With the addition of quarterback Matthew Stafford, the Los Angeles Rams offense got a major boost in fantasy football. This especially the case when it comes to the Rams wide receivers. While stacked with talent, it was apparent that former quarterback Jared Goff limited the team’s upside in the passing game.
The Rams wide receivers are very interesting from a fantasy football perspective. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are the obvious top-two choices. However, with Stafford, there might be the potential for a third guy in the mix like 2018. In that season, the Rams offense was able to sustain Kupp, Woods, and Brandin Cooks. The three receivers finished inside the top-20 on a points per game basis.
Here’s a look at the Rams 2021 wide receivers.
One of the perennially underrated wide receivers in the NFL, Woods enters the year after failing to clear 1,000 receiving yards. His efficiency slightly dropped from the previous two seasons as he posted his lowest yards per reception mark in his career. However, his six receiving touchdowns tied his career high and his catch rate of nearly 70% was a career best.
The So Cal native is still only 29 years old and in the midst of his prime. After re-signing Woods to an extension in 2020, the Rams have a potential out after this season. However, with a $12M dead cap hit in 2022, it would be more likely that the Rams could move on in 2023 when the dead cap drops to $6.4M.
The emergence of Cam Akers, who will revitalize the Los Angeles Rams’ running game, should take some pressure off Woods. This should allow the Rams wide receiver to extend his prime. Woods has also been somewhat of a beacon of health, missing only a single game over the past three seasons. There is no reason to believe that Woods can’t continue to be the team’s healthiest player and one of its most productive.
Cooper Kupp is coming off a right knee injury and a Morel-Lavalle’e lesion (when skin and tissue separate from the underlying tissue). The knee injury was serious enough to keep Kupp sidelined in the Los Angeles Rams’ NFC divisional-round playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.
However, the veteran wide receiver has noted that the knee injury “was just kind of a freaky thing”. All indications are that he will be all systems go when the 2021 season kicks off.
Last year, Kupp ranked third in yards after catch among the league’s receivers with 507 and ninth in receptions with 92. With Stafford at the helm and Kupp likely manning the slot, it can be expected that Kupp at least maintains his efficiency and production in his fifth year.
Like Woods, the 2017 third rounder is coming off a recent contract extension signed last year. The contract likely locks him in through 2022. The team does have a potential out in 2023 where his dead cap number drops from nearly $20M to $8.4M.
An improved running game will only helps Kupp’s cause as an interior threat across the middle. Defenses will need to decide whether they want to key in on Akers or Kupp slashing across the middle of the field. In addition, Kupp has already been working on building chemistry with his new quarterback.
The Los Angeles Rams’ second round pick in 2020 is a polished route runner who is ready to take the next step in his NFL career. Jefferson posted only 19 receptions for 220 yards and a single touchdown in his rookie year. The second year receiver lacked the opportunity to shine behind the team’s top two receiving threats.
Woods and Kupp remain atop the depth chart and DeSean Jackson was signed in the offseason. However, Jefferson’s arrow is pointing up heading into 2021. The Rams may have drafted Tutu Atwell, but also allowed Josh Reynolds to walk in free agency.
This indicates that the Rams like Jefferson’s potential as a versatile receiving threat who can thrive on the outside. Another reason for optimism is that in the divisional round match against the Packers, Jefferson got the start with Kupp sidelined. He went on to catch six passes for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Adding in the offseason hype surrounding Jefferson and the outlook is even better. Per McVay, “[Jefferson has] come back establishing himself as a legitimate dude, a guy that [the team is] counting on for big things.” McVay went on to add that he believes the future is bright for Van Jefferson.
DeSean Jackson has only played a total of eight games over the past two injury-marred seasons. However, he is still a threat to score on any given play. Jackson was lobbying to return to his LA roots and got his wish when the Los Angeles Rams signed him to a one-year deal. Jackson is projected to bring his speed and big-play ability which will help the offense become a more balanced attack all around.
Stafford still has one of the strongest arms in the league, which plays to Jackson’s strength as a vertical threat. Jackson can stretch the field as a split end. As long as he can stay healthy he will be able to post at least 17 yards per reception and a handful of touchdowns being paired with Stafford.
Atwell has quick burst off the line of scrimmage and has enough straight-line speed to beat defenders on deep passes. Despite Atwell’s elite speed and burst, his size, agility, and contact balance are lacking. Tutu’s smaller frame (5-9, 155) presents a weakness against the bigger corners in the NFL. Because of this, he will struggle against press coverage. If he isn’t able to improve his footwork, then he may find it difficult to create separation.
The former Louisville wide receiver was drafted as the 25th pick in the second round by the Rams. This gives him solid draft capital and an opportunity to develop. In his breakout 2019 season, Atwell posted more yards than fellow NFL receivers Tee Higgins, Jerry Jeudy, Rashod Bateman, Brandon Aiyuk, and Gabriel Davis. The modern day NFL favors speed over size so there is upside with Atwell based on his speed and college production profile.
Fantasy Football Outlooks
In seasonal fantasy football, Woods is essentially a lock to be a solid WR2 option and I would prioritize him over teammate Cooper Kupp based on average yards per target and Woods’ versatility. McVay loves to use Woods on wide receiver runs which also provides rushing upside.
Woods has posted top-15 wide receiver finishes in PPR leagues over the past three years. That won’t be changing any time soon now that Stafford is in the fold. With that said, many fantasy pundits have difficulty figuring out which Rams wide receiver to target.
Both Woods and Kupp have been equally productive over the past three years. As mentioned above, Woods has the higher upside but Kupp will find himself among the top 15-24 wide receivers once again. Currently, Woods and Kupp are among the top 24 wide receiver in redraft fantasy football rankings.
If you miss on Woods then taking Kupp nearly a round later will pay off. I would not target Jefferson or Jackson in season-long leagues. They will not be consistent enough to feel comfortable starting them outside of the deepest leagues. However, Jefferson remains a sound stash in dynasty leagues as there is a chance that the Rams move on from Woods and/or Kupp in the next couple of years.
In best ball, stacking both Woods and Kupp along with Matthew Stafford is an ideal stack but hard to secure. A more likely scenario would be taking Woods or Kupp, drafting Stafford, and then hitting Jackson with your last pick to secure a double stack from this potent Rams passing game.
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