Cardinals vs. Rams Wild Card Playoff Monday Night Football NFL DFS Preview & Projections

Welcome to the NFL Showdown Matchups Showdown Highlights for Wild Card Monday Night Football. This column will provide a quick overview of the game’s key storylines and highlight some of the key insights from Awesemo’s world-class suite of tools to find the best NFL DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel showdown lineups. Let’s dive into the NFL DFS picks today for the Wild Card Weekend Cardinals vs. Rams Monday Night Football matchup.

NFL DFS Preview: Cardinals vs. Rams MNF

The Arizona Cardinals head to Los Angeles’ SoFi stadium to take on the Rams in the rubber-match between these two divisional rivals. The Cardinals limp into the playoffs losers of four of their last five games, and without their number one receiving option in DeAndre Hopkins, but still sport an 11-6 record and a top ten offense and defense in the NFL in expected points added per play. The Rams were once considered the NFL’s best offense but have seen a drastic increase in mistakes in turnovers over the season’s final stretch. Still, prior to the Rams’ Week 18 loss at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles had not lost a game since November 28th. With both teams’ sporting elite offenses, and both previous games going over 52 total points scored, there is an extremely high probability this game could go over it is rather lofty 49.5-point total, and if that occurs, there should be plenty of fantasy production to go alongside it. Both offenses have elite options and multiple auxiliary weapons who can hit tournament-winning scores.

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Top NFL DFS Options (FanDuel New York Betting Offer)

The Rams’ Matthew Stafford ($10,800 DraftKings/$15,500 FanDuel) was absolutely snubbed from the Pro Bowl this season. In his first season in Los Angeles, Stafford elevated his own play, ranking top five among all quarterbacks in passing red zone attempts and air yards, and still managing to throw for the top five adjusted yards per attempt in the NFL. Despite throwing the sixth-most passes graded as interceptable by PlayerProfiler, Stafford was still beloved by many of the advanced passing metrics this season, ranking fourth in total QBR and third in total expected points added (EPA). Turnovers have certainly been a problem of late, as Stafford has thrown at least two interceptions in each of the Rams’ last three games, but it will not stop Stafford from ensuring Cooper Kupp ($13,000 DraftKings/$16,000 FanDuel) gets his share of targets, even if he is blanketed by opposing cornerbacks. Kupp’s floor in this contest is seven targets, and he could easily see upwards of a dozen or more if he is moved sufficiently around the field. Kupp has less than a 10% chance of scoring ten fantasy points or less in Awesemo’s latest run of projections simulations, and a nearly 50% chance of scoring 25 or more fantasy points, even on half-PPR platforms like FanDuel. After Kupp, expect the trio of Tyler Higbee ($5,400 DraftKings/$8,500 FanDuel), Odell Beckham Jr. ($6,800 DraftKings/$10,500 FanDuel), and Van Jefferson ($5,200 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel) to command well over 40% of the target share. Beckham has been prolific over his last seven starts, scoring five times since being traded from the Browns. And over the Rams’ past eight games, the trio of Higbee, Beckham, and Jefferson have all enjoyed an average target share north of 14%, and south of 20%. Kupp, of course, commanded nearly a third of team targets during that same span. Since Week 12, that quartet of Los Angeles weapons have commanded 93% of the Rams’ air yards.

The Arizona passing attack, led by quarterback Kyler Murray ($11,200 DraftKings/$17,000 FanDuel) but still without the services of DeAndre Hopkins, has been fairly evenly split between three highly capable weapons. Since Week 14, mid-season acquisition Zach Ertz ($6,200 DraftKings/$9,000 FanDuel) has led the team in target share, earning double-digit looks in each of his last four starts, and averaging nearly three more targets per game than wideout Christian Kirk ($7,000 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel), who is the only other Cardinals’ player averaging eight or more targets per game during that span. Kirk has seen nine or more looks in three of his last four contests and leads the team in total air yards. A.J. Green ($5,800 DraftKings/$8,000 FanDuel), averaging a healthy 6.8 targets per game over his last four starts, and is averaging nearly as many air yards per game as Kirk, but has not found the end zone once in the season’s final quarter. In fact, the trio has combined just one total receiving touchdown since Week 15. Accordingly, it is probably savvy to limit Kyler Murray stacks to single stacks this Monday.

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In a strange twist, both teams are healthier at the running back position than they have been for the majority of the season, leading to a significant amount of uncertainty about how the touch distribution will ultimately play out. In Arizona, James Conner is questionable but expected to play. Here there is at least a one-game sample in the period of time since DeAndre Hopkins was ruled out for the year where both James Conner ($9,400 DraftKings/$13,000 FanDuel) and Chase Edmonds ($5,000 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel) were active on the field together. In that Week 15 contest, the duo split 25% of the team’s total opportunities, and both topped 50 total yards, but neither found the end zone. In strange reversal of roles, Edmonds was out-targeted Conner in that game, and Conner was out-touched in the red zone, but this one-game anomaly can be chalked up to game script, as Arizona was losing by multiple scores to Detroit that Sunday, in what ultimately became one of the season’s biggest upsets. Edmonds would become an extremely safe option if Conner were to be ruled out.

The Rams are welcoming back Cam Akers ($6,600 DraftKings/$7,500 FanDuel), who will play in what will be just his second start of the season after an early-August Achilles tear. He returned to a 20% snap share in Week 17, earning 5 carries (including two in the red zone), and earning three targets on his seven routes run. With the rust hopefully shaken off, there is an outside chance that the Rams return to utilizing Akers as they did in the playoffs a season ago, and as they intended to this season pre-injury — as an every-down, game script-proof workhorse. Akers, when healthy, is significantly more explosive a runner than Sony Michel ($7,800 DraftKings/$12,000 FanDuel). Both players have a massive range of outcomes, and make for interesting tournament plays, but Akers is the preferred option, especially with a salary lower than Michel’s on both platforms.

With both teams having two quality backs to choose from, and plenty of opportunity uncertainty to tamp down all of their respective ownership, taking shots on the running backs seems much more advantageous than the auxiliary weaponry in either passing game, but it’s worth noting that the Rams’ Ben Skowronek ($1,200 DraftKings/$6,000 FanDuel) has seen nearly 10% of the team’s air yards on just 6% of team targets since Week 12, and that the Cardinals’ Antoine Wesley ($1,800 DraftKings/$7,000 FanDuel) has averaged 5.3 targets per game over the last four weeks. Wesley, however, will lose snaps to Rondale Moore ($4,600 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) if he is activated in time for tonight’s game. Moore averaged 4.6 targets per game this season and had as much as 11 looks in a game but has not played since Week 15. Even if he is active, it is hard to know how much he will be used, if at all.

The Bottom Line (FanDuel New York Betting Offer)

While anything is possible in a one game slate, especially in the playoffs, this game has all the makings of yet another shootout between two prolific offenses. Expect Stafford and the Rams to lean a bit more on the run with Cam Akers in the backfield, but do not expect the number of shot-plays, or targets for Cooper Kupp, to decrease at all. With the Cardinals falling to fifth worst among the 14 defenses qualifying for the playoffs in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed, there’s little chance that Arizona completely shuts down Los Angeles’ eighth-ranked offense. But Kyler Murray and company absolutely have the offensive firepower to keep pace score for score. Expect plenty of fireworks to close out wild card weekend: Plan for this game to hit the over.

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Wild Card Saturday Night Football Prediction: Rams 32, Cardinals 31

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A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected].

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