Look, the Los Angeles Rams mortgaged the future to win right away. And guess what? It worked. You can’t take the rings and the parade back. But now they have some decisions to make. They already let Bobby Wagner walk and now there are rumors of a Jalen Ramsey trade. That feels like a lot more than just “cleaning up after the big party” but maybe they do believe they can trim some fat and get right back to competing? I mean, they won on the backs of Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp so it’s not crazy to suggest they could do it again before the wheels fall completely off.
With this series, we are taking a look at each NFL team to gauge the direction of the offense from a dynasty fantasy football perspective. Is this team gearing up for a Super Bowl run? Are they in the midst of a rebuild? Are they considering blowing it up? We’ll take all of that into account as well as the current contracts, upcoming free agents, and 2023 NFL draft class to give you our best recommendations on how to handle these weapons in your dynasty fantasy football leagues.
BUY - Attempt to acquire this player at or slightly above market value
HOLD - The player is likely more valuable than the market indicates. Hold them if you have them or try to acquire them at a discount.
SELL - The perceived value for this player is higher than the projected remaining value in your average dynasty league. Cash out now.
SELL/DROP - Depending on the depth of the league, always try to sell guys before dropping. But this player is likely not worth the bench spot he’s occupying so you might need to just drop them.
*Contract information is proved courtesy of Spotrac.com*
Los Angeles Rams Quarterbacks
The Rams have one quarterback under contract for 2023
Matthew Stafford - age 35
Contract: Matt Stafford is under contract through 2026. There is no reasonable move to cut or trade Stafford in 2023 as the dead cap would be nearly $50 million with only $8 million in savings and that’s with accounting magic.
Outlook: Stafford was the hero in 2021 when they won the Super Bowl but went to zero pretty quickly when he got hurt in 2022. Now a lot of folks seem to be counting him out, asking if he might even retire.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - I’ve seen some fantasy gamers out there acting like Matthew Stafford is dead when the reality is he just got hurt. Not only did he not need surgery but he’s already announced that he’s not retiring and he’s coming back to play ball in 2023. He’s probably the cheapest QB available in your fantasy leagues that has MVP upside and that goes double for superflex leagues. Just make sure you are in a position to win now if you trade for him because he is 35 years old with an extensive injury history so he probably only has so many years left in the tank.
Free Agency/Draft Outlook
The Rams traded their 2023 first to Detroit as part of the Stafford deal so they really aren’t in a position to draft a top QB even if they wanted to. The reality is that they probably just bring back one of John Wolford or Bryce Perkins to be the backup and they move forward with Stafford. Perhaps they can convince Baker Mayfield to come back on a cheap deal, though he did say that he believes he is a starting quarterback.
Los Angeles Rams Running Backs
The Rams have two running backs under contract and one signed to a reserves/future deal.
Cam Akers - age 23
Contract: Cam Akers is signed through 2023.
Outlook: The hype was high for Cam Akers going into 2021 before he suffered a devastating Achilles tendon injury. They aren’t easy to bounce back from but Akers seemed to have pulled it off and he finished 2022 with a BANG with back to back to back 100+ yard rushing games.
Dynasty Recommendation: BUY - The hardest part about dynasty is that you can’t buy players based on the “market sentiment” a lot of times - one person in your league has Cam Akers and THEIR feelings are what matter. But, if they are still down on him after the injury or their feelings are in line with the market, you should see if you can pry him away. The timeline and performance for Cam Akers honestly isn’t far off from what we see with major injuries of this caliber - it takes roughly nine months to a year to come back and they often start off slow in their return. But the person who has Akers now already did the hard part. They carried the water while we waited for him to recover. Now we essentially have a 23-year-old RB who is rattling off 100-yard rushing games again. I’ll buy that.
Kyren Williams - age 22
Contract: Kyren Williams was a fifth round pick in 2022 so he’s under contract through 2025.
Outlook: Kyren Williams is the textbook example of a guy whose agent should have found a way for him to skip the combine. He was projected as a top three back but then showed up at the combine under 200 pounds while running a 4.64. You can be undersized and you can be slow but you really can’t be both. His stock plummeted from there.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - The combine obviously isn’t everything - far from it as we’ve seen. But we’ve also seen this guy play at the NFL level and it wasn’t terribly impressive as he was under four yards per carry on 35 attempts. You might be able to sell him to the Cam Akers owner as a handcuff or anyone that thinks he is the heir apparent to that job but I personally don’t think that happens. He seems destined to be a depth guy who plays special teams.
FREE AGENTS: Malcolm Brown
RESERVE/FUTURE: Ronnie Rivers
Free Agency/Draft Outlook
The Rams obviously need to do something here - can’t just roll into the season with two guys even if Ronnie Rivers is on the roster. The question is whether they make a serious pick and attempt to find the long term replacement for Cam Akers (who is an unrestricted free agent next year) or whether they just add depth. They could also sign a complimentary piece to Akers in the form of a pass-down back like a Kareem Hunt or a Samaje Perine. That would not be ideal for Akers’s value.
Los Angeles Rams Wide Receivers
The Rams have six wide receivers under contract for 2023 with four signed to reserve/future deals.
Cooper Kupp - age 29
Contract: Kupp is under contract through 2026. There is no benefit in cutting him until at least 2025 though a trade with a post June-1 designation isn’t out of the question.
Outlook: Cooper Kupp is one of the very best in the business - no doubt about that. He turns 30 this year but the great ones have shown they can continue to put up numbers at that age and beyond. For guys like Jerry Rice, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith Sr., it went way beyond. But the Rams will inevitably have the same decision that you as a dynasty gamer will have - are we actually competing to win now or should we cash out while we can?
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - This one is a symbolic “hold” because we know exactly what to do with this type of guy. If your team is in a position to compete now, you want him. If you are playing the long game or straight blowing it up, you are selling. The good news for Kupp is that his game doesn’t rely on size or speed (his 4.62 forty is bottom fourth for the position) and guys that win with route running, positioning, and hands usually translate better in the later parts of their career (think Anquan Boldin).
Allen Robinson - age 29
Contract: Allen Robinson is under contract through 2024 with void years attached after that. It’s not realistic to release him this off-season given the cap implications. And, even with a trade (which would be tough to pull off) they would be stuck with $11.2 mil in dead cap.
Outlook: Most of us were expecting a bounce back year for Allen Robinson after signing with the Rams but it ended up looking more like his last season with the Bears. Perhaps this is just the guy he is now but it was also a disastrous year for the Rams in general so maybe he can bounce back.
Dynasty Recommendation: HOLD - There really is no other option with this guy. In a deep enough league maybe you do just have to drop him to make your rookie picks. But in most formats the name value is just enough to hold onto but not enough to trade. In the spots where I have Robinson I’m just going to park him on the bench and see what happens. The one silver lining for Robinson is that he did quietly lead the team in end zone targets with 11 despite only playing in 10 games (the next highest were Tyler Higbee and Cooper Kupp with six each). He only caught three of those targets but 11 end zone targets was actually top 10 in the league.
Tutu Atwell - age 23
Contract: Tutu Atwell is under contract through 2024.
Outlook: The fantasy community was skeptical of Tutu Atwell because his profile suggested he might be used as a “field stretcher” which is boom/bust for fantasy football. Well guess what? He has the highest aDot on the team at 17.9 yards and is primarily used as a field stretcher. So the community was right to fade him.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - The ability to use your speed to “take the top” off defenses and open things up underneath is great in real-life football. But we don’t get any points for that in fantasy football. For players like that to have any sort of consistency week to week, they truly need to be elite and develop a well-rounded route tree. Atwell is a tough sell at this point but I’m not sure he’ll ever be more than a speedy decoy.
Van Jefferson - age 26
Contract: Van Jefferson is under contract through 2023 then he’s an unrestricted free agent next year.
Outlook: We kind of knew what Van Jefferson was based on Sean McVay’s comments when he was drafted. He basically said he was a coach’s son (Van’s father Shawn Jefferson is the WR coach for the Cardinals) that can play all three positions (meaning split end, flanker, and slot). To me that, along with his profile and draft capital, screamed “next man up”. And that’s largely what he’s been.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - Again, this is another valuable real life NFL piece. Instead of having a backup split end and a backup flanker and a backup slot you have one versatile “next man up” that can play any position if someone goes down. But in fantasy football we don’t really want guys who do a few things well but nothing great. That’s how you get Zach Pascal or Gabriel Davis. We want megastars. He has enough name recognition that you can probably pawn him off in a deal.
Ben Skowronek - age 25
Contract: Ben Skowronek is under contract through 2024. He can be released with $40K in dead cap, just under a million in savings.
Outlook: Assuming he recovers well from his calf injury, he has a pretty good chance to hang around on the team as a depth piece though his limited dead cap does put him on the roster bubble.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - With all the injuries this year we got a ton of games where he was playing 80%+ of the snaps - sometimes as high as 100%. And he basically had one good game vs. the Raiders and his only touchdown came on a random end around. He only needs to be held in the deepest of leagues.
Lance McCutcheon - age 23
Contract: Lance McCutcheon was signed as an undrafted free agent so he’s under contract through 2024. He can be released with zero dead cap and $870K in savings.
Outlook: He was simply signed as a depth piece and mostly played special teams.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - Given they have Skowronek as a depth WR that doesn’t return punts or kicks, McCutcheon has an uphill battle to make the team at all.
FREE AGENTS: Brandon Powell
Free Agency/Draft Outlook:
It looks like a lot of guys under contract but a lot of them are hanging at the fringe of the roster. If everyone comes back healthy, they honestly have what they need to get through the year though they might want to upgrade over Allen Robinson or Van Jefferson in the starting lineup. Brandon Powell as a free agent is interesting because he returned both punts and kicks so, if he doesn’t end up coming back, they’ll need to dedicate roster spots to that. Not everyone can do both which does make him a valuable asset.
Los Angeles Rams Tight Ends
The Rams have two tight ends under contract and two signed to reserve/future contracts
Tyler Higbee - age 30
Contract: Tyler Higbee is under contract for 2023 then he’s an unrestricted free agent.
Outlook: Tyler Higbee had arguably the worst TE6 PPR season in recent memory. Not just because he didn’t score a ton of points but he was terribly inconsistent. His good performances were front-loaded at the early part of the season then he put together six games with two or fewer catches (one with zero where he didn’t even get a target). Of course he would then have three touchdowns over a two-game span to trick you into thinking he was startable Weeks 15-16 before going back to disappointing fantasy gamers.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL - Him finishing TE6 is an absolute blessing in disguise. Go out and sell him for anything at all you can get. People continue to get fooled by this player year after year after year and 2023 won’t be any different.
Brycen Hopkins - age 25
Contract: Brycen Hopkins is under contract through 2023.
Outlook: Hopkins is your prototypical two-way backup tight end. If the starter gets hurt, he comes in and gets the job done but he’s not flashy in any way. If we are going to roster backup tight ends, we need a reason to believe they have some pass-catching upside.
Dynasty Recommendation: SELL/DROP - He does not need to be rostered in most formats.
Free Agency/Draft Outlook
Since Tyler Higbee is 30 and both tight ends are set to be unrestricted free agents in 2024, I would not be surprised if the Rams grabbed a tight end in this year’s draft. It’s rare that teams draft tight ends to start right away so it would fit the typical timing to draft a guy and have him work his way in as the TE2 for a year or two before taking over (see Cole Kmet with Jimmy Graham, Dallas Goedert with Zach Ertz, Trey McBride with Zach Ertz etc). If that is the case, we just have to hope that he proves he’s ready to start in 2024 when Higbee is a free agent.
Follow Andrew Cooper on Twitter @CoopAFiasco for more NFL and fantasy football insights and stay tuned as we hit on all 32 NFL teams in this series leading into NFL free agency!
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