In a little more than three weeks, the Los Angeles Rams will head north to face the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football to kick off the 2016 regular season.
With an eye toward that game and beyond, here’s a look at the Rams’ fantasy football outlook in 2016.
Todd Gurley, Todd Gurley and Todd Gurley
Any discussion of the Rams’ fantasy fortunes begins with the Rams’ star running back. SB Nation’s fantasy gurus had him as the unanimous top fantasy back for traditional leagues and nearly the same in leagues that give points per rush. Overall, he came in at #4 in the SB Nation Top 150.
There’s no doubt he has the talent to justify that kind of ranking and at just 22-years old coming into his second NFL season, his first fully healthy campaign, there’s little argument that the expectations being placed on him are unfair.
The question isn’t one on Gurley. It’s one on his surroundings. In his final eight games in 2015, Gurley averaged less than 70 yards per game. Worse, in a four-game stretch in the middle of the season, he averaged just 42.75 yards per contest with just two touchdowns in that stretch. Make no mistake about it. That’s not Gurley’s “fault,” per se. It is a fair indication though that defenses began loading up against Gurley and forcing the Rams’ offense to try to beat them elsewhere.
SBN Fantasy Reads
SBN Fantasy Reads
The Rams couldn’t. They lost all four of those games.
So while I understand Gurley being ranked as high as he is, I find it hard to support drafting him fourth overall. In doing so, you’re drafting a degree of the Rams’ offense fourth overall. That’s just not something you can justifiably do, Gurley or not.
On or off with Jared Goff?
The Rams have fully invested their future in the fortunes of rookie QB Jared Goff. Only time will tell if that decision was appropriate. For year one though as he continues to fight for the starting spot over QB Case Keenum to take over 2015’s 32nd-ranked offense in yards gained, Goff isn’t likely to be a plus factor in fantasy. Goff didn’t place in SBN Fantasy’s top 20 rookies, though he was the top rookie QB option:
Jared Goff may be the only fantasy relevant quarterback among the rookies in 2016, and even that may be a generous description of him. Goff will likely be the starter in Los Angeles in Week 1, but it’s difficult to envision him putting up any significant fantasy numbers. Neither the Rams nor coach Jeff Fisher have delivered a fantasy quarterback worth rostering in this decade, and rookie quarterbacks are a big enough risk as it is.
Outside of the headline grabbers in Gurley and Goff, the offense just isn’t a big offer for fantasy players.
Tavon Austin was the only Rams wideout to factor in the WR rankings (#42 traditional, #41 PPR). TE Lance Kendricks was the lowest-ranked tight end on the SBN Fantasy TE board. None of the Rams’ passing target rookies factored on the position boards or the top 20 rookies. Neither Pharoh Cooper nor Mike Thomas made the rookie WR board; TE Tyler Higbee came in at #4 for rookie tight ends.
The Rams, as mentioned, had the NFL’s worst offense in terms of yardage in 2015. As of today, all 11 starters for the Rams’ 2016 offense return from last year’s offense.
The Rams aren’t built to be a fantasy powerhouse. They’re built to play ugly, painful football.
In the end, the Rams aren't really built to win. They're just built to battle. And make it hurt. That's what they're good at.— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) November 8, 2015
The question is if the blueprint from a year ago can produce the results yet heretofore unseen.
In terms of a fantasy preview, it’s hard to buy into it as it stands.