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Conference Championship Round Showdown DFS Primer (49ers at Rams)

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Jan 28, 2022
Deebo Samuel

This is the third meeting between these NFC West foes, and the 49ers have won both games. Further, this is the third straight season the 49ers have swept the Rams. Nevertheless, the Rams are a more star-studded team, led by a better quarterback and understandably favored. Still, it’s been a challenging matchup, and the game is likely to be a tight one. Speaking of tight, the pool of players I’m considering for this single-game slate is tightly clustered, featuring only nine players between both teams combined.

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Game: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams

Spread: LAR -3.5 Points

Over/Under: 46.5 Points

49ers Analysis: The 49ers are a run-centric offense, winning despite Jimmy Garoppolo's lackluster play at quarterback. Jimmy G's play has been its worst of late as he plays through injuries. Kyle Shanahan exerted remarkable patience sticking with him last week. However, I'm not sure he'll exercise the same degree of patience if Garoppolo's play continues to stink on the precipice of a Super Bowl berth. As a result, I think this is the first time I've endorsed selecting a backup quarterback all year. Further, Trey Lance could be used in goal-line packages with rushing ability, despite a lack of specialized packages for the rookie since the early season.

Do-it-all stud Deebo Samuel is my favorite option from the 49ers. The star receiver that moonlights are a running back is game-script proof. Additionally, he has more than 80 scrimmage yards or at least one touchdown in 10 straight games. He's an unstoppable force, and the Rams have seen it first-hand this year. Samuel has over 130 scrimmage yards in both games against the Rams this year, scoring three touchdowns and hauling in nine receptions. I'm instantly locking two players on this slate into my lineups, and Samuel is one of them.

George Kittle is the other pass-catcher from the 49ers I'm totally enamored with. The superstar tight end snapped a four-game streak of under 30 receiving yards, hauling in four of six targets for 63 scoreless yards last week. Lost in his box score line, Kittle dropped an easy long reception that might have resulted in a touchdown with a pinch of luck after the catch. In the first meeting, he had a 5-50-1 line against the Rams, following it up with an odd 5-10-0 line on seven targets in the rematch. So, I'll lean into his hefty volume and expect better results in the third meeting.

Elijah Mitchell is the other key cog in San Francisco's offense I'm interested in. Last week's 17 rush attempts snapped a six-game streak of 21 rush attempts or more. Unfortunately, Mitchell hasn't been an efficient runner against the Rams. Regardless, Shanahan hasn't been dissuaded from force-feeding his speedy rookie runner. Mitchell ran the ball 48 times for 176 scoreless yards.

In addition, the 49ers love to run the ball and stick to their guns. According to Sharp Football Stats, when the offensive scoring margin is between trailing by six points and leading by six points, San Francisco runs at the fourth-highest rate (49%). However, they don't bail on running when trailing. When trailing by a scoring margin of between one and seven, the 49ers still run at the 11th-highest rate (42% versus a league average of 40%). Thus, as long as the 49ers don't get blown out, Mitchell should stay involved.

Finally, Jauan Jennings is the only player with a sub-$5,000 on DraftKings and one of only two players with a sub-$8,000 salary on FanDuel that I'm willing to spin down to use. According to Pro Football Focus, since Week 16, Jennings has been fourth on the team in routes (94), tied for third in targets (20), third in receptions (14), receiving yards (173), and first in touchdown receptions (two).

Rams Analysis: The Rams are a pass-heavy offense, passing at the eighth-highest rate (60%) in neutral game scripts. However, their backfield has produced fantasy results through volume, using Darrell Henderson Jr., Sony Michel, and Cam Akers have all rotated through as feature backs. Akers has most recently handled that gig. However, he had two devastating fumbles last week. So, I'm unsure if he'll retain his stranglehold on the job.

Additionally, this is a brutal matchup. According to Football Outsiders, the 49ers are second in rush defense Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). Per Pro-Football-Reference, they've also allowed the seventh-fewest rushing yards and ninth-fewest receiving yards to running backs this year.

Instead, it behooves the Rams to take to the air against the 49ers. San Francisco is 16th in pass defense DVOA. Unfortunately, Matthew Stafford was terrible in the first meeting, passing for only 243 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Still, he made strides in the rematch, passing for 238 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. Obviously, his second showing wasn't great, either. However, it was a step in the right direction. Thus, he's a usable play. Though, I don't view him as a must-use option, creating a situation where I'm open to fading both starting quarterbacks on this single-game slate.

Cooper Kupp is the second must-use player with Samuel from above. Kupp led every meaningful receiving category, perhaps most impressively averaging 114.5 receiving yards per game, making him the only player to average more than 100 receiving yards per game this year. Kupp has seamlessly blended a sky-high ceiling, sky-high floor, and week-to-week consistency with boom weeks. And, in two games against the 49ers this year, Kupp was targeted 21 times, hauling in 18 receptions for 240 yards and one touchdown.

Tyler Higbee is my second-favorite option from the Rams. He reeled in nine of 11 targets for 75 yards and three touchdowns against the 49ers this year. More importantly, since Week 16, Higbee has been third on the team in routes (152), touchdowns (two), and second in targets (31), receptions (24), and receiving yards (262). Sure, Odell Beckham Jr. is getting an absurd amount of hype from his fanbase. Nevertheless, Higbee has been the second option in the passing attack, more productive, and is cheaper than OBJ.

Van Jefferson is an option for chasing a big play. Since Week 16, Jefferson has had an average depth of target of 15.1 yards downfield, per Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, according to Sharp Football Stats, San Francisco allows the 10th-highest average explosive pass rate (nine percent). So, there is a matchup-based argument for Jefferson producing a big play or two.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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