2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Rams hopeful Sammy Watkins can open up the offense for Jared Goff and Todd Gurley
The Rams have a slew of young receivers, a pair of young tight ends and a second-year quarterback. Their passing game is one of the hardest things in Fantasy to project.
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Todd Gurley and Jared Goff were not good in 2016, but it was difficult to know how much of the blame to lay at their feet. After all, they didn't have a lot of offensive talent around them. That changed on Friday when the team traded for Sammy Watkins. We're going to find out exactly how good Goff is now and defenses shouldn't be quite as eager to stack the box against Gurley.
While the move is a clear upgrade for Goff, it may not matter much for Fantasy. He was well off the radar in a standard league. Gurley is a different story. We've seen him look spectacular and mediocre over his first two years in the league. Watkins is the most explosive receiver he's ever played with. Opposing defenses will have respect Watkins' big-play ability assuming Goff can get him the ball.
Of course, no one's value maybe affected more than that of Watkins himself. The Rams' new receiver has had trouble staying on the field, but when he's been healthy he's been a bona fide No. 1 receiver. We were excited to see a healthy Watkins over a full season with Tyrod Taylor, and this is most likely a significant downgrade at quarterback. Still, there are plenty of elite receivers (DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson, Damaryius Thomas) with bad quarterbacks, so deciding how much to ding Watkins is a bit of a riddle.
Here's what I've come up with for Watkins' expectations and how it affects the rest of his new team.
*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.
Breaking down the touches
Sean McVay has called the plays for the Washington Redskins the past three seasons, so it's more telling to look at their splits than the offense of the Rams. In his three seasons in Washington, McVay's team averaged 569 pass attempts to just 403 rush attempts. At the same time, he never had a running back as good as Gurley in Washington and he doesn't have Kirk Cousins in Los Angeles.
I anticipate a slight drop in the number of pass attempts (540) and a corresponding increase in rush attempts (430). Gurley should be the primary focus of the offense, but you should also expect both young tight ends to be heavily involved. McVay's offenses have thrown the ball to their tight end roughly 25 percent of the time the past three seasons.
If either Gerald Everett or Tyler Higbee were flying solo in this offense, I'd be more interested in them as a sleeper. As it is, they're likely going to be waiver wire fodder unless one becomes the true No. 1.
- I have Watkins' target share going down with the move to Los Angeles as well as his yards per catch. Tyrod Taylor was a good deep ball passer and I'd expect many of Goff's passes will be closer to the line of scrimmage.
- Tavon Austin gets a significant boost in leagues that give points for return yards. He has top-20 potential in those formats.
- Cooper Kupp has had a great camp, but it's fair to wonder how much that matters now. The team has brought in Woods and Watkins, and they're paying a ton of money to Austin. Kupp will have to continue to force his way into the discussion.
The biggest loser in this whole situation may be Josh Reynolds, one of my favorite sleeper rookie receivers. Before Watkins was acquired, Reynolds had the potential to be the Rams best deep threat and red zone threat. This trade basically ends those aspirations and makes him the team's fifth receiver. He needs a lot of help to be Fantasy relevant at any point this year.
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