Welcome to the 2022 Fantasy Football Los Angeles Rams Team Preview here at F6P! We've got you covered on off-season outlooks for all 32 NFL squads, so that your cup overfloweth with enough insights and info to dominate your drafts this summer. You can browse the rest of our 2022 Fantasy Football Team Previews here.
Today, we're here with the reigning champs. And, golly–what a joy it was to watch breakfast buddies Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp flourish in their first season together. As a long-time Stafford apologist (and someone who placed a futures bet on the Rams to win the Super Bowl in August 2021), last season sure was a gas.
No doubt, though, this will be a different team in 2022. Former OC Kevin O'Connell is now the head coach of the Vikings, and is replaced by former Kentucky Wildcats OC Liam Coen. Coen, notably, was an offensive assistant under McVay and the Rams prior to is role at UK.
They had myriad departures of high-profile playmakers, both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Gone are Robert Woods, Odell Beckham, Jr. (we think?), Von Miller, Andrew Whitworth, Sony Michel, and–not to be overlooked–their excellent punter, Johnny Hekker.
Other than the major acquisition of Allen Robinson and the rather droll drafting of fifth-round-pick Kyren Williams, the Rams made two major off-season moves that signaled a focus on shoring up their defense. They threw the bank at Aaron Donald, and signed a twilight-of-his-career-but-still-excellent Bobby Wagner at the linebacker position.
So, what does all this overhaul mean for Fantasy? Will McVay still have Stafford chucking it all around the yard over 600 times during the regular season? Or will a healthy Cam Akers, a still-elite defense, and a different-look offensive line afford the offensive attack to be more balanced? Let's dive in.
2022 Fantasy Football Los Angeles Rams Team Preview
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Matthew Stafford pic.twitter.com/Tp4dVB63Jv
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) June 15, 2022
- Matthew Stafford
- John Wolford
- Bryce Perkins
How's that for an impressive highlight reel from the perennially-and-unfairly-dogged-on Matthew Stafford? Quite crisp, wouldn't you say?
His championship season proved deliciously fruitful for his fantasy value. He finished the year as Fantasy's QB5, with a grand total of 346.8 fantasy points, and an average of 20.4 per game.
Notice in that mixtape just how often his meaningful throws came on play-action bootlegs, when Sean McVay designed plays to get him into space. We all know that too much pocket-Stafford leads to happy-feet-Stafford, which, more often than not, leads to turnover opportunities for the defense. Don't forget that he was tied with Trevor Lawrence for the league lead in interceptions (17).
Expect more of the same in 2022. I don't anticipate the turnover at offensive coordinator to mean much; McVay will almost certainly still be calling the shots.
Perhaps what was most impressive about Stafford was his near-immaculate accuracy beyond midfield. Here's one of my favorite stats from last year: in between midfield and the opponent's 20-yard-line, he had a whopping 77.8 completion percentage, and 7.2 yards/attempt. He drove this team down to the red zone with remarkable ease in 2021, and I don't see that changing in 2022. This undoubtedly translates to touchdown opportunities galore for him and his weapons.
He's currently being drafted around the QB12 range. Which is to say, rankers and fantasy managers don't expect the addition of Allen Robinson and the retention of all his other playmakers (except OBJ) to translate to another top-five season.
While I agree with that, I'm a bit higher on Stafford than his Expert Consensus Ranking (ECR). I simply think both the scheme and the quality of his playmakers leap-frogs him over guys like Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, and new-Bronco Russell Wilson.
I've got Stafford as my QB9 this year, but I've been waffling about putting him above Brady at QB8. Either way, look for him as a low-end QB1, and hope that we're all underestimating him yet again.
As for Wolford and Perkins? Just don't.
What a roller-coaster ride 2021 was for the running back position in LA. Cam Akers was going to run grooves into the ground and be a threat through the air before he tore his Achilles early in last year's off-season. Our dreams of a younger Todd Gurley with knees made of sterner stuff were dashed.
They then acquired Sony Michel in late-August to back up Darrell Henderson. Both of those guys were relatively inefficient (yet fairly productive, I suppose) with their touches when they led the backfield. Both also traded injuries at different times throughout the year.
Akers came back and was kind of unremarkable, fantasy-wise, for the Rams' playoff run. However, his snap count, at points, reached a juicy 80%. It's important to keep in mind, though, that this was all while Darrell Henderson was injured with a high-ankle sprain. This caveat really, really matters.
Why? Because we don't know what the touch-balance between both Akers and Henderson will be, in a vacuum, when both are healthy this season. We do know McVay likes to run the ball just about 60% of the time, but just what the workload split will look like is unknown to us.
Akers is still only 22 years old, and it looks like the sky might be the limit for him–legit RB1 upside, especially given his pedigree as a receiver. He's currently got an ECR of RB16, and that seems like a fair, if fairly conservative, price to pay for him right now.
I like him to out-perform that value, simply because he's going to out-perform/-play Henderson. You're not going to hear any gripe from me if you draft him higher than his current rank.
Oh, and as for Williams: we know he can catch passes, but he's only relevant if one of the two lead backs in LA get injured. Which is definitely a possibility. Watch-list him.
Two crazy stats for you:
- In your garden-variety PPR leagues, Cooper Kupp finished as the flat-out, far-and-away number-one overall player in all of 2021 Fantasy Football. He beat out all the quarterbacks!
- 48% of teams that were in their league's championship game had Cooper Kupp rostered on their team.
It's not even a little reductive, then, to say that if you drafted Cooper Kupp in the fourth-or-fifth round last year, you had around a 25% chance of winning your league. That's wild to think about.
So, well, okay–can he do it this year? He's the undisputed WR1 in his current ECR, and is being picked around fifth overall. Folks seem to think he can come close to replicating his 2021 performance; I have trouble arguing with them.
I'm certainly not taking Justin Jefferson, Davante Adams, or Ja'Marr Chase over Kupp. I could see a world in which I draft Derrick Henry before him, pushing Kupp back to the sixth-overall pick. But he's as much a part of Stafford's aerial weaponry as he is an extension of the Rams' run game, what with all the designed-screens and routes out of the backfield. Don't overthink it.
Wide Receivers Not Named Cooper Kupp
Just look at how happy Allen Robinson was to be on the Chicago Bears last season. Look at that face!
Boy oh boy, Stafford is gonna turn that frown upside down–mark my words. By all accounts, Robinson is healthy now, and is second on the depth chart in a top-ten passing offense that throws the ball on about 45-50% of their plays. Look no further than how revitalized, restored, and renewed OBJ was as a Ram if you need to find your faith in Robinson's potential comeback season.
I expect huge things from A-Rob this year, and, evidently, so do others. He's zooming up draft boards right now, recently eclipsing WR3 status into borderline-WR2 territory (ECR WR27).
Maybe I'm over-eager and a little biased, but I'd take him significantly higher than that, closer to WR21-23. I know he's had two horrific seasons in a row. But I'm a believer. And, as I said, there are others out there; my bet is someone in your league reaches for him. Beat them to it. (I'm coining the hashtag now: #ReachforRobinson).
For reference: I'd easily snag him over guys like Michael Thomas, Darnell Mooney, Amari Cooper, Jerry Jeudy, etc. I think of Allen Robinson like I think of Mike Williams. The quarterback play and ceiling is just too tantalizing, even as the second option in a passing attack.
Van Jefferson quietly had an above-average season last year, with a 50-802-6 receiving line. He's a fine late-round flier with big-game potential, a possible flex-with-benefits.
I don't expect Skowronek to make an impact, and it's pretty clear Tutu Atwell is a special teams cog. J. J. Koski is a non-factor.
Keep an eye out, though: the rumors that OBJ might be back, despite his ACL injury in February, are louder than whispers. If he were to take the WR3 slot from Van Jefferson, there'd be a heck of a lot of value in stashing him.
This is, undoubtedly, the most uninteresting unit on the Rams' offense. Higbee's current ECR is TE17, and I think that's fair. We've spent too many years now willing him to TE1 status, and it just hasn't happened. Last year he finished with a paltry receiving line of 61-560-5 on 85 targets.
Having said that, I could easily see him ending 2022 around TE12, simply because, again, just look at the offense. He should be better, and in a better situation, than guys like Pat Freiermuth, Zach Ertz, and Mike Gesicki, all of whom are being drafted ahead of him. I definitely think Higbee is a better option than Robert Tonyan.
I just can't bring myself to reach for him, though. Logan Thomas, Irv Smith, Jr., and Gerald Everett are being drafted behind Higbee right now. I like the upside for those three guys better than I do Higbee.
There's potential post-hype value here. If you can't get in on any other pieces of the Rams offense, it might be worth stashing Higbee, if for nothing else than a bye week fill-in. Stay away from Blanton and Hopkins.
According to PFF, the Rams offense is projected to score over fifty points in eight of their seventeen games this season. That's absolutely insane, and the insanity speaks to the importance of investing in shares of this offense in your fantasy drafts this season.
It's a team slated to make a run for back-to-back titles, and everyone's gonna eat. If I wasn't beating the drum loudly enough: I'm recommending you reach on several (okay, most) key pieces of the offense.
Don't be afraid to bet on Stafford, Robinson, and Akers. This is a top-ten offense in the league with a quarterback who, as we noted above, was especially efficient last year in the opponent's side of the field. They're going to move the ball into red zone. I like Akers to get the goal-line carries, and I like Robinson to get his end zone looks, even if Cooper Kupp hoards most of them.
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