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Thursday Night Football Preview: What to Expect Fantasy-Wise from Rams at Seahawks

Previewing the fantasy football matchups in the Thursday Night Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks.

Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season starts with Thursday Night Football as the Seattle Seahawks play host to the Los Angeles Rams. Here’s a break down the fantasy football starts and sits for Thursday night’s action.

Los Angeles Rams

QB Matthew Stafford — Stafford had a “down” week in Week 4, finishing just two yards ahead of his Week 2 “down” outing. Said lull in production still led to 280 yards, 2 touchdowns, and just 1 interception. His Week 5 foe, the Seahawks are getting eviscerated by pocket passers. On a per game basis the ‘Hawks are allowing 310.8 passing yards (4th most), 2 touchdowns (T-8th most), while stealing just 0.2 interceptions (T-3rd fewest). Stafford remains a QB1 in this divisional bout.

WRs Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods — While their respective routes run (per PFF, 137 and 122) aren’t so different, Kupp and Woods’ target totals are—46 to 25. As seen in Week 3 with DeSean Jackson’s explosion, opponents are going to focus more and more on Kupp and another receiver will benefit. Consider Woods one of the premier buy-low candidates in fantasy. His 25 targets are still second on the team, even though it might not feel like it. Kupp is an every-week WR1. Woods is a high-end WR3 with easy WR2 upside.

WRs DeSean Jackson and Van Jefferson Jr. — The two players are rotating as the team’s Z-receiver. Both are boom/bust WR5s.

TE Tyler Higbee — Typical non-elite TE1. Usage is there for decent results but the production is underwhelming. Nothing special about this match-up.

RBs Darrell Henderson Jr. and Sony Michel — Expected usage was murky ahead of last week with Henderson returning from a rib injury that kept him out Week 3. HC Sean McVay ended all speculation as to whether he desires a running back rotation with his Week 4 usage. (Spoiler alert: he does not.)

PlayerSnaps (%TmSnp)Att-Yds-TDRZ Att/Inside-5yd AttRoutesRec/Tgt-Yds-TDPass Blocks/Run Blocks
Darrell Henderson61 (90%)14-89-01/0345/6-27-07/3
Sony Michel7 (10%)3-11-01/030/0-0-00/1

(Red zone/end zone and blocking data from PFF.com.)

That’s superb usage for Henderson. Like Woods, he’s an elite buy-low option right now. Henderson’s match-up against the Seahawks is as good as it gets. Not only are they allowing 27.9 .5PPR PPG to opposing backfields, they’re specifically getting carved up by RBs in the passing game: 7.8 receptions per game (4th most)and 72.2 receiving yards per game (the most). Henderson’s vice grip on the passing game work is going to pay big dividends. He’s Week 5’s RB8. Michel is just an RB4.

Related: Week 5 Fantasy Football Starts & Sits

Seattle Seahawks

QB Russell Wilson — As discussed last week, HC Pete Carroll is retaking control of the offense and keeping the offensive pace of play down. Their 54 Week 4 offensive snaps were T-3rd fewest in the NFL. Russell Wilson is more of a fringe QB1/2 than he is an elite QB1, as a result. That holds true against a tough LAR defense this week.

WR D.K. Metcalf — Like his quarterback, Metcalf will have to operate via efficiency rather than volume. Metcalf faced the Rams and lockdown CB Jalen Ramsey three times last year:

WeekTGTRECYDSTD
Wk 10, 202042280
Wk 16, 202086590
Playoffs, 2020115962

The dominant receiver finally got things going in the postseason but it’s clear to see that Ramsey has the ability to put the clamps on him. Metcalf has Tyreek Hill-like game breaking ability but understand that he’s somewhat at risk of a flop this week. A possible means of success; Ramsey has shadowed less and less as the years have gone on and often handles slot duties in nickel packages, per the great Greg Cosell. That said, Metcalf has been one of the receivers that Sean McVay has asked Ramsey to follow even as they dial back his full-time shadow usage. Metcalf is still a WR1 in Week 5 but he’s a volatile one.

WRs Tyler Lockett and Freddie Swain — Dee Eskridge will miss another game (concussion) this week, leaving Lockett and Swain to operate as the Nos. 2 and 3 WRs respectively. Lockett could fall into one of his “boom” performances after back-to-back busts as Ramsey should be focused on Metcalf for the much of the contest. Lockett’s no more than a volatile WR3 though. He and Swain are rotating lining up on the interior — an area that CB Ramsey’s been tasked with covering for much of this year. Swain, meanwhile, is showing the Seahawks that they have a serviceable No. 3 WR on the roster all along. For fantasy purposes, he’s a borderline WR4/5.

TEs Gerald Everett and Will Dissly — Everett has produced one negative PCR COVID-19 test and is awaiting results on a second one. Should it also be negative, Everett will play on Thursday night and should be fired up as a mid-range TE1. The Rams’ tight end coverage is not good. Arizona tight end Maxx Williams may have just had the best game of his career against them last week, going 5-of-5 for 66 yards and 1 touchdown. Dissly would be a high-end TE2 if Everett is inactive.

RBs Chris Carson, Alex Collins, and Travis Homer — Carson’s recurring neck injury had a flare up this week, leading to three straight practice DNPs. He’s a game-time decision but Dr. Jesse Morse of TheFantasyDoctors.com does not think Carson will be active (possibly due to a herniated disk). If Carson were to be kept active, Dr. Morse is highly doubtful of Carson’s efficacy. Those with Carson on their roster should not expect usable fantasy results this week. Keep him out of your lineup unless Adam Schefter reports that Carson should be a “full go” or something of that nature.

The best bet for significant lead back work is the journeyman, Collins. Seattle had been using Collins and Homer in a 2A/2B backup capacity behind Carson prior to last week but Collins put solid distance between himself and Homer in Week 4, seeing more snaps, carries, targets, and ran more routes (per PFF). Expect 18+ touches for Collins and 8 or so for Homer. The LA Rams’ defense is chalk full of talented players but they gear their personnel deployment towards stopping the pass and actually invite opponents to run the ball. As a result, their run defense NEFF rating of 41.5% ranks 26th in the NFL. Collins is a rock-solid RB2. Homer is a borderline RB4/5.

Update, Thursday, 3:40pm PST: RB  Chris Carson has been ruled out for tonight’s game. Alex Collins is a plug-and-play RB2 against a welcoming Rams run defense. Travis Homer just barely the RB51 this week with a touch of upside in full-point PPR formats.