NFL

FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 14 Thursday Night (Patriots at Rams)

If you were bored by the low-scoring Super Bowl XXXVI matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots, you may want to watch something else tonight.

While the two teams are very different squads than they were in that 20-17 Pats win, oddsmakers are expecting a similar type of game. On FanDuel Sportsbook, the Rams are 4.5-point favorites, and the total is set at 44.0 points -- implying a 24.25-19.75 win for LA.

Per our oddsFire tool, the betting public is pretty split on the spread, with 58% of both the money and the bets coming in on the Rams to cover. There is some sharp money on the under. While 54% of the bets are backing the under, 61% of the money has followed suit, indicating some big wagers on the under.

For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to the main slate. However, kickers are included in these contests, and there is an "MVP" roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5-times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial.

This past offseason, our Brandon Gdula did a deep dive on single-game strategy. It's worth checking out before you make your lineups.

Jared Goff, Rams ($15,500)

This is a pretty tough single-game slate, because it's hard to feel all that good about anyone. With that said, our model projects Jared Goff as the slate's top play, forecasting him to score 18.3 FanDuel points. He's also our best point-per-dollar play.

Goff has been all over the map fantasy-wise of late, scoring 24.14, 5.02, 25.04, 10.48 and 12.2 FanDuel points in his past five games. In that span, his best fantasy outing came against the solid defense of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while he mustered only 10.48 points against a Seattle Seahawks D that has struggled against the pass all season.

So Goff isn't safe. And it doesn't help that the Pats have allowed just 17 points across their past two games, quieting Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert -- a stretch which coincides with Stephon Gilmore returning from injury. For the year, New England has surrendered the sixth-fewest FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks (16.5).

On the bright side, the Rams are favored by 4.5 points, and historically Goff has been a much better fantasy producer in wins than in losses. In 42 career wins, Goff has averaged 274.4 passing yards and has totaled 81 passing touchdowns, compared to just 242.2 yards and 23 tuddies in 25 losses.

It's hard to make an air-tight case for anyone on this slate, so you're going to have to overlook some things no matter who you roster. Goff could stink it up tonight -- that's firmly in play -- but he also checks a couple boxes.

Cam Newton, Patriots ($16,000)

Cam Newton is just like Goff -- there are some reasons to like him tonight, but there are also some reasons to be terrified.

Let's start with the good. Newton has put up at least 16.82 fantasy points in five of the past six games. He's been carried by his goal-line running as he's recorded six rushing touchdowns in that stretch, including two games with a pair of rushing tuds.

Now for the negatives. Newton has 153 total passing yards combined over his past two games. In the Pats' last three wins, Newton has attempted an average of 18.0 passes per game. For the season, Cam is averaging 143.7 passing yards per game in wins and 238.2 in defeats. There's no passing upside here unless the Rams get out to a big lead.

Oh, and this is a brutal matchup as LA gives up the fewest FanDuel points per game to signal-callers (14.8) and ranks as the league's best pass D, per our schedule-adjusted metrics.

If the Pats win or keep this game close and Newton doesn't get a rushing touchdown, his floor is scary low. We saw that play out two weeks ago, when Cam posted 5.96 FanDuel points in a win over the Arizona Cardinals. But he'll have a decent shot at a rushing score if the Pats can get near the goal-line a couple times as he's got the third-most carries inside the five among all players (16).

We project Newton for 17.5 FanDuel points and give him the second-best rushing touchdown projection on the slate (0.46).

While anything can happen on a single-game slate, I lean toward fading both quarterbacks in the MVP slot.

Cooper Kupp, Rams ($13,000)

You can never pin down exactly what Bill Belichick will do defensively, but it looks like Cooper Kupp might have the easiest matchup among LA's receivers. Jonathan Jones has been the Pats' primary slot corner this season (39.6% slot rate, per PlayerProfiler) while Stephon Gilmore (12.1%) and J.C. Jackson (7.8%) usually stay on the outside.

Avoiding Gilmore and Jackson would give Kupp the best chance to produce.

While Kupp doesn't consistently see a snap share as high as Robert Woods' ($13,500), playing just 65% of the snaps last week, Kupp does have a slight edge on Woods in target share and air yards share -- topping Woods in both 24% to 23% for the year, according to AirYards.com. The gap between the two has been more pronounced of late as Kupp sports a 27% air yards share over the last five, compared to Woods' 21% mark.

Our model has Kupp as the better point-per-dollar play between the two, projecting Kupp for 11.8 FanDuel points.

Josh Reynolds, Rams ($9,500)

If the Pats elect to sell out to stop Woods and/or Kupp -- and Belichick usually tries to take away the other team's top weapon -- it could funnel more looks to Josh Reynolds.

Reynolds is coming off a dud of 2.6 FanDuel points last week, logging a season-low 46% snap share. But prior to that game, Reynolds had been very involved, being on the field for at least 80% of the snaps in four straight games. Reynolds actually out-snapped Kupp in three consecutive games before Week 13.

Since the Rams' Week 9 bye, Reynolds paces the team in air yards share (28%), and if this winds up being a low-scoring game, one big play could really swing the slate.

Among players with a salary under $10,000, Reynolds is the top point-per-dollar play, per our projections.

James White, Patriots ($9,000)

James White makes a lot of sense if you think the Patriots see a negative game script. The last time New England got into a big hole was Week 11 at the Houston Texans, which was the same game in which Rex Burkhead was lost for the year. In that one, White played a season-high 57% of the snaps.

While the Rams have locked down wideouts, giving up the fewest FanDuel points per game to the position (23.5), a place teams have tried to exploit this LA defense through the air is via running backs. The Rams have seen the eighth-most running backs targets on the year.

White has been in on just 38% and 28% of the snaps the last two games, but New England was either leading by a ton (Chargers) or in a tight game (Cards) in those contests. He does have almost no floor as the Pats will likely go with a run-heavy attack for as long as they can. They may have trouble running it, though, as the Rams own the sixth-best run defense by our numbers.

With a solid 18% target share over the past three weeks, White should have a solid role tonight and could lead the Pats in targets if they have to go to a more pass-heavy offense.

Ryan Izzo, Patriots ($6,000)

Editor's note: Since publication Izzo has been placed on IR while fellow tight end Devin Asiasi ($5,000) has been activated off IR.

The bargain bin is laughably bad for this slate, and a goose egg is firmly within the range of outcomes for Ryan Izzo. But if you squint, you can see something here.

In addition to targeting running backs in the pass game, teams facing the Rams have also tried to beat this defense through tight ends. LA has given up the 6th-most tight end targets this campaign, and they've permitted the 11th-most touchdowns to the position (six). Overall, the Rams have allowed the 15th-most FanDuel points per game to tight ends. That's not amazing, but it's way more forgiving than what LA has surrendered to receivers (fewest) and running backs (sixth-fewest).

Izzo hasn't been targeted in two of his last five games, but those are the only two games in 2020 in which he hasn't seen at least one look. He's played at least 81% of the snaps in four of the last five games, so he's usually out there a good amount. He has a 14% air yards share over the past three games.

He's much more involved as a pass-catcher in losses, seeing 15 targets over five losses, compared to five targets in six wins. If you think the Pats see a negative game script and you need a low-salary option, Izzo isn't a bad punt.