News & Analysis

Jahnke: Fantasy football reactions from the Rams’ TNF win over the Patriots

Dec 10, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (23) carries the ball against the New England Patriots during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The second-to-last Thursday Night Football game of the season gave us a rematch of Super Bowl LIII, but this time the outcome was vastly different. The Rams made Cam Akers their feature back and ran their way to victory. Akers racked up the sixth-most rushing yards for a back in a game this season and the most by a rookie running back.

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As always, this collection of fantasy reactions will include snap counts for skill players on each team, along with notes on players who saw their fantasy stocks rise or fall during the action — and how we should react to anything new.

New England Patriots at Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots Los Angeles Rams
WR WR
Jakobi Meyers – 59 snaps Robert Woods – 49 snaps
Damiere Byrd – 52 snaps Cooper Kupp – 39 snaps
N'Keal Harry – 36 snaps Josh Reynolds – 35 snaps
Donte Moncrief – 5 snaps Van Jefferson – 19 snaps
TE TE
Dalton Keene – 31 snaps Tyler Higbee – 55 snaps
Devin Asiasi – 23 snaps Gerald Everett – 53 snaps
HB HB
James White – 27 snaps Cam Akers – 50 snaps
Damien Harris – 22 snaps Darrell Henderson – 7 snaps
Sony Michel – 15 snaps Malcolm Brown – 6 snaps
Total – 59 snaps Total – 63 snaps

Winner: RB Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

Akers has been a boom or bust running back all season, with a number of long runs mixed with a lot of very short runs. In recent weeks, Darrell Henderson has been banged up, while Akers is picking up more big runs and fewer short ones. The Rams committed more to Akers tonight than they have any running back all season, and it worked very well for them.

Akers gained 171 yards on 29 carries. He was targeted three times in the passing game after seeing just four targets in his previous 10 games. The only negative in his game is that he didn’t score a touchdown. The first time the Rams were within striking distance, Akers had already played several plays in a row so Malcolm Brown was on the field. The second time, Akers was on the field but the Rams passed for a touchdown instead of running it in.

With how well Akers played, he should definitely be trusted next week. The Rams have given him some goal line work in the past, so he should see more opportunities for touchdowns in the future. Brown can definitely be dropped, as he’s lost his third-down role. Darrell Henderson could be dropped, but it also can’t hurt much at this point of the season to hold onto him as a handcuff to Akers.

Injury: RB Damien Harris, New England Patriots

Harris left in the game in the fourth quarter with a back injury and was declared questionable to return. He didn’t end up coming back, although James White was likely to see the remaining snaps anyway due to the game script. Harris finished the night with a respectable 50 yards on 11 carries. If Harris misses any time, Sony Michel would be a good waiver wire target. He would see the vast majority of carries and White would keep the passing snap.

Dynasty Watch: WR Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams

The Rams used Jefferson extensively for a second straight week. The team rotated their wide receivers by drive, with Robert Woods and Josh Reynolds taking some drives, Cooper Kupp and Jefferson taking the others, and Woods and Kupp always playing in three receiver sets. The Rams played the starters more during the second half. In the short-term, this means significantly fewer snaps for Reynolds and also a noteworthy decrease for Woods. None of this mattered much in this game, as the Rams spent the entire game running the ball — and no Rams receiver had more than 34 receiving yards. The Rams likely won’t have Reynolds next year, making Jefferson a likely starter in 2021.

Returning From Injury: TE Devin Asiasi, New England Patriots

Ryan Izzo has been the Patriots primary tight end all season, but he landed on injured reserve after dealing with various injuries. Izzo hasn’t been a factor in fantasy leagues, averaging just over one catch per game. Izzo hitting injured reserve coincided with the Patriots bringing back rookie Asiasi off of IR — he missed the previous two months of the season. 

He and fellow third round rookie Dalton Keene split snaps at tight end. The Patriots never used a two tight end set and at times opted for two run63ng backs and three wide receiver formations instead of having a tight end. The pair only had one target between them coming into tonight’s game, and they doubled that mark by game’s end. This remains a situation to completely avoid.

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