The Rams offense scuffled a bit at the end of 2018, and that carried over into 2019. They weren't bad, but there were long stretches of awkward play, and that led to an offseason of change, with Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley moved out of the picture. There's plenty of room here for another name to step up — keep an eye on second-half breakout Tyler Higbee. But the most interesting thing about this Rams team will be which of their three running backs earns a feature role. If any of them do.
Record: 9-7 (11)
PPG: 24.6 (11)
YPG: 374.9 (7)
Pass YPG: 281.2 (4)
Rush YPG: 93.7 (26)
PAPG: 39.5 (3)
RAPG: 25.1 (18)
Relevant Fantasy players
Number to know: 15.9%
Just 15.9% of the Rams targets (or 5.4 per game) went to tight ends in 2017 and 2018. Even the first half of 2019 saw the Rams using more three-wide receiver sets and sending fewer targets to tight ends. Then the Higbee explosion happened. Over the final five games, Higbee and Woods accounted for 53% of Jared Goff's pass attempts and Kupp saw his target share plummet. This makes it difficult to forecast Rams target share for 2020.
2. (52) Cam Akers, RB
2. (57) Van Jefferson, WR
3. (84) Terrell Lewis, LB
3. (104) Terrell Burgess, S
4. (136) Brycen Hopkins, TE
6. (199) Jordan Fuller, S
7. (234) Clay Johnston, LB
7. (248) Sam Sloman, K
7. (250) Tremayne Anchrum, G
223 running back carries, 49 running back targets, 77 wide receiver targets
Rankings and Projections
|Heath Cummings' projections|
|QB||Jared Goff||4,381 YD, 27 TD, 13 INT; 105 Rush YD, 2 TD|
|RB||Cam Akers||877 YD, 7 TD; 8 REC, 61 YD, 0 TD|
|RB||Darrell Henderson||342 YD, 3 TD; 32 REC, 268 YD, 2 TD|
|RB||Malcolm Brown||325 YD, 4 TD; 4 REC, 27 YD, 0 TD|
|WR||Robert Woods||133 TAR, 85 REC, 1,078 YD, 5 TD|
|WR||Cooper Kupp||127 TAR, 87 REC, 1,146 YD, 8 TD|
|WR||Josh Reynolds||63 TAR, 32 REC, 437 YD, 3 TD|
|TE||Tyler Higbee||86 TAR, 61 REC, 657 YD, 5 TD|
|TE||Gerald Everett||40 TAR, 25 REC, 266 YD, 3 TD|
How do the Rams replace Todd Gurley?
"Los Angeles took Florida State's Cam Akers in the second round, and he joins 2019 third-round pick Darrell Henderson and veteran Malcolm Brown in what could be a three-man attack. Akers figures to lead the charge, and his size/speed combo and receiving production in college suggest a three-down profile. That would be fantastic for Fantasy, but it won't be easy to overcome two challengers in a shortened offseason." - Ben Gretch
Two sleepers and a bust
Hopefully reading through this preview you've seen that there's a high degree of uncertainty regarding the Rams running backs. Because if you only looked at ADP, you'd have no idea. Early NFC ADP shows Akers (53.4) being drafted 70 spots before Henderson (123.1) with Brown a mere afterthought (232.7). So while we projected Akers to have more production, there's little doubt who the better values are.
Even the most ardent Akers supporter will acknowledge that the shortened offseason hampers his chances of winning a feature job before Week 1. In fact, a majority of people agree that Akers is unlikely to lead the Rams in touches over the first month of the season. If they're correct then there's little doubt Akers will be cheaper to acquire via trade in September than he is in July and August.
Even if you think Akers can win early down work in training camp, there's a growing sentiment that the Rams intend to use all three backs with Henderson taking third downs and Brown working in short yardage. This is a team that only ran for 3.7 yards per carry in 2019 and didn't improve its offensive line. Akers does not have a chance at justifying his ADP solely based on rushing production, especially if Brown is stealing touchdowns.
If Akers' ADP falls into Round 7 he'll be a worthwhile gamble, even with all the concerns listed above. But for now if you really want a piece of this backfield, you're much better off spending a pair of double-digit round picks on Henderson and Brown. If one of them hits, it's all profit.
AFC East: Bills | Jets | Patriots | Dolphins
NFC East: Giants | Cowboys | Eagles | Redskins
AFC South: Colts | Texans | Jaguars | Titans
NFC South: Panthers | Bucs | Falcons | Saints
AFC North: Ravens | Steelers | Browns | Bengals
NFC North: Packers | Vikings | Bears | Lions
AFC West: Chiefs | Broncos | Raiders | Chargers
NFC West: Seahawks | 49ers | Rams | Cardinals
So what Fantasy football sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which WR1 candidate can you wait on until late? Visit SportsLine now to get cheat sheets from the model that was all over Derrick Henry's huge season, and find out.