The Los Angeles Rams had a disastrous 2022 season after winning the Super Bowl in 2021. The Super Bowl hangover hit them hard. They went 5-12 and had multiple key injuries throughout the year. After trading away some key players and clearly, in a rebuilding year, the LA Rams look to be playing from behind in many games this season. They were 28th in rushing yards, 17th in rushing touchdowns, 27th in passing yards, and 28th in passing touchdowns. However, they were tenth in interceptions, with only 15 during the season. These statistics probably won’t improve much for the coming season, with the exception of possibly passing yards and touchdowns.
Stafford had a horrendous season from the start. During training camp, concerns arose regarding his throwing arm’s elbow. It was an immediate issue during the opening game of the 2022 season. He completed 206 passes for 2,087 yards and only started nine games. Additionally, he threw ten touchdowns compared to eight interceptions. He had zero touchdown passes in two games, and in only two games, he had more than one touchdown pass. Questions still surround his throwing elbow’s health and the vulnerable offensive line. He averaged 12.04 points per game. That ranks as QB31 among all quarterbacks who played in six or more games.
Stafford’s production looks to hinge completely on the play of Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee. While both of those players should produce significant fantasy points this year, I do not expect the same from Stafford. In 1QB leagues, I believe Stafford should be left on the waiver wire and is a mediocre QB2 in Superflex. In the Trade Finder, the most common asset acquired for Stafford is a 2024 second-round pick, which feels about right.
The LA Rams drafted Bennett in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. He led the Georgia Bulldogs to back-to-back National Championships. Bennett is an older prospect with minimal fantasy value, except for an injury to Stafford. Look to stash Bennett on your taxi squad if you’re the Stafford owner in your Superflex league. Otherwise, I don’t foresee him being roster worthy for the coming season. Also, given his age, draft capital, and athleticism, I don’t see an extended career for him in the NFL.
Akers’ career has been rocky. Drafted in 2020, Akers played behind Darrell Henderson and rushed for 625 yards while adding 11 catches for 123 yards and three total touchdowns. He started three of the final four games (he was inactive for the other game). He did not play in 2021 due to a torn Achilles during training camp.
Last season, Akers was RB35, and I expect a similar production while the Rams continue rebuilding. At best, I expect low-end RB2 numbers. The Rams will need to throw the ball more often to keep games close, as their defense will rely on many unproven, young players. Unless you can acquire Akers for a future second-round pick, I would look elsewhere for running back production. Remember not to overpay for a player two years removed from an Achilles injury.
Recently signed, Michel immediately becomes the RB2 on the depth chart. Michel played for the Rams during their 2021 Super Bowl-winning season and was the leading rusher with 845 touches and four touchdowns. He also contributed in the passing game with 21 catches. During that season, he split time with Darrell Henderson due to Akers’ injury and will now be playing behind the latter. Michel should be treated as a priority handcuff for Akers’ owners. However, I anticipate the rushing game to be lighter this season, with the Rams playing from behind more frequently and needing to throw the ball.
Kyren Williams/Zach Evans
Williams was a 2022 fifth-round pick, and Zach Evans was a 2023 sixth-round pick. Both players offer minimal value, except handcuffs in deeper leagues (30 or more rostered players).
Kupp only appeared in nine games last year and averaged 22.38 PPR points per game. The season’s final game was a dud, too, with only three catches and -1 receiving yards before his injury. He is a monster. In 2021, he averaged 25.85 PPR points. His dominance since Stafford arrived has been nothing short of brilliant. In 2020, he averaged 13.91 fantasy points, so the connection between the two is apparent.
Remember to keep Kupp on your roster for a title run this year. He just turned 30 and should have another one to two years left in the tank. If you’re rebuilding, look to sell high on this man after the first week or two of the regular season. I would look to acquire two first-round picks in return for his services if you do end up trading him.
Jefferson had a disappointing season. He caught 24 balls for 369 yards and three touchdowns. He was fifth in targets with 44. Allen Robinson was the only player with more targets last season, and he isn’t with the team this year. He had 52 targets. Many view Jefferson as a sleeper, but based on the amount of vacated targets from ARob and a presumed healthy Kupp, I do not anticipate a large increase in production for him. View him as a WR4/5 heading into the season with the expectation of between 500-600 yards of production. Jefferson is a deep ball threat who has shown flashes in the past.
However, with his current price tag, I would buy Jefferson. At most, he is going for a 2023 third in the Trade Finder. Most trades are late-round swaps or mid-late picks in 2025 or later. Jefferson is the player I would target as a contender for minimal compensation who could provide some flex plug-and-play ability throughout the season.
Skowronek surprisingly started 11 of the 14 games he was active. He caught 39 balls for 376 yards. Skowronek, a 2021 seventh-round pick, showed he could step in and fill a role as a depth pass catcher once the stars were injured last season. However, like Jefferson, I don’t believe there will be a large increase in production. Skowronek is best left on the waiver wire in leagues with short benches unless there’s an injury to Cooper Kupp or Tyler Higbee.
Best of the Rest
Puka Nacua was selected in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. He was the eighth pick of the Rams’ total of 14 picks in this year’s draft. He is behind Jefferson on the depth chart. If Jefferson underperforms, Nacua may be allowed to showcase his talents for his role in the 2024 season. Currently, I would value Puka around a fourth-round pick in value. I wouldn’t try to go out of my way to acquire. Look to acquire him as a throw-in on trades and hope for his involvement later in the season and possibly in future years. See fellow Nerds’ writer Matthew Mitchell’s breakdown of his potential sleeper upside.
Higbee caught 72 passes for 620 yards and three touchdowns. He was fourth in targets for TEs last season with 108. Only Travis Kelce, T.J. Hockensen, and Mark Andrews had more. In three of the last four seasons, Higbee has had 85 or more targets on the season. Also, in those seasons, he was surrounded by more offensive weapons around him (outside of Cooper Kupp). Higbee should be a top-four tight end this year, and the best part is he is still relatively cheap.
In all of these trades, I would immediately take the Higbee side. He should see tremendous volume for a tight end and be the #2 receiving option in this offense.
Hunter Long was part of the trade package for Jalen Ramsey. He was drafted in the third round of the 2021 draft by the Miami Dolphins. Brycen Hopkins and Davis Allen are depth at the position, and all three players have negligible fantasy implications and should be left on the waiver wire.
The Los Angeles Rams will continue their rebuild in the 2023 season. Outside of Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee, I view most players on this offensive roster as depth pieces for championship runs.
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