America’s favorite game of the work week is finally here! Two NFC West teams are ready to clash as the Los Angeles Rams travel to the bay for a Thursday night matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. This one has all the potential to eclipse the excitement and intrigue of their Week 1 matchup from a season ago. Remember, that one was really only memorable for Aaron Donald melting down after being ejected and Kevin Harlan making one of the best radio calls of all-time that had absolutely nothing to do with the actual game on the field.
But it’s time to make the tough decisions when it comes to your fantasy lineup for Week 3. A new week of football is ready to kickoff and you’re just trying to get to Friday. Let’s take care of everything right here and right now.
Carlos Hyde - RB, San Francisco 49ers
Perhaps the biggest surprise this season at the running back position not named Kareem Hunt is the play of Carlos Hyde in San Francisco. After dealing with all sorts of nagging and lingering injuries in 2016—like a case of the Chip Kelly—Hyde is healthy and producing in ways many had been waiting for him to reach all along.
So far through two games, Hyde is running the ball at an outrageous 7.0 yards per carry, a pace that is for sure unsustainable, but wildly impressive considering the opponents—the Panthers in Week 1 and the Seahawks in Week 2. Hyde is a fringe RB1, definite RB2 this week against a Rams defense that has given up the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (26.6).
Sammy Watkins - WR, Los Angeles Rams
Goff and Watkins have yet to click, but a short-handed 49ers defense could be just what the fantasy doctor ordered. With starting safety Eric Reid out, the 49ers are weaker over the top, meaning this could be the game where Watkins breaks off a big catch and run that makes starting him worth your while.
It’s a tough sell considering he has a pedestrian seven catches for 88 yards through two games, but Watkins’ big play ability in this one makes him worth at least a flex play in your lineup this week.
Todd Gurley - RB, Los Angeles Rams
For those of you who were worried about Godd Turley, it’s safe to say his biggest obstacle, Jeff Fisher, is a problem of the past. Gurley isn’t running the ball quite like he did his rookie season, but that has more to do with the offense still settling in after overhauling its offensive line, adding veteran players like left tackle Andrew Whitworth and center John Sullivan. His average won’t be nearly as bad as it was in 2016, even on Thursday, and things are just looking much more promising for the Rams’ rushing offense than it did a year ago.
Where Gurley is making huge strides, however, is as a pass-catcher. In two weeks, Gurley has eight receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown. In his hyper-productive rookie season, Gurley had 21 catches for 188 yards in 13 games. In PPR formats, Gurley is a borderline RB1, definite RB2 for Thursday. The 49ers have limited the fantasy points scored by opposing running backs when they’ve rushed it against them, but they have given up 11 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown to running backs.
Gerald Everett - TE, Los Angeles Rams
Everett had a breakout game in Week 2 against Washington, catching three passes for a whopping 95 yards. He now sits just outside the top 10 tight ends in fantasy football scoring, but Thursday night is not his night. The 49ers’ defense has been especially stingy against opposing tight ends, surrendering just six receptions for 44 yards in two games—resulting in the third fewest fantasy points given up to tight ends.
Pierre Garcon - WR, San Francisco 49ers
Another matchup that doesn’t seem so hot is Pierre Garcon against the Rams secondary. Not only are the Rams getting Aaron Donald and all the push and havoc at the line of scrimmage he brings back to their defense, Los Angeles’ secondary has done a fine job of shutting down opposing wide receivers. Through two weeks, wide receivers have caught 13 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown against the Rams defense, the seventh fewest fantasy points given up to opposing wideouts.
Garcon’s workload has been relatively light—15 targets for nine catches and 105 yards—as the 49ers have made a solid commitment to their run game. Look elsewhere on the waiver wire or on your own roster for someone to play on either Sunday or Monday instead.
Los Angeles Rams - D/ST
The Rams defense is ranked second in fantasy scoring, but after the week they had against Scott Tolzien and the Colts to start the season, that ranking starts to make a lot more sense. Last week they gave up 27 points to Washington at the Coliseum and recorded only two sacks.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 49ers score at least two touchdowns at home, and really make limiting their turnovers and mistakes at home to nab a divisional win. Look around the waiver wire, there are plenty of other matchups for you to play this week: The Ravens (available in 43 percent of leagues) against the Jaguars, the Steelers (also available in 43 percent of leagues) against the Bears, and the Dolphins (available in over 82 percent of leagues) against the New York Jets.