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PFF grades: LA should be confident if Russ Yeast must start in wildcard

Jordan Fuller left Week 18 with an ankle injury, thrusting Russ Yeast into action

Cleveland Browns v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Week 18 went just about as well as the Los Angeles Rams could have hoped for entering their regular season finale against the San Francisco 49ers. Sean McVay rested LA’s key starters—including Aaron Donald, Matthew Stafford, Kyren Williams, Cooper Kupp, and Ernest Jones—and still managed a road win in Santa Clara. By taking down its NFC West divisional rival, the Rams have secured the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs and will take on the Detroit Lions in the wildcard round this upcoming weekend.

But before we turn the page to the postseason, let’s take a look at who fared well on an individual level in terms of PFF grades against the 49ers:

Top five grades on offense:

1 - Brycen Hopkins, TE: 82.2

There has maybe been no bigger mystery across the Rams’ roster since Super Bowl LVI in how the franchise has not gotten more out of Brycen Hopkins. When he’s on the field and given opportunities he tends to make plays, and i’s possible that he can be a difference maker for another team in 2024. By hauling in two receptions for 47 yards (long of 29), Hopkins made the most of his “audition”.

2 - Carson Wentz, QB: 80.8

Wentz willed the Rams to victory in this one. The broadcast announced that his 17 rushing attempts were the most by a Rams QB since 1950, and he accumulated 56 yards and a touchdown on those carries. He also completed 17 of 24 passes for 163 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception that was deflected at the line of scrimmage.

What does the future have in store for Wentz? Could he return to Los Angeles to backup Stafford in 2024, or did he show enough to warrant a potential starting job somewhere else?

3 - Coleman Shelton, C: 77.7

Shelton played a clean game in pass protection and did not allow a pressure. The offensive line overall allowed only four pressures: three by Alaric Jackson (mostly against Chase Young) and one by left guard Steve Avila.

4 - Davis Allen, TE: 73.7

Los Angeles involved rookie tight end Davis Allen early and often. He was given several catch and run opportunities and totaled four receptions for 25 yards. Allen is a natural catcher of the football, which he displayed when given the chance in the preseason.

Tyler Higbee injured his shoulder in Week 17 against the Giants. Will he be able to return for the postseason, or will we see more of Allen?

5 - Kevin Dotson, RG: 73.6

Dotson is a member of this top five nearly every week. He’s proven to be one of the best and most consistent guards in all of football. He played 23 snaps before being replaced by Tremayne Anchrum.

Other notes on offense:

Tremayne Achrum played at right guard in replacement of Dotson. While he finished with the lowest offensive grade at 48.6, he earned a very good pass blocking grade of 83. 5(highest of any Ram in this game). Anchrum seemingly struggled in run blocking and earned a lowly mark of 43.2.

Top five grades on defense:

1 - Russ Yeast, DB: 79.1

Jordan Fuller suffered an ankle injury last week against the New York Giants but managed to suit up for San Francisco. He played 12 snaps on defense before being ruled out for the remainder of the game with either the same or a different ankle injury. That thrust second-year safety Russ Yeast into action, and he rose to the occasion.

Yeast broke up two deep passes late in the game while LA was defending a one-point lead. Completing either of those passes would have put San Francisco in likely field goal territory. He also finished with six tackles.

2 - Jake Hummel, MLB: 76.1

Hummel appeared on only 17 snaps but made his presence felt. He was targeted once in coverage and allowed a catch for only one yard and a PFF coverage grade of 76.0. He fared much better than his middle linebacker counterpart, Christian Rozeboom, who was graded at 35.7 and the second-lowest player on the defense in Week 18.

3 - Bobby Brown, NT: 72.7

The Rams will need a strong performance from Brown next week against the Lions in order to slow down Detroit’s physical running game. Brown proved against the 49ers that he excels in that department. He finished with a run stop and two total tackles on 24 snaps.

4 - Byron Young, OLB: 72.4

Byron Young led LA in total pressures in this game with four. Kobie Turner, Michael Hoecht, and Jonah Williams all had three. Trent Williams played about a dozen snaps for San Francisco at left tackle, and then you could feel Young come on after that point. He had several well-timed hits on Sam Darnold to force incompletions.

5 - Ahkello Witherspoon, CB: 71.5

While you can debate how strong of a 2023 season Witherspoon has had and whether he should come back on a new contract next season, he’s still the best outside corner that the Rams have currently. He played 49 snaps on the game (second behind only Hoecht at 50), so it’s good he came away without any bumps or bruises.

Witherspoon was targeted five times in coverage and allowed just three catches for 17 yards and a passer rating of 66.3.

Other notes on defense:

If Fuller ends up missing the opening postseason matchup in Detroit, the Rams could be thin in the safety room. While Yeast inspired confidence in this game, rookie Jason Taylor did not. He was the lowest graded player on the Rams defense in this game at 28.6.