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2018 Early Fantasy Outlook – Rams

Andrew Liptock

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Fantasy drafts are just around the corner. While it’s easy to fall into the “favorite team” bias, let’s take a realistic look at how our Rams may score this year.

Jared Goff
2017 stats: 477 attempts, 3804 yards, 28 TDs, 7 INTs
2018 projections: 445 attempts, 3750 yards, 30 TDs, 9 INTs
This upcoming season will be Goff’s 3rd year in the league and second consecutive year in Sean Mcvay’s system. In addition, it will be the second year in the offense for a lot of the players catching his passes (Woods, Kupp, Everrett, Higbee, Gurley). The acquisition of Cooks will also help, but let’s not forget about the additions on the other side of the ball. With the (hopefully) improved defense, the Rams may not need to rely on the pass as much late in games, leading to a more run-heavy approach to close them out. Goff’s efficiency should increase and the Rams were in the top half of the NFL for big plays in many statistical categories, so those won’t go away. Goff should end the season around the same fantasy ranking, but getting there on less attempts and a higher efficiency. If you’re one to wait on QB during the draft, he’s a solid target.

Todd Gurley
2017 stats: 279 attempts, 1305 yards, 13 TDs, 64 receptions, 6 receiving TDs
2018 projections: 250 attempts, 1200 yards, 12 TDs, 60 receptions, 4 receiving TDs
The #1 fantasy RB last year should be in for another monster season this year, however it’s rare for any RB to repeat that ranking. Gurley will be as safe as they come because of his pass-catching ability. Coach Mcvay runs the offense through him and he clearly has the talent to cash in on those opportunities. The only issues I see with Gurley this year are the offensive line and newly drafted John Kelly. The offensive line is good, right? Why is that a negative? Last season the Rams started the same unit for all 16 games and the consistency is a big part of what had the offense clicking on all cylinders. Odds of that happening two years in a row are pretty slim. If any of the big guys miss time, the depth behind them will directly affect Gurley’s fantasy production. As for Kelly, the improved defense should lead to the Rams running the clock out late in games. Gurley got most of that work last year because they didn’t have much behind him, but Kelly is a true weapon on the offense and should be able to handle that job. Not to mention, he may take a few catches away from Gurley as well. Gurley should end the season as a top 5 RB, but it won’t be as dominating as last year.

Brandin Cooks
2017 stats: 114 targets, 65 catches, 1082 yards, 7 TDs *with New England
2018 projections: 110 targets, 62 catches, 1050 yards, 6 TDs
After Sammy Watkins’ disappointing fantasy season last year as Coach Mcvay’s X-receiver, what can we expect from Brandin Cooks? Watkins had 39 catches on 70 targets in 15 games and it was clear that he and Goff didn’t have much chemistry. Cooks has already has familiarity with Goff that can only improve with a full offseason in the system. He is the only receiver aside of Antonio Brown to have a streak of three straight 1000 yard/7 TD seasons. He has only had over 80 receptions once and is used to doing his damage on minimal targets, however he should continue the trend of being fairly inconsistent week to week. It isn’t hard to believe that Cooks can duplicate his stats from last season which made him a WR1 for fantasy purposes.

Robert Woods
2017 stats: 85 targets, 56 catches, 781 yards, 5 TDs
2018 projections: 75 targets, 51 catches, 680 yards, 4 TDs
With an increase in production from the X receiver, it’s likely that Woods’ numbers take a slight hit. He clearly has a defined role, but will probably be the third option on a lot of the plays. Because of that, he should be a solid WR3 with upside, that can be had in the later rounds.

Cooper Kupp
2017 stats: 95 targets, 62 catches, 869 yards, 5 TDs
2018 projections: 90 targets, 65 catches, 850 yards, 6 TDs
Kupp and Goff clearly have a connection, so odds are we’ll be able to avoid a sophomore slump. That being said, it’s hard to see a scenario where Kupp’s production increases with the addition of Cooks. He will most likely remain in the slot the majority of the time, but should improve on his drops from last season. Kupp should be the most consistent Rams receiver for fantasy purposes week to week, and should be on the WR2/3 border.

Gerald Everett
2017 stats: 32 targets, 16 catches, 244 yards, 2 TDs
2018 projections: 45 targets, 25 catches, 400 yards, 4 TDs
Everett should see his opportunity rise, however he won’t be high up on the pecking order. Mcvay fed Jordan Reed during his time in Washington and used his first ever draft pick on Everrett, so there is potential, but there are just too many mouths to feed. Add that to the fact that tight ends usually take a few years to actually break out, and Everett will most likely be nothing more than a deep flyer in 12-14 team leagues.

Other Rams to consider may be Pharaoh Cooper, John Kelly, and Greg Zuerlein. Cooper will only be useful in league where you get points for return yardage and Kelly is a must add in all dynasty formats (somewhere in round 3 of rookie drafts) and as a handcuff to the Gurley owner. Kickers are kickers in fantasy, however Young GZ is one of the best if healthy. I wouldn’t recommend talking him very high, but if he or antoher top kicker is there with your third or fourth last pick, go for it. Same goes for the Rams D/ST. Your defense should be the last thing you draft as it’s the easiest to play matchups week to week. I would much rather draft the Chargers later or make my last pick a defense with an easy week 1 matchup than to waste high draft capital on the Rams. It may be fun to have them on your team, but don’t pass up a high upside lottery ticket for them. Fantasy football should be fun, and while it’s fun to have Rams on your team, it’s more fun to win!

Andrew Liptock is a lifelong Rams fan dating back to the early 2000's. Raised as a St. Louis Cardinals fan by his father, he chose to pledge his allegiance to the Rams over the hometown Eagles. His all-time favorite Ram is Steven Jackson, because of the way he played the game and his team first attitude. Andrew graduated from Penn State and is a diehard Nittany Lion fan. He has a passion for helping rescue animals by fostering and his hobbies include playing flag football, going to the gym, and plenty of fantasy football. You can find him on Twitter @AndrewLiptock.

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