Imprisoned in the NFL’s version of Siberia, Stafford cobbled
together some impressive seasons with the Lions on teams that
never won a playoff game during his 12 years in Motown. In what
was doubtless a tough scene for the “wins are a quarterback
stat” crowd, Stafford helped guide the Rams to a Super Bowl
championship in his first season in LA, quieting all the nonsensical
talk that he wasn’t clutch or talented enough to win come
Along the way the veteran formed a special relationship with
Cooper Kupp, rivaling anything he and Calvin Johnson did during
their time together. That combination helped Stafford to the second-best
statistical showing of his career as he passed for 4,886 yards
and 41 touchdowns; his 17 interceptions did tie then-rookie Trevor
Lawrence for most in the NFL, but remember he was playing in Sean
McVay’s system for the first time and then also had to transition
from Robert Woods, who blew out his knee, to Odell
Beckham Jr. midway through the season.
Entering his second season in the McVay offense could be a boon
for Stafford -- look at the leap Aaron Rodgers made under Matt
LaFleur’s similar attack in Year 2 -- though it’s debatable if
it’ll be nearly as pass happy if Cam Akers can stay healthy in
2022. At 34, the former Bulldog should have some good years left.
The problem with Stafford for fantasy owners, though, is that
his modest running ability has dwindled to almost nothing (he
ran for 43 yards and 0 TDs last year). Like Tom Brady, all of
Stafford’s fantasy value comes from his arm, leaving him along
that QB1/QB2 borderline.
When Akers suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon last July it
was announced that he would miss the entirety of the 2021 season.
In the words of Lee Corso, however, not so fast my friends! Akers
would be cleared to return six months later and wound up serving
as the team’s primary back during their Super Bowl run.
Granted, Akers wasn’t very effective -- 75 combined touches,
248 yards, 0 TDs -- but the fact that he was even on the field
was an impressive feat of perseverance.
With a full offseason to get right, and last year’s leading
rusher Sony Michel in Miami, Akers is in line to be the bell cow
for the Rams in 2022. We haven’t seen a lot of the third-year
back in that role, but in the six games he filled it when healthy
as a rookie he averaged 93.5 rushing yards per outing and made
a trio of visits to the end zone. Outside of a 40-yard grab against
the Cardinals during the Wild Card round last year, Akers has
done next to nothing as a receiver out the backfield.
Whether that’s a deficiency or just happenstance is hard to
know for certain, but Michel and Darrel Henderson combined for 50
catches, 304 yards and 4 TDs last year, which doesn’t make
you think that McVay is looking for the second coming of Todd Gurley
anytime soon. Obviously, there’s some level of injury risk
with Akers, but he still holds mid-range RB2 appeal.
Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Henderson feels like
someone with one foot out of the door. The former third-round
pick has run effectively for the most part, averaging 4.5 YPC
for his career, and is a decent receiver as well. He just can’t
seem to stay healthy. Given every chance to be the primary back
following Akers’ injury, Henderson essentially broke down
after a half-season of moderate usage where he averaged just a
shade over 15 carries a game. He managed 28 rushing attempts combined
after Nov. 7 and finished well behind Michel in carries and yards.
He'll enter 2022 as the backup to Akers, a role he saw very little
action in at the end of 2020. While he’d be a viable handcuff
selection for anyone investing an early-round pick on Akers, Henderson’s
value as a standalone player is as an RB5.
Considered a capable receiver but nowhere near a superstar entering
last season, Kupp immediately clicked with Stafford en route to
a monster campaign, comfortably leading the NFL in receptions
(145), targets (191), yards (1,947), and touchdowns (16). He was
also the only player to average more than 100 receiving yards
per game. Kupp’s true dominance emerged on the biggest stage
where he caught the game-winning TD in the Super Bowl at a point
where everyone on the Bengals knew the ball was going to him...
and they still couldn’t stop it.
About the only negatives you can lay on Kupp right now relate
to his age and history. Already 29, the reigning NFL Offensive
Player of the Year has only one other 1,000-yard season on his
resume, and last year was just the second time he’s appeared
in every game. Those feel like trivial concerns, though, given
how dominant he was in his first season working with Stafford.
In fact, a year together might make that duo even more formidable
If you’re completely stuck on longevity, you could make
a case for Davante Adams as the top receiver off the board, though
going from Rodgers to Derek Carr creates questions of its own.
After that, you’re probably looking at guys like Justin
Jefferson or Jamarr Chase, neither of whom has done more than
Kupp at this point. Don’t overthink it, Kupp should be the
No. 1 receiver drafted in 2022.
At least one person in Chicago wasn’t happy to see Mitchell
Trubisky replaced by Justin Fields. Robinson went from 200 receptions,
2,397 yards, and 13 TDs over the previous two years primarily
with Trubisky under center to a miserable 38-410-1 line in Fields’
rookie year. For whatever reason the two of them could never seem
to get on the same page as Darnell Mooney became Fields’
go-to receiver while A-Rob rode out a year under the franchise
With the Bears ushering a new regime and what appears to be a
full-scale rebuild, Robinson was allowed to walk in free agency,
inking a deal with the Rams to essentially replace Robert Woods,
who was later traded to the Titans. Entering his age-29 season,
Robinson should still have something left in the tank, and it’s
important to remember that the three-time 1,000-yard receiver
has never played in an offense even remotely as dangerous as what
LA looks to put on the field in 2022.
That doesn’t mean he’s a sure bet to deliver starting fantasy
value, however, as he’ll be filling, at best, a secondary role
behind Kupp. That could change if the Rams decide to bring back
Beckham, or if there’s continued development from Van Jefferson,
who brings a different skill set to the table. Woods never put
up huge numbers in the 1b role, and that was before Kupp established
himself as a star. Robinson could be an interesting WR4 with borderline
With Woods and Beckham only playing partial seasons for the Rams
last year it was Jefferson that finished second on the club in
receiving yards (802) and touchdowns (six). Although that didn’t
stop LA from signing Robinson (and maybe bringing back OBJ as
well), Jefferson has one thing working for him: he can stretch
the field vertically in a way neither Kupp nor Robinson can. That
should keep Jefferson in the mix throughout the season, though
if Beckham is re-signed it could get dicey in the later months.
a second-round pick last year who was nearly invisible, could
also push for an expanded role, though he’s much more of a slot
player. Jefferson is a tough valuation because it feels like his
role could rise and fall from one week to the next, which makes
him little more than late-round fodder.
Wherever fantasy football owners gather, Higbee’s performance
in December 2019 (when he posted a 43-522-2 line over the final
five games) is discussed in hushed tones of reverence. The tight
end has managed very similar production in each of the last two
seasons, but that was over 16- and 17-game slates instead of five.
Higbee has the talent to be a TE1, but in LA’s offense
he tends to get lost in the shuffle amid other higher-profile
options needing the ball. If you play in a league large enough
to carry a reserve tight end, Higbee is a decent choice, but he’d
be a stretch to target in most formats.