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NFL Fantasy Football: How the Rams’ week three performance affects fantasy

The third preseason game is supposed to be the best preview of regular season expectations. So, what did the Rams show us?

Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay might have over-reacted just a bit to the injury news from New England and Kansas City this weekend. In a bid to keep his team from suffering such an impactful injury, he sat several offensive starters like Todd Gurley and Cooper Kupp, as well as nine of his projected starting defenders. 

Then he watched his starting quarterback get clobbered on three consecutive drives. Fortunately, the only thing that suffered on Jared Goff was probably a bit of ego. 

Things started off well enough for Goff and the Rams’ offense. He looked as sharp as he did last week in extended work against Oakland. The Rams had marched to the Chargers’ 8-yard line when things suddenly turned sour. Goff never saw Joey Bosa burst through the right side of the line, and his strip-sack led to a 76-yard fumble recovery by Melvin Ingram. 

On the next series, Goff got hit again. He felt the rush coming this time and rushed a throw that sailed over Sammy Watkins’ head and into cornerback Jason Verrett’s hands for an interception. 

Goff dragged himself out for a third series. It looked like McVay had already shut him down as he handed the ball off on nine consecutive running plays before throwing on a third-and-long. Again, Goff got hit hard. He completed the pass but did not convert the first down. His night was done on that note. 

The Rams running game looked solid even with Gurley on the sideline. Malcolm Brown led the way with 44 yards on nine carries. Greg Zuerlein had a 57-yarder among his three field goals.

Predictably, the Chargers starting offense carved up the Rams reserves early in the game. 

What did we learn? 

Goff apologists will point to an offensive line breakdown, miscommunication with a new receiver, and the fact he felt the pressure coming and got rid of the ball as reasons for continued optimism. Goff looked much better in the first two games and started off well against the Chargers, too. I am still not touching him in the draft unless I am desperate for a number two late in the last round. He is, however, a better bet than last year and is worth monitoring.

Watkins watched his only target sail over his head and Cooper Kupp sat out. Robert Woods caught both of his targets before exiting the game. I am very leery of Sammy Watkins’ role on the Rams. Of course, he is always a deep threat and could have some good games, but I think he will serve more to pull safeties away from Kupp and Woods. 

His ADP of WR26 may be worth the bet in the long run, but I would not expect to see much return in the early weeks. Kupp could prove to be the bargain of the bunch at his current 12th round ADP. He appears to be the favorite target of Goff and no matter what you think of the quarterback, a favorite target will see a lot of passes thrown his way. I believe Kupp will be closer to a WR26 than Watkins. Woods will benefit from Watkins’ presence, too, but I do not know that there are enough targets outside of Gurley and Kupp to make him or the returning Tavon Austin more than a handcuff option. 

Speaking of Gurley, in what everyone describes as a “bad” season, he finished as the RB20 in 2016. An improved Goff, better receiving threats, and his own health justify his current ADP of RB10. He will be the workhorse back. In PPR leagues, he is a top-five pick. 

Those other fantasy guys

None of the Rams tight ends is registering an ADP and with good reason. They simply are not very involved in the passing game. 

Greg Zuerlein had a nice season last year and is making every kick so far in preseason. I am not sure if the improved offense will give the kicker enough opportunity to be fantasy relevant. No one else is either as he is virtually undrafted to date. 

The defense is a big question mark. With Wade Phillips taking over, I would be hesitant to bet against some serious improvement, but we have yet to see the team on the field. Holding out nine starters this week seems unwise, but the players insist their practice reps are enough to prepare for the regular season. They are a big unknown, so I would wait and gauge their streaming potential after the draft. 

So… that’s that!

The Rams appear to be on the right track with their new coaching staff. But coaching staffs don’t score fantasy points, do they? Other than the stud running back, Cooper Kupp and Watkins are the only two players to think about. 

If I think of something different than what I just wrote, I’ll write something else. Check back with us at RealSport frequently to make sure you don’t miss anything. 

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Pat Opperman

Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.

NFL Fantasy Football: How the Rams’ week three performance affects fantasy

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