With the Rams set to kick off the season on Sunday against the Cowboys, it’s time to preview the fantasy value of each Rams’ offensive player for the season. While some players like Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods have established themselves as reliable fantasy starters, others such as Van Jefferson and Cam Akers remain as question marks. Who should you draft in your league, and who should you avoid?
Note: for all scoring references, I’ll be using PPR scoring.
QB Jared Goff
In 3 seasons under Sean McVay, Jared Goff has finished as a top-13 fantasy QB 3 times. Last year was Goff’s worst since McVay became head coach, but he still managed to rank 13th among QBs in fantasy points with 247.52.
Goff was inconsistent throughout the year, but he was consistent in one area – throwing for 2 or less TDs every game until week 17. Goff didn’t throw 3 scoring strikes until a home game against the Cardinals, something he did 6 times in 2018. Many factors contributed to Goff’s play last year, but the biggest ones were the regression of the offensive line and RB Todd Gurley. While I don’t know if he can get back to his 2018 form this year, I think he’ll certainly top last year’s performance.
Although Goff lost Brandin Cooks, he gained a replacement in rookie Van Jefferson. We’ll talk more about him later, but with a plethora of receivers and an unproven run game, expect McVay to call Goff’s number a lot this year.
Even if he isn’t very efficient, the pure volume Goff will get should propel him to a top-10 fantasy season, and a solid QB1.
2020 projected stats: 402/619 (65%), 4,750 yds, 29 TDs, 10 INTs, 60 rush yds, 2 rush TDs
RB Cam Akers
With the departure of Todd Gurley, the Rams were left with a large hole at RB. While nobody expects Akers to instantly fill in for the former All-Pro, he boasts tremendous athletic upside.
The former high school QB shined as a runner at Florida State, behind a miserable OL. Still, the Rams seem to be leaning with Malcolm Brown as the starter, at least early in the season. Don’t expect Akers to do much in the first few games, but don’t be surprised if he ends up as the starter by Week 5 or 6.
Even if he does end up starting, I wouldn’t expect him to carry all of the load given the Rams’ depth at the position. Akers is a high-end RB3 with RB2 potential.
2020 projected stats: 140 carries, 644 rush yds (4.6 YPC), 5 rush TDs, 26 rec, 238 rec yds, TD
RB Darrell Henderson
When LA drafted Henderson in the 3rd round out of Memphis in the 2019 draft, many predicted he would split carries to take the load off of Gurley, and perhaps eventually replace him should he leave.
Well, Gurley has gone to Atlanta and Henderson still hasn’t taken charge of the Rams’ backfield. Henderson had a disappointing rookie season, rushing just 39 times for 147 yards (3.8 YPC) and no touchdowns. He also lost a key fumble in an eventual loss to the 49ers in Week 6. Henderson couldn’t seem to flash the explosive play-making ability that made him a star in Memphis, but all isn’t lost.
While he may not have the tools to be an every-down back in this league, Henderson can still make an impact on this offense. For fantasy purposes, he’s an RB4 and shouldn’t be owned in leagues of 12 teams or less.
2020 projected stats: 80 carries, 344 yds, 3 TDs, 14 rec, 173 yds
RB Malcolm Brown
Brown is the most experienced, and perhaps most trusted among all LA RBs. A reliable pass blocker and receiver on third downs, Brown’s role increased last year as he notched career highs in carries, rush yards and TDs.
While Brown is the most reliable back, he also probably sports the lowest athletic upside of the group. Brown is likely to start week 1 given his reliability, but I don’t expect that to last too long. He has some potential as a goal-line back, but he’s no more than an RB4 and not worth a roster spot.
2020 projected stats: 50 carries, 200 rush yds, 3 TDs, 20 rec, 223 yds, TD
WR Cooper Kupp
Last season, Kupp was the 4th best fantasy WR, scoring 270.5 points and finishing 2nd in the league in receiving TDs. Kupp was arguably the top WR for the first 11 games, but then fell off to end the year once the Rams started running more 2 TE sets.
With Brandin Cooks shipped off to the Texans, Kupp will undoubtedly start alongside Robert Woods. While I’m a huge Kupp fan, I’m not sure he can replicate his scoring success, as 10 TDs in back-to-back seasons is hard to sustain for someone who’s has to share targets with other talented players.
Still, Kupp is Goff’s favorite target and will get plenty of looks. It helps that he’ll be in a contract year and looking to prove himself. Kupp is a borderline WR1 this season.
2020 projected stats: 121 targets, 98 rec, 1,179 rec yds, 8 TDs
WR Robert Woods
Woods is a fantastic receiver, and a personal favorite player of mine, but he’s not a top performer at his position in fantasy. He catches everything thrown his way and is a fantastic run blocker. Woods recorded 90 catches and 1,134 receiving yards last year, but scored just 2 TDs, the fewest among all top 40 WRs. Still, he managed to finish as the WR14.
While I don’t think Woods will only score twice this year, he’s not going to light the endzone up. The former USC star is very consistent, and he should have another solid season. Woods is a mid-tier WR2, with higher upside in PPR leagues.
2020 projected stats: 115 targets, 92 rec, 1,110 rec yds, 5 TDs
WR Josh Reynolds
After the Rams traded Cooks, Reynolds looked to replace him in the lineup. The former Texas A&M Aggie has snagged 61 passes for 832 yards and 7 TDs as the WR4 in 3 seasons for LA. He’s shown he can be trusted, but rookie Van Jefferson is hot on his heels.
I see Reynolds and Jefferson splitting snaps fairly evenly, as both offer upside in their own ways. Reynolds has week-to-week upside based on matchups, but can’t be trusted as a season-long fantasy prospect. He’s a WR4 at best.
2020 projected stats: 51 targets, 36 rec, 451 rec yds, 3 TDs
WR Van Jefferson
The Rams drafted Jefferson in the 2nd round out of Florida. While the wideout never had gaudy numbers in college (175 rec, 2,159 rec yards, 16 TDs in 4 seasons), he showed he’s a very talented route runner and has turned heads in Rams training camp and practices. “Football just makes sense to him,” said Sean McVay when recently speaking about Jefferson. “He’s got that pedigree, you know, when you look at the history of the success that his dad had as a player and now he’s coaching. And when you’re around Van, that’s what it feels like. You know, it feels like he came from that football pedigree and he sure is talented.”
Jefferson still has to supplant Reynolds for the #3 WR spot, but I think he’s capable of doing so if he keeps impressing coaches. Jefferson is a high-end WR4 this season with high potential in dynasty leagues.
2020 projected stats: 65 targets, 45 rec, 591 rec yds, 4 TDs
TE Tyler Higbee
Higbee might be the most difficult among Rams players in predicting their success this year. After having a small role on the offense for the first 11 games, the Western Kentucky product went off in the last 5 weeks, recording 43 catches for 522 yards and 2 TDs. Higbee became the first tight end in the Super Bowl era to reach 7+ catches and 100+ receiving yards in 4 straight games, and finished as the #9 TE.
Still, there’s cause for concern. This stretch came during a time in which Gerald Everett was injured, freeing up more targets for Higbee. He certainly took advantage of this opportunity, but is it sustainable? It depends on how much McVay will trust Higbee moving forward.
Everett has plenty of upside, but McVay just might have to make Higbee the guy moving forward after that stretch last year. Given the uncertainty in the LA tight end room, Higbee is a low-end TE1.
2020 projected stats: 65 rec, 758 rec yds, 5 TDs
TE Gerald Everett
Gerald Everett is a frustrating player to follow for fantasy fans. He’s had some great games, but plenty of disappointing outings. On top of that, he lost his lead in tight end race with Tyler Higbee after missing the last 4 games with an injury last season.
Everett is more athletic and faster than Higbee, but Goff has established a better rapport with the latter more. There were countless times in 2019 where the chemistry between Goff and Everett was simply not there, including multiple missed TD throws in key moments.
Everett will likely see a good amount of work in twin TE sets that McVay loves to run, but his chance to be the go-to tight end in this offense may be gone. He’s a low-end TE2 unless something changes.
2020 projected stats: 31 rec, 408 rec yds, 2 TDs