The Rams finished 2020 at 10-6, second in the competitive NFC West. They defeated the Seahawks in the Wild Card Round but fell short versus the Green Bay Packers in their second playoff game. The offense made all the splashes in the offseason – trading for a new quarterback to give the offense a spark.
The defense is one of the nastiest in the game, ranking first in points allowed with only 18.5 per game. The Rams also were first in passing yards allowed (3,051) and passing TDs allowed (17). The run defense was also stout, ranking third in rushing yards allowed (1,460) and only allowed twelve rushing TDs, good for the fourth-lowest in the league.
The secondary was led by John Johson III, although he is now with the Cleveland Browns. The team has Taylor Rapp and Jordan Fuller to fill the huge void. The linebackers have some questions heading into the year but there is one position on the defense with no questions. Aaron Donald is a top-five defensive lineman and one of the most dominant defensive players in the universe.
The only linebacker that is a must-start from your Los Angeles Rams, Kiser is projected to be the only three-down LB. He missed seven games last season, including the final six, and was still tied for third in tackles on the team.
Garnering 77 tackles on just over 54% of the defensive stats is impressive and he is the highest-ranked LB in the Dynasty Nerds IDP Rankings – overall, Kiser is ranked at 53, the LB29. He’s by far the most valuable LB but still not crazy expensive, an LB3 value who could return over 100 tackles in his role.
Kiser is a bit of a liability in pass coverage and his spot as the three-down LB, the guy that never leaves the field, is not locked in. He likely will be in the role this season, Kiser is going to get you IDP production and he won’t cost a lot if you want to acquire him. The future in L.A. in regards to Kiser is up to him and this is a critical season for the third-year LB.
Projections: 115 total tackles, 3 pass deflections, 3 sacks
I had to do a double-take when I noticed that Floyd will only be 29 heading into the 2021 season, it seems like he has been around for more than a decade. Floyd is a pass-rushing specialist and benefits immensely from the presence of Donald upfront.
|4 yr||4 yr||CHI||54||54||1||19||1||19||9||1||3||21||1||18.5||154||108||46||26||44||2||27|
|1 yr||1 yr||LAR||16||16||0||0||0||0||1||1||2||0||0||10.5||55||31||24||11||19||10|
If you play in an IDP league with scoring that favors big plays, Floyd needs to be a target for you. He’s a guy who can get double-digit sack numbers and isn’t a total negative if he doesn’t get that sack. It’s tough to want to start Floyd if you can’t get those big play bonuses, especially as a linebacker.
Projection: 50 total tackles, 11 sacks
On paper, if you had Reeder you were fairly happy and able to squeeze a few starts out of him. He was probably one of the most added players in IDP after his 11 tackle with three sacks game versus Washington in Week 5. But for most of the rest of the season, Reeder saw inconsistent snap counts and will likely not even be in the starting mix going forward.
Projections: 75 total tackles
THE REST OF THE LINEBACKERS
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is currently projected to start as the WILL LB but the starting lineup is in flux right now and he holds little value. Kenny Young was a hot name a few seasons ago but has never put the raw talent together and is barely a depth piece.
The team selected Ernest Jones in the third round and he is likely the future at ILB for the Rams. He’s a run-stopping two-down LB with a propensity for knocking the snout out of ball carriers. Jones has good vision and instincts and will be a solid LB2/LB3 type in the future, he will rake in tackles and give the Rams a presence they desperately need in the middle.
Donald is a generational talent, I don’t use that term lightly either, and one of the most dominant defensive players we will see. His NFL worth is even more than his IDP worth, and he’s one of the top linemen – the top defensive tackle. What makes the stats even scarier is that Donald hasn’t had a ton of help on the DL to draw attention away from him.
Even at age 30, Donald shows no sign of slowing down and is a lock to notch another DL1 season. He continues to be dominant and even when he isn’t getting sacks or forcing turnovers, Donald rakes in tackles as a run-stopper. Donald is a plug-and-play IDP asset and should still have a few strong years ahead of him.
Projection: 50 total tackles, 12.5 sacks
THE REST OF THE DEFENSIVE LINE
A’Shawn Robinson is a good middle-of-the-line guy to help clog the middle and take some attention away from Donald, but not an IDP asset worth rostering. Sebastian Joseph-Day is similar, but will at least get you a few tackles if you have to start a DT. He had 54 total tackles in 2020, decent numbers for a tackle.
Earnest Brown IV was selected in the fifth round of the draft and is an intriguing prospect. He is versatile – he can rush from the edge standing up or with a hand in the dirt, and can also rush inside. Brown is raw and didn’t have much production in college but he’s a name to watch. The Rams also took Bobby Brown III in the fourth round. He’s a big and strong inside DL who can get pressure inside and plug the middle. I am not as excited about him as an IDP asset but maybe worth a stash in a deep DT-required league.
Rapp will fill the massive void due to the departure of John Johnson III. Rapp missed the last seven games of 2020 and injuries are a byproduct of the way he plays. Rapp flies around and loves to hit, but lacks the prototypical build of a thumping safety.
If he’s on the field, Rapp is going to produce low-end DB1/high-end DB2 numbers. The Nerds IDP staff has him ranked 91st overall on defense, the DB22 – and Rapp has every chance to far outproduce that value. The injury risk is always lingering and the emergence of the next guy on the list could push Rapp into more of a free safety role. Both guys are listed at strong safety on the depth chart now but Rapp has the athleticism to fulfill the free safety spot. Then, his IDP upside might be capped a little.
Projection: 110 tackles, 4 INTs
Fuller was forced into playing time during his rookie season, filling in for Rapp, and had solid production. The Rams rotate safeties in roles and it fit Fuller’s skill set, he is a tricky player to classify.
Fuller was on the field for nearly 70% of the defensive stats and was able to play early with the safety net of Johnson also in the secondary. Fuller isn’t quite athletic enough to be a cover safety but doesn’t have the size and power to be a strong safety. The Rams have played safeties like linebackers and Fuller will fill that role but may also drop back to let Rapp enforce at times – something he excels at. Fuller will be a DB3/4 for the time being and I expect him to be replaced in the next few seasons.
Projection: 80 tackles, 2 INTs
THE REST OF THE DEFENSIVE BACKS
Darious Williams and Jalen Ramsey are both solid options in IDP if you need to start cornerbacks. Other than that, options get thin really quick for IDP purposes.
The Rams will be contenders again and the defense is much better as a whole than it is for IDP purposes. The offense should score and the team will be in positive game scripts often. How does this fare for the IDP options?
Donald is the man, the must-start of the crew, but I like Rapp and Kiser as starters also. Floyd is there if you need a spot start from him and can take the gamble on him getting a sack or two. Beyond those four, there are depth pieces and a few rookies worth stashing.
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