NEW YEAR, NEW COACH! Welcome back Ram Fans and Fantasy Football Owners. A lot has happened since my last report so let me get you caught up. The Los Angeles Rams hired HC Sean McVay the former Washington Redskin offensive coordinator to lead the team moving forward. McVay is the youngest head coach in NFL history but brings decent experience and optimistic energy that will hopefully translate to victories for the Rams. McVay will call the plays but hired former Atlanta Falcon quarterback coach OC Matt LaFleur to be his offensive coordinator. McVay hired veteran DC Wade Phillips to be the defensive coordinator so experience is no concern there. With the scouting combine a few weeks away, followed by free agency, and leading to the draft, let’s take a look at the current Fantasy positions.
QB: QB Jared Goff is working with quarterback gurus that helped Tom Brady and Matt Ryan in the past so hopefully Jared will take a big step forward in his second season. Quarterback coach QC Greg Olson will work with McVay and LaFleur to get the most out of Jared’s talent. QB Case Keenum is a free agent and it is not known if the Rams will bring him back to provide depth behind Goff. QB Sean Mannion is on the roster and has a decent opportunity to win the backup spot, especially if Keenum is not resigned.
RB: RB Todd Gurley looks to bounce back from a disappointing sophomore season. Running backs coach RC Skip Peete was retained with the encouragement of Gurley so hopefully that continuity helps Todd improve. Free agent RB Benny Cunningham should be resigned as he provides value as a kick return man and change of pace back. If Benny does not return, RB Malcom Brown should have a bigger role. Second year RB Aaron Green showed promise during 2016 preseason action and could get a shot with the new coaching regime.
WR: WR Tavon Austin and WR Bradley Marquez are the returning veterans with free agents WR Kenny Britt and WR Brian Quick unlikely to be resigned. Second year receivers WR Pharoh Cooper, WR Mike Thomas, WR Nelson Spruce, and WR Paul McRoberts will be counted on to improve tremendously from the quiet rookie seasons. This position needs to be upgraded through free agency or the draft for Goff to take the next step forward.
TE: Veterans TE Lance Kendricks and TE Cory Harkey along with second year players TE Tyler Higbee and TE Temarrick Hemingway are the rostered tight ends. Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis had success in McVay’s Washington offense so hopefully one of these tight ends will step up. I think Higbee has the potential to be a star.
K: PK Greg Zuerlein is a free agent but had a good 2016 season so hopefully he is resigned for 2017 and beyond.
DEF: DC Wade Phillips will bring his 3-4 defense to Los Angeles so adjustments will be made to the personnel. The most important free agents are CB Trumaine Johnson and SS T.J. McDonald. It will be interesting to see what McVay and the Rams decide to do with these two. Johnson played under the franchise tag last season so that might have an effect on their decision. LB Alec Ogletree had a really good season as the middle linebacker and should transition smoothly as a 3-4 inside linebacker. LB Mark Barron was solid on the outside so Phillips will have to decide where to play Barron in the new scheme. DE Robert Quinn might play more standup end in this new scheme similar to DeMarcus Ware. DT Aaron Donald will keep his spot in the middle and should continue to dominate regardless of the formation. Wade had a top-notch defense in Denver so hopefully he can develop the Ram’s unit into the same caliber of defense.
There is always optimism when you hire a new coach and regime. HC Sean McVay expressed optimism in his press conference telling the media that the Rams were undefeated. Hopefully the right pieces are in place on the roster and coaching staff and with a few additions through free agency and the draft the Rams can gain respectability in their second season in Los Angeles. Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year and look forward to an exciting 2017. Love and blessings to my family. Miss you Pops! Aloha!