Fantasy Football Start/Sit for Raiders vs Rams: Calls on Derek Carr, Cam Akers, More

Fantasy Football Start/Sit for Raiders vs Rams: Calls on Derek Carr, Cam Akers, More article feature image

Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Akers.

Week 14 of the 2022 NFL season kicks off with a Thursday Night Football showdown between the Rams and Raiders.

Both teams have fallen short of expectations thus far this season. The Rams are having an awful Super Bowl hangover and sit in the basement of the NFC West at 3-9 having lost the last six games in a row. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been banged up since the offseason and has now suffered a spinal contusion which will likely end his season. Star wideout Cooper Kupp is also sidelined with an ankle injury and may not return this year.

In Stafford's absence, the team started Bryce Perkins, then John Wolford and just claimed Baker Mayfield, who was released from the Panthers earlier this week.

On the other side of the ball, the Raiders were expected to take a step forward with the acquisition of former Packer and five-time Pro Bowler, Davante Adams. Adams has been stellar this season, but that has not translated to wins for the 5-7 Raiders, who sit in third place in the AFC West. Las Vegas' defense has been a major pain point all year and ranks second-to-last in defensive DVOA ahead of only the hapless Bears.

Some lineup decisions, like starting Adams or Josh Jacobs are easy. Below are some fringe players at each position who you may be on the fence about starting in the Raiders vs. Rams Thursday Night Football game.

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Raiders Week 14 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

QB Derek Carr

Since Week 9, Carr is quietly the QB5 behind only Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Justin Fields and Josh Allen. He had multiple touchdowns and no fewer than 248 passing yards in each of those games.

I expect Carr to perform well in this road matchup against the Rams, whose defense ranks 27th in pass DVOA and has allowed the third-most passing yards per game. Los Angeles has given up big fantasy games to Andy Dalton, Patrick Mahomes and Geno Smith in three straight weeks.

Verdict: Start as a low-end QB1. The Rams are middle-of-the-road against fantasy quarterbacks and bottom six in pass DVOA. The matchup, combined with Carr's recent hot streak, should make him a viable streaming option with six teams on bye.

WR Mack Hollins

Hollins has had his moments this year with Hunter Renfrow injured. He has four double-digit fantasy performances, each of which were good enough to finish as a WR3 or better in half-PPR scoring.

Last week, Hollins was targeted a whopping nine times. He caught just five passes for 35 yards, however, and was completely eclipsed by Adams, who caught 8-of-12 for 177 yards and two touchdowns.

Verdict: Sit. The matchup is good, as the Rams are allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers this year, but I fully expect this to be the Adams/Jacobs show. Until Hollins produces on a bit more of a consistent basis, I cannot envision trusting him in the final week of the fantasy regular season.

TE Foster Moreau

Moreau was a dud in Week 13 against the Chargers, logging just one catch on three targets for 32 yards and finishing as the TE24 in half-PPR scoring. In the week prior, he caught 3-of-7 for 33 yards and a touchdown and was the TE9.

Overall, the tight end position has been confusing and frustrating at best for everyone who did not draft Travis Kelce, so the fact that Moreau has been a bit feast or famine is par for the course in 2022.

Verdict: Start as a fringe-TE1. Moreau is far from the sexiest fantasy name, but I would challenge anyone to name 12 tight ends you would feel more comfortable starting with six teams on bye. The matchup is decent against a Rams' defense that is below-average against fantasy tight ends.

Rams Week 14 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em

RB Cam Akers and Kyren Williams

Speaking of things that are frustrating and confusing, the Rams' backfield has been one massive headache all season. Akers was expected to be the workhorse back despite returning from a torn Achilles and was drafted as a top-20 running back in half-PPR according to FantasyPros' ADP. Unfortunately, friction with the coaching staff promoted trade drama, which never actually materialized.

Amid this drama, it appeared as though Darrell Henderson Jr. might be the team's workhorse back (albeit for a brief period). Henderson was released on November 22, however, prompting rookie Kyren Williams to step up briefly. Williams out-snapped Akers in Weeks 10 to 12 by a count of 89 to 51, but in Week 13, Akers led the backfield in carries, yards and snaps. He was the RB7 in half PPR in this standout performance (his best this year) and Williams was the RB70.

Verdict: Even in this juicy matchup against the No. 21-ranked run defense according to rush DVOA, I am wary of starting either. Both are RB3/flex options in a lean week and Akers would be my preferred start of the two. That said, I would temper expectations in light of the unpredictable nature of this backfield split.

TE Tyler Higbee

Higbee has been downright brutal of late and things might not improve with Wolford or Mayfield under center for the remainder of the year. He caught 2-of-5 targets for 14 yards and was the TE33 in half PPR last week.

Higbee has some upside and has finished as a top-12 tight end in six of 11 games this year. Four of those came in the first five games of the year when Stafford was starting and when Higbee was averaging 9.6 targets per game. The targets (and quality of targets) has dropped off significantly since then.

Verdict: Sit unless you are desperate. Higbee and Moreau fall into the same, uninspiring category of mediocre tight ends that you may be forced to start because of injuries or byes (though you would probably be hard pressed to find 12 tight ends you like better this week just given how unpredictable the position has been all year).

Moreau has a far superior quarterback situation, though realistically, both would probably have to find the end zone to finish in the top-12 for the week. The good news, if you are starting him, is that the matchup is favorable, as the Raiders rank 30th in pass DVOA and have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points allowed to tight ends. I am simply uninspired by the direction Higbee has been trending in this Rams' offense that does not spark joy.

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