After an amazing Super Bowl LIV that saw resurgent Tom Brady beat the incredible talent of the Kansas City Chiefs, the offseason leading up to the 2021 NFL season has brought excitement to Los Angeles.
When the Los Angeles Rams traded away their former number one pick, Quarterback Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford before the 2021 season, people wondered if it was a trade to unload the stable Goff for a potential risk-reward Stafford.
They understandably had questions such as, did the Rams give too much away to secure the veteran gun-slinger? And, did the trade risk tomorrow’s flexibility for a chance at success today?
But what was evident in the loaded NFC West was that the Rams had to do something to make the offense more explosive to stay competitive. With the Arizona Cardinals having a potential top-10 offense, the consistently strong Seattle Seahawks, and the returning all-stars of the San Francisco 49ers, it was apparent that the Rams needed to add new options to their roster to remain competitive in what is probably the most challenging division.
Fantasy Implications Of The Stafford Trade
The pairing of strong-armed Matthew Stafford with the design and play-calling of Sean McVay could catapult the Rams offense to the stratosphere. Here are some key offensive players to consider drafting or trading for as the season unwinds.
In most leagues, Matthew Stafford was drafted well below his projected top-10 possibility. In fact, in many leagues, he went undrafted before his week 1 performance squarely, putting him in the top rankings for the week.
Owners should see a considerable weekly performance from Stafford as the season continues and he becomes more comfortable in the offensive system at his fingertips. If he’s undrafted, a free agent, or available for a trade, snag him up as quickly as possible before the asking price becomes too much.
Regardless of how Sony Michel works into the offense for the Rams, lead-back Darrell Henderson should be a relevant weekly play. Every year McVay stresses the importance of a run game both for ball control and to set up the destructive capabilities of the play-action and bootlegs that are cornerstones to the passing attack. As a result, Darrell Henderson should be an RB2 or Flex play every week regardless of matchups.
As stable as they come, Robert Woods has been a cornerstone in McVay’s offense, and the strong-armed Stafford should only boost Wood’s upside in Fantasy. Projected in the top-20 preseason rankings, if game 1 is any indication, Woods will be targeted early and often.
Always underappreciated, Kupp is simply one of the best slot receivers in the NFL. A subpar 2020 still saw him grab 92 receptions, nearly 1000 yards, and 3 touchdowns with the average performance of Jared Goff as QB1.
The addition of Stafford should see a considerable bump in targets raising the ceiling dramatically for Kupp, as seen by his week 1 performance against the Chicago Bears with a stat line of 7 receptions for 108 yards and 1 touchdown, with a second one being overturned on the ½ yard mark. Grab or trade for Kupp.
Cooper Kupp may vulture some of the opportunities for Higbee in the middle of the field, but expect big things from the perennial pro-Higbee. With the subtraction of Gerald Everett to the Seahawks through free agency, the tight end position is vital to McVay’s passing attack, as seen by the 5 grabs for 68 yards in week 1’s contest.
The knock against Higbee is the total number of options available to McVay and Stafford. If available, he should be considered a low-end option at Tight End or a weekly matchup streaming option.
Speedy deep-threat Van Jefferson is a weekly flex as the third option in the passing game. Behind Woods and Kupp, the streaky Jefferson can be a boom-or-bust Flex option for streaming purposes and is someone you should put on your watch list.
Any Of the Rams Defense
It’s rare that defense should be considered a priority, but the number 1 ranked defense of the Rams should be in any consideration if they become available. Led by All-World Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. In addition, the Rams defense will single-handedly outscore some lower-tier Flex players.
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