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.
The New York Jets Defense has a good matchup on paper in Week 14. However, fantasy owners may want to think twice before starting this unit in the playoffs. The Dolphins have been a punch line most of this season but have actually won three of their last five games, scoring 20-plus points in four of those games. The Miami offense has looked good led by former Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick who said he's feeling confident after hanging 37 points on the Eagles last week. The Jets defense was picked apart by Bengals QB Andy Dalton last week and now will likely be without stud safety Jamal Adams (ankle). The Jets could be used as a low-end starter, but other streaming defenses are likely to outperform Gang Green this week.
New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was limited in Wednesday's practice with a hamstring injury. This is nothing new for the veteran wide receiver who has been limited in most practices this season, but hasn't missed any game action since September. Thomas will be active and play for the Jets this Sunday, but fantasy owners don't need to follow suit. Thomas has just one game in his last six with more than five targets and hasn't done much with the limited work he's getting. Starting QB Sam Darnold has been throwing more to Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder in recent weeks with Thomas fading to fantasy obscurity, even in a good matchup with Miami.
The Falcons Defense showed some glimpses of hope in Week 10 and Week 11, completely shutting down the Saints and Panthers. However, the past two weeks, they've struggled mightily and have allowed a total of 61 points. This week, the Falcons have their second meeting against the Panthers. While Kyle Allen could turn the ball over a few times and provide ample sack opportunities, the Panthers should still put a good amount of points on the board. The Falcons defense could be worth considering if you're in a pinch, but you're probably best off going in a different direction this week.
Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo has earned at least three field goal attempts in each of his four games with the Falcons. He's hit 12-of-14 attempts on the year. This week, the Falcons face the Panthers in a game that should feature a good amount of scoring. Expect Koo to have the opportunity to hit two or three field goals in the game with some extra-points as well, making him a strong starting kicker option this week.
Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill saw his workload heavily diminished upon the return of Devonta Freeman in Week 13. This week should be a similar story as the team faces the Panthers. Hill should see only around six or seven touches at best in the game, giving him little hope of a solid fantasy day. He can be left on waivers in all leagues at this point.
Atlanta Falcons running back Qadree Ollison didn't see a single touch in Week 13. The team featured Devonta Freeman heavily in the game, with Brian Hill as his backup. Ollison scored touchdowns in back-to-back games while Freeman was out in Week 11 and Week 12, but now appears to be relegated to benchwarmer status. He can be dropped or left on waivers in all leagues at this point.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage (ribs) was a limited practice participant on Wednesday. He wasn't alone. Julio Jones (shoulder), Calvin Ridley (toe) and Austin Hooper (knee) were all limited as well. Assuming Gage is able to play in Week 14, his upside varies greatly depending on which of the other three hobbled Falcons pass-catchers are good to go. If Jones, Ridley and Hooper all suit up, Gage is tough to trust in any format. If one of them sits, Gage is a decent PPR play. If two or more sit, Gage is worth starting in all formats. Gage has 13 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown over his past two games.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder has disappointed fantasy owners two weeks in a row totaling just four catches for 26 yards in both games combined. Seeing numbers like that can make it hard to trust the fifth-year receiver, but based on his target volume and matchup fantasy owners should turn back to Crowder in Week 14. Crowder has 18 more targets than any other Jet on the season and has done all of his damage this year when QB Sam Darnold has been healthy. Darnold looks Crowder's way often and even with just two catches last week Crowder was targeted nine times. Crowder will be a low-end WR2 vs a very beatable Miami secondary.
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman saw a heavy workload in Week 13, following a two-game absence. He had a total of 21 touches in Week 13, including four receptions. He should be similarly featured this week as the team takes on the Panthers. Freeman has greatly struggled from an efficiency standpoint this year, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry on the season. However, his workload has somewhat made up for his struggles and he's performed as an RB2 most of the year. Start him as an RB2 this week and look for him to gain around 80 yards on the day with a solid chance to score a touchdown.
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson has been disappointing for most of 2019, but appears to be heating up as the weather cools down in the Big Apple. Despite the Jets offense looking lost for most of their Week 13 loss to the Bengals, Anderson was able to make seven catches for 101 yards as one of the few bright spots for New York. Even before that game, Anderson had scored a touchdown in the previous two games as it seems he's finally being treated as the number one receiving option by this first-year coaching staff. Miami gives up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and Anderson is coming off a 10-target game. Expect the Jets to take a few deep shots to him in this one making him a high-ceiling WR3.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (shoulder) missed his first game of the year in Week 13 and is currently questionable for Week 14. He was a limited practice participant on Wednesday. If he can practice in full before Sunday's game against the Panthers, he should be good to go. Jones has had a somewhat underwhelming year, by his lofty standards. He hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3 and he has just two 100-yard games since Week 3. However, he's still regularly seen around eight or more targets throughout the year. Expect him to catch around six passes for 80 or more yards in Week 14 if he's active.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley (toe) was a limited practice participant on Wednesday. He's currently questionable for Week 14 against the Panthers, but there doesn't seem to be much indication that he's at risk to miss the game. Ridley is riding a three-game hot streak. He has 22 receptions for over 300 yards and two touchdowns over his past three games. Julio Jones (shoulder) missed the team's last game and appears trending towards playing in Week 14. If Jones is active, Ridley's upside takes a small hit, but he's a strong WR2 play in all formats regardless.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had a solid bounce-back performance in Week 13, throwing for 312 yards and two touchdowns. This week, Ryan and the Falcons face the Panthers. The Falcons are riddled with injuries on offense, but signs seem to be pointing towards a return for Julio Jones (shoulder) and Austin Hooper (knee) this week. The Falcons have struggled so much to run the ball this year that Ryan is regularly forced to throw a lot of passes. Expect him to top 300 yards and throw for multiple touchdowns in Week 14.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper (knee) was a limited practice participant on Wednesday and could be slated to make his return in Week 14 against the Panthers. Hooper was having a monster season before the injury sidelined him. He earned at least five targets in each of the nine games he played this year and he has six touchdowns on the year. Keep an eye on his status the next few days, but if he's active for the game, he's a must-start.
The Bills Defense did a solid job holding a strong Cowboys offense to just 15 points in Week 13, but this week, they face an even tougher opponent, the Ravens. The Ravens are averaging over 33 points per game on the year and about 420 yards from scrimmage per game. The Bills defense has been exceptional all year and even though this week doesn't figure to be one of their stronger showings, they should still be able to make it out with an adequate fantasy day. They're a low-end starting option this week.
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell has had a rough first year in green and white averaging just 3.2 yards per carry and scoring just four total touchdowns through 13 games. Despite the rough season, a juicy matchup with a porous Dolphins run defense should have Bell in fantasy lineups once again this week. Miami gives up the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs and the Jets should focus on giving Bell the ball. Last week the Jets only gave Bell 10 carries against a bad Bengals run defense and were rightfully panned in the New York media for their game plan vs Cincinnati. Expect the coaching staff to learn from their mistake and feed Bell 20-plus touches this weekend putting Bell in the low-end RB1 conversation based on volume and matchup.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold had a miserable game in Cincinnati last Sunday, but will be in the streaming quarterback mix again in Week 14 with a home date against Miami. Darnold was roughed up by the Bengals taking several big hits and was seen limping during the last drive, but he practiced in full on Wednesday and will be good to go Sunday. The Jets offense looked lost last week but before that they scored 34 points in three straight games with Darnold looking much better than he did in his first few games back from illness. Darnold isn't the sexiest option to start in the fantasy playoffs, but he's been playing much better, he only has two turnovers in his last five games, and the Dolphins give up the third-most points to opposing QBs on the season.
Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox has had a steady role in the offense over the past month, but his usage isn't high enough to inspire confidence for fantasy owners. He has five catches on six targets in his past two games, but has only managed to gain 28 yards total in those two games. The team's passing offense has relied heavily on John Brown and Cole Beasley this year. Knox has shown promising flashes and could be a decent sleeper to target next year, but he can remain on waivers for now.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown is coming off of his worst game of the season. He caught just three passes for 26 yards in Week 13, only the second time he'd been held under 50 receiving yards in a game on the season. This week, the Bills face a tough Ravens Defense and they'll likely need to rely on Brown, one of their top playmakers, in order to stay in the game. Expect Brown to see around seven targets in the game, giving him a good chance for four or five catches and a few big plays. He's a WR2 this week.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley has been on a roll lately. He's topped 70 receiving yards in three of his past four games and has scored touchdowns in two straight. He's earned more targets than the team's No. 1 receiver John Brown each of the past two weeks. This week, the Bills face a tough Ravens Defense and quarterback Josh Allen may need to rely on Beasley as his short-yardage safety net once again. Expect Beasley to see around seven or eight targets in the game, making him a solid WR3 or flex play in PPR leagues. In non-PPR, he's a bit risky, but could still be considered a low-end WR3 or flex.