Let me start with a public service announcement. Football is back! It might be preseason, we stumbled through the Hall of Fame Game, but by the time you are reading this, football will be back. We did it, we made it through the offseason. So, let’s take a moment to congratulate ourselves for getting here.
This week I will be previewing the highest scoring offense from the 2017 – the Los Angeles Rams. Yes, you read that correctly. The Rams were able to rid themselves of the stench of Jeff Fisher, as Sean McVay helped Jared Goff complete one of the most remarkable career trajectory turnarounds in recent memory.Jared Goff finished as the QB12 last season and is currently being drafted as the QB16. His turnaround from his rookie season was one of historic proportions. His passer rating increased from 63.6 to 100.5. Simply remarkable. Goff certainly has the weapons and the coaching to finish as a top 12 QB again. His current ADP feels right to me, and if you are waiting on QB until the later rounds of the draft, I would be happy taking Goff as my first QB. Notably, however, Goff does have one of the hardest strength of schedules, ranking 27th overall per Fantasy Pros. He would be ideally paired with a later drafted QB such as Tannehill, Keenum, or even Eli Manning, whom all have top 10 strength of schedules.
Todd Gurley is the reigning fantasy football MVP. He finished as the RB1 and the number 1 scoring player in fantasy football over the 2017 season. His current ADP is 1.01, which is a fair reflection based on last season, and what he is expected to do in 2018.
There isn’t too much to say about Gurley, other than feel safe drafting him first overall. The Rams have made defensive additions, to an already excellent unit, bringing in Ndamukong Suh to pair with Aaron Donald (holdout not withstanding), Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, and even Sam Shields. Expect this defense to allow the Rams to play with a positive game script and control the clock – which means plenty of work for Todd Gurley. Per Sharp Football Stats, the Rams had a pass to run ratio of 56% to 44% which was 23rd in the NFL in the 2017 season, making them one of the more run-heavy teams. Expect this trend to continue into 2018.
Brandin Cooks is a new addition to the Rams, having been traded from New England. People point to him being on his 3rd team in three years as a negative, but each time he was traded, it was for a first round pick, and he continued to produce. Here’s some trivia for you. Who are the two WRs in the NFL to have over 1,000 yards and 7TDs receiving for the past three consecutive seasons?
Antonio Brown and Brandin Cooks.
That is some rarefied company. Of course, I’m not suggesting that Cooks is close to the talent level of AB, that would be absurd, but he can still be a very viable fantasy football weapon – especially given how late he is being drafted for the upside he offers. WR22 is just too cheap for his talent and upside, with the potential to post WR1 numbers on any given week.
Cooks is criticised for his “boom or bust” tendencies, but over the past three seasons, he as finished as a top 36 WR in PPR scoring 31/48 times, or about 65% of the time and as a top 24 WR 23/48 times – 48% of the time. The 35% risk of him finishing outside the top 36 at the position is baked into his current ADP – a price I am more than willing to pay.
Robert Woods was a free agent signing in 2017, escaping the fantasy wasteland that is the Buffalo Bills. Despite missing a few games with an injury, Woods finished as the WR33 overall but this season is still being drafted as the WR40 overall. He screams value in your fantasy football drafts. In the 5 games he played in between Week 9 and 16, Woods scored 19.6 fantasy points per game. He was only bested by Antonio Brown, Keenan Allen, and DeAndre Hopkins. Not a bad groups of players to be associated with. Of course, you shouldn’t draft Woods with the expectation of these numbers, but Woods has the opportunity to be in an explosive offense and produce low-end WR2 numbers on a weekly basis.
Another Rams WR Cooper Kupp is being drafted in a similar range to Woods, being drafted as the WR32 overall. In 2017, Kupp led the Rams in red zone targets and finished as the WR27 overall playing 15 games. I still prefer Woods to Kupp for this season, especially as he is being drafted later, but I want at least one piece of the Rams’ offense on my rosters. I wouldn’t be disappointed having Kupp as a weekly flex play.
Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett are the two tight ends of note on the Rams roster, however, they have little to no value in standard fantasy football formats. Perhaps one of them might emerge as a red zone threat, but that would really only limit the upside of the other pass catchers. If the situation becomes desperate, either Higbee or Everett might be a useful streaming option during bye weeks. The TE position is so thin, it usually only requires a touchdown to finish in the top 12 at the position on a weekly basis.
I should also note that Greg Zuerlein and the Rams D/ST were excellent plays last season, but should not be reached for in drafts. Wait until the last two rounds to take a D/ST and your kicker – they are easy positions to stream, and throughout the season I will bring you my favorite plays on a weekly basis.
So which Rams are you interested in for 2018? You can find me on Twitter @FF_DownUnder to let me know!! If you’re on Facebook, make sure to join our group – FFDownUnder to find leagues, talk strategy, share content, and talk all things fantasy football!
NB – all fantasy football statistics in this article come from ffstatistics.com unless otherwise stated. Shout out to its creator Addison Hayes (@_amazehayes). Other stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference. ADP data is taken from Fantasy Football Calculator.