Fantasy Football Deep Dive
The Los Angeles Rams continue to be the Scrooge McDuck of the NFL. They are winning at life, just like the famously rich Pekin was. They are coming off the second Super Bowl championship in franchise history and five straight winning seasons and zero first-round draft picks, yet they also somehow live as fat as a foie gras with an endless amount of cap room. Despite the loss of Von Miller to the Buffalo Bills, trading receiver Robert Woods to the Tennessee Titans and still leaving Odell Beckham Jr. in free agency purgatory, they still boast one of the strongest rosters in the league.
While the signing of Bobby Wagner was arguably their biggest offseason storyline, let’s break down some players on the offensive side of the ball that will help you dive into your own (fantasy) pool of gold coins, just like our fine feathered friend, McDuck.
Leave Your Fantasy Football Draft With This Player
Matthew Stafford, QB
Cooper Kupp is the obvious answer here but let’s shake things up, shall we?
Stafford finished the 2021 season with 346 fantasy points which landed him as the fifth-highest scoring fantasy football quarterback. He finished just short of 5,000 yards for 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions which was the second-most touchdowns thrown by a quarterback behind only Tom Brady.
Recent news of an “abnormal” elbow injury is certainly worth monitoring throughout the preseason but Stafford himself has been downplaying its severity.
As long as there are no lasting effects or concerns surrounding the injury, Stafford is once again primed to be one of the top fantasy quarterbacks in 2022. The departures of Woods and Beckham Jr. were curbed with the signing of Allen Robinson and emerging sophomores Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek. It’s also worth noting that the NFC West is harboring arguably two of the NFL’s worst secondaries with the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks.
The key reason why you should target Stafford is that he has the potential to land in the top echelon of quarterbacks at the end of the year but it’s likely he won’t be drafted like that. He’ll likely be the fourth or fifth quarterback off the board or possibly even lower. Whether your league has an auction or snake fantasy football draft, Stafford could be the bargain pick of the year.
Old Face In A New Place
Allen Robinson II, WR
It seems like much longer than just two seasons ago when Robinson was considered one of the top receiving talents in the NFL. Robinson followed up a 102 reception, 1,250 yards, and six touchdown performances in 2020 with a concerning, to say the least, 2021 season.
Robinson missed five games, failed to eclipse 500 yards, and recorded just a single touchdown. Now he’s looking to bounce back within Sean McVay’s system. Now of course the big obstacle in the way of Robinson achieving this is Kupp. So it’s important to temper expectations but also take advantage of those who temper them too much.
He will almost certainly step into a similar role OBJ had last season which proved to be a fruitful one. From Week 12 to the divisional round, Beckham averaged a 19% target share and averaged 12.4 fantasy points per game. These stats would put any receiver firmly in dependable, WR2 territory.
If Robinson begins to slip past the fifth round in your fantasy football draft or is going for around or less than $25 in auctions, you can achieve one of the hardest things to get in fantasy football: a receiver you can consistently rely on behind your top guy for a low cost.
Potential Breakout Fantasy Football Player
Cam Akers, RB
This is probably one of our favorite sleeper candidates not just for the Rams but fantasy football in general. Cam Akers had a solid rookie season after being drafted in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft with 625 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Unfortunately, just as he was poised to take over as the top back, he tore his Achilles tendon in July 2021. Incredibly, he returned to play just five months later but was largely ineffective.
In five games last season (including the playoffs), Akers had 175 yards with no touchdowns. However, it cannot be overstated how incredible the fact he was able to play at all last year is. This is the same injury that knocked out Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson for an entire season and has Baltimore Ravens fans concerned if second-round pick David Ojabo will play at all this season.
It’s also worth noting that Akers played against the San Francisco 49ers (twice), Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cincinnati Bengals. All of those defenses boast impressive defensive lines that led the Rams to adjust their game plan and giving fewer carries to Akers to prevent any further injury.
Now with a full offseason under his belt, Akers is primed to take over as the top running back yet again in arguably the most explosive offense in the league. In the Rams offense last year, the starting running back averaged 20 touches a game. They open the season against three defenses that struggled against the run last year in the Bills, Cardinals, and Falcons. Akers currently has a round-four ADP but has the potential to finish as one that should’ve been drafted in the second round.
Cooper Kupp will not finish as a top-three fantasy wide receiver
This may not seem so bold on the surface but consider where and/or how much Cooper Kupp will be going for in the coming weeks as fantasy football drafts ramp up. Kupp will almost certainly be the top receiver off the board in most leagues and could very well go before some valuable running backs. Saying he’ll be a bust, barring injury, would be ludicrous but much like the Fast and Furious franchise with Ludacris, I think Cooper Kupp could be in for a decline.
In the last five years, only four receivers have made the top five fantasy football receivers in back-to-back years: Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill. Of those, zero finished in the top three in consecutive years.
Repeating a great season is hard, repeating a historically good season, like Kupp had last year, is nearly impossible. So while Kupp certainly has a good chance to add his name to that elite list of returning in the top five considering there’s little to no reason to expect his target share to drop dramatically and he will have the same coach and quarterback. So rather than buyer beware, let’s say buyer be wary in fantasy football drafts.
If you’re picking in the first half of the first round of your fantasy football draft or considering going over $50 to get him in auction drafts, just prepare yourself for a solid WR1 season rather than a historic one. Depending on your belief with your approach to the draft, it could be more valuable (literally in some cases) to save that pick or money, go for a running back due to scarcity and go for two other receivers later in the draft.