Seasonal, keeper and dynasty perspectives on the 2019 Rams
It is very hard for a pro football team to keep everyone healthy through a deep playoff run. Consider that the Super Bowl was the 19th game of the season for the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots. By the time they reached the ultimate game, the Rams were not the same force on offense that they were for much of the regular season. When it counted most, they clearly missed a healthy Todd Gurley and could not challenge the Patriots defense without essential WR Cooper Kupp.
The Rams averaged 32.9 points per game during the regular season, and 19.7 during the playoffs. Without Gurley operating at or near 100 percent, the offense was not quite as potent when it truly counted. A total of 26 points was good enough to win the NFC Championship Game, but the Rams came narrowly close to losing, and then melted big time when they really had to deliver offensively in the Super Bowl. Without the outstanding run support and receiving abilities of Gurley on a consistent basis, and with no Kupp to make important catches on big downs, Jared Goff reverted to his rookie year form vs. New England.
Fantasy players cannot let what happened in the Super Bowl heavily color their offseason and 2019 opinions about the Rams. Even though I do not believe that Gurley was close to being fully healthy no matter what Sean McVay or the RB himself said, there are no indications to believe that any injury he has to his knee is a major or longer-term problem. Yes, he abandoned Fantasy owners late in their playoffs and was not the “real” Gurley when the Rams needed him most. But unless we hear any reports that indicate he won’t be healthy five to six months from now, I would not drop Gurley in my early ranks at all. What would make anyone think that he won’t be back to near full form in the summer if he has no offseason setbacks or if we hear of new revelations? I still would consider him anywhere from first to third overall and he is a surefire top keeper worth the surrendering a first-rounder. Gurley has missed three games over the past two seasons but not more than two in each of the past three years.
C.J. Anderson filled in admirably for Gurley in the final two regular season games with a pair of 100-yard outings and then sailed over the century mark again in the same backfield with Gurley in the Wild Card win over Dallas. He is a free agent and may consider returning to the Rams, who reportedly want him back, but it is highly likely that he will see if he can compete for or land a starting job elsewhere. We may have to wait and see who will be Gurley’s handcuff next season, but John Kelly could certainly get a more realistic shot at the job in his second year. Dynasty owners will have to wait and see whether or not Los Angeles goes the veteran route again to back up Gurley in 2019. The Rams jumped Anderson ahead of Kelly on the depth chart just a few days after signing him in December.
Kupp tore his ACL in Week 10. He was WR18 in PPR in the first nine weeks of the season, averaging 18 points per game. Goff was the third most productive QB in Fantasy Football with a healthy Kupp. By Week 12 he had moved down to fifth, and he finished as QB9 in Week 16. In Weeks 13 through 16 he threw two total TD passes and had one game over 220 yards. The Bears did not let him throw a single TD pass and intercepted him four times in Week 14. Goff’s completion percentage dipped nearly 10 percent without Kupp.
Goff was not as steady without Kupp and Gurley having health issues down the stretch and into the postseason. But with both of those key cast members healthy for 2019, Goff should have the same supporting cast that drove him to quality Fantasy heights in the first half of 2018. So he should re-establish himself as a lower-end Fantasy QB1 and I would consider him as a third keeper in leagues with six points for a TD pass and as a fourth with four points for a TD. In six-point leagues with keeper round penalties, I would start to consider him with a fourth rounder or later in most formats, but not over a prime starter at RB or WR.
Kupp told the Los Angeles Times he has not endured any setbacks, so Fantasy players will have to continue to believe he can be a solid PPR WR2 at best. I would consider him as a third keeper overall or with a fourth rounder or later if you lose the round to retain his rights. If you can acquire him in a trade right now with an owner who may be concerned about his health with the preseason several months away, you may be able to do so at a slight discount or for less than you would expect to ordinarily give up for a healthy Kupp.
Mr. Consistency, Robert Woods, and big-play guy Brandin Cooks will both be back and in the high-end WR2 discussions again. Woods finished 16 weeks as WR8 and Cooks WR17. It’s already been proven that a fully healthy Rams offense can support three very productive WRs. Woods only had three 100-yard games and a decent total of six TDs, but during the 16-game Fantasy season he caught less than five passes in a game just twice, and he delivered PPR performances in double figures in all but one week. I would consider keeping Woods with a third rounder or later, and as a second keeper overall because of his incredible reliability. Cooks only caught three TD passes during the 16-week Fantasy season, but he had five 100-yard games in the first 11 weeks. With everyone hopefully healthy next year he should be a big yardage threat again and I would attach a similar keeper value tag on him as I outlined for Cooks.
The Los Angeles offensive line won the award for the league’s best unit at NFL Honors. Re-signing guard Roger Saffold can only ensure stability. Goff was sacked 33 times during the regular season, which was the eighth-best mark in the league.