We kick off a loaded Week 16 with the New Orleans Saints visiting the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night. We’ve seen some bad football overall this year with several injuries across the board. For the most part, we’re going to see the big names of Cooper Kupp, Chris Olave, Matthew Stafford, Kyren Williams, Alvin Kamara, Derek Carr, and more on Thursday night. So hopefully we can get a good game tonight as an early stocking stuffer. The beauty of this game is that it does carry playoff implications. The Rams currently possess the final playoff spot in the NFC with a 7-7 record. The Saints are also 7-7 and currently out of the playoff picture. Fortunately for them, the NFC South is a joke and they probably have a better shot at winning their division than they do of getting the sixth or seventh seed. Let’s take a look at the NFL Vegas Odds and NFL Injury News as we seek out the top NFL DFS lineup picks for Thursday night’s NFC match-up.


New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams

Spread: Los Angeles Rams (-4)

Over/Under: 46.0 Points

Weather: This game will be played indoors in a controlled environment.

I saw a tweet late Wednesday night and didn’t think to plug it in here but most of the action (80+% of money and bets) are on the Rams in this matchup. If that correlates to our Showdown lineups it stands to reason most will target Los Angeles at the Captain spot and round out with mostly Rams stacks as well. Just something to be mindful of. Stacking New Orleans in any capacity could be the contrarian way to go.

Notable Injuries

New Orleans Saints

Los Angeles Rams

NFL DFS Showdown MVP/Captain

Kyren Williams, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Awfully hard to avoid Kyren Williams in any capacity right now. Since returning from injury he’s been absolutely outstanding for DFS and season-long fantasy football. In four straight games he has 22+ touches with four touchdowns and 17 receptions. The volume alone could get him to the 100-yard bonus on DraftKings. Last week the Saints run defense was able to shut down Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants. But prior to that they were torched on the ground for 100+ rushing yards by the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, and Carolina Panthers. Sean McVay is a great offensive mind and this is a short week with the Saints realistically only having two days to prepare for this matchup. Williams will have heavy volume and will likely be the highest-rostered player at the Captain spot.

Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

He no longer feels like the slam dunk he was in previous years. However, he’s found the end zone in three straight games and that includes a pair of tough matchups against the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. He has eight receptions and the 100-yard bonus on DraftKings in back-to-back games for 28+ fantasy points. The Saints can be a tough matchup though. In their last four games, the Saints have allowed opposing wideouts to catch just 28 passes. That’s roughly seven per game for each team. That’s pretty good. But Matthew Stafford and Co. won the Super Bowl just a couple seasons ago and they have the benefit of playing at home. Kupp likely has the best matchup of all the Rams’ pass catchers. The Saints defend the outside very well, allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to perimeter receivers. Kupp is more of a flanker who lines up in the slot around 50% of the time and he’ll draw Alontae Taylor. We’ve targeted Taylor in DFS numerous times this year. Thursday night won’t be any different.

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

It’s a tough matchup, which we’ll get to shortly, but Kamara is a cheaper version of Kyren Williams on a worse offense. Kamara has double-digit fantasy points in full PPR formats in every game he’s played this year. He has 68 receptions on 79 targets this year and he’s only played 11 games. He does seem to be a lock for about 18 touches. The Rams haven’t allowed an opposing running back to find the end zone on the ground since Week 9. Moreover, in their last five games they haven’t allowed running backs to even rush for 90+ yards. However, running backs that catch passes (like Kamara) have still had some success as opposing running backs have 26 receptions in the last five games against the Rams. Kamara can certainly deliver three or four catches at a minimum, but we know there’s more upside there.

Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints

Olave is set to return for this game after missing Week 15. In the last five games he’s appeared in he has three touchdowns and assuming he plays the full game, he should see at least eight targets with room for more. Olave and the other New Orleans pass catchers can move all over the field. But per Mike Clay of ESPN, the Rams have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the wide receiver position over the last eight weeks, including second-most to perimeter receivers. It’s somewhat surprising that Olave is the seventh-most expensive player on the slate on DraftKings. He should probably be in the top four now that he’s active so we’ll jump on and take advantage of the discount and not think twice about it.

Mid-Tier & DFS Value Plays

Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams

Stafford has been playing great the last few weeks. In that span he has 12 touchdowns to just one interception and he’s competing nearly 66% of his pass attempts in that span. He’s gone for 22+ fantasy points on DraftKings in three of his last four games and he’s done it without the 300-yard bonus. We’ve already noted how difficult it can be to throw on the Saints. So be it. They’ve allowed just one quarterback to throw for 200+ yards in their last four games and haven’t allowed a touchdown through the air since Week 13. But if we’re being objective, the last two quarterbacks they’ve faced were Bryce Young and Tommy DeVito. If you’re playing either Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, or even Kyren Williams at Captain then I would still correlate the play with Stafford in the Flex.

Puka Nacua, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Not a great match-up for Nacua as he does line up on the perimeter. You are more than welcome to play Nacua at Captain. It certainly does seem like a spot he’ll be less than 10% rostered there. But the Saints defend the perimeter well and we know Kupp will get most of the snaps in the slot with the best matchup. From a workload standpoint, Nacua has been consistently getting four or five catches on seven or eight targets per game since Week 11. He does have some upside to getting that bonus on DraftKings, but it almost feels like we need a touchdown from him to justify the play.

Derek Carr, QB, New Orleans Saints

He’s probably lost the locker room having been documented yelling at receivers and offensive linemen… And in turn they’ve yelled right back. You’d think the team would have been eliminated from playoff contention by now, but truly they have more paths to make the playoffs than the Rams do. We still have the possibility that the Saints win the division and host a playoff game. Opposing quarterbacks have thrown eight touchdowns against the Rams in their last three games and we’ve already alluded to the fact that the Rams can’t defend receivers well. The offensive line did well protecting Carr last week against the New York Giants. But Aaron Donald will be a whole new challenge for this group and Ryan Ramczyk has already been ruled out. Carr likely won’t get the 300-yard bonus but he does have six touchdown passes in his last three games and he does get Olave back tonight.

Rashid Shaheed, WR, New Orleans Saints

I’m mentioning Shaheed simply because Showdown slates are pretty much where we’re only targeting him nowadays. He returned last week but had just three catches on four targets with no Chris Olave. By playing Shaheed you need that big touchdown upside for him to be optimal. He can easily do that in this matchup but it’s still a risk and the $7,000 price tag on DraftKings is a lot for a potential dud.

Taysom Hill, UTIL, New Orleans Saints

Hill is listed as a tight end so you’ll see that he has a good matchup on his hands. Truthfully, he’s a weapon that can play a variety of positions and when he gets going we’ve seen teams struggle to account for him. I won’t pull tight end data, running back data, or quarterback data. Hill can do so much but we just never know how involved he’ll be. In Week 13 he had 15 touches. Last week, he had two. I would not play him in the same lineup as Derek Carr. I think you just have to make a stand there because they don’t typically correlate very well.

Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams

I’m going to skip over Demarcus Robinson because the matchup is tough and Tutu Atwell should return for tonight’s game. So I’ll give Higbee the lean, but as is the case with most tight ends in the league, he’s touchdown dependent. He does have 11 catches on 14 targets over his last three games and he found the end zone twice against the Arizona Cardinals. The Saints have allowed seven touchdowns to opposing tight ends including big games to Dalton Schultz, Cole Kmet, T.J. Hockenson, and Sam LaPorta. Higbee probably grades out below those players but we’ve seen the Saints struggle against this position and we know Higbee has some touchdown equity.

Juwan Johnson, TE, New Orleans Saints

In this low $4,000 range on DraftKings we have Jamaal Williams and Juwan Johnson. I prefer Johnson because we’ve seen there’s more touchdown equity here. A year after leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns, Williams has zero this year and he’s still nursing a mild groin injury. He’s not efficient with the ball and hasn’t posted five fantasy points on DraftKings since Week 1, but if Kender Miller is inactive again then that does help Williams’ outlook. But with Johnson, we have a player who found the end zone last week and goes against a defense that has allowed seven touchdowns to opposing tight ends. Prior to last week, the Rams had allowed opposing tight ends to rack up at least five receptions for 70+ yards in three straight games. There may not be a ton of volume for Johnson, but we know Carr isn’t afraid to look to his tight ends in the end zone because we’ll get to another Saints tight end in the bargain section.


I’m very interested in the kickers for this game. With the Rams offense clicking over their last four games, that’s led to plenty of volume for Lucas Havrisik ($4,800) if you can fit him in. Now he has missed three field goals and an extra point in this sample size, but even with those misses he’s returned at least seven fantasy points in each game with two double-digit fantasy performances in that span. The Saints defense hasn’t put too many kickers in position for volume. No opposing kicker has gone for double-digit fantasy points since Week 8, but we simply have to buy into the short week narrative and the recent trends for the Rams offense. I’m optimistic for the field goal attempts and some extra points for Havrisik. We do have a moderately high total for a Thursday night game and the Rams are favored by about four points so we should see the Rams put up points.

Blake Grupe ($4,600) was a little more consistent earlier in the year. Over his last three games he has just two field goal attempts, but 11 extra points in that same sample size. We can’t rely on getting value from a kicker based on extra point attempts. The good news for Grupe is that, while I don’t put a ton of emphasis in kicker “match-ups” the Rams seemingly do allow teams to move the ball between the 20’s and then offenses settle for field goals. In 14 games this year, opposing kickers have scored double-digit fantasy points in half of those games and in eight of those games opposing kickers saw at least three field goal attempts. If the Saints can keep this game close then I’m more optimistic about Grupe being involved and keeping them in contention.

Defense/Special Teams

My general belief is that the Thursday Night Football games are typically sloppy and low scoring. However, that has not been the trend lately. The Las Vegas Raiders put up 63 points last week with the Los Angeles Chargers adding 21. Even the week before, the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots exceeded the over for what I thought would be one of the worst football games of the year. And it ended up being quite competitive. The Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks went over. Even the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens went over in the game Joe Burrow got injured. So we’re seeing offense in these Thursday games and this is a meaningful game for both teams. I don’t love playing the Los Angeles Rams ($3,800) simply because they don’t offer much of a ceiling. They have just one game all year with 10+ fantasy points. As bad as the Saints could be, I still expect them to put up some offense unless Carr turns into a pumpkin. I’m more inclined to pay for the New Orleans Saints ($3,400) for a couple reasons. They’re pretty cheap for a Showdown slate and they’ve allowed a total of 12 points of offense in their last two games. To be fair those were against two of the worst offenses in the league. But they still can generate pressure as they had 11 sacks in that two-game sample size. They are tough on the perimeter and this could be one of those nights where a pick six can make them optimal even in a Rams stack.

NFL DFS Dart Throw Bargains

A.T. Perry, WR, New Orleans Saints

I desperately want Perry to become a thing. But it’s unlikely in this matchup save for a deep bomb for a touchdown. In Weeks 13 and 14 he did record catches of 30+ yards in each game. He does get downgraded a bit simply because Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed are healthy so he likely comes out for three-wide receiver sets. I still believe there’s big play upside in a good matchup as this Rams’ secondary is pretty weak. Lynn Bowden ($3,000) is in play as well with seven receptions in his last two games. But on a Showdown slate I slightly prefer Perry’s big play upside.

Tutu Atwell, WR, Los Angeles Rams

Atwell doesn’t carry an injury designation, so his return does knock Demarcus Robinson down a few pegs. Atwell was electric earlier in the year without Cooper Kupp but he’s lost significant targets since Kupp returned. He can still go out and get three or four targets in this game so as a sub-$3K play there’s an okay floor if he hauls in a few catches. The touchdown equity is almost non-existent, but we still have some big play upside with Atwell.

Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints

This might be a fish play, but Jimmy Graham is a thing once again. He has five catches in his last three games and three of those receptions have been touchdowns. We already touched on the shortcomings of the Rams against tight ends, but Graham is going to be very trendy because of the touchdown streak. It’s not a bold take to say fade him in this spot only because he’s so cheap. But if he scores for a fourth straight game then he’s probably in the optimal lineup.