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Booms, Busts, Breakouts & Bets: Los Angeles Rams

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As the mercury rises and we inch closer to training camp openings, our resident fantasy football aficionados, Brad Evans and Derek Brown, profile their favorite Booms, Busts, Breakouts and Bets for every NFL team. Giddy up, gamers. Today’s topic: Hollywood’s Starlets.

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Fantasy Football Booms – Rams

Cooper Kupp, WR

The memories of fantasy football gamers are incredibly fickle, no doubt, but the general “meh” sentiment around Cooper Kupp this season is disturbing. As recently as 2019, Kupp was the WR7 in fantasy points per game, so the high-end production resume is present. Kupp has also been the Rams’ primary wide receiver threat in the red zone over the last two seasons, with 30 targets inside the 20 (Robert Woods has 20).

Kupp’s skills have not deteriorated, as he ranked 21st among 89 wide receivers in yards per route run last year, at 1.95. The massive quarterback upgrade he received this offseason can’t be understated. In many leagues, you can draft Kupp as your WR2 (WR3 if going WR heavy early), and for the upside, he presents that’s ludicrous. — Derek Brown

Robert Woods, WR

As durable as a plank of Brazilian Walnut, the often-underpublicized veteran is reliable, efficient and week-to-week consistent. He’s missed only one game over the last three seasons and scored at least 11 PPR points in 11 of 16 games last fall. Whether operating out of the slot (28.6 slot% in ‘20) or outside, Woods exploits soft spots in coverage, piling up receptions and yards after the catch (No. 4 at WR in ‘20). McVay’s clever use of him on jet sweeps only raises the floor. Since 2018, he’s sprinted for at least 118 yards and a score each season on the ground. 

The transition from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford is akin to trading in a ticket on the Hindenburg for a pricey ride on Blue Origin. Woods’ not-so-nice No. 69 ranking in catchable target percentage is bound to improve. Noteworthy, Goff only posted an 89.1 passer rating when targeting the contested catch machine a season ago. Inexcusable. 

In the end, bank on Woods tallying 90-plus receptions, 1,200-plus total yards and 6-8 TDs. At his WR16 ADP (41.6 overall), consider this loudmouth a willing investor. — Brad Evans

2021 Fantasy Football Busts – Rams

Darrell Henderson, RB

It happens every year. Beloved fantasy player is felled by significant injury; fantasy pundits immediately take to social media and make grandiose claims about the elevated backup. When news broke about Cam Akers’ unfortunate Achilles-influenced demise, the hype machine shifted into overdrive. Wild and reckless projections painting Darrell Henderson as a borderline RB1 or higher were baselessly tossed out. Yes, the same RB who ranked outside the top-35 in yards after contact per attempt (2.70), missed tackle percentage (15.9%) and yards created per touch (1.17) in 2020. 

To be fair, Henderson is indeed the next man up, poised to see a sizable increase from his 37.2% opportunity share last year. Still, it’s entirely possible the Rams explore adding a veteran via free agency or after roster cutdowns late in August. Other young backs currently on roster could also challenge the veteran for touches. He’s in the RB2 mix, but expectations should be tempered. Drafting him ahead of David Montgomery, J.K. Dobbins or D’Andre Swift is lunacy. — Brad Evans

Darrell Henderson, RB

In the wake of the Cam Akers injury news, the Darrell Henderson hype tidal wave is real. The recollections of Henderson’s production in 2020 and the reality are two very different entities. Henderson will be seen as a rock-solid RB2 when he barely returned that value with Akers sidelined or injury marginalized early in the season. In Weeks 3-7, he was the RB27 in fantasy points per game. Last year among 63 rushers with 75 or more rushing attempts, Henderson ranked 39th, immediately ahead of Leonard Fournette in yards after contact per attempt. Avoid Henderson’s ADP rocket ship as it’s likely to flame out and come crashing back to earth in-season. — Derek Brown

Fantasy Football Breakouts for the Rams

Jacob Harris, TE

OK. Yes, rookie tight ends are never the breakout candidates that we target in drafts, but on a veteran-laden team, hear me out here. Jacob Harris is a size/speed monster (95th percentile speed score) transitioning to tight end from playing wide receiver at UCF. Now on a team with a matchup mastermind in Sean McVay, Harris could be the ultimate cheat code. 

Tyler Higbee will be staying in to block after ranking first among tight ends in run-block snaps (390) and fourth in pass-block snaps (93) last year. If that’s the case, Harris could assume a bigger role than many anticipate in this offense, especially in the deep passing game. At his age and advanced injury history, DeSean Jackson can’t be counted on to carry this role for a full 17 games, and Tutu Atwell at his weight would be an even bigger outlier than Harris. In his final season at UCF, Harris secured 50% of his deep targets (18) for four touchdowns and a 112.3 passer rating. When a player with Harris’s raw traits booms, the sound is deafening and glorious. Roster him with the final pick of your redraft squads and be ahead of the curve before the preseason highlight reels are set on repeat. — Derek Brown

Xavier Jones, RB

Post-hype sleeper Tyler Higbee was heavily debated here, but the more unheralded Jones is an intriguing late-round get. Undrafted out of SMU, he possesses prototype size at 5-foot-11 208 pounds and scored a ridiculous 23 times in his senior season with the Mustangs in 2019. His athletic profile and speed dimensions underwhelm on paper, but his strong forward lean, break-tackle ability and useful hands are notable characteristics. 

Jones played exclusively on special teams last season. However, with a solid camp/preseason, he — as many Rams insiders have already reported — is in a prime spot to earn a 25-30% snap share functioning as the second fiddle to Henderson. If a castoff isn’t plucked off the street and Jones does indeed sew up RB2 duties, he would be highly rosterable in deeper formats. Surprises pop up randomly every year in fantasy. Jones, similar to James Robinson before him, has a shot to be the next impactful UDFA. — Brad Evans

Best Bets for the Rams 2021

(Use the FTN Prop Shop to uncover the best lines across legal sportsbooks) 

Cooper Kupp OVER 6 receiving touchdowns (-125, DraftKings)

As an adjunct to Brad’s love for Matthew Stafford’s touchdown prop below, this line for Kupp is too low. Kupp hit six touchdowns in a half-season in 2018 and then scored 10 in 2019. — Derek Brown

Matthew Stafford OVER 26.5 passing TDs (-149, PointsBet)

A full three TDs below what other ‘books are offering, this is a gift from the gambling gods. McVay’s brilliant schematics combined with dependable weapons point to at least 28-30 passing TDs for Stafford in SoCal. — Brad Evans

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