Los Angeles Rams Season Preview – OwnersBox
Head Coach: Sean McVay
General Manager: Les Snead
2020 Regular Season Record: 10-6
2020 Result: Lost in Divisional Round to Green Bay Packers
SuperBowl: 1 (2000)
Story of the Offseason: The New QB
Head Coach Sean McVay leads the Los Angeles Rams into the 2021 season with a new quarterback at the helm and the highest expectations since Kurt Warner and the Greatest Show on Turf led the Rams to a Super Bowl in 2000.
Matt Stafford is here, Rams fans. Back in January the Rams traded Jared Goff, a 2022 1st Round Pick, a 2023 1st Round Pick, and a 2021 3rd Round Pick to the Detroit Lions in exchange for new franchise quarterback Matt Stafford. The Rams have felt a QB away from being an elite NFL team for years now, and Matt Stafford may push the Rams over the edge from pretender to true contender.
LAR now have no 1st Round Picks in 2020, 2021 2022, or 2023 as they exchanged these picks in deals for Matt Stafford and Jalen Ramsey; the lack of 1st round picks means the window is now for the Rams to win, they are all in for the next 6 years with Matt Stafford. Matt Stafford arrives in the Los Angeles with a chance to forge a HOF legacy during the second half of his career.
The Rams Offense
The Rams’ offense is poised to be much more efficient with Matt Stafford than they were with Jared Goff running the show. Matt Stafford has plenty of weapons with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, and veteran free agent signing DeSean Jackson at WR, Tyler Higbee at tight end, and Darrell Henderson Jr. at running back. Unfortunately, the Rams lost standout running back Cam Akers for the season to an offseason training Achilles injury; this is a concern, but analytics show Darrell Henderson Jr. was more efficient than Cam Akers during the 2020 season.
The Rams also unfortunately lost athletic tight end Gerald Everett to the divisional rival Seattle Seahawks; but were able to replace Everett in the draft with 4th round pick Jacob Harris. Los Angeles also added speedy wide receiver Tutu Attwell in the 2nd round of the draft to add depth behind Woods, Kupp, Jefferson, Jackson.
LAR’s offensive line is made up of left tackle Andrew Whitworth, right tackle Rob Havenstein, guards David Edwards and Austin Corbett, and center Austin Blythe. The Rams’ offensive line unit is ranked 8th by Pro Football Focus heading into the 2021 season with the caveat of the lack of depth behind the starters, which is a cause for concern.
The Rams Defense
The Los Angeles Rams are widely considered to have the best defense in the NFL. While this defensive unit lost defensive coordinator Brandon Staley who switched dressing rooms in SoFi Stadium to become head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, the defense is still lead by two of the best defenders in the NFL in All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald and All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Los Angeles also re-signed standout linebacker Leonard Floyd to a new 4-year contract. The Rams defense should continue to be a dominant force, and the driving force behind the Rams’ Super Bowl aspirations.
Game by game schedule Win/Loss prediction:
Week 1: vs. Bears
Week 2: at Colts
Week 3: vs. Buccaneers
Week 4: vs. Cardinals
Week 5: at Seahawks
Week 6: at Giants
Week 7: vs. Lions
Week 8: at Texans
Week 9: vs. Titans
Week 10: at 49ers
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: at Packers
Week 13: vs. Jaguars
Week 14: at Cardinals
Week 15: vs. Seahawks
Week 16: at Vikings
Week 17: at Ravens
Week 18: vs. 49ers
Predicted Record: 12-5
With a 12-5 record, the Rams are near playoff locks, with possibly a Super Bowl appearance on the horizon. My prediction on wins and losses throughout there schedule demonstrates my confidence in the Rams at home at SoFi Stadium, with only one predicted home loss to the Buccaneers, but also my trepidation to back the Rams on the road at Seattle, San Francisco, Green Bay, and Baltimore.
Los Angeles should be in direct competition with the 49ers and maybe the Seahawks for the NFC West division crown. The NFC West is so strong and the rest of the NFC is so weak that it is easy to foresee the second and third place teams in the NFC West claiming two of the three Wild Card spots in the NFC playoffs.
Do not sleep on the Rams’ chances of making a run at a Super Bowl appearance as Shaun McVay, Matt Stafford, and the number one defense in the NFL will certainly be a tough out. I predict the Rams
Fantasy Preview & Prediction
Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams
Matthew Stafford has a track record of being one of the most consistent quarterbacks for fantasy purposes over the last decade plus – and that was with a subpar Lions offense. While he did have Megatron Calvin Johnson at WR for the first few years of his career, in recent years Stafford’s best weapons have been Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay, but overall the offense has subpar talent and culture. In Los Angeles, Stafford is on an offense run by Sean McVay and he has great weapons in Woods, Kupp, Higbee, and Henderson.
Although the offense will likely be run-first while leaning on the team’s elite defense, Stafford is still a lock to be drafted as a back-end QB1 in 2021 and has one of the safest floors outside of the elite running QBs. Expect 4300 yards and 30 TDs.
Darrell Henderson Jr., RB
Following the devastating injury to Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson takes over as the bell cow running back for the Los Angeles Rams backfield. There are inklings that the Rams will bring in a free agent for depth, perhaps Le’Veon Bell or Adrian Peterson. Either way there isn’t much threat to Darrell Henderson’s lead back role with LAR. Darrell Henderson will be a high upside RB2 for fantasy purposes in 2021, with the potential for 250+ carries.
As the Los Angeles Rams defense keeps the team in low scoring games, the game script late game will favour the Rams leaning on Darrell Henderson to control the clock late in games. Draft Darrell Henderson with confidence in the 4th round of fantasy drafts in 2021.
Robert Woods & Cooper Kupp, WR
Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp have been two of the most consistent WRs for fantasy over the last 4 years.The dynamic duo have had tremendous fantasy seasons with sub-par QB play from Jared Goff, so with Matt Stafford now running the offense, the pair have the potential for career best fantasy seasons. Both should be considered WR2s, with Woods with a higher floor, with a range of outcomes of WR6 overall to WR20 overall and Kupp with higher ceiling of being a top 5 WR this year but with no floor at all due to the consistent risk of injury.
I would draft either of the Rams’ WR with confidence in the 4th round of fantasy drafts this season. In Ownersbox Weekly fantasy contests, I will be targeting Kupp over Woods for the week-to-week upside.
Tyler Higbee, TE
With Gerald Everett signing with NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks, there an additional 62 TE targets available in the Rams offense this season. Moreover, in the 8 games since 2017 that Higbee has played without Everett in the last 4 seasons, Higbee has averaged 15.68 PPR points per game. Higbee is one of my primary targets at TE this season, and you shouldn’t let him fall past the 10th round of your fantasy draft as he could be a league winner from the TE spot.
Best of the Rest of the Rams
Wide receivers Van Jefferson, DeSean Jackson, and Tutu Atwell, tight end Jacob Harris, and running back Xavier Jones all have the potential to contribute this season for the Rams. Of this group Van Jefferson stands out as the likely WR3 on the Rams offense and in a great position to be a fantasy sleeper this season. I’d recommend drafting Van Jefferson with the last pick in your fantasy draft or adding him to your watch list for Week 1 waivers. Van Jefferson could quickly become a favourite in OwnersBox Weekly contests this fall.
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