The St. Louis Rams take their show on the road this weekend, going for their third win in a row against the Detroit Lions, a team that's shown a surprising amount of offensive proclivity despite being 0-4. A matchup like this is bound to have fantasy implications. And the fantasy star everyone will be looking at first is Rams RB Steven Jackson.
Is Jackson a good play this week? Is his groin healed enough to make him a threat? And what about the rest of the players in this game?
First and foremost, if you've got Steven Jackson you have to start him this week. A game time decision last week, Jackson ran the ball 22 times for 70 yards against a Seattle run defense that's been one of the league's top ten units. Oh, and that came with a sore groin that limited his effectiveness in moving side-to-side.
Jackson also picked up 54 yards on three catches, including a beauty screen pass that he torched the Seahawks for 49 yards and set up a Kenneth Darby TD on another screen pass. Detroit has been susceptible to running backs in the passing game. Matt Forte had 150 yard receiving in week 1 with Chester Taylor adding another 44 yards receiving.
Two running backs, LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson, have had 150+ yard rushing games against Detroit this year as well. The Rams offensive line has blocked well in the last two games, showing an ability to get to the second level. Sam Bradford has made the passing game credible too, helping open things up for Jackson. In short, Steven Jackson is a good play this week against Detroit.
Kenneth Darby might be a sneaky play as well, if you're in a deep league. Last week, the Rams used him on third downs more than usual to give the unit some different looks and save wear and tear on Jackson. Darby has scored touchdowns in two consecutive weeks.
Daniel Fells is another guy that might be worthy of some consideration. Detroit has a 20.4 percent DVOA against tight ends this year, ranked 23rd in the league. I think he matches up well against their linebackers.
The best matchup for the Rams is the passing game. As 3k pointed out, Detroit starts Jonathan Wade at CB. That could mean another nice game for Sam Bradford and make Mark Clayton and Danny Amendola useful players too. All three of those guys could be a nice under the radar addition to your lineup this week.
On the other side of things, Detroit has some potential to impact your fantasy team too. In the lead up to this game, national pundits have been talking about the potential for a shootout, but they seem to forget that the Rams defense has limited opponents to an average of 13 points per game. Detroit does score points thanks to players like Jahvid Best and Calvin Johnson and a nice TE pairing of Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Schefler.
The Rams have done a good job covering tight ends so far this season, making John Carlson and Chris Cooley non-factors in their two wins. Zach Miller and whatever amalgamation the Cardinals had a TE were limited too. Much of this has to do with better coverage from their LBs, notably James Laurinaitis who has greatly improved his coverage skills over his rookie year.
Calvin Johnson is an obvious start in any fantasy format. The Rams have allowed receivers to accumulate numbers this season, witness Steve Breaston in week 1 and Santana Moss had 124 yards and a TD. Seattle lacks a receiver who plays at that level, which combined with the pressure applied by the Rams pass rush kept their passing game in check.
Jahvid Best is a receiving threat. The Rams have a -4.1 percent DVOA against RBs in the passing game, 13th best, so they're capable of limiting the damage.