The Los Angeles Rams offense is a juggernaut for fantasy points. On a points per game basis, they finished the 2018 season with the seventh-ranked quarterback, first ranked running back, and three wide receivers inside the top 20. Early rankings suggest that experts believe this trend will continue since Brandin Cooks (WR), Robert Woods (WR), and Cooper Kupp (WR) are ranked 16th, 18th, and 19th respectively on Fantasy Pros. @DFF_Shane, @Willi3Beamen, and I (@FF_TomB) each have a strong opinion on who will rise to score the most points in 2019, and the merits of each are provided below.
Brandin Cooks (@FF_TomB)
Consistency. This has been the hallmark of Cooks’ five-year career in the league.
He has achieved at least 1,000 receiving yards each season since being a rookie. And while this is a feat several receivers have accomplished, Cooks has done it on THREE different teams after being traded from the Saints to the Patriots, and then to the Rams. There is nearly always an adjustment and learning curve when a player switches offenses, but Cooks has been unphased and produced at a high level.
In the Rams offense, he had 80 receptions (14th) on 116 targets (17th) for a 69% catch rate, which is particularly impressive given he had the ninth deepest depth of target (10.4). If uncatchable passes are removed from these targets, he had an 87% catch percentage.
Despite being 5’10” and 190 lbs, he was 11th in the league on contested catches (50% on 32 targets). Given his speed (4.33 40 yard dash), he presents a deadly combination of being among the league leaders in air yards (9th) and yards after the catch (21st). This indicates he is consistently behind defenders and in open space when catching the ball. I was also shocked to see that he was fourth in the league with 15 red zone receptions. While this is certainly a product of the Rams living in the red zone, it also means they scheme for him in that part of the field, and he is consistently winning in tight spaces.
A knock on Cooks has been while he is consistent season over season, he is boom or bust week to week. While his weekly finishes support this claim, I do not consider this to be a downside. The wide receiver position, in general, tends to be less consistent, with many receivers outside the elite tier having down weeks. So if I am anticipating this as an outcome for most options, I will gladly take the player who will win me multiple weeks with monster games. The key here is that Cooks will be available in the 4th round of the draft. Meaning that a team can already have a consistent, elite receiver and two running backs to provide a steady floor each week. This will buoy Cooks’ “bust” games, and his booms will lead to a win.
Robert Woods (@DFF_Shane)
Robert Woods is a player after my own heart. Doubted and disrespected he checks in as the WR19 and as the 41st drafted player in Dynasty Football Factory’s most recent ADP. He is being drafted before Cooper Kupp (WR23) but after well after Brandin Cooks (WR13). Based on their respective ADPs you’d be forgiven if you didn’t realize that Woods outscored Cooks and finished as the WR16 with a 16.6 per game average. Cooks finished right behind him as the Wr17 and 16.2 points per game. I’ve excluded Kupp and 16.9 points per game since he played only eight games in 2018. I understand the reservation in buying in on Woods after his first four seasons in Buffalo where he overwhelmed. You would assume following up his WR18 finish in 2017 with a WR16 finish last year would have allayed reservations, but it appears not.
There’s a narrative that exists that he only thrived last season in Cooper Kupp’s absence, especially since Kupp is perceived to be Jared Goff‘s safety valve. That narrative is wrong. Using the FFStatistics Splits tool shows exactly how wrong. Woods per game PPR scoring increases by just 0.10 fantasy points. His receptions per game, his touchdowns, receptions, targets see an increase of less than one per game, while his market share right near 24%. Woods seasonal projections with and without Kupp by 10.36 fantasy points. The effect Kupp has on Woods falls in the negligible range of outcomes.
In fantasy football, there’s something to be said for the week to week consistency. Woods is not a top tier WR1 but what he is a player that will provide you with 12 to 19 fantasy points every week. He will also sprinkle in WR1 and WR2 weeks for you. Outside of Week 1 and Week 17 last year he scored no lower than 12 fantasy points. That’s fourteen weeks of double-digit fantasy production for those scoring at home. He was able to finish as a top 14 wide receiver on six occasions last year, with five weeks when he scored 19.1 fantasy points or more. Woods provides a perfect blend of consistency and upside.
When your league mates are shooting for the stars, and likely crashing to earth, in the middle of your redraft drafts this summer go ahead and draft Woods. Will he always reach the stars, no? But he’ll at least reach the moon.
Cooper Kupp (@Willi3Beamen)
Red Zone Targets.
Cooper Kupp may as well have a bullseye on his back because when he is healthy, on the field, and near the endzone, Jared Goff can’t help but target what may be his favorite receiver. In Kupp’s short two-year career he has managed to hold a 20% share of the team’s targets. More importantly, of these three receivers, Kupp posted the highest red zone target share (24%), end zone target share (22.7%), and dominator rating (28.4%) in 2018 per playerprofiler.com. Dominator rating indicates the percent of the total team receiving yards and touchdowns, proving how much more effective of an option Kupp has become when the team is in scoring opportunities.
Since Kupp entered the league, he has been a red zone specialist hogging as many targets as he could. In his rookie year (2017), he received an even higher share of the team’s red zone (29.5%) and endzone targets (24%) far eclipsing both Woods and Cooks. Kupp tore his ACL and only started eight games, ending the season with 55 receptions. He was on pace for over 100 receptions for a full 16 game season. This would have been more than Cooks and just short of Woods. He also had a higher catch rate than his teammates and was the only to reach above 70%.
Cooper Kupp plays above 90% of the game out of the slot meaning he will likely be lined up with most teams third string corner. Scouts noted Kupp had one of the best three cones at the combine. With a combination of size (6’2”, 204lbs) and route speed (6.7s 3 cone) in the slot, he can take advantage of undersized and less skilled players to take over a game as we saw in week four against the Vikings (9 rec, 162 yards, two touchdowns).
Though Brandon Cooks is touted as the big play threat on the team with 14.3 career yards per catch, it is important to point out that Kupp’s career yards per catch are about the same at 14.1. But if we dig deeper and look at adjusted yards per attempt per (AYA) receiver, we find Cooper Kupp had the highest AYA in 2018 with 11.45 yards per attempt on only 56 targets. One full yard more than Cooks and two more than Woods. This metric measures yards per attempt while accounting for scoring and turnovers.
All these numbers paint a picture of a receiver whose touches and targets are more valuable to the team than the rest of the position group. When Kupp touches the ball good things happen. Like Brandin Cooks, Kupp holds a fourth-round ADP allowing you to draft elite talent at other positions in the draft and fill your WR 2/3 roster spot with a player that has WR1 upside.
Cooper Kupp only started in six games in 2017 and finished with 62 receptions for 869 yards with five touchdowns. In 2018 he only played eight games but averaged more PPR fantasy points (16.9) than both Cooks and Woods and was on pace for 110 receptions for 1,132 yards and 12 touchdowns which would leave Brandon Cooks in the dust and rival Robert Woods as the Rams number one receiver.
Thanks for reading. Please let us know your thoughts on who the receiver is to own in L.A.