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FFL: Playoff Week 2 | NFL: Week 15

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
Curtis Samuel Dec 14 10:20am ET

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel is coming off of a two-catch, 25-yard performance against the Falcons in Week 14. Despite this, the 23-year-old has five receiving touchdowns on the year and has the capacity for another against an average Seahawks Defense. Fantasy managers need to understand that there is some risk involved with Samuel in Week 15, but the upside is equally there.

From RotoBaller

D.J. Moore Dec 14 10:00am ET

Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore has been one of the league's most productive wideouts in 2019 and will look continue that trend on Sunday against a Seahawks Defense that has allowed a middle-of-the-pack 35.43 fantasy points to his position. Moore didn't have the best outing in Week 14, finishing with just four catches for 81 yards. Despite this, the 22-year-old has remained relatively consistent and has been targeted at least eight times in 10 games this year, while receiving double-digit looks in seven games. He is a solid option in all formats in Week 15 but should be considered a must-start in PPR formats.

From RotoBaller

Kyle Allen Dec 14 9:50am ET

Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen will attempt to salvage what has been a disappointing season on Sunday against Seattle. With Cam Newton (foot) potentially already having played his last game with the club, the sophomore will look to make his case to remain the signal-caller come next season, with Seattle being the first of the team's final three opponents in 2019. Though the Seahawks are a long way removed from the "Legion of Boom" days, the defensive unit has played well enough to get the job done for a team that is propelled by a high-octane offense. With Allen throwing all 12 over his interceptions on the year throughout his previous seven starts, fantasy owners shouldn't expect much, while realizing that he could have a few solid outings left in the tank for those in need of a fantasy quarterback in Week 15.

From RotoBaller

Christian McCaffrey Dec 14 9:30am ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has failed to hit the 100-yard mark on the ground in any of his last four games but has stepped things up as a receiver, nonetheless, by collecting 38 of his 48 targets for 330 yards during that same span. The Seahawks have been decent against opposing backs this year, limiting them to just 23.10 fantasy points point per game. Though this may seem discouraging to some degree, McCaffrey is the kind of player who could easily cause that average to rise by the end of Week 15. With the Panthers out of postseason contention, however, the 23-year-old could see a decline in snaps, but while this is a realistic possibility, he has played too well this year to bench. Consider him a must-start despite the risks.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Jones Dec 14 5:30am ET

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones did not play well during his first encounter with the Bears Defense back in Week 1, finishing the night with just 39 yards on 13 attempts, while catching only one pass for no gain. However, the 25-year-old is fresh off of a Week 14 outing against the Redskins, where he logged 134 yards and a score to go along with six catches for 58 yards. Though Chicago is a much more formidable opponent, his performance against Washington suggests that the potential for significant production is always there, with his outlook for Week 15 being no different despite the tougher matchup.

From RotoBaller

Jamaal Williams Dec 14 5:30am ET

Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams still remains fantasy relevant despite rushing for a subpar 24 yards on seven carries against the Redskins in Week 14. The 24-year-old has demonstrated this season that he can produce on a week-to-week basis, as evident by the five touchdowns he logged in four-straight outings not too long ago. While the matchup against a tough Chicago Defense will likely make fantasy owners apprehensive, he still should have a place in fantasy lineups, especially in deeper formats for those looking for someone with a significant upside in Week 15.

From RotoBaller

Davante Adams Dec 14 3:30am ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (toe) has been removed from the team's injury report and should be ready to go against the Bears in Week 15. After an up-and-down season from a production standpoint to start the year, coupled with a four-game absence as a result of turf toe, the 26-year-old has picked things up, especially as of late, compiling 31 catches (49 targets) for 307 yards and three touchdowns over his last five outings. He did struggle against Chicago in Week 1, but the upside is always there whenever he is on the field and should be considered a must-start in all formats on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Rodgers Dec 14 2:30am ET

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a difficult matchup on Sunday against a Bears Defense that limited him to just 203 yards and a touchdown during the Thursday night season opener. The veteran hasn't been consistent, especially as of late, and has logged a touchdown or less in four of his last five games. The 36-year-old has played relatively well against Chicago throughout his tenure in the league, however, maintaining a 66.9 completion percentage to go along with 46 scores and only 10 picks in 22 career meetings. The upside is there for the fantasy managers who won't be scared off by his recent string of shoddy performances and is worth a start in Week 15 in all formats.

From RotoBaller

Stefon Diggs Dec 14 1:10am ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs had a great game in a tough matchup last week, beating Darius Slay for six catches and 92 yards in the win. He'll have another tough draw against Casey Hayward and the Los Angeles Chargers Defense in Week 15. They have a great secondary and play a lot of zone coverage, which is not Diggs' strong suit. However, Diggs has shown huge upside this season and he put up strong fantasy numbers despite tough matchups in two of the last three weeks. Having Adam Thielen back to draw attention away only helps his cause, and this game projecting to be close means that the Vikings will likely be forced to the air more. Start Diggs as a WR2 who has some sneaky upside in Week 15.

From RotoBaller

Dalvin Cook Dec 14 12:40am ET

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is as volume-based RB1 in Week 15, as he has been for most of the season. He wasn't listed on the injury report at all on Friday and backup Alexander Mattison (ankle) being out definitely increases his projected workload. Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah will split the backup role, but it's unlikely that they'll see the type of volume that Mattison was getting. The Chargers Defense ranks 23rd in rush DVOA but has been stingy as of late as they've had key players return from injury. In fact, they haven't allowed a back to eclipse 63 total yards in their last three games. Start Cook as an RB1 this week as he's a lock for at least 20 touches and a good bet for a few red zone opportunities.

From RotoBaller

Leonard Fournette Dec 13 11:20pm ET

Despite struggling in Week 14 against the Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette should still be considered a solid RB2 in Week 15 against the Oakland Raiders. Fournette dominates the backfield touches on this Jaguars team and has seen his role as a pass-catcher increase over the past three games. The Raiders Defense hasn't offered too much resistance to opposing backs this year and are also allowing the fourth-most receiving yards to running backs. With D.J. Chark out, expect quarterback Gardner Minshew to rely more on Fournette as a receiving option as well, setting him up for what should be a solid outing.

From RotoBaller

Dede Westbrook Dec 13 11:20pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook should be the team's top weapon on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders with fellow receiver D.J. Chark already ruled out. Westbrook entered the year as the team's number one target, but Chark emerged as a key deep threat and Westbrook dealt with injuries. Now, though, the third-year receiver has a great shot to put up strong fantasy numbers against a Raiders team that's allowing the 13th-most PPR points per game to opposing wide receivers. He's still got risk, especially as he deals with a shoulder issue, but he's the best fantasy option among Jags pass-catchers this week.

From RotoBaller

Gardner Minshew II Dec 13 11:10pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew threw for just 162 yards in his return to the starting role last week, but he should be in line to surpass that when Jacksonville faces the Oakland Raiders in Week 15. Oakland allows the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing passers, and the last time Minshew started against a comparable defense in fantasy points allowed was when he threw for 300 yards against Houston in Week 9. D.J. Chark won't play, which puts a little damper on Minshew's upside, but this is still a plus matchup for the rookie, who should be considered as a solid QB2.

From RotoBaller

DeVante Parker Dec 13 8:50pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Devante Parker has signed a four-year extension with the team that includes the next two years guaranteed, locking the breakout receiver into a deal with a rebuilding Miami team. This is a good spot for Parker, who's been become a reliable fantasy option for the Dolphins this season, and while there's risk involved based on his track record, he should still be considered a strong fantasy option moving forward in dynasty leagues.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Donald Dec 13 8:40pm ET

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is eighth in fantasy points at the position over the last five weeks. He isn't posting out-of-this-world numbers, but he gets to the quarterback almost every game. The Dallas Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines in the game, and Donald doesn't do much outside of the sacks category. Sit him this week.

From RotoBaller

Jared Goff Dec 13 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff has started to right the ship a bit after a three-game touchdown drought. He has thrown for 717 yards, four touchdowns and two picks the last two games. He'll have a solid matchup against a struggling Dallas Cowboys Defense. They've allowed 218.8 passing yards a game the last five games, but they've allowed nine touchdowns to one interception total during the span. Roll with Goff as a low-end QB1 with some upside.

From RotoBaller

Cooper Kupp Dec 13 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp has been really sketchy of late, but he has scored a couple of touchdowns to salvage his last two weeks. He has 19 grabs for 198 yards and two touchdowns in the last five games. Quarterback Jared Goff has really grown a rapport with receiver Robert Woods, and Kupp has suffered. The Dallas Cowboys are a midrange matchup, and Kupp is a low-end WR2 this week.

From RotoBaller

Todd Gurley Dec 13 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley has performed like an RB1 in his best stretch of the season the last five weeks. He has rushed 85 times for 366 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. Gurley caught a modest 11 balls for 87 yards during the stretch. The Cowboys present a midrange matchup that has allowed 3.9 yards per carry during the same span. Gurley will be a high-end RB2 this week.

From RotoBaller

Robert Woods Dec 13 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods is having the best run of his career the last five weeks. In point-per-reception formats, he ranks seventh in fantasy points. He also missed a game due to personal reasons in the span. He's averaging 8.3 receptions for 115.5 yards during the last four games, but the one downside is he has one touchdown on the season. The Dallas Cowboys are a midrange matchup, and Woods is a high-end WR2 play.

From RotoBaller

Brandin Cooks Dec 13 8:30pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks has caught four passes for 56 yards in the last three games since returning from a concussion. His freefall disqualifies him from consideration for fantasy against the Dallas Cowboys.

From RotoBaller