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2024 Free Agency Preview: Biggest Positional Needs For The Los Angeles Rams

matthew stafford fantasy football rankings news NFL DFS lineup picks

There may not be a top-heavier roster in the entire NFL than the Los Angeles Rams. The player with the 10th-highest cap hit is Tutu Atwell, who is scheduled to make $1.8 million. This team consists of eight veteran players and 45 (!!!) guys on rookie contracts. It's wild. The Rams go into the 2024 season with more offseason assets that they're accustomed to. They have some cash to spend, and more importantly, they have draft picks. A first-rounder, no less!

Previous divisional editions breaking down each team's 2023 season, their offseason assets, and their top-three positional needs going into the 2024 NFL season can be found here:

Considering the ages and contracts of Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, and Cooper Kupp, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the Rams are aggressive this season about filling their positional holes and making one more strong push for a Super Bowl with this trio. They have the assets to do it and they've shown us they're not afraid to be aggressive. If you want to take advantage of all of our great premium tools, please use promo code "BOOM" to receive a 10% discount. 

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Season Review and Offseason Assets

After a 5-12 2022 season defined by injuries, the expectations were pretty low for the Rams this past season. However, they far exceeded what most felt they’d be able to accomplish. They finished 10-7 and returned to the playoffs. They lost in the first round in a hotly contested matchup against the Lions, falling 24-23 on the road.

The offense bounced back with a healthy season from Matthew Stafford, as well as breakout performances from Kyren Williams and Puka Nacua. They finished eighth in points scored and seventh in yards gained. Looking forward to 2024, this offense looks very potent with all their returning pieces.

The defense struggled a bit, finishing 19th in points allowed and 20th in yards given up. Their pass defense was the biggest issue. To make matters worse, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris left to become the head coach for the Falcons. Chris Shula has since been promoted to defensive coordinator. He has been with the Rams since 2017 and was the linebacker coach last season.

Los Angeles has just under $46 million in cap space. Stafford has a $49.5 million cap hit, which could be restructured to save additional money. That option also exists with Aaron Donald ($34.1 million cap hit) and Cooper Kupp ($29.7 million cap hit).

It’s crazy, but only six players on the Rams have a cap hit north of $9 million this upcoming season. Their biggest free agents are free safety Jordan Fuller and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. Both of these players logged more than 1,000 snaps on defense; however, their secondary was also the biggest weakness on their team. They might not be brought back.

The Rams own the No. 19 (first-rounder), No. 52 (second-rounder), No. 83 (third-rounder), No. 100 (third-rounder), No. 153 (fifth-rounder), No. 154 (fifth-rounder), No. 177 (fifth-rounder), No. 191 (sixth-rounder), No. 212 (sixth-rounder), No. 217 (sixth-rounder), and No. 218 (sixth-rounder) overall picks in this year’s NFL Draft. This will mark the first time the Rams have a first-round pick since 2016 when they selected Jared Goff.

 

Biggest Needs

1. Cornerback

Their top cornerbacks last year were Witherspoon (2017 third-rounder, 29 years of age), Derion Kendrick (2022 sixth-rounder), Cobie Durant (2022 fourth-rounder), and Quentin Lake (2022 sixth-rounder). Witherspoon is a free agent and played 1,060 snaps. He finished with three interceptions, 14 pass deflections, and 52 tackles. Given his age, it remains to be seen if the Rams will re-sign him. Kendrick played 858 snaps, Durant played 643, and Lake played 453. Of these three returning players, only Lake had a PFF coverage grade over 61.

Kendrick finished with 11 penalties committed. Kendrick, Durant, and Lake all allowed a quarterback rating of higher than 96 when targeted. There is a ton of youth in this secondary and zero blue-chip talent. There aren’t even any players who were drafted on Day 2 of the NFL Draft (Rounds 2-3). It needs reinforcements, but specifically, it needs upper-tier talent. The Rams allowed the 13th-most passing yards and the 10th-most passing touchdowns. They finished 23rd in interceptions and interception rate.

2. Safety

Jordan Fuller and John Johnson III are both free agents. Together, these two safeties logged 1,577 snaps. They also had five interceptions, 14 pass deflections, and 136 tackles. The backup safeties are Russ Yeast (2022 seventh-rounder) and Jason Taylor II (2023 seventh-rounder). Yeast played 802 snaps this past season, while Taylor logged just 39. Yeast had a 55.1 PFF coverage grade and allowed a quarterback rating of 116.1 when targeted.

Like cornerback, this position needs an influx of talent. They’re currently looking at starting a second- and third-year player out of the seventh round. While it’s understandable that Yeast struggled in just his second season, the Rams need to fortify this position with some more talent to improve their pass defense.

3. Interior Offensive Line

There is a strong argument for a pass-rusher here. The Rams finished 22nd in hurries, 21st in quarterback hits, 24th in sacks, 22nd in pressures, and 25th in pressure rate. However, they had Kobie Turner and Byron Young, both rookies in 2023, finish with 50 pressures and 17 sacks. Combining these two bright, young talents with Donald should give them a solid pass rush in 2024, assuming Turner and Young continue to improve. That should be the expectation after the season they just had.

Pass-rusher is still a position they should target, but it’s not a top-three need despite how bad some of their team pass-rushing metrics look.

Tight end is another need position. Tyler Higbee is 31 years old and suffered a torn ACL late in the season. He likely won’t be available for most of the 2024 season. That leaves their tight end depth chart to Hunter Long (2021 third-rounder with a total of one catch for eight yards) and Davis Allen (2023 fifth-rounder). Despite those clear needs, we’re going to focus on the interior of their offensive line.

Coleman Shelton and Kevin Dotson started 31 games combined at center and guard, respectively. In total, the two of these offensive linemen played 1,996 snaps. Both of them are free agents and there are no real replacement options on the roster. The Rams will need to re-sign them or find two starting offensive linemen. The problem is Shelton will be 29 and Dotson will be 28 and neither are great talents. Maybe they opt to bring one back for consistency. However, with Stafford being 36 years old, they must continue to give him good protection.

4. Other Positions of Need: Pass-Rusher, Tight End

 

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