This team-based draft strategy aims to identify which Rams are primed for fantasy opportunities in 2019. The series serves as an assessment of each offense and its prospects heading into next season. The stats used for this research are based on a half-PPR scoring format. Redraft rankings are listed for each player in parentheses (not that I like using parentheses).
Los Angeles Rams: No. 3 fantasy offense in 2018 (6th in passing, 1st in rushing)
All 32 teams ranked in terms of fantasy offense. Click on a team name to see that team’s preview. You can read an overview here.
Todd Gurley’s health has been the primary topic of conversation in fantasy circles this summer. The star running back is coming off back-to-back RB1 seasons, but he’s going as the RB9 in drafts right now. The culprit is an arthritic knee that made him a complete non-factor in the Super Bowl. Every subsequent report has been negative, and the Rams stoked the fire by drafting Darrell Henderson in the third round. Henderson (RB37) could be a league-winner if Gurley misses time, but the Rams have taken precautions to ensure that won’t happen.
Los Angeles has carefully managed Gurley’s offseason practice schedule, which should continue into the season. His days of handling 22+ touches/game are likely over, but he still has a path towards elite fantasy production. Gurley has averaged 1.055 fantasy points/touch over the last two seasons, second only to Alvin Kamara. Projecting a modest 15 touches/game next years, that output would make him the RB6. Even with a significantly reduced workload, Gurley’s per-touch efficiency maintains his standing as a fantasy superstar.
Gurley’s success has been a product of his own talent, as well as the Rams coaching staff—he saw the third-fewest stacked boxes in the league last year. Sean McVay will keep putting his star RB in advantageous positions, but the offensive line took a hit this offseason with Rodger Saffold leaving in free agency. Saffold is an elite run-blocking guard and his presence will be sorely missed in the trenches this season.
The concerns about Gurley’s health are merited, but he could also thrive in a reduced role. He’s still the red zone back in a high-scoring offense, so he could become even more efficient this season. As for the knee, every running back in the league has a realistic chance of getting injured. Gurley carries more risk than most, but a top-3 finish is still well within his reach. At his current ADP, Gurley (RB6) could end up being a steal who leads you to a fantasy championship once again.
Another concern for the Rams is the trend of offensive regression for Super Bowl-losing teams. In the last three years, the Panthers, Falcons, and Patriots each saw their top-5 fantasy offenses regress by 15% the following year—a similar drop-off would take the Rams from third to sixteenth in fantasy production. Luckily, Los Angeles has the forward-thinking coaching staff to avoid a debilitating Super Bowl hangover.
Head coach Sean McVay probably spends his free time thinking of new wrinkles to improve his offense. Last year, the Rams incorporated jet-sweeps to keep defensive lineman off-balance and force cornerbacks to make tackles. With months to stew over that Super Bowl loss, I can only imagine what new tactics McVay will use to attack defenses.
Jared Goff can also keep L.A. ahead of the curve by improving his pre-snap reads and audibles at the line of scrimmage. He’s already showing more command over the offense in training camp, which should help him become a more consistent quarterback—Goff averaged 11.4 more fantasy points at home last year. Reducing his hiccups on the road could unlock a new ceiling to Goff’s fantasy production, but at the very least he remains an elite starter at home. Pair him with a reliable backup like Philip Rivers and Goff (QB10) can be a valuable fantasy asset this season.
The Rams have a diverse arsenal of receivers, each serving a specific and unique role. Brandin Cooks, for instance, provides speed on the outside that creates space for other Rams pass-catchers underneath. Cooks has the second-most 40+ yard receptions since 2015, trailing Antonio Brown by only one catch. His reliance on the deep ball makes him an inconsistent fantasy performer week-to-week, but Cooks has been as consistent as they come from a season-long perspective, finishing as a WR16-or-better in each of the past four seasons. Cooks (WR13) is a relatively safe investment as the deep-threat in this prolific Rams offense.
Robert Woods has also been vital to the team’s success, executing his role as the possession receiver to perfection. He’s coming off a career year in which he racked up 1,376 yards, 7 TDs, and 67 first downs. Woods plays an integral part in keeping the Rams offense moving, which makes him a consistent fantasy producer in almost any matchup. He will be hard-pressed to reach 130 targets again this season, but Woods (WR16) offers reliable WR2 production at a reasonable draft cost.
With Cooks working downfield and Woods picking up key first downs, Cooper Kupp has been absolutely lethal in the short passing game. The offense is specifically tailored to create space for Kupp, and he’s taken full advantage, finishing fourth in average separation and second in yards after the catch (YAC) among WRs last year. He also produced as the overall-WR3 during his healthy games before going down with a torn ACL. If Kupp (WR19) makes a healthy appearance during the preseason, he could pick up right where he left off last year.