The Los Angeles Rams were undoubtedly the biggest disappointment in Fantasy Football in 2022. Allen Robinson was a complete bust of a mid-round draft pick, Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp got injured (and Stafford wasn't a Fantasy success even before the injury), Cam Akers was inconsistent and Tyler Higbee also couldn't be relied on weekly. In 2023, they are running it back with Sean McVay and this time their price tags are depressed. Is now the time to buy low? Kupp is still a first-round pick, but the rest are all late-round dart throws despite playing for an offense that won the Super Bowl in 2021.
Below the CBS Sports Fantasy staff will take a look into the Rams' entire team outlook, including a burning question for Fantasy Football managers that needs to be answered, key player projections, a review of their draft class, strength of schedule, and individual player outlooks for notable Rams players who may end up on your Fantasy rosters.
- NFC West: | |
Rams 2023 team outlook
By Chris Towers
It was reasonable to project some regression for the Rams coming off a Super Bowl win, but their lack of depth was exposed en route to a 5-12 season. The Rams went all-in for that title, and the next few seasons may be pretty ugly as the bill comes due.
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Burning question: Can Stafford bounce back?
This time last year, the Rams were being open about Matthew Stafford's limitations -- he didn't throw at all during OTAs and was on a pitch count during training camp due to an elbow injury. This year? He's playing without limitations, and the hope is that will lead to a bounce-back campaign. The problem is, outside of Cooper Kupp this team is pretty bereft of playmaking talent. Kupp should remain an elite Fantasy option with Stafford healthy, but it's not a stretch to say he might be the only sure-thing starter on this roster.
Rams player projections
|QB||Matthew Stafford||PA: 598, YD: 4188, TD: 27, INT: 13; RUSH -- ATT: 46, YD: 160, TD: 2|
|RB||Cam Akers||CAR: 247, YD: 989, TD: 10; TAR: 30, REC: 24, YD: 180, TD: 1|
|RB||Kyren Williams||CAR: 61, YD: 244, TD: 2; TAR: 48, REC: 37, YD: 295, TD: 1|
|WR||Cooper Kupp||TAR: 174, REC: 128, YD: 1412, TD: 10|
|WR||Van Jefferson||TAR: 90, REC: 42, YD: 458, TD: 5|
|WR||Ben Skowronek||TAR: 78, REC: 51, YD: 499, TD: 4|
|TE||Tyler Higbee||TAR: 108, REC: 72, YD: 721, TD: 4|
2023 NFL Draft class
2. (36) Steve Avila, C
3. (77) Byron Young, LB
3. (89) Kobie Turner, DT
4. (128) Stetson Bennett, QB
5. (161) Nick Hampton, OLB
5. (174) Warren McClendon Jr., OL
5. (175) Davis Allen, TE
5. (177) Puka Nacua, WR
6. (182) Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB
6. (189) Ochaun Mathis, DE
6. (215) Zach Evans, RB
7. (223) Ethan Evans, P
7. (234) Jason Taylor, SAF
7. (259) Desjuan Johnson, DT
Rams 2023 schedule breakdown
Strength of Schedule rankings by Dave Richard
- QB PSoS: 22nd easiest
- RB PSoS: 22nd easiest
- WR PSoS: 24th easiest
- TE PSoS: 25th easiest
|1||Sep 10, 2023||@Seattle||4:25 pm||FOX||Lumen Field|
|2||Sep 17, 2023||vsSan Francisco||4:05 pm||FOX||SoFi Stadium|
|3||Sep 25, 2023||@Cincinnati||8:15 pm||ESPN||Paycor Stadium|
|4||Oct 1, 2023||@Indianapolis||1:00 pm||FOX||Lucas Oil Stadium|
|5||Oct 8, 2023||vsPhiladelphia||4:05 pm||FOX||SoFi Stadium|
|6||Oct 15, 2023||vsArizona||4:25 pm||FOX||SoFi Stadium|
|7||Oct 22, 2023||vsPittsburgh||4:05 pm||FOX||SoFi Stadium|
|8||Oct 29, 2023||@Dallas||1:00 pm||FOX||AT&T Stadium|
|9||Nov 5, 2023||@Green Bay||1:00 pm||FOX||Lambeau Field|
|11||Nov 19, 2023||vsSeattle||4:25 pm|| ||SoFi Stadium|
|12||Nov 26, 2023||@Arizona||4:05 pm||FOX||State Farm Stadium|
|13||Dec 3, 2023||vsCleveland||4:25 pm||FOX||SoFi Stadium|
|14||Dec 10, 2023||@Baltimore||1:00 pm||FOX||M&T Bank Stadium|
|15||Dec 17, 2023||vsWashington||4:05 pm|| ||SoFi Stadium|
|16||Dec 21, 2023||vsNew Orleans||8:15 pm||AMZN||SoFi Stadium|
|17||Dec 31, 2023||@N.Y. Giants||1:00 pm||FOX||MetLife Stadium|
|18||Jan 7, 2024||@San Francisco||TBA||—||Levi's Stadium|
Rams 2023 player outlooks
By Heath Cummings unless otherwise noted
QB Matthew Stafford
View Stafford as a backup starting quarterback in a one-QB league, worthy of a pick in the double-digit rounds. That viewpoint takes into account the possibility of him bouncing back to his 2021 form, which saw him finish as QB5, while also factoring in the risk that the 35-year-old has suffered one too many injuries to be a reliable starter any longer. Stafford was completing 70% of his passes and on pace for 4,475 yards passing in his first six games, but even in that hot start he threw more interceptions than touchdowns. The Rams are trying to rebuild without completely tanking, so the weapons around him are questionable outside of Cooper Kupp. They also drafted Stetson Bennett, though it's unlikely they view Bennett as the long-term answer.
RB Cam Akers
We view Akers as a low-end No. 2 running back worthy of a pick in the Round 5 or 6 range of Fantasy drafts, but he finished 2022 much better than that. Akers produced 408 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in his final three games and was the No. 4 running back in Fantasy for the final six weeks of the season. If that was him finally regaining form after his 2021 Achilles injury, then we are way too low on Akers. But this isn't the first time Akers finished with a flurry; he posted 608 yards from scrimmage in his final six games of his rookie season. We are discounting Akers a bit because of the uncertainty surrounding the Rams offensive line and offense in general, but he'll have upside beyond his ADP.
RB Kyren Williams
Williams will attempt to hold off sixth-round pick Zach Evans and UDFA Tiyon Evans for the RB2 job in behind Cam Akers. Akers' injury history suggests whoever is in that role could get some run in 2023, which would make them a reasonable pick in the double-digit rounds of deeper Fantasy leagues. Injuries derailed Williams' first season in the pros but it's worth remembering that he produced 2,799 yards from scrimmage and 31 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Notre Dame. Williams won't even turn 23 until the end of August, so he's close to a must-hold in Dynasty unless he has a disastrous camp and falls behind both of the Evanses.
RB Zach Evans
Injuries kept Evans off the field too often in college, but he did some really special things when he was able to play. He averaged 129 yards from scrimmage per game and scored six touchdowns in six games as a 19-year-old sophomore at TCU. And he averaged 6.9 yards per carry across 290 carries in his college career, including 6.5 YPC in his final season at Ole Miss. If Evans can get healthy, he has a real chance to push Kyren Williams for the RB2 job and perhaps even take a little work off Cam Akers' plate. For now, he's no more than a late-round dart throw in redraft, but he's worthy of consideration in Round 2 of rookie drafts.
WR Cooper Kupp
Kupp should be drafted in the first round as one of the first wide receivers off the board. After lapping the field in 2021, Kupp picked up right where he left off, averaging 24.8 FPPG over his first eight games in 2022. If you could guarantee health for both he and Matthew Stafford, it would be hard to make a case against Kupp as the No. 1 WR in Fantasy, even the No. 1 overall pick. But Stafford is 35, Kupp just turned 30 and both missed the second half of 2022 with injuries. One of the benefits of drafting a WR in Round 1 is that they are less injury-prone than the running backs, but it's difficult to say that for sure about Kupp.
WR Van Jefferson
Jefferson missed most of the first half of the 2022 season and didn't even record his first catch until Week 10, but the second half may have been even more disappointing. Playing without Cooper Kupp, and mostly without Allen Robinson, Jefferson still saw just a 16.5% target share from Week 10 on and trailed Tyler Higbee and Tutu Atwell with a mediocre 1.43 yards per route run. While it's true that he was playing with backup QBs the whole time, we still would have liked to see Jefferson command more targets. He can be left on the waiver wire in redraft leagues until he proves something more, but he's a Dynasty hold at least until September.
WR Tutu Atwell
The WR2 role in Los Angeles is wide open but Atwell has done very little thus far to show that he is up to the task. There was one game all season last year when he earned more than five targets, and he had the same number of games with more than two catches. Considering he didn't play a single special teams snap in 2022, it may be more likely the former second-round pick is cut than it is that he earns a starting role. For now, he's hands off in redraft leagues and only a stash in Dynasty formats. If he makes noise in training camp or the preseason, we can re-evaluate.
TE Tyler Higbee
With the rest of the Rams falling apart around him, Higbee had one of his best years as a pro. His 20.9% target share was a career-high. Unfortunately, he still failed to finish the year as a top-12 tight end largely because he scored three receiving touchdowns despite being targeted 16 times in the red zone. We should expect some regression on the touchdown rate, but we should also expect the target rate to drop with Cooper Kupp healthy. Then again, Higbee actually averaged more targets per game the first eight weeks of the season when Kupp was healthy. We're drafting Higbee as a high-end No. 2 tight end in the double-digit rounds, but he'll deliver a big profit at that cost if his target share doesn't shrink and his touchdown rate regresses.
K Tanner Brown
Tanner Brown is the leading candidate to be the team's kicker after Christopher Dunn was waived in mid-June. Because the Rams' home field is favorable for kickers, he could become a fan favorite if he is accurate and the Rams offense isn't terrible.
For the second year in a row, the Rams defense was a colossal disappointment based on ADP and the names on the roster. This offseason the unit lost Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Floyd, Bobby Wagner, Troy Hill, and Taylor Rapp as the Rams attempt to rebuild without completely gutting the roster. Aaron Donald alone just isn't enough to justify drafting this defense until it shows us something. Maybe we'll use this DST as a streamer later in the year but you definitely won't want to start it the first three weeks of the season against the Seahawks, 49ers, and Bengals.