The Super Bowl window has closed, but the Los Angeles Rams could be sneaky fun again in fantasy football with the core pieces back. We can draft them all on Underdog Fantasy with promo code 'UNDERBLOG' to match your first deposit up to $100. We have the biggest fantasy football tournament of all time ($15M) right now.
It was a disaster thanks to QB, WR, and OL injuries. We can essentially throw out most of these stats, as coach Sean McVay tanked his normal aggressive offense once his core pieces were watching on the sideline. With the No. 23 EPA allowed defense trading away stud CB Jalen Ramsey, we're looking at a narrow-minded team that's built around the QB and WR. Will that keep McVay and Stafford entertained? I think it'll at least be fun to watch.
3-WR Sets (1st in snaps, 92% of snaps)
WR: Van Jefferson --> Demarcus Robinson
WR: Puka Nacua (R) --> Ben Skowronek
SLOT: Cooper Kupp --> Tutu Atwell
TE: Tyler Higbee --> Hunter Long
2-WR Sets (32nd in snaps, 7% of snaps)
WR: Cooper Kupp --> Puka Nacua (R)
WR: Van Jefferson --> Tutu Atwell
SLOT TE: Tyler Higbee --> Davis Allen (R)
INLINE TE: Hunter Long --> Brycen Hopkins
RB Usage (32nd in expected half PPR)
GOAL LINE: Cam Akers --> Sony Michel
PASSING DOWN: Cam Akers --> Kyren Williams
Offensive Line (only room for improvement)
LT: Joseph Noteboom (only 325 snaps last year)
LG: Steve Avila (2nd-round rookie)
C: Brian Allen (only 373 snaps last year)
RG: Logan Brass ('22 3rd-rounder, no snaps)
RT: Rob Havenstein (good returning starter)
Matthew Stafford was rushed on a ton of dropbacks last year, resulting in an outlier-low average depth of target. The OL remains suspect but improved versus last year's injury-plagued unit. Stafford himself needs them to play better coming off a serious neck surgery. He's already on the practice field, however, and McVay is going to be playing Madden this year with this disastrous defense. Stafford could be top-5 in pass attempts out of necessity. The Rams in 2021 with a healthy Stafford were 3rd in pace when trailing and 4th in neutral pass rate. He's on a 4,559 passing yards and 33 touchdown pace across 17 games with McVay.
Cooper Kupp was on pace for 153 catches through 8 games last year. It's as simple as that when it comes to his upside. As for his floor, it's injury-based. Right now, he's on the practice field following a late-season ankle surgery. Kupp should be close to 100% early in camp. He has 1st overall potential, and I don't think the NFL single-season receptions record is safe either. ... Van Jefferson missed a lot of time last year but has a real role going into this season. He has outside ability as a vertical player (career 14.3 average depth of target), maintaining 1.2 to 1.5 yards per route run average in all three NFL seasons. Jefferson was the 129th overall player as a full-time player with Stafford in 2021, providing a nice baseline for this upcoming season. This is a contract year for him. ... There's a battle for the final spot, likely between 2021 2nd-rounder Tutu Atwell (5'9/165) and Puka Nacua (6'0/201). Atwell has just one game with 30+ routes in two years, mostly operating as a low-volume deep threat from the slot and flanker. That matches his size and skillset. Nacua offers a more possession receiver skillset from the perimeter but was also a sweep/reverse/manufactured touch player at BYU. His minicamp drumbeat was consistent, and McVay has experimented with hybrid WR roles (see: Ben Skowronek). On just 545 collegiate routes, Nacua flashed a very strong 3.5 yards per route run. He's a very sneaky last round pick.
Last year was a relative disaster for some reasons Tyler Higbee couldn't control. The Rams OL was massively banged up, particularly at OT. That possibly explains why Higbee's pass blocking rate went from 9% in 2021 up to an alarming 18% last year. If the OTs can hold up and if the play-calling leans more pass-heavy with Matthew Stafford returning, Higbee could increase his route volume by close to 100. There's little target competition aside from Cooper Kupp now, too. He has been the 142nd (TE14) and 232nd overall player over the last two years. Higbee, 30, is on a $9M contract year.
There's been drama, but Cam Akers is set up well after re-earning the trust of McVay down the stretch. He averaged 88 total yards over his final 8 games on 4.8 yards per carry and PFF's RB5 rush grade, despite the offense evaporating to injured reserve. Akers has bellcow size (5'10/217) and skills if he can hold off a bunch of no namers behind him. Kyren Williams is trusted on passing downs but lacks any juice at all. Rookie Zach Evans fell to the 6th round despite 5-star pedigree for reasons that likely extend off the field. And 28-year-old Sony Michel was the RB67 in PFF grade last year and was only signed on June 20th this offseason. Most roads lead back to contract-year Akers. How valuable a clear-cut No. 1 role will depend on how much this offense can rebound. With everything going sideways last year, the Rams finished dead last in RB fantasy usage. They were 25th during their Super Bowl run.
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WR4 Cooper Kupp (4.7 overall) --> Buying
RB22 Cam Akers (72.4) --> Buying
WR66 Van Jefferson (146.2) --> Buying
TE16 Tyler Higbee (148.7) --> Buying
QB21 Matthew Stafford (156.1) --> Buying
WR92 Puka Nucua (211.9) --> Mixing in
RB69 Zach Evans (214.1) --> Fading
WR101 Tutu Atwell (215.2) --> Fading
RB74 Kyren Williams (215.5) --> Fading