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We will be reviewing all 32 teams at Rotoballer in our Dynasty Team outlook series. Leading up to the draft, we will break down every team as they currently stand and will review them again after free agency and the draft have concluded. Which players should you buy and which players should you sell? Who will be sleepers this season and who will be busts? We will cover all the positions and all the angles for you.

If they would have stayed in St. Louis longer, you could say the “Greatest Show on Turf” had returned. Instead of being the greatest show on turf, the Rams now shine under the bright lights of Los Angeles. The Rams second year in LA, which was Sean McVay’s first as a head coach, was a huge success.

In one of the best turnaround stories we have seen a franchise have, the Rams went from 4-12 with an anemic offense in 2016 to 11-5 with one of the best offenses in the league last season. Players who seemed destined for mediocrity rose to fantasy football cornerstones (except Tavon Austin). Now the Rams have followed up a playoff season with an off-season dedicated to adding as much talent as possible. The star power on the field for LA in 2018 will be outstanding. Both the offense and defense look great on paper, but are the Rams headed for serious regression? The question will hinge on one key player and a supporting cast that will need to meet serious expectations.

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L.A. Rams Dynasty Outlook

Team Record: 11-5 (1st NFC West)

Fantasy Leaders

QB: Jared Goff- 255.5 (QB12)
RB: Todd Gurley- 383.3 (RB1)
WR: Cooper Kupp- 176.9 (WR25)
TE: Tyler Higbee- 60.5 (TE35)
IDP: Aaron Donald- 165.7 (DT1, DL9)

 

Quarterback

When the Rams made the deal to move up and take Jared Goff first overall, I was adamantly against it. I just didn’t see it with the kid. Maybe a late first, sure, but I didn’t think he was the best player in the draft or even the best QB. Well played Goff, well played. The reason this offense had such a turnaround was because of how quickly Goff went from potential bust to one of the best young QBs in the league.

As the legend Lee Corso likes to say, “not so fast”. Is the Goff we saw in 2017 the actual QB we will see moving forward, or was it a deception due to Sean McVay’s offensive genius. I am going to pick on Nick Foles for a second, but I hope there are no hard feelings. His run to Super Bowl champion was outstanding, so I don’t mean this as a knock on him by any means.

Remember in 2013, Chip Kelly’s first at the helm for the Eagles? He was expected to be an offensive guru and bring a style the league has never seen before. Everything worked out great in his first year. The Eagles went 10-6 and Nick Foles set a record for TD/INT ratio. Foles only threw for 2891 yards, but his 27 TDs were nothing to scoff at. He led the league in yards per completion, QB Rate and TD percentage. After that however, it was all downhill. Until this past postseason anyway. So, the question is, was it Mcvay’s offense that elevated Goff, Goff that elevated the offense or both?

For the Rams offense to stay on par with last season or even finish better, Goff will need to work the deep ball. He wasn’t bad in 2017, finishing with a 99.5 passer rating while completing 35.4 percent of his passes downfield. The one stat that lacked however was having only three touchdowns passes on deep throws. Goff’s average depth of target last season was 8.5 yards, which ranked 18th out of QBs that had at least 300 pass attempts. Goff will need to take more shots downfield in 2018 to keep defenses from biting on the run and short passing game. It worked well last season, but defenses will evolve and sniff it out. Goff had a really good season, but I need to see it again before I anoint him a top 10 QB.

 

Running Back

If you made the call to buy into Todd Gurley last season, congratulations. More than likely you at least made it to the playoffs. The amount of owners that were down on Gurley after the 2016 season was puzzling to me. Owners felt burnt by a poor 2016 season, but he really wasn’t any worse than his rookie season. He finished as RB9 in 2015 but only finished with 10.4 less points as RB15 in 2016. After a good rookie season, maybe a little regression was in the cards.

Those that stuck through it were rewarded with the RB1 season and the second largest fantasy output by a running back in PPR scoring since 2012. Gurley was my RB1 in our initial dynasty rankings at Rotoballer this off-season, and he deserved it. Gurley is only 23 years old and has, on average, finished sixth in carries each season since joining the league. That may seem like a lot, but for a top running back that produces like Gurley, it means he has slightly less wear and tear than others.

I already mentioned the need for Goff to work further downfield next season in order to keep defenses honest, but if that happens, how will it affect Gurley’s value? No running back did more last season when catching the ball. Of running backs that had at least 30 receptions, Gurley had the 11th shallowest average depth of target at .4 yards, but had the highest average yards after catch at 12.4.

As much as I love Gurley, there is no way he puts together another season like 2017. Defenses will do a much better job of trying to contain him and make Goff beat them. The rushing yards will still be there for Gurley but the receiving yards will take a hit, either because he won’t be as effective with his receptions or because one of the newest additions will steal some of those targets and yards.

So is Gurley still my RB1 in dynasty leagues? You will need to wait for our new rakings to hit after the draft, but there is a good chance I make some changes at the top. Gurley is still a top five RB for me, but I see him losing value in PPR leagues and keeping his value in standard leagues. He won’t be able to keep up with the pace he had last season and if Goff is what the Rams believe him to be, he will be using his receivers more in 2018.

 

Wide Receiver

The wide receiver room for the Rams will be loaded with talent this season. They would have been fine even after missing on trying to re-sign Sammy Watkins, but the Rams decided to add Brandin Cooks to the mix as well. Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and even Josh Reynolds will have a role in this offense. Each will offer something to different formats as well.

Let’s start with the newest addition to the Rams. I think a majority of the football community was shocked to see the trade a couple weeks ago. The Rams were not able to convince Watkins to stay, then were linked to a possible Odell Beckham Jr. trade the went ahead and sent their first round pick to the Patriots for Cooks. Am I the only one who gets a little nervous when the Patriots trade a player? They must know something we don’t. What I do know, is that Cooks is more of a big playmaker for me moving forward. He will own the ceiling against most other receivers, but the floor will be much worse than most. Cooks had six games last season where he had less than 40 receiving yards. If you are taking someone to be your WR1, you need some more consistency. Take a look at Demaryius Thomas, who was considered by almost everyone to have a down year last season. The QB position has been a dumpster fire for the Broncos the past two years, and he only had four games with less than 40 receiving yards.

Cooks will now go from Tom Brady, who was the QB3 last season, to Goff. Cooks has never finished higher than WR10 in PPR leagues. He has always been a fringe WR1, and that was with two sure fire Hall of Fame QBs. If you think Cooks had to fight for a lot of targets last season, it won’t change in 2018. We’ve already discussed Gurley and we still need to discuss Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. The only difference this season, Cooks needs to fight for targets from Goff and not Tom Brady or Drew Brees.

Woods and Kupp are actually my picks to own outside of Gurley in this offense in PPR leagues. In standard leagues, I would drop Kupp but buying low on Woods right now would be an excellent idea. Even though Goff will have time to work with Cooks, he still has a full year with Woods under his belt. Cooks will be the deep threat of the offense, but Woods will be all over the field. Woods had his breakout season in 2017, hauling in 781 yards on 56 catches and five touchdowns. Woods averaged 5.1 receiving yards after the catch last season, tied for 12th among receivers with more than 50 receptions. That was more than Keenan Allen and Antonio Brown, so Woods knows how to get a little extra every time he touches the ball. I would be comfortable owning Woods as a WR3 of flex option moving forward. His price is low right now, so you can make the move to grab him cheap and use him for depth.

Raise your hand if Kupp was your WR1 for the Rams last season? Kupp had a lot of fans coming out of the draft and many felt he would be the perfect receiver for Goff. Honestly, he was a big reason why the Rams offense ran so well last season. Kupp’s ability out of the slot set Gurley up for success out of the backfield and allowed Woods room to roam right behind the linebackers. Kupp is firmly in place as a WR2 in PPR leagues for me. Goff will be able to keep feeding Kupp the ball, especially if he continues to be careful with it and keep from taking shots down the field. The Rams defense is good enough, that the offense could continue to run the same game plan as last season and protect the ball as much as possible and let their athletes work in open space.

 

Tight End

The Rams have Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett sitting at the top of the depth chart for tight ends. I was big fan of Everett last season. I thought he would become the safety net that Goff needed to grow and become more confident. Part of the reason why I didn’t buy into Kupp was because I thought Everett would get more targets. That will be the last time a rookie TE burns me. For now, I am fading this position for the Rams. Whether Higbee or Everett is on the field for the Rams, they will be one of the last players targeted. They could have some TD upside in the Red Zone, but Gurley will do a lot to limit that as well.

Long term, I’m not buying into any of the Rams tight ends. The Rams core is under contract for the next several years. Gurley only has two years left and report are the Rams want to get a deal done with Cooks right away. With those two, plus Woods and Kupp, the tight ends won’t have much room. You can grab either of them for depth if you want and hope for bye week touchdown, but neither are much more than that.

 

IDP

Honestly, you have so many routes you can go with this team when it comes to IDPs. Aaron Donald is the biggest name you want to grab and if the center of this defense. Want to hear something scary? He’s about to get better. The addition of Ndamukong Suh will pull defense away from Donald now as they will need to focus on both players.

The addition of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters are also valuable assets as these two could lead to many more coverage sacks for Suh and Donald. Even then you can’t forget about Lamarcus Joyner at safety either. The secondary of the rams could end up being the best in football. If the offense can continue their pace of last season, it means opponents will be playing from behind and more chances at defended passes and tackles for cornerbacks.

The only position I have some concern over is linebacker. I have been a big fan of Mark Barron since his switch to linebacker. He’s fast and plays all over the field. Now that Alec Ogletree is with the Giants, Barron is the most talented linebacker. He will steal a lot of tackles this coming season.

 

Off-Season Outlook

The Rams did everything they could to make their team better in 2018, and they will likely be. The draft will bring little excitement though as the Rams will not pick until the third round now. Of course there could be some great steals in the third round, so the Rams should add a lot of depth, but likely no starters.

The Rams will have one pick in the third then three in the fourth and four in the sixth. Most of the excitement is over now, although they could decide to package some of those picks to move back into the third round if there is another player available that they want. Even if there is no more excitement to be had Rams fans, that’s okay. This team had a great off-season and will be prepared to make another run at the Super Bowl.

 

More 2018 Dynasty League Strategy