By JOE REEDY
AP Sports Writer
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley runs against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley, left, and Chicago Bears defensive back Sherrick McManis meet on the field after an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Rams won 17-7. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown celebrates after scoring against the Chicago Bears during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is pushed out of bounds at the goal line by Chicago Bears cornerback Buster Skrine during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley is tackled by Chicago Bears strong safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff passes against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky passes against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey breaks up a pass intended for Chicago Bears wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, right, during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
LOS ANGELES (AP) Todd Gurley was told by Rams coach Sean McVay before Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Bears that he was going to be a focal point of Los Angeles’ offense.
Gurley rose to the occasion and delivered his best game of the season.
The All-Pro running back had a season-high 133 scrimmage yards and scored a touchdown to lead the Rams to a 17-7 victory to help them keep pace in the NFC playoff race.
“We had a bunch of guys down and I was able to step up,” Gurley said. “It felt like the old Todd. I was glad I was able to go out there and take advantage of what I got.”
On a night when the Rams were missing two of their starting receivers and had a reworked offensive line, McVay reigned things in. Los Angeles (6-4) ran it on 65.4% of its plays (34 of 52). That is the highest run percentage in McVay’s three seasons as coach and only the fourth time they have gone to ground more than 60% of the time.
Gurley led the way with a season-high 25 carries. His 97 rushing yards also tied for his most this year.
“What I loved the most about what Todd did was after we put the first carry on the ground he didn't flinch,” McVay said. “He came back, had some good, tough, physical runs, made some good catches out of the backfield and he was a big-time contributor tonight.”
Jared Goff was 11 of 18 for 173 yards and an interception with many of his completions coming off play action.
The Bears (4-6) ran 22 more plays than the Rams but averaged only 3.6 yards. Mitchell Trubisky was 24 of 43 for 190 yards with a touchdown and interception. Trubisky injured his right hip on the last drive of the first half but didn’t come out until late in the fourth quarter, when Chase Daniel came in.
“I was just all arm in the second half pretty much,” Trubisky said. “Just trying to fight though the pain and trying to make the throws. I still felt like I was still putting the ball in some pretty good spots. Just couldn’t move around or couldn’t buy time.”
Gurley came in averaging 53.5 rushing yards per game, but had 63 in the first half, including three carries of 10 yards or more. After Greg Zuerlein opened the scoring with a 38-yard field goal early n the second quarter, Gurley put the Rams up 10-0 with 3:28 remaining on a 1-yard drive up the middle.
Gurley’s TD was set up when Goff connected with Cooper Kupp for a 50-yard gain. Kupp beat Buster Skrine up the left sideline and hauled in the pass at the 15 before he fumbled going out of bounds at the 1. It appeared as if Kupp might have fumbled it at the pylon, which would have been a Chicago touchback.
“When we're at our best is when we're running the ball well. There have been games when we haven't and we've overcome it and thrown it but that's not usually how we want to do it,” Goff said.
After Tarik Cohen’s third-quarter touchdown catch brought Chicago to 10-7, the Rams put it out of reach with 3:35 remaining in the fourth quarter on Malcolm Brown’s 5-yard run.
Chicago got to 10-7 on its first drive of the second half when Trubisky connected with Cohen for a 12-yard score. Cohen beat linebacker Cory Littleton in single coverage to score his third touchdown of the season.
WALKING THE LINE
Goff’s 11 completions and 18 attempts were career lows when starting a game, but the game plan was effective. Chicago’s Khalil Mack was held without a tackle or sack.
A lot of credit goes to the reworked offensive line. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth was the only constant with Austin Blythe moving from left guard to center. Austin Corbett, who was acquired last month from Cleveland, got his first Rams start at left guard with rookies David Edwards and Bobby Evans on the right side. Edwards got his fourth start at guard and Evans his first at tackle.
“It’s a testament to those guys how much they prepared,” Whitworth said. “You put four new guys at four new spots in the NFL and you lose 50-0. These guys came out and executed. That’s what good teams do and that’s what we’ve got to do more of.”
The Bears drove inside the Rams 35 on their first three series but had nothing to show for it. Eddy Piñeiro missed 48- and 47-yard field goal attempts and Chicago turned it over on downs on the second series.
“We’ve been struggling with drives, getting going, and we finally get a couple first downs,” Nagy said. “And now it might not sound great, but we were in position to kick a field goal to start the game and we missed it. And those are the ones I really wish we could have.”
Piñeiro began the season 9 of 10 on field goals but has missed three straight and four of his last seven. Nagy said after the game that he continues to have faith in his kicker.
Rams: WR Robert Woods was listed as a surprise inactive before the game due to a personal issue. Woods is second on the team in receptions (45) and had seven catches for 61 yards in last year’s game at Chicago. Brandin Cooks (concussion) also was inactive,
Bears: RT Bobby Massie suffered a back injury during the second half. He didn’t return.
Bears: Host the New York Giants (2-8) next Sunday.
Rams: Host the Baltimore Ravens (8-2) next Monday night.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein is 6-for-9 in field goals the last five games, and he has nailed all 11 extra points in what has been a bit of an outage in fantasy. The offense isn't presenting him enough opportunities, and the Dallas Cowboys limit what kickers do against them as well. Steer clear of "Greg The Leg" again this week.
The Los Angeles Rams Defense has been good over the last five weeks as they're seventh in fantasy points. The Dallas Cowboys are one of the better teams against opposing defenses because they don't turn the ball over or allow many sacks. Look elsewhere for a defense this week.
Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson came through with a receiving touchdown last week in his first visit to the end zone in nearly two months. Running back Kenyan Drake has really diminished Johnson's role. Johnson has rushed for just 36 yards on 12 carries (3.0 yards per rush) with five catches for 51 yards in his last four games. Maybe the last week's touchdown gave him a bigger piece of the pie, but he can't be played until that's evident. Sit him against the Cleveland Browns.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk balled out with a three-touchdown game a month ago, but he has slowed since. He has averaged 5.7 catches for 49.7 receiving yards and no touchdowns per game the last three games. He catches enough to be used in point-per-reception formats, but his yardage and touchdown output is suspect without that point. The Cleveland Browns are a bend-but-don't-break matchup. They've allowed 162.8 receiving yards and 11.8 catches over the last five games and two touchdowns total to the position. Kirk is worth using as a flex option in PPR leagues, but he's a risky choice in non-PPR formats.
Arizona Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez has lost most of his fantasy appeal in recent weeks. He isn't likely to get it back against the Cleveland Browns. They have allowed opposing kickers to go 7-for-10 in field goals and 9-for-9 in extra points. Gonzalez is lacking the upside to use him in the tough matchup.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is coming off a game in which he completed 80% of his passes for 242 yards and a touchdown against the Lions, continuing a streak of stellar play for the much-maligned passer. Facing a tough Los Angeles Chargers Defense on the road, it's likely that Cousins will need to throw a bit more with the Vikings currently favored by just one point. The Chargers rank in the top-five in fewest fantasy points allowed to the position and haven't given up more than 182 yards passing in three consecutive weeks. Interestingly, they rank 20th in pass DVOA. Star wideout Adam Thielen is finally set to return, giving Cousins a full complement of weapons and (finally) taking some pressure off of Stefon Diggs. This offense is clicking, and Cousins should have the volume to put up some usable fantasy numbers in this matchup. Start him as a high-end QB2 and keep him in your daily fantasy player pool.
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones has been hit or miss lately because his fantasy value is predicated on sacks. He has 18 tackles (13 solo), 4.5 sacks, a pass defense and two forced fumbles the last four games, which sneaks him into the top 20 linebackers. He's too risky to use against the Cleveland Browns this week.