Tonight, Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season kicks off with a matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks. While everyone loves Thursday Night Football, fantasy owners struggle with which players they should put in their starting lineups. To help them decide which players they should start and which they should sit, let’s dive into this week’s Thursday Night Fantasy Preview.
All stats are base on four-point per passing touchdown and PPR scoring.
Los Angeles Rams
Quarterback – Matthew Stafford
Despite zero snaps in the preseason, Stafford has been running at full speed to start the year. He has scored at least 17.2 fantasy points and thrown two touchdowns in every game. Furthermore, Stafford is averaging 22.6 fantasy points per game, good for the QB8 on the season. Stafford has thrown for at least 278 passing yards in every game this season while posting an 11-2 touchdown to interception ratio. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have struggled to slow down quarterbacks this season, giving up almost 22 fantasy points per game to the position. They have allowed over 320 passing yards in three straight games and three passing touchdowns in each of their past two contests. Stafford has top-five upside this week while providing a top-12 floor.
Running Back – Darrell Henderson Jr., Sony Michel
After missing the matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a rib injury, Henderson returned last week against the Arizona Cardinals. Against the Cardinals, Henderson had 19 touches for 116 scrimmage yards and 16.6 fantasy points despite not scoring a touchdown. More importantly, Henderson is averaging 16.5 fantasy points per game this season, making him the RB21 despite missing a game. Meanwhile, Michel got glued to the bench last week after fumbling on only three touches. He has no value this season other than as Henderson’s handcuff. In the three games with Henderson active, Michel has played only 16.4 percent of the snaps. Unless Henderson misses time with an injury, Michel belongs on the waiver wire.
Not only does Henderson have a featured workload, but the matchup this week is very fantasy-friendly. The Seahawks have allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season, giving up 31.8 per game. They have given up over 100 rushing yards to running backs in three straight games and 90 or more rushing yards to the position in every game this season. Furthermore, running backs have averaged 128.5 rushing yards per game this season against the Seahawks, most in the NFL. Henderson has averaged 17.3 touches per game this season and should finish this week as a low-end RB1.
Wide Receiver – Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Van Jefferson
While Kupp scored only 11.4 fantasy points against the Cardinals, he remains the WR1 for the season, averaging 25.7 fantasy points per game. He has at least 10 targets in every game this season, averaging 11.5 per contest. More importantly, Kupp has averaged 7.5 catches for 107.8 receiving yards and 1.3 touchdowns per game, scoring over 30 fantasy points in half of his games this season. Unfortunately, the wide receivers behind Kupp on the depth chart have been hit or miss so far this year.
Entering the season, some believed Woods would finish the year as a low-end WR1. However, Woods is third among the wide receivers on the team in fantasy points, averaging 11.5 per game this season. While Woods has failed to live up to expectations so far, his performance hasn’t been awful. Woods has averaged 6.3 targets per game this season, seeing at least six in three straight games. He has averaged four catches and 11.2 fantasy points per game during that span despite scoring only one touchdown. More importantly, Woods is second on the team in catches, targets, and receiving touchdowns this season. Furthermore, Woods has scored 12 or more fantasy points in three of four games. With Woods somewhat struggling, Jefferson has picked up the slack.
The second-year receiver has averaged 11.9 fantasy points per game this season but hasn’t been consistent weekly. Jefferson has scored 16 or more fantasy points twice the season, averaging four catches and 85 receiving yards per game to go along with two touchdowns. In the other two games, Jefferson has five catches for 56 receiving yards and 10.6 fantasy points. That said, all three wide receivers are starting options this week. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have given up over 40 fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season. Furthermore, wide receivers have scored six touchdowns against the Seahawks this year. Kupp is his usual high-end WR1 this week, while Woods and Jefferson are WR3s with upside given the matchup.
Tight End – Tyler Higbee
Coming into the season, Higbee was a popular sleeper at the tight end position. Over the first month of the season, Higbee has averaged 9.1 fantasy points per game, good for the TE14. However, he has been inconsistent weekly. Higbee has scored over 11.5 fantasy points in half of his games this season, averaging 13.4 fantasy points per contest. In the other two games, Higbee has a total of 9.4 fantasy points. Ironically, both of Higbee’s good games have come in odd weeks. However, as we enter Week 5, Higbee remains a low-end TE1 this week against the Seahawks.
The Seahawks have given up an average of 13.7 fantasy points per game to the tight end position this season. However, tight ends have scored at least 12.7 fantasy points in every game against the Seahawks over the past three weeks, averaging 16.6 per contest. Furthermore, tight ends have combined for 12 catches for 131 receiving yards, two touchdowns, and 37.1 fantasy points over the past two weeks against the Seahawks. In his past three games against the Seahawks, Higbee has averaged 11.3 fantasy points per game despite not scoring a touchdown. Higbee’s floor is 10 fantasy points this week, with the upside to finish as a top-five tight end.
Between Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, there isn’t a better defense on paper than the Rams. However, football isn’t played on paper, and the Rams D/ST has averaged only 2.3 fantasy points per game this year. They have scored a total of negative five fantasy points over the past two weeks after averaging seven per game over the first two weeks of the season. The difference has been their opponents. In the first two games, the Rams faced the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts. By comparison, the Rams have faced the Buccaneers and the Cardinals over the past two weeks.
Unfortunately, the matchup this week isn’t an easy one as D/STs have averaged only 2.5 fantasy points per game against the Seahawks this season. More importantly, no D/ST has scored more than four fantasy points this season against the Seahawks. Russell Wilson hasn’t thrown an interception this season, while the Seahawks have only one turnover. While fantasy owners need to avoid the Rams D/ST this week, don’t drop them. Their next three games are against the New York Giants, Detroit Lions, and Houston Texans. Burn a bench spot now and add them off the waiver wire if they are available.
Quarterback – Russell Wilson
In Week 1, the Seahawks let Russ cook, as he finished with a season-high four passing touchdowns and 27.1 fantasy points against the Colts. Since then, Wilson has cooled off a bit, averaging 20.8 fantasy points per game to go with five total passing touchdowns. However, if you drafted Wilson, he is likely the only quarterback on your roster, and for a reason. While he has cooled off recently, Wilson is in line for a big performance tonight against the Rams. This season, the Rams have allowed an average of 20 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position. However, that number doesn’t tell the complete truth.
Over their first two games against Andy Dalton and Carson Wentz, the Rams gave up a combined 28.8 fantasy points. Then, in their past two games, they gave up a combined 51.1 fantasy points to Tom Brady and Kyler Murray, giving up at least 22.4 in each matchup. Furthermore, the Rams have allowed over 265 passing yards in three straight games despite quarterbacks throwing 36 or fewer pass attempts in two of them. This game should be a high-scoring matchup between two explosive offenses, leading to plenty of fantasy points for Wilson.
Running Back – Chris Carson, Alex Collins
Coming off a season-high 16.2 fantasy points in Week 3, Carson mightily struggled last week against the San Francisco 49ers, finishing with only 30 rushing yards and 4.1 fantasy points. In the first three games this season, Carson averaged 14.7 fantasy points per game, scoring 12.7 or more in every contest. Furthermore, Carson finished with 80 or more rushing yards in two of those three games. He also has scored three touchdowns over the past three weeks. Meanwhile, Collins has earned the role of Carson’s backup with Rashaad Penny on injured reserve, playing 33 percent of the snaps over the past two weeks. More importantly, Collins played 22 snaps last week compared to 25 for Carson, scoring 11.7 more fantasy points than the starter.
Tonight, the running back duo has a fantasy-friendly matchup against the Rams. This season, the Rams have given up an average of 26 fantasy points per game to running backs, giving up about four fantasy points per game more than the league average. However, the Rams gave up a season-high 170 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, and 38.5 fantasy points to the Cardinals’ running backs last week. They have given up over 26.5 fantasy points to running backs in three of four games. The Rams have also given up over 70 rushing yards to running backs in three of four games, giving up an average of 120.7 yards per contest. If Carson plays, he is a mid RB2 this week. However, if Carson is out, Collins is a flex option in PPR and an RB2 in non PPR.
Wide Receiver – D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett
Metcalf and Lockett are one of two pairs of teammates among the top-15 fantasy wide receivers this season. Both receivers have 20 catches for over 280 receiving yards and three touchdowns this season while averaging over 16.5 fantasy points per game. They have combined for 79.5 percent of the team’s wide receiver targets and 53.2 percent of the team’s total targets. Meanwhile, the Rams have held wide receivers to 38.9 fantasy points per game this season, holding them to only two receiving touchdowns. Furthermore, the Rams have held wide receivers to under 175 receiving yards and 37.5 fantasy points in three of four games this year. Despite the semi-tough matchup on paper, Metcalf and Lockett are both low-end WR1s this week, thanks to their high-volume roles.
Tight End – Gerald Everett
Last week, Everett missed the game against the 49ers after he tested positive for Covid-19. However, he is on track to play tonight. In three games this season, Everett has scored 10 or more fantasy points twice. Meanwhile, the Rams have struggled to slow down tight ends this season, giving up over 16 fantasy points per game to the position. They have given up 16 or more in three straight weeks. The Rams have also given up an average of seven catches for 83.5 receiving yards and 18.4 fantasy points per game to tight ends over their past two games. Everett is in a great position to score double-digit fantasy points again tonight.
The Seahawks D/ST are averaging zero fantasy points per game this season, scoring negative six fantasy points over the past three weeks. They have given up 30 or more points in half of their game this season, giving up an average of 25 per game. Meanwhile, D/STs have averaged only 1.8 fantasy points per game against the Rams this season, scoring one or fewer fantasy points in three of four games. The Colts D/ST scored 10 fantasy points against the Rams in Week 2 thanks to a fumble recovery for a touchdown. Aside from that play, D/STs have scored negative one fantasy point against the Rams this season. There isn’t any reason why fantasy players should start the Seahawks D/ST this week.
Stafford: Mid QB1
Henderson: Low-End RB1
Kupp: High-End WR1
Woods: WR3 with Upside
Jefferson: WR3 with Upside
Higbee: Mid TE1
Rams D/ST: Avoid
Wilson: Mid QB1
Carson: Mid RB2
Collins: Flex Option if Carson Out
Metcalf: Low-End WR1
Lockett: Low-End WR1
Everett: High-End TE2
Seahawks D/ST: Avoid
Check us out on our socials:
Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
Facebook Page: Prime Time Sports Talk
Join our Facebook Group: Prime Time Sports Talk
Follow Mike Fanelli on Twitter @Mike_NFL2
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images