The Worksheet, a fantasy football overview by Rich Hribar, breaking down everything you need to know for the Conference Championship Round San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams Sunday night game.
|San Francisco||Rank||@||LA Rams||Rank|
|41.52%||15||Opp. Rush %||38.21%||5|
|58.48%||18||Opp. Pass %||61.79%||28|
Against the Spread
Rams ATS at Home: 5-4
49ers ATS Away: 7-4
Rams ATS as Favorite: 7-9
49ers ATS as Underdog: 4-1
This will of course be the third meeting between these teams, with both of the regular season showdowns going in favor of the 49ers. San Francisco handled the Rams 31-10 back in Week 10 in a game that was one-sided and never a contest and then went into Los Angeles to pull out a 27-24 win in overtime in Week 18.
That regular season finale meeting between these teams ended up having major implications on the outcome of the season to this point. With the 49ers coming back from a 17-0 deficit in Week 18 to make the postseason, they not only created their only opportunity to get into the postseason and play their way to this point but set the Rams on a playoff course that changed their opponent each week of the postseason.
Not only are these teams division rivals, but we also have some fun symmetry with their head coaches. Both Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan worked together in Washington during the 2010-2013 seasons. Both got their first head coaching jobs at the same time with their current organizations in 2017.
Since that point, the Rams have gone 69-29 (.674), which is the second-best winning percentage in the NFL over that span. This is the second time Los Angeles is in the NFC Title Game with him.
Shanahan has not had the consistent success as McVay with a couple of down seasons and a 43-43 record, but this will also be the second time in his five seasons that the 49ers are playing with a shot to go to the Super Bowl.
After McVay and the Rams won three of the first four meetings between these organizations under their current coaches, the 49ers and Shanahan have now won each of the past six matchups.
The 49ers were underdogs in five of those matchups, something that has served Shanahan and San Francisco well during his tenure. By beating the Packers 13-10 last Saturday, San Francisco now has 23 wins on the road under Shanahan (tied for eighth in the NFL) with 20 of those wins coming over the past three seasons, which is tied for second in the league. Under Shanahan, the 49ers are 18-9 against the spread as a road underdog while going 10-4 outright the past three seasons as a road underdog, second in the league.
In those six matchups, the 49ers have outscored the Rams 26.5 to 18.0 while outgaining them 364.0 yards to 285.7. San Francisco has averaged 34:55 minutes of possession in those games and just one game with fewer than 34:00 minutes of possession.
Both of these teams enter Sunday with some more overlap on the field. The 49ers (+1.8 yards) and the Rams (+1.6 yards) are the top two teams in the NFL in yards per passing play versus their opponent. The 49ers (+22) and the Rams (+21) are first and third in the league in sack differential. These teams are second and third in yards per play on offense. Defensively, the Rams are fifth in DVOA while the 49ers are seventh.
The Rams enter Sunday winning seven of their past eight games, with that lone loss to the 49ers in Week 18. Four turnovers made them sweat out a game that they led 27-3, which had been their one bugaboo all season long. The Rams are 24th in the league in turnovers per game (1.4) while having multiple turnovers in 10 games (including both games against San Francisco), tied for the most in the league. In the seven games that the Rams did not turn the ball over, they went 7-0 and won all seven games by seven or more points.
The 49ers themselves have been prone to mistakes, turning the ball over 26 times (20th) and have a -4 turnover differential (lowest of all remaining teams), but won the turnover battle between these teams 2-4 in the regular season.
San Francisco has six of their past seven games. They have not allowed more than 24 points in any of those games, with games against the Bengals, Cowboys, Packers, and these Rams as part of the sample (all top-10 in points per game). They limited those four teams to score on 33.3% of their drives (14-of-42) and a touchdown on 19.1% (8-of-42) of drives.
Matthew Stafford: Stafford was excellent again on Sunday, completing 28-of-38 passes for 366 yards (9.6 Y/A) and a pair of touchdowns. He did not have any of the four turnovers, either.
Stafford now has thrown four touchdown passes in his opening two playoff starts with the Rams while Jared Goff threw four touchdowns over his six career playoff games in this offense.
Both the Cardinals (42.9%) and the Buccaneers (39.0%) made the mistake of sending too many blitzes at Stafford, something we highlighted as a mistake in approach last week given how great Stafford has been against the blitz this season. Against the blitz in those games, Stafford went 18-of-25 (72.0%) for 284 yards (11.4 Y/A) with two touchdowns.
The 49ers do not blitz much at all, checking in 28th in the league in blitz rate (18.9%). In Week 10, the 49ers blitzed Stafford on just 4-of-44 dropbacks (9.1%) and on just 6-of-37 dropbacks (16.2%) in Week 18. Stafford was 8-of-9 for 105 yards (11.7 Y/A) and two touchdowns on those dropbacks as opposed to averaging 5.9 Y/A with two touchdowns and four interceptions when they did not blitz.
Just because the 49ers don’t blitz, does not mean they cannot create pressure. They have pressured passers on 35.8% of dropbacks (sixth). They pressured Dak Prescott on 48.1% of his dropbacks in the Wild Card Round and then Aaron Rodgers on 35.3% last week. San Francisco pressured Stafford on 32.1% of his dropbacks in the regular season, with Stafford completing 55.6% of his passes for 5.5 Y/A on those dropbacks as opposed to completing 67.9% of his passes for 6.9 Y/A when not pressured. How the 49ers get home and how the Rams deal with their pressure will be huge on the outcome here.
We also need Stafford to protect the football to get to his ceiling. Stafford now has had eight games in which he did not throw an interception. In those games, he has averaged 25.8 fantasy points with a low total of 23.5 points in those games. In his 11 games with an interception, Stafford is averaging 16.1 points per game with just two 20-point games and clearing that 23.5 points scored as a low without a pick in just one of those 11 games with an interception. He threw two interceptions in both games against the 49ers, posting 9.8 and 17.5 fantasy points in those games.
Jimmy Garoppolo: Garoppolo has now been the 11th highest scorer (4.9 points) out of 12 passers in the Wild Card Round and eighth of eight in the Divisional Round (3.2 points). Garoppolo threw for 172 and 132 yards with zero touchdowns in those games and now has thrown just one touchdown pass in five career playoff games.
The 49ers are 4-1 in those games, so although we are getting no fantasy points, they would not trade much on the outcome side of things. That has been the case with Garoppolo in this matchup as well. The 49ers are 6-0 against the Rams with Garoppolo (not all six are part of the current winning streak) under center. Garoppolo has been solid on his own right in the majority of these games, too, unlike how he has been to open the postseason. In those six starts versus the Rams, Garoppolo has averaged 258.2 passing yards per game with 8.8 yards per pass attempt in those games. He has thrown for over 8.0 Y/A in five of those six, including 9.6 Y/A and 9.9 Y/A this season against a defense that allowed 6.4 Y/A on the season (ninth).
We still did not get oodles of fantasy points (15.4 and 12.7) in those two matchups since the 49ers are so balanced and Garoppolo had just three touchdown passes, but Shanahan has consistently had an effective game plan against this defense while getting efficiency out of the passing game as part of the process.
Elijah Mitchell: Mitchell has found tough work in the postseason, but the volume remains extremely high. He has carried 44 times for 149 yards (3.4 YPC) versus Dallas and Green Bay to open the postseason, but Mitchell has played 71% and 72% of the snaps (he had just one game in the regular season higher than both). Mitchell has collected 48-of-52 true running back touches in those games, giving him 20 or more touches in each of his past seven games played.
162 of the 176 touches over that span have been rushing attempts, so Mitchell still has a lukewarm floor when he fails to find the end zone. Mitchell is averaging 18.9 points per game in games in which he has found the paint as opposed to 11.0 per game without a score.
The Rams have been strong against the run the entire way, allowing 3.72 yards per carry to backs (fourth). In his two games against the Rams this season, Mitchell has carried 27 times for 91 yards and 21 times for 85 yards without a reception in each game.
Cam Akers: After appearing in Week 18 for 13 snaps and extending out to 32 plays (53%) in the Wild Card Round, Akers completely took over the Los Angeles backfield last week against the Bucs, playing 58 snaps (81%) while handling 27-of-30 backfield touches. The 68 yards and a pair of brutally ill-timed fumbles (even for fumble standards) were not the optimal outcomes, but Akers already commanding that type of workload in just his third game back from an Achilles injury is a strong indicator for how much the organization believes in his talent level.
Akers will need that lofty workload once again as the 49ers are another tough draw on the ground. San Francisco is allowing 3.57 yards per carry to backs (third) while limiting Rams’ running backs to 97 combined rushing yards on 35 carries (2.77 YPC) over the two games these played in the regular season.
Cooper Kupp: Just when you thought Kupp’s already sensational season could not get any better, he comes out in the Divisional Round and sets a season-high with 183 receiving yards and a touchdown on nine receptions and 11 targets (30.6% of the team targets).
Kupp now has scored a touchdown in each of his past four games and has found the end zone in seven of his past eight while he has had just two games all season with fewer than 92 receiving yards.
In the two games that these teams played, Kupp posted lines of 11-122-0 (13 targets) and 7-118-1 (seven targets). The last time these teams played, his 21.9% target share was the second-lowest rate he had in a game this season, but his efficiency and touchdown equity still were too strong.
Deebo Samuel: The Packers did as good of a job as you can ask defending Samuel last week. Samuel ended up catching 3-of-4 targets for 44 yards and rushing 10 times for 39 yards. Samuel has received 10 carries in each playoff game, his highest totals on the season. When the 49ers have needed a big play in a big spot, the ball has consistently been going to Samuel.
Despite the job done defending him overall, Samuel still made timely plays that impacted the actual game, even if his fantasy line (11.3 points) was his fewest points scored in a game since Week 9. Also, despite falling short of his seasonal output, Samuel still found his way to double-digit PPR points, something he has done in every game this season.
That includes both games against the Rams, who Samuel has had a strong history against during his early career. Samuel has also been no stranger to dusting up the Rams, posting 133 total yards and two touchdowns when these teams met in Week 10 and then 140 yards and a touchdown (with an added passing touchdown) when they played in Week 18. Samuel also had games of 133 total yards and 60 yards and two touchdowns when these teams played last season.
Odell Beckham: Beckham secured 6-of-8 (22.2%) targets for 69 yards against the Bucs. Although it was just his third game without a touchdown over his previous nine games, it was Beckham’s highest-scoring game without a touchdown, something that had been anchoring his fantasy lines. The 69 yards were his third-most since joining the team (he has a high of 81 yards) while receptions matched his high mark in a game since joining the team.
Beckham only caught 2-of-5 targets for 18 yards when these teams met in Week 18 while his Week 10 game was a thruway performance since it was his first game with the team and only played 15 snaps. Beckham still has equity in leading the team with seven end zone targets since joining the team while he has run a route on over 90% of the team dropbacks in six of the past seven games.
The 49ers have allowed a 5.2% touchdown rate (19th) and an 8.4 yards per target (24th) to opposing wideouts.
Brandon Aiyuk: Aiyuk was held scoreless in the Divisional Round, failing to catch his lone target in the game. His 5.6% target rate was his lowest in a game since Week 7 while he had previously seen at least 20% of the team targets in 10 of his previous 12 games. Aiyuk has scored in just two of his previous nine games while he has hit 100 yards in just one game all season, so he does come with a fine line on accessing a fantasy ceiling. But that one game hitting the century mark did come when these teams last played in Week 18, catching 6-of-7 targets (21.9%) for 107 yards after catching 3-of-4 targets (21.1%) for 26 yards when these played in Week 10.
Van Jefferson: Jefferson pulled in 2-of-3 targets for 29 yards on Sunday, further pushing out production as the clear fourth option in the passing game for the Rams. Jefferson now has just 23 targets (10.6%) over his past seven games, catching two or fewer passes in six of those games and receiving more than 10% of the team targets in two. If looking for a silver lining in chasing a one-off opportunity on a short DFS slate, Jefferson has still run a pass route on 85.8% of the team dropbacks over that span. Jefferson had games of 3-54-0 and 2-31-0 against San Francisco in the regular season.
Jauan Jennings: Jennings has reeled in 4-of-7 targets for 35 yards in the playoffs while running a route on 57.7% and 65.2% of the team dropbacks. Posting more than 46 yards in just one game this season, we are still throwing a dart on Jennings from a fantasy stance, but the best game of his career did come when these teams played in Week 18, with Jennings catching 6-of-7 targets for 94 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while running a route on a season-high 80.6% of the dropbacks.
George Kittle: Although Kittle did not light the stat book on fire last week (4-63-0 on six targets), he did receive 33.3% of the team targets (his highest total since Week 14) while he also left a potentially huge play on the field due to a self-inflicted drop. Also, the 63 yards still nearly matched his total over the previous four games (78 yards).
As we have mentioned in this space for weeks, Kittle is not being shorted on passing opportunities. He has run a pass route on 131-of-148 dropbacks (88.5%) over the past five weeks of suppressed fantasy output (13-141-0).
Kittle managed just 10 yards when these teams played in Week 18, but he did have five receptions and seven targets (21.9%). If we get a similar target share here, that is a low bar to clear in outproducing that yardage. Kittle was one of just four tights end to score against Los Angeles this season back in Week 10 and he has games of 5-10-0, 5-50-1, 7-109-1, 5-79-1, 8-103-0, 9-149-1. 5-98-1, and 4-100-0 over his past eight games in this rivalry.
Tyler Higbee: Higbee stayed involved again in the Divisional Round, catching 4-of-7 targets for 51 yards against Tampa Bay. While Higbee has hit 60 yards in just two games now this season, he also has not had fewer than 40 yards in a game since Week 12. He has established himself as one of the top targets behind Kupp, receiving 20.6% of the team targets over his past six games. Higbee has only found the end zone in four games this season, but two of them have come against the 49ers, putting up games of 3-20-1 and 6-55-2 in those matchups. The 49ers have allowed just 6.5 yards per target to tight ends (eighth) but have allowed a 6.7% touchdown rate (25th) to the position.
More Conference Championship Round Fantasy breakdowns from The Worksheet:
CIN at TEN | SF at LAR