Week 10 of the 2021 NFL season wraps up with Monday Night Football as the San Francisco 49ers play host to the Los Angeles Rams. Here is my fantasy football preview to the game, offering up my starts and sits and DFS plays for Monday night action.
Over/Under Points Scored: 45.5
Los Angeles Rams
QB Matthew Stafford — Stafford was on the injury report with a back injury last week but wasn’t found on it in Week 10, alleviating concerns over a regional issue that can sometimes linger all season. The 49ers, meanwhile, have suffered losses at key spots on defense. DL Javon Kinlaw, DL Dee Ford, CB Jason Verrett, and SS Jaquiski Tartt are all on Injured Reserve. Rotational defenders DL Maurice Hurst, Dre Kirkpatrick, and S Tavon Wilson are all out due to injury. FS Jimmie Ward and CB Josh Norman are expected to suit up but will be playing at less than 100%. Stafford can once again be started as a mid-to-low QB1 against San Fran this evening.
WR Cooper Kupp — Shortly after the Rams signed Odell Beckham Jr. last week, stud WR Robert Woods tore his ACL. Kupp has seen double-digit targets in 8-of-9 games this year and the Woods injury all but guarantees that remains the case for Week 10. He’s the top-ranked WR1 this week.
WR Odell Beckham Jr. — Beckham is unlikely to see even a 50% snap rate this week. He’s battled severe shoulder injuries for weeks now and is still learning the playbook. For redraft purposes, he’s a highly volatile WR5. He absolutely belongs in single-game DFS lineups though.
WRs Van Jefferson Jr. and Ben Skowronek — Jefferson seems like the best bet to handle Woods’ vacated receiving role but the team announced on Sunday that big-boded rookie Skowronek will start in Woods’ stead. Skowronek was hardly productive as a five-year college player though so it seems likely that he’s more likely to absorb Woods’ league-leading blocking role:
Robert Woods is tied for the WR lead with 202 blocking snaps this year. Out of 63 WRs with 100 blocking snaps, he's 1st in PFF grade.
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) November 13, 2021
Assuming that’s the case, Skowronek barely garners fantasy WR7 consideration while Jefferson is a viable WR3.
TE Tyler Higbee — Given the aforementioned absence of strong safety Jaquiski Tartt, Higbee’s main obstacle is coverage linebacker Fred Warner. Warner received a hefty extension this summer but his 2021 play has left John Lynch unsatisfied. Higbee makes for a sneaky fantasy TE1 this week and deserves consideration in DFS MVP/captain slots.
RB Darrell Henderson Jr. — Henderson’s 140 2021 touches rank 9th at the position and he should be able to hop up a few spots against an SF front-seven that’s currently allowing 28.9 RB touches per game, 10th most in the NFL. Those 28.9 touches are going for an average of 22.6 .5PPR PPG, 13th most in the NFL. The matchup specifically suits Henderson’s run-heavy usage as the San Fran’s DL/LB corps’ 38.5% run defense NEFF rating ranks just 31st in the league. Henderson remains a mid-tier RB1 for Week 10.
RB Sony Michel — Michel is just a back-end RB4 for redraft purposes but could be fired up in contrarian DFS lineups. He’s one of the league’s premier bellcow backups.
San Francisco 49ers
QB Jimmy Garoppolo — Garoppolo has cleared 300 yards passing in consecutive weeks. Those gaudy sums were reached when San Fran cranked up their first-half early-down passing rate from 52%, 17th most, to 67%, 3rd most (SharpFootballStats.com). Hopefully Kyle Shanahan sticks to that script this week–the Rams won’t have any issue running up the score and the Niners’ will need to keep pace. An X-factor to make note of; SF just lost stud RT Mike McGlinchey to IR. Von Miller’s impending debut for the Rams could spell trouble. Miller is likely to be on a snap count (ankle) but he can still wreak havoc on just a handful of plays. Garoppolo is a mid-tier QB2 with back-end QB1 upside.
WR Deebo Samuel — Samuel kept hold of SF’s target lead over the last two weeks (9 targets in both) despite WR Brandon Aiyuk’s Week 8 breakout/reconciliation with Kyle Shanahan and TE George Kittle’s return from Injured Reserve. With the gang back together, Samuel is unlikely to toy with double-digit target totals like he did so often in September and October but he’s still a mid-to-high WR2 in redraft. Slot receiver Mohamed Sanu is out this week due to a knee injury, which should increase Samuel’s slot rate to some degree, but Rams lockdown CB Jalen Ramsey has manned the slot in nickel packages this year so that’s not necessarily helpful in this one.
WR Brandon Aiyuk — Since Aiyuk turned the corner in Week 8, he’s received 15 targets, 1 carry, 5 punt returns and is the only Niner to have had his number called on a 2-point conversion, which he converted. The doghouse days are over. The second-year receiver is a locked-in top-24 WR from here on out.
WRs Jauan Jennings and Trent Sherfield — One of these two will take over for the injured slot receiver Mohamed Sanu tonight but it’s unclear as to whom will get the nod. Their snap rates are nearly identical over the last two weeks, Sherfield appears to be the better player, but Jennings’ 71.8% preseason snap rate towered over Sherfield’s 34.8% (PFF.com). As mentioned in the Samuel section though, stud CB Ramsey often operates as the Rams’ slot CB. Of course, San Francisco owns the league’s highest 21 personnel (2 WRs, 2 RBs, 1 TE,) rate at 34% (SharpFootballStats.com) so it’s possible neither man sees relevant action regardless. Fade the pair of fill-ins outside of contrarian DFS lineups.
TE George Kittle — Kittle’s smashed expectations in his return from IR last week. A slow start would’ve been understandable given the matchup against Arizona’s coverage linebacker Isaiah Simmons but that wasn’t the case. Kittle amassed 6 catches on 8 targets for 101 yards and 1 touchdown. Exciting occurrences; Kittle tied Aiyuk for the Week 9 team lead in both red zone (three) and end zone (one) targets (PFF.com) and finished as the TE2 in .5PPR formats. He’s an elite TE1 against a Rams’ defense that’s currently allowing 13.1 .5PPR PPG, 7th most in the NFL.
RB Elijah Mitchell — It’s unclear as to when pass catching back JaMycal Hasty suffered the ankle injury that’s keeping him out tonight as Hasty’s Week 9 snap rate continued his streak of 3 straight games at 34%. What we do know though is that the rookie Mitchell ran a career-high 28 routes last week (PFF.com), nearly doubling his previous best mark of 16, while also earning a career-high in targets, 5. Los Angeles’ front-seven has a number of talented players but their commitment to deploying pass defense personnel leaves them exposed to big games from opposing backs. LA’s run defense ranks 18th in run defense NEFF rating with a score of 48.6% and their 20.9 .5PPR RB PPG allowed is roughly middle of the pack. Mitchell is once again a top-15 fantasy back.
RB Jeff Wilson Jr. and FB Kyle Juszczyk — Kyle Shanahan has to replace both the designated passing down back Hasty, as well as slot receiver Sanu. Wilson, the fourth-year back out of North Texas, has always been a talented, efficient rusher. He’s struggled as a pass catcher when given opportunities in the past though and do-it-all fullback Juszczyk has always excelled in the passing game when called upon. It’s likely that Shanahan just opts to keep Juszczyk on the field well over 50% of the time, using the 21 personnel grouping as his base formation and asking the fullback to handle would-be Hasty duties. Wilson was active but saw no work last week. His pure rushing potential, combined with Hasty’ absence (and Trey Sermon’s doghouse status), keeps him in the RB4 conversation. Juszczyk’s receiving potential puts him in the RB4 spot immediately behind Wilson in our Week 10 Running Back Rankings.