game and drop back,'' Campbell said. ''We're not. That's not us. I think there are very few teams that are equipped to do that, but I know we're not, for sure. So if we don't keep ourselves in this game, it makes it hard for us.''
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor is not a starting fantasy option in any format in a Week 12 game against the New York Giants. Reagor has put up a top-50 fantasy wide receiver performance only twice this season, and has scored under five fantasy points eight times. It's been a disaster of a season for the former first-round pick, and he cannot be relied on in any format at this point. There are few, if any, fantasy leagues where he should even be on a roster.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert will look for another TE1 week in a Week 12 game against the New York Giants. Goedert has seen an enormous 30% target share over the past four games, but with the Eagles only throwing on one of every three offensive plays, that's translated to just 7.8 fantasy points per game. Still, while the range of outcomes for Goedert is larger than others ranked around him, his upside is also much higher. He's a fairly safe mid-range TE1 with top-tier upside every week.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott will look for another strong performance in a Week 12 contest against the New York Giants. Elliott has been extremely consistent this season, making 18 of his 20 field goal attempts and all 29 of his extra point tries. Despite the consistency, Elliott has finished outside of the top-20 fantasy kickers six times due to low volume and the lack of long-yardage opportunities. He's a decent option against the Giants, since the Eagles should be able to move the ball fairly well.
The Philadelphia Eagles defense has had an up-and-down fantasy season, but they've been a top-six fantasy option in three of the past four weeks. A Week 12 matchup against Daniel Jones and the New York Giants shouldn't be too tough of a test for the unit that came up with a fumble recovery, two interceptions, and a defensive touchdown in Week 11. While there's always risk with the Eagles defense, there's some nice upside to go with it in Week 12.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Kenneth Gainwell is unlikely to have a big role in a Week 12 game against the New York Giants. Gainwell was a healthy scratch in Week 11, and even with Jordan Howard (knee) already ruled out, the rookie likely won't be much more than a change of pace option behind Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. Gainwell is nothing more than a desperation play in the deepest fantasy formats this week.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith is a risky but potentially strong option in a Week 12 matchup against the New York Giants. Smith has put up a 14-258-3 line over the past four weeks, good for the overall WR16 performance in that time. All that despite seeing just 21 targets, as the Eagles have only attempted a pass play on one-third of their offensive plays. Smith has a low floor because of his limited opportunities, but he's the lead receiver on a team that has shown the ability to score points. He'll come in as a WR2 but with a wider range of outcomes than others ranked around him.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins is almost guaranteed to have a better game in Week 12 than he did in Week 11. Week 11 was the first time Watkins was held without a catch this season, putting up zero fantasy points and only being targeted once. He hasn't shown much upside this season, but had been a solid floor play in PPR formats in previous weeks. He'll continue to operate in a much more real-life-relevant role as the WR2 on the Eagles offense.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders could be a solid fantasy option in a Week 12 matchup against the New York Giants. Sanders will remain the starter and should be the lead back in the backfield, but quarterback Jalen Hurts will likely continue to operate as the team's first rushing option. Still, Eagles running backs have averaged over 30 carries a game since Week 8, and Sanders picked up 5.9 yards per run on 16 touches in Week 11. With Jordan Howard (knee) not expected to play, it'll be a lot of Sanders with some Boston Scott mixed in, making Sanders a solid RB2 with upside this week.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott could find his way into some fantasy value in a Week 12 matchup against the New York Giants. With Jordan Howard (knee) not expected to play, the Eagles backfield will be made up of Miles Sanders and Scott. Sanders will be the starter, and quarterback Jalen Hurts could end up with more rushing attempts than either running back, but with Eagles running backs averaging almost 31 carries per game since Week 8, there should be some touches for Scott against a Giants defense that hasn't been great against running backs. Scott is looking like a decent floor RB3/FLEX play, with some possible upside.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Chester Rogers will see an increased opportunity with star A.J. Brown (chest) ruled out for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots. The 27-year-old recorded four receptions on six targets for 41 yards in the Week 11 loss to the Houston Texans. Rogers will have an increased role in Week 12; unfortunately, it's against a tough Patriots defense which ranks number one against the pass. New England ranks 22nd in DVOA against WR2s; Rogers cold see some open looks but is not on the fantasy radar in Week 12.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine becomes the team's de facto number one wide receiver after star WR A.J. Brown (chest) was ruled out for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots. He led the Titans with seven receptions on eight targets for 107 yards in the Week 11 loss to the Texans. The Patriots rank number one in DVOA against the pass and second against the opposing team's top targets. Westbrook-Ikhine could see an uptick in targets, but the Titans' offense could have trouble moving the ball on Sunday against a surging Patriots defense. Fantasy managers in deep-league formats can use the 24-year-old as a streaming option, but even with the increased role, Westbrook-Ikhine is a boom-or-bust flex option in Week 12.
Tennessee Titans running back Dontrell Hilliard led the team's backfield with 63% of snaps and was targeted 10 times in the Week 11 loss to the Houston Texans. He was signed to the Titans 53-man roster earlier in the week. Tennessee waived veteran running back Adrian Peterson in a corresponding move. Hilliard had a massive role last Sunday, rushing for 35 yards on seven carries and catching eight passes for 47 yards. The Titans will be without star wide receiver A.J. Brown (chest); Hilliard could lead Tennessee in targets in Week 12 against the Patriots. The Titans backfield will be tough to trust, but the 26-year-old should have a vital role in the passing game and is a solid option in deep-league formats this Sunday.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be without one of his top weapons as A.J. Brown (chest) was ruled against the New England Patriots for Sunday's game. The 33-year-old struggled mightily last Sunday against the Texans, throwing one touchdown and four interceptions in the Week 11 loss. He faces a surging Patriots defense in Week 12 that just shut out QB Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense. Tannehill has been mediocre in 2021 and has failed to throw multiple touchdowns in nine of 11 games this year. The veteran will be without his top pass-catchers and mainly an option in Superflex leagues in Week 12.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (pectoral/shoulder) got in a full practice on Friday and is without an injury designation heading into a Week 12 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincinnati has been tough on opposing quarterbacks in 2021, allowing the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game. Roethlisberger has been pedestrian for much of the season but he's been trending up of late, having thrown five touchdowns over his past two games. The veteran signal-caller threw for 318 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions back when these two teams met in Week 3. Treat him as a low-end QB2 for Week 12.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt (calf) is expected to be activated and on the field when his team takes on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12. Hunt has been sidelined since injuring his calf during a Week 6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The veteran running back will take on a Baltimore defense that is allowing the 17th-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. If Hunt is active, look for him to slot in for the majority of the work in the passing game plus his usual 12-14 carries on the ground. That will be enough to treat him as a low-end RB2 in fantasy for Week 12.
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton should have an expanded role on Sunday as the team will be without WR Sterling Shepard (quad) and most likely Kadarius Toney (quad) for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The 24-year-old has caught 16 passes for 227 yards and touchdown over seven games in 2021. Slayton is the Giants' top downfield threat and faces an Eagles that has been tough against WR2s and ranks sixth versus the opposing team's secondary targets. Even with the expanded role, the Giants offense has struggled most of the season, and Slayton is a boom-or-bust flex option in Week 12.
Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper has been trending up in recent weeks, having caught eight balls for 78 yards and a touchdown over his past two games. Hooper will take on the Baltimore Ravens on the road in a Week 12 divisional matchup. Baltimore has been generous to opposing tight ends this season as they are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game. Hooper still carries some risk as a fantasy option but he has become a bit more reliable of late. Treat him as a mid-range TE2 in Week 12.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (knee) got in a limited practice session on Friday and will head into his team's Week 12 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens without an injury designation. Landry has been playing through a knee injury for much of the season, which has limited his mobility on the field. The Ravens represent a neutral matchup for Landry as they are allowing the 14th-most fantasy points per game to wide receivers in 2021. Landry and the Cleveland passing game has been struggling over the past few contests, which makes the veteran wideout a risky option in fantasy in Week 12. Treat him as a low-end WR3 this weekend.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (groin, shoulder, foot) got in full practices on Thursday and Friday and is listed without an injury designation as he gears up to take on the Baltimore Ravens on the road in Week 12. Mayfield is playing through an assortment of injuries that have affected him on the field, but he continues to suit up and play through a variety of ailments. Baltimore sets up as a plus matchup for Mayfield in Week 12 as they are allowing the ninth-most fantasy points per game to the quarterback position in 2021. That being said, Mayfield has not played well over the past month and will be tough to trust against Baltimore. Treat him as a low-end QB2 for Week 12.
New York Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay has had a forgettable season in 2021. He's caught 20 passes for 322 yards and has yet to find the end zone. The 28-year-old is averaging 4.0 YAC per reception and 15% of the team's target share, ranked 61st among all wideouts this season. Golladay will try to turn things around against a Philadelphia Eagles defense that ranks 26th in DVOA against wide receivers on the year. The Giants will be without wide receivers Sterling Shepard (quad) and most likely Kadarius Toney (quad) for Sunday's game. Golladay should see an uptick in targets while both receivers are sidelined. The former Detroit Lion hasn't produced in fantasy this year and can't be trusted as anything more than a boom-or-bust flex option in Week 12.