If you’re looking for a fantasy football explosion to open Week 14 when the Patriots play the Rams on Thursday Night Football (8:20 p.m. ET, Fox, NFL Network, Amazon Prime Video), you will probably be disappointed. All the metrics, including a point total set at 45, say the game will be more about defensive dominance than offensive scoring, which will make start ’em, sit ’em decisions all the more difficult as most leagues kick off their fantasy playoffs.
This game isn’t one where you want to take many chances with potential sleepers, and it might even make sense to bench some players who typically start for you. However, defensive battles always make for interesting and challenging DFS roster construction, so we also have single-game DraftKings tips if you weren’t fortunate enough to make the playoffs in your season-long leagues.
Patriots: Who to start or sit in fantasy football on Thursday night
Sit: QB Cam Newton
The Rams allow the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. They also allow just 15 yards rushing on average to the position. Newton is pretty much running and TD-dependent, and neither of those things sound promising on the road in a much tougher matchup in Los Angeles than last week.
Start: RB Damien Harris
The matchup isn’t good here, as the Rams also have a nasty run defense and are allowing the sixth-fewest fantasy points to RBs. But there’s a good chance that Harris will continue his high volume as opposed to the Patriots trying to force the pass. He shockingly has scored just two TDs. Shallow leaguers likely have better option, but Harris is viable as a deep-league flex.
Sit: RBs Sony Michel and James White
Michel is back and being treated as Harris’ early-down backup. White is catching passes in the offense again, but his role is limited there compared to his time with Tom Brady. Investing anything beyond Harris in the Patriots’ rushing offense is futile, and you’re not even getting the typical PPR juice from White.
Sit: WRs Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry
Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill are both playing very well at cornerback. The Patriots’ usage of wide receivers is random with Newton. Along with Damiere Byrd, Meyers has flashed a big game, but Harry’s value is completed tied to TDs. Another big problem is the low passing volume and/or effectiveness of Newton.
Sit: K NIck Folk
Don’t look to a Folk hero in your fantasy playoffs.
Sit: Patriots defense/special teams
The Rams can have some rough, mistake-filled offensive games, but in the end, only three teams, the Bears, the Dolphins and the 49ers, have been able to make enough plays to offset limited sacks and high points. You can do better in seasonal.
Rams: Who to start or sit in fantasy football on Thursday night
Sit: QB Jared Goff
The Patriots are red hot defensively, having killed the fantasy value of Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert in back-to-back weeks. Goff is extremely hard to trust from week to week with a wide range of outcomes. This is clearly feels more bust-y than boom-y.
Start: RB Cam Akers
The Patriots have been middle-of-the-road in giving up running back fantasy points. Their run defense can be vulnerable at times, and the Rams’ run blocking is on fire. You can bet McVay will want to stay grounded to take pressure off Goff. Akers has pulled away with the touches, coming through late in his rookie season. He’s worth a deep-league RB2 or flex play. The 21 carries and 22 touches against the Cardinals in Week 13 aren’t fluky.
Sit: RBs Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown
They’re still involved in what the Rams do in the rushing attack, but the action has clearly leaned toward the more complete Akers. Henderson and Brown won’t get enough touches to be viable.
Start: WR Cooper Kupp
The Patriots have had their ups-and-downs in coverage, sometimes giving up big games to slot receivers, sometimes not. They should key on him as Goff’s go-to guy, but Kupp is too good to bench because he can have monster value at any time and generally has a high floor, at least enough to deploy him as a WR3.
Start: WR Robert Woods
Woods could be seeing plenty of Stephon Gilmore in coverage, but you’re starting a dude who has had 38 targets the past three weeks, catching 29 for 295 yards and a TD. They can move around Woods away from the matchup to help him.
Sit: TEs Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett
The Patriots have excelled at covering the position with their safety and linebacker play, so neither Rams option is an option for you.
Sit: WR Josh Reynolds
Reyolds has done next to nothing since his big game against the Seahawks in Week 10, and rookie Van Jefferson is getting some run again.
Sit: K Matt Gay
He can boot multiple field goals, but that number might be just two with limited extra-point chances
Start: Rams defense/special teams
The Rams keeping getting it done as the best all-around defense in the NFL with numbers and big plays to back it up. They’ll deliver here before a crazy smash spot in Week 15 against the Jets.
Patriots-Rams DraftKings Showdown lineup for Thursday night
Captain: RB Cam Akers $12,000
FLEX: QB Jared Goff $11,000
FLEX: WR Cooper Kupp $9,600
FLEX: RB Damien Harris $8,800
FLEX: Rams $4,400
FLEX: WR Van Jefferson $2,600
This is an obviously a Rams-heavy approach with the principals and a wild card we could afford in Jefferson. Harris is the only Patriot with any kind of appeal based on guaranteed touches and likely game plan.