2020 Fantasy Previews Part 19: Los Angeles Rams

Last season was a disappointing one for the Los Angeles Rams. They started the season 3-0 and then lost three straight to drop to 3-3. The Rams did not have a winning or losing streak of more than 2 games for the rest of the season and finished 9-7. This was a very disappointing season as they had just come off losing in the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots 13-3. The Rams were in the middle of the pack in every major defensive category, which was surprising with the addition of Jalen Ramsey to help lock down the opposing teams' receivers. Coach Sean McVay is one of the best young offensive minds in the league. He is great at drawing up routes that confuse the defense. The Rams went all-in on the offense during the 2020 NFL Draft as they selected 2 skill position players with their first two picks. One of these picks was a running back. He will help to fill the Rams' void at running back left by Todd Gurley. The Rams' division is going to be very tough this year with Seattle and San Francisco being two teams that should make the playoffs, and Arizona, who is a team on the rise who could improve in Kyler's second year. Another 9-7 season wouldn't be outside of the realm of possibility this year if the defense doesn't step it up.

Projected Depth Chart:

Quarterback: 1. Jared Goff 2. John Wolford

Running back: 1. Cam Akers 2. Darrell Henderson Jr.

Wide receiver: 1. Robert Woods 2. Cooper Kupp 3. Van Jefferson 4. Nsimba Webster

Slot receiver: 1. Josh Reynolds 2. Greg Dortch

Tight end: 1. Tyler Higbee 2. Gerald Everett

Quarterbacks - Jared Goff was one of the best quarterbacks in the league in 2018. He had 4688 passing yards on 64.9% completion, 32 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 108 rushing yards, and 2 rushing touchdowns. Goff finished as the QB7 in fantasy with 310.32 fantasy points. This great season could've been even better, if not for poor offensive line play. Goff got sacked 33 times that season.

Many people expected Goff to be even better in 2019 and improve on his 2018 season. He regressed a bit in his 2019 season. Goff had 4368 passing yards on 62.9% completion, 22 passing touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 40 rushing yards, and 2 rushing touchdowns. Goff even had more attempts than he did in 2018. Despite this regression, Goff finished as the QB13 with 247.52 fantasy points. This was again due to poor offensive line play. Before the last 5 games of the season, Goff averaged 13.05 fantasy points per game and during the last 5 games of the season, Goff averaged 20.78 fantasy points per game. This was due to his offensive line playing a lot better down the stretch.

In 2020, I would expect Goff to have a bounce-back season. He is going to have to pass even more this year without a clear workhorse running back. The offensive line should play as they did from weeks 12-16 and Goff should play pretty close to his average from those weeks as well. Goff is the QB17 on ESPN and I think he is a great sleeper as a bounce-back candidate heading into the season.

Running backs - Todd Gurley regressed in 2019 along with Jared Goff. Gurley's reason was a little different than Goff's as he was diagnosed with arthritis in his knee. He had 857 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground and 31 receptions for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air. Gurley finished as the R14 and was pretty solid as he had over 15 points in 8 of his games and over 10 in 12 of the games.

Gurley received a substantially smaller workload last season. The other touches mainly went to Malcolm Brown, He had 69 carries for 255 yards and 5 touchdowns. Most of those touchdowns came on the goal line, stolen from Todd Gurley. This disgruntled fantasy owners everywhere as he would come in for no reason for Gurley on the goal line. Gurley probably would've had a couple more touchdowns if Brown didn't steal them.

The Rams were concerned with Todd Gurley's arthritis in his knee so they let him go during the offseason. To try and replace him, they drafted Cam Akers from Florida State in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Expect more of a committee approach as Sean McVay has publicly stated he can't give that many carries to a running back. Cam Akers is going around the 5th-6th round and I think that is a steal for someone who should be the #1 running back. Darrell Henderson is going around the 8th round. That is too high and he should be drafted lower as more of a handcuff

Wide receivers - Sean McVay has a history of using 2 wide receivers. In 2016, he was the offensive coordinator in Washington. Pierre Garcon had 201.1 points and finished as the WR23. Jamison Crowder had 191.5 points and finished as the WR31. In 2017, he was the head coach of the Rams. Cooper Kupp had 176.9 fantasy points and finished as the WR25 and Robert Woods had 163.3 fantasy points and finished as the WR32. In 2018, Robert Woods had 265.6 fantasy points and finished as the WR11 and Brandin Cooks had 243.3 fantasy points and finished as the WR13.

2019 was no different as Cooper Kupp had 270.5 fantasy points and finished as the WR4 and Robert Woods had 232.9 fantasy points and finished as the WR14. Kupp had 94 receptions for 1161 yards and 10 touchdowns. Kupp was very inconsistent as he only had over 15 points in 8 games and under 12 points in 6 games. Robert Woods had 90 receptions for 1134 yards and 2 touchdowns. He emerged as the WR1 from weeks 10-17 as he had 9 or more targets in each game he played. Kupp only had 2 of these games.

Both Woods and Kupp are being drafted around the same time. They are both being drafted in the fourth round and I would rather have Woods. This is mainly due to the stat that I mentioned above. Woods should have more volume than Kupp. I like Woods as a sleeper this year and if he's not on the board, I'll take Kupp. Kupp is being drafted right below Woods and I think that is good value for him even though I like the upside of Woods better. This offense mainly targets 3 receivers. This was Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Brandin Cooks, but at the end of the season, Brandin Cooks was replaced by Tyler Higbee. This does not leave room for another receiver to succeed in this offense.

Tight ends - Tyler Higbee came out of nowhere to become an absolute monster over the last 5 games of last season. He averaged 5.3 points before the final 5 games and 21.4 points for the final 5 games. If he were to keep this up for a whole season, he would've scored 342.4 fantasy points. This would've been good for the 4th best player in all of fantasy last year behind only Christian McCaffrey, Lamar Jackson, and Michael Thomas. This would've been the best season ever for a tight end in fantasy. With 2011 Rob Gronkowski coming in a close second with 330.9 fantasy points.

Tyler Higbee is being drafted in the 7th-8th round and he is the best tight end past the top 5 tight ends in the draft. Higbee is a huge sleeper this year as Sean McVay has said that he loves Tyler Higbee and what he brings to the offense. There is a chance Higbee can have a special year this season, but he could also bust. I still think he is being taken way too early because of his last couple of games of the season. The backup, Gerald Everett should not be a factor as the Rams run a lot of 11 personnel.

Fantasy analysis:

Sleepers: Cam Akers, Jared Goff, Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee

Good Value: Cooper Kupp

I'm not targeting: Everyone else

Handcuffs: John Wolford, Darrell Henderson, Van Jefferson, Gerald Everett

I hope you liked 2020 Fantasy Team Previews Part 19: Los Angeles Rams. Next up is 2020 Fantasy Team Previews Part 20: Miami Dolphins. Feel free to comment your thoughts on the Rams' offense for fantasy 2020.

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