New look, new location, new quarterback. The Los Angeles Rams are
looking to forget the disastrous 2015 season which led to them opting
to move up to the No. 1 overall draft pick this season. The franchise
knew it needed a facelift and they decided to select quarterback
Jared Goff. Head coach Jeff Fisher has repeatedly stated that he
won’t rush Goff into the starting role and he has a history of letting
younger talent sit while more experienced players are on the field.
The reality is that Goff is the only quarterback on this roster
who is at all interesting for fantasy purposes. We’ve seen what
Nick Foles and Case Keenum have to offer and it’s not much. There’s
a real chance that Keenum begins the season as the starter, but
as the Rams offense inevitably struggles, the fans will begin to
demand that Goff gets a chance. Realistically, Goff should only
be on fantasy radars in extremely deep two quarterback leagues or
dynasty formats. It could be a few more seasons before the Rams
finally make a real attempt to address their awful pass catching
options and there’s no reason to bank on some sort of dramatic improvement
happening this season.
Perhaps the biggest breakout fantasy star of the 2015 season, Todd
Gurley may already be the top running back in all of fantasy football
as he heads into his second season as a pro. Gurley missed the first
two games of his rookie season and played minimally in his third
game as he was recovering from a knee injury that he sustained in
college. In Week 4, the Rams unleashed the beast. Gurley ripped
off four straight games of 128 or more rushing yards and would finish
the season as the third-highest scoring running back in the league
on a per-game basis.
We’ve seen Gurley’s all-world talent, but he’s
in an offense that is among the very worst in the league. Question
marks all around him including at the quarterback position where
the Rams will start the season with a rookie or a veteran QB who
has proven he just isn’t very good – either way, it’s
never good to have the defense so focused on the running game. Then
again, it won’t be much different from 2015.
Gurley is the only player in this offense who should be on your
fantasy radar, but he’s well worth a first round selection and it
wouldn’t be hard to justify him being a top five pick in any scoring
format. The Rams ran the ball 14th-most in the league in 2015 and
that should increase if the Rams can be competitive in more games.
Dual Threat: Austin's 434 rushing yards
and 4 rushing TDs made him a viable fantasy option in 2015.
The Rams wide receiver group was among the worst, if not the very
worst group in the league this past season. The unit combined for
just 11 total touchdown receptions – fewest of any group in
the league. One player did stand out and that was former top 10
NFL draft pick Tavon Austin.
Austin led the team with 52 receptions and five receiving touchdowns.
While he finished third on the team in receiving yardage, the man
who led the team in that department, tight end Jared Cook, is now
in Green Bay. Kenny Britt (681 rec yds) also finished ahead of Austin
in yardage, but his total usage was not anywhere near that of Austin,
especially when you consider that the Rams found additional ways
to get the ball into their explosive receiver’s hands.
In addition to his 52 receptions, Austin also carried the ball 52
times – something that is almost unprecedented from a wide
receiver in today’s NFL. He was extremely efficient with those
carries as well, sporting a ridiculous 8.3 yards per carry and adding
four touchdowns. Those numbers might suggest that the Rams will
look to get him more carries, but the reality is that Austin’s
body is simply not built to carry the ball much more often than
what he did in 2015.
Still, even if he doesn’t touch the ball much as much,
this coaching staff has proven that they are enamored with Austin’s
talent and will find ways to get him the ball even if he is having
an “off” game as a receiver. That makes him an intriguing
option with a relatively high floor in comparison to players who
are being selected near him in the middle rounds of redraft leagues.
It was one of the weakest wide receiver groups in the league a
season ago and the Rams didn’t do much to address it this
season, but one move they did make is to select Pharoh Cooper
in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Cooper has been described
as a player best suited for the slot in the Los Angeles offense.
While Mike Thomas is the larger of the two, he is not expected
to get as much playing time early as Cooper and clearly the Rams
staff believes in him more, selecting him two rounds before they
What will be interesting to see is whether both Cooper and Austin
can be on the field at the same time with regularity. While Austin
can certainly move out wide, he does a lot of his damage from
the slot. If the Los Angeles coaching staff really does view Cooper
as solely a slot receiver, that could limit what they do with
Austin. Unless Cooper really impresses, chances are that they
will opt to give both players an opportunity to play out of the
slot, thus meaning less overall playing time for Cooper.
We’ve seen enough of these other Rams receivers to know
that there isn’t much fantasy value to be had. Don’t
bother taking either Cooper or Thomas in standard drafts, but
they should be on your radar in rookie-only and deep dynasty drafts.