2023 Fantasy Football Los Angeles Rams Preview

by Daniel Johnson
2023 Fantasy Football Los Angeles Rams Preview

Boy was I wrong about the Los Angeles Rams in 2022. Except for Cooper Kupp, they were a monumental, inefficient disappointment. Perhaps the best way for me to begin my 2023 Fantasy Football Los Angeles Rams Preview is simply by saying: mea culpa. My bad, everyone.

I had such high hopes for Allen Robinson in the Rams's system. But I suppose I didn't account for Robinson's general washedness, and the difference in scheme dynamic with the turnover at offensive coordinator last year. Robinson's now a Steeler, and the Rams might be better for it.

Matthew Stafford did enough through injury to buoy Kupp as a Fantasy superstar once more, but no one else on the team finished anywhere close to Fantasy-relevant. Stafford himself endured some brutal and rather scary injuries, such as a concussion/spinal concern that reportedly had him considering retirement.

However, he says himself he's as healthy as ever. So what does this mean for guys like age-30 Kupp, coming off an ankle injury to end last season and a hamstring injury in camp? Will this finally be the Van Jefferson breakout season? And, now that he has the backfield to himself, is Cam Akers going to find some consistent production?

Let's just say I'm going to be a bit more conservative this year when projecting these Rams offensive skill players, and not just because I'm gunshy after last year's snafu.

2023 Fantasy Football Los Angeles Rams Preview

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How's that for an impressive highlight reel from the perennially-and-unfairly-dogged-on Matthew Stafford? Quite crisp, wouldn't you say?

His 2021 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.

We got almost none of the same in 2022. Maybe the turnover in offensive coordinator did affect Stafford's performance. But, really, what we're most concerned about is his health.

The nagging elbow injury from 2021 did seem to affect Stafford. He mentioned that this year anecdotally, and it was just ever-apparent whenever he was on the field. Then came the spinal concerns, and the concussion worries. I was legitimately unsure whether or not Stafford would play football again.

But he's back this year, and he says he's healthier than ever. Can he return to his 2021 form?

Let's not forget that what was most impressive about Stafford was his near-immaculate accuracy beyond midfield in 2021. Here's one of my favorite stats from that 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 QB15 range. While I agree with that, I'm a bit higher on Stafford than his Expert Consensus Ranking (ECR). He's my QB17, unfortunately.

I love the guy, but I need to see it first.

Running Backs

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Akers's 2022 felt a little bit like it began in the 2021 playoffs, didn't it? He returned from his injury 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? We do know McVay likes to run the ball just about 60% of the time, and the backfield is seemingly Akers's to gobble up this year.

Akers is still only 23 years old, and it looks like the sky might be the limit, situationally, for him this year–legit low-end RB1 upside, especially given his pedigree as a receiver. He's currently got an ECR of RB20, and that seems like a fair, if fairly ambitious, price to pay for him right now. 

And yet! After Stafford's injury (so, Week 13 through the rest of the season) Akers averaged 19.3 opportunities, 101.8 total yards, and 1 total touchdown for 17.7 PPR points per game. That would put him at the RB5 for those six weeks.

He's the only other Ram you have any business targeting in the top 75 players, and even that feels like you're banking on Akers consistently flashing the stuff he did when Stafford was out. He's a risky RB2.

Wide Receivers

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It's wild to think that Cooper Kupp finished as the second-best wide receiver in PPG (22.4), just behind Justin Jefferson's 22.6, even though Matthew Stafford missed eight weeks of last year's Fantasy season.

Or maybe it's just not so wild. Kupp is a machine. A surefire first-rounder again this year. Perhaps not a top-five pick like some outlets have him listed as, but certainly worthy of banking on a WR5-or-better season. Barring injury or just a complete age-driven plummet in production (he did just turn 30), he's as elite as they come.

Van Jefferson has a lot to prove. Was his respectable 2021 line of 50 receptions for 802 yards and 6 touchdowns closer to who he can be when he's not ailing all season from a knee injury that kept him out the first six weeks? Probably. His production dip last year also had to do with Stafford's injury. And if Stafford's as healthy as he says, we might see the Rams use Jefferson to stretch the field, where we know Stafford is at his best.

There might be some return on your investment if you invest in Jefferson in the late, late rounds. But likely not much more than the other wide receivers hanging on the board—some of the exciting rookies, for example—would yield.

Tight Ends

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Before Stafford's injury last year, and before the Rams's Week 7 bye, Higbee looked to be having a breakout season. He scored double-digit points in four of those six weeks. But from Week 8 onward, he finished with above nine Fantasy points only three times. He still finished as the TE6. Yuck.

So which Higbee last year was the real Higbee? Likely some rendition closer to who he was when Stafford was on the field. Since the 2021 playoffs, it's felt like Higbee's been a secondary binky for Stafford. This isn't exactly surprising, given the Rams's lack of other talented pass-catchers.

Which is to say: I expect him to have a sturdy floor this year as a back-end TE1.

There's potential post-hype value here. It might be worth stashing Higbee, or snagging him in the tenth-or-eleventh rounds. He's certainly got some intriguing value from that position.

Stay away from Blanton and Long, obviously.

Final Verdict

Kupp is a sure thing. Akers is risky, but could prove to be a wondrously savvy pick in the middle rounds, if he can consistently perform. Higbee might be a sneaky value as a late-round tight end this year, given his rapport with Stafford.

Draft those Rams, but pinch your nose.

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