Head coach- Sean McVay
Offensive coaching philosophy- Balanced, short passes, hurry up offense to dictate tempo, outside zone run scheme
What to expect- McVay likes to use 11 personnel aka 3 WR sets. However he’s indicated possibly using more 2 RB sets after the Rams drafted Darrell Henderson. McVay also loves play action passes and giving what the defense gives him. If they stack the box to stop the run he’ll opt for a play action pass. If they lay back he’ll call a run. He likes to keep the formation the same and vary the plays from that same look- not giving the defense any tells- a trick he learned from Jon Gruden.
Quarterback- Jared Goff’s turnaround under McVay has been nothing short of incredible. It seems likes eons ago, but it’s only been 2 years since his rookie season under prior head coach Jeff Fisher. He looked lost like a deer in headlights. In fairness to coach Fisher many QBs look that way their rookie years. In 2019 Goff passed for 4688 yards and threw 32 TDs. He doesn’t offer much for rushing stats- he’s not very mobile. As good as he’s looked a Super Bowl hangover here is very possible. Health to key starters could affect Goff negatively in 2019.
Running Back- Only a few days ago the million dollar question for many analysts was where in the 1st round to draft Todd Gurley? Gurley has been a force since McVay took over the Rams. Note I said most- but NOT all and certainly NOT me.
On June 2nd Matthew Berry of ESPN tweeted: On this date back in 1925, Lou Gehrig got the start ahead of Wally Pipp and thus the “getting Wally Pipp-ed” expression was born. Who is your biggest concern for someone who could get “Wally Pipp-ed” in the NFL this season & go from starter to forgotten? I’ll start: LeSean McCoy. (note Matthew also mentioned Gurley farther down in his same tweet. Good job man.)
My response on June 2nd: That's easy- Todd Gurley. The Rams not only matched an offer to keep backup RB Malcolm Brown- they traded up in the draft to take RB Darrell Henderson. In the NFC Championship game that went to OT vs NO he had 4 rushing attempts. In a very close Super Bowl he only had 10.
On June 3rd Ian Rappaport tweeted Todd Gurley’s days as an every down bellcow RB are probably over.
Only then did the Fantasy experts hear the fire alarm and revise their expectations. Remember, the Rams signed Gurley to a record contract ($45 million in guarantees last year) & YET 1 year later they match on offer for backup RB Malcolm Brown AND traded up in the draft for rookie RB Darrell Henderson. Doesn’t that seem odd? I mean they’re paying the guy 45 million- you’d think if he was healthy they’d give him the rock all day, every day, and 100 times on Sunday. They already said they’re going to limit his touches this year. They don’t want him wearing down like last year. Best case Gurley is in a RBBC. Worst case he could end up on the PUP list or even worse than that play and get 5 rushes for 30 yds or 12 rushes for 60 yds each week with lousy stats. The Rams offseason moves are telling. Gurley is a mid round gamble imo. No higher than #20 RB and maybe even worse than that.
So if Gurley goes down who do you place your bets on? The Rams traded up to take Rookie Darrell Henderson. They view him as their Alvin Kamara. He’s explosive, a little undersized at 208 lbs, but powerful for his size. He doesn’t just run by tacklers he can run through them too. It’s unlikely he gets a full workload even if Gurley goes down. He probably wouldn’t hold up, however he’s electric. He reminds me of RBs Chris Johnson and Dalvin Cook. Henderson has good hands too- so the 3rd down passing work should be mostly his. The outside run zone scheme is a perfect fit for him. He ran in the same offesnive scheme in college. The other candidate is Malcolm Brown. (Note that CJ Anderson left in free agency for Detroit.) Brown has more size 225 lbs compared to Henderson 208 lbs. They like Brown’s all around game including special teams. He can be had late as of this writing (most analysts are on the Henderson bandwagon) and should get the goal line carries if Gurley goes down. I suspect if Gurley goes down it will still be a RBBC with Brown and Henderson. As of this writing July 9th, 2018 my best guess is a 50% RBBC with Gurley and Henderson. That’s the model the Saints used in Alvin Kamara’s rookie year with him and Mark Ingram.
Wide Receiver/Tight End- The Rams use 3 WR sets a lot and spread the stats out. That’s great in the real world, but not as great for fantasy owners. Last year Robert Woods had 86 receptions for 1219 yards with 6 TDs. Brandin Cooks had 80 catches for 1204 yards and 5 TDs. The hope is they put up similar numbers, but if Gurley isn’t the same player it hurts this offense. Cooper Kupp tore his knee late in the year. While many analysts seem bullish on him, I know from personal experience knee injuries are tough to recover from. I doubt Kupp can comeback and make an impact due to the demands of playing WR. Quick cuts, changing direction, starting and stopping, all of those aren’t good for knees. If you want a sleeper- Josh Reynolds seem like the guy who benefits the most if Kupp can’t go or suffers a setback. He’s thin, but has more size than Woods or Cooks and can be had much cheaper. McVay hasn’t used his TE’s much. He said he wants to get them more involved- we’ll see. Gerald Everett was a force in college. Scouting comps are Jordan Reed. He hurt his shoulder last year, but he’s healthy now and I think he has a shot of taking the next step and surprising a lot of folks.
Offensive Line- Below Average Andrew Whitworth is 38 and wants to give it another go. That’s the good news. The bad news is he’s probably the best linemen the Rams have. How much does he have left in the tank? Center John Sullivan wasn’t resigned and left guard Rodger Saffold left for Tennessee in free agency. Scouts say this line isn’t very athletic. They could get beat with a good pass rush. Goff better get the ball out quick. The Rams used their limited draft capital over the last few drafts to take some linemen with mid and late round picks. They’ll need some of those to pan out. If anything happens to Whitworth this offense takes another hit. Sooner or later enough bodyblows sends you to the canvas staring at the lights.
Schedule- OK not great- Tampa, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Arizona twice is good- Chicago Cleveland, Carolina, Dallas, not so good.
Bye- Week 9
Playoff Schedule- weeks 14-17 OK not great- vs Seattle, @Dallas, @San Francisco, Arizona Seattle and Arizona aren’t the worst matchups in the world. Dallas‘s line will be tough. If Nick Bosa can stay healthy the 49’ers pass rush could be a problem. How does that jewelry store jingle go? Oh yeah he went to Jared!
Sleeper- Josh Reynolds. Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson- I’m not a fan of Kupp this year or Gurley’s price tag. The risk is very real. If Gurley breaks down or is put on the PUP list Brown could get the most valuable carries on this offense. The ones going over the goal line from the one yard line. That said, Henderson is more explosive. While volume helps, we also have to consider talent. Henderson jumps off the screen when I watch him. This is the kind of pick that can win your league. Reynolds seems like a good sleeper too. If Kupp can’t make it back he should easily outperform his price tag on draft day.
Undervalued - Gerald Everett has the ability. He might surprise people this year, but there are a lot of mouths to feed on this offense. In deeper leagues/ drafts he’s a late round dart throw in the tight end position because of his talent. The question is will Sean McVay use him?
Overvalued- Jared Goff- I don’t care what the name says on the jersey Gurley is not the same player he was two years ago and if the offensive line takes a step back it’s hard to see Goff living up to the #12 QB ranking on Fantasy Pros
Bust- Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp- In a 12 team league- spending a the 1st or 2nd rd pick on Gurley makes him a bust. He’s got to make it to the 4th or 5th for me to even consider taking him and even then I’d probably prefer other players. He’ll most likely be long gone by then. There’s always at least one owner who only sees the player’s stats and not the player he is going forward. Those past stats don’t count in 2019 folks. Kupp I’m avoiding altogether. Let someone else draft a WR coming off major knee surgery late in 2018.
Bottom Line- The workhorse days of Todd Gurley appear to be over. There’s no cure for arthritis people and the offseason moves the Rams brass made are telling. The offensive line should take a step back this year. Both of these seem like red flags for Goff’s stock. Still it’s hard to bet totally against McVay. The turnaround he did with Goff after his rookie year was amazing. Josh Reynolds could be a sneaky pick on draft day if Kupp isn’t ready. He can be had very late. If you’re going to place your bets on a Rams player- Darrell Henderson seems like a good bet. He could be a league winner if things break right. He’s a better option than Todd Gurley because of a reduced price tag. He’s also healthy. Malcolm Brown could be a factor as well and he’ll be much cheaper. However, both still would benefit if the line does well. That remains a concern.