The Los Angeles Rams were one of the most exciting teams in football this past season, posting a 13-3 record and representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. They finished second to Kansas City in most offensive categories during the regular season including points scored, yards per game, and points per game.This success led to a plethora of fantasy-viable players for dynasty owners to choose from including, Jared Goff finishing as the QB7 and Todd Gurley finishing as the RB3. Simply put, the Rams offense was a fantasy bonanza, and teams that owned players from Sean McVay’s unit, found plenty of success last season. Nowhere was this more evident than wide receiver, as both Brandin Cooks (WR13) and Robert Woods (WR11) finishing inside the top 15. Despite only playing in 8 games due to an ACL tear suffered in Week 10, Cooper Kupp actually finished as the WR51 in PPR leagues, while the Rams fourth receiver on the depth chart, Josh Reynolds, provided excellent value for owners who snatched him off the waiver wire late in the year. The question with this group is, does one of these receivers stand out from the rest and return more value in fantasy leagues? To attempt to find an answer to this question I first decided to look at each player’s numbers from the 2018 season.
Leading the way was 27 year old Robert Woods, who stands 6’0 and weighs 195 lbs. 2018 was his most productive NFL season with 86 receptions on 130 targets, 1,219 yards, and 6 touchdowns. Woods also tacked on 19 rushes, 157 yards, and 1 touchdown on the ground. This was a theme for McVay’s receivers, as all of them rushed the ball a handful of times. Currently being selected as the WR18, 39th overall according tothe DLF ADP data , Woods is entering his seventh season in the NFL, though just his third with the Rams, after being originally selected by the Bills in the second round of the 2013 draft. Through 16 games, he led the team in targets a team-high 6 times, and also tied for the most targets twice. He was targeted 12 times in the red zone, hauling in 7 receptions and 4 touchdowns. Signed to a five year, $34 million contract in 2017, he is locked in through the 2021 season as one of the top weapons in this powerful offense. Statistically he had the better season than Cooks, despite being available a full round later in startups. There is certainly value to be had with Woods, though the window to acquire him cheaply may have closed due to his breakout 2018. Expect him to continue being the 1B to Cooks’ 1A and to keep producing like a low end WR1 or high end WR2.
Next up, 5’10, 183 lbs Brandin Cooks, who somehow is just 25 years old despite completing his fifth NFL season in 2018. (Cooks is actually over three months younger than Cooper Kupp) The former first round pick by the Saints made his Rams debut in 2018, producing 80 receptions on 117 targets, 1204 yards, and 5 touchdowns while adding an additional 10 rushes, 68 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Traded to L.A. from the Patriots last April, Cooks went on to sign a 5 year, $81 million extension with his new team which keeps him under control through the 2023 season. 2018 was actually Cooks’ fourth straight season in which he broke the 1000 yard receiving threshold, while also marking his fourth straight year with over 100 targets and playing a full 16 games. Consistent is the name of the game with Brandin Cooks, as he only finished with fewer than six targets twice in 2018, leading the team in looks on four separate occasions. In the red zone, Cooks actually led the team with 17 targets, hauling in 15 of them for 4 touchdowns. His current ADP, 27th overall as the WR12 seems entirely justified, as he is a back-end WR1 as long as the Rams continue to feed him the ball on offense.
Los Angeles’s third receiver is slot-specialist and third year pro Cooper Kupp. Selected in the 3rd round, 69th overall by the Rams in 2017, the 25 year old was on pace to be a PPR stud prior to an ACL tear landing him on injured reserve in November. Through 8 games played, Kupp managed 40 receptions on 55 targets, for 566 yards and 6 touchdowns, adding 4 rushes for 25 yards. Standing 6’2 and weighing 208 lbs, Kupp is actually the biggest of the Rams’ receivers, and was a key player in the Red Zone with 12 targets, 8 receptions and 3 touchdowns though his 8 games played. He led the team in targets on three occasions and was often seen as quarterback Jared Goff’s safety blanket in short-passing situations. Now eight months removed from his ACL tear, the Rams insist that Kuppwill be ready by week 1and that his rehab is on schedule. He was already seen working to the side of the team during recent OTAs, a good sign for his projected return timeline. Extrapolated over a full season, Kupp was on pace to see 110 targets, 80 receptions, 1132 yards, and 12 touchdowns. Though it’s impossible to tell if these numbers would have been attainable, this stat line would have easily placed Kupp inside the top 15 PPR wide receivers. His current ADP is the WR20, 41st overall, which is expected to climb as the positive health news continues to come out. Kupp is under team control through the 2020 season, though if his production continues, expect the Rams to attempt to sign him long-term before allowing him to hit the open market.
The final receiver I looked into was former fourth round pick Josh Reynolds. The 6’3 196 lb 24 year old, enjoyed his finest professional season in 2018, with 29 receptions on 53 targets for 402 yards and 5 touchdowns. Reynolds was an amazingly useful depth option for the Rams, as he hauled in all but five of his receptions in the games missed by Kupp. Currently being selected as the WR87, 206th overall in ADP, it’s safe to assume the only value Reynolds would possess is in the event of an injury to one of the top three options. Though the former Texas A&M product has shown some promise and ability to produce at the NFL level, there are simply too many mouths to feed in Los Angeles for him to be anything more than a bye-week deep play. Unless you roster Kupp and are looking to handcuff him until he is 100% cleared to return, Josh Reynolds is safe to leave on the waiver wire for the time being. He will be under team control through 2020 at which point his rookie contract will expire and he will hopefully look to move on to a less crowded receiver room. For owners in deeper leagues, he may be someone worth stashing with an eye on the future, provided you have the roster room to carry him for another couple of seasons.
After looking into these players, I believe it is entirely possible for the Rams to produce three top-24 receivers in fantasy this coming season. The Todd Gurley situation is one to closely monitor, as a long-term injury could mean more passing opportunities. The prices on Cooks and Woods seems to be consistent with their recent production, while Kupp’s ADP continues to rise as he works himself back into form. Acquiring one of these assets will be no easy task, though the reward for doing so will be worth the price. Expect this offense to continue to be one of the top units in football for the next several seasons, and these three players to deliver for your dynasty squads. Does any one of them stand out from his teammates? I would say of the three, Kupp is the most risky, but has the highest ceiling. If healthy, he could easily lead this team in touchdowns, targets and receptions. Cooks and Woods will be consistent, and at this time have the highest floors. You know what you are getting with these two, and their ADP speaks to that fact. I don’t feel that you can go wrong plugging any of these three elite assets into your starting lineup on a weekly basis with confidence.