Los Angeles Rams February Scouting Report
THE HANGOVER was a comedy about a bachelor party in Las Vegas gone wrong with the cast having to overcome several obstacles to finally have success. Los Angeles must overcome their embarrassing Super Bowl performance and get through their own hangover to have success in 2019. You can look at the 2018 from two perspectives, one would is that the Rams made huge strides in Sean McVay’s second season and were able to reach the Super Bowl much quicker than anticipated. The second is that Los Angeles went all in with several bold moves and numerous high priced veterans to win the championship but fell short of their goal. I think it is a combination of both but either way; Los Angeles needs to regroup quickly because the Combine is right around the corner followed by free agency. Just like last year, the Rams lost their Quarterback Coach after a successful season. After one season as the Rams Quarterback Coach, Zac Taylor was hired as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. Congratulations to Zac and best of luck with the Bengals. For this first report of the year, let’s take a look at the current Fantasy positions.
QB: QB Jared Goff had a very successful second season under McVay and even though he struggled at times during the second half of the season and in the Super Bowl, Jared should continue to improve and is poised to take the next step to elite status in the league. I have no problem starting Goff as a Fantasy QB1 in 2019. QB Sean Mannion is a restricted free agent but should return as Jared’s backup.
RB: RB Todd Gurley was an MVP candidate for most of the season then missed the last two regular season games, had a strong playoff game against the Cowboys then basically disappeared in the NFC Championship game and Super Bowl. Speculation remains on the reason for his abrupt lack of use. RB C.J. Anderson was signed off the street and had three huge games but was less effective in the last two. RB Malcom Brown was Gurley’s primary backup before a shoulder injury landed him on injured reserve. Rookie RB John Kelly was inactive most of the year and played sparingly at the end of the season. The mystery of Todd Gurley will linger throughout the off-season all the way up to the first regular season game of 2019. The consensus number one Fantasy running back going into 2018 now has question marks heading into 2019 and only the Rams know the real true story. Anderson and Brown are free agents so it will be interesting to see if either or both return to Los Angeles.
WR: WR Brandin Cooks and WR Robert Woods were solid in 2018 and both should be considered as high end WR2 in 2019. WR Cooper Kupp is coming back from an ACL injury so he will not be 100% but he was Jared’s favorite receiver before the injury and tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions. WR Josh Reynolds stepped up with Kupp out and should be the fourth receiver. All of the above players are signed through 2020 so the Rams should be set at receiver for the foreseeable future.
TE: TE Tyler Higbee and TE Gerald Everett improved slightly from their 2017 statistics. Both of these young players have talent; they just do not seem to be the focal point of the offense yet. They are both on their rookie contracts so I expect both of them back in 2019. Neither player has produced enough to warrant Fantasy value.
K: PK Greg Zuerlein had a back issue during the season and missed several games but he came back strong and was the hero in the NFC Championship game. He also scored the only points for the Rams in the Super Bowl; however, he also missed a huge attempt at the end of the game that ended any chance for the Rams. Greg is one of the best kickers in the league on one of the top offenses. He should be a top three Fantasy kicker in 2019.
DEF: The defense was erratic most of the season, particularly against the run, but they stepped up in the playoffs and held the Patriots to 13 points in the Super Bowl. DT Aaron Donald was chosen as the Defensive Player of the Year for the second season in a row and should continue his dominance. LB Cory Littleton did well starting in place of the traded Alec Ogletree making the Pro-Bowl and being named second team All-Pro. The Rams have some big decisions to make as DL Ndamukong Suh, LB Dante Fowler Jr., and DB Lamarcus Joyner are all unrestricted free agents. Suh played well down the stretch but is past his prime. Los Angeles traded for Fowler mid-season and he could command big dollars in free agency. Joyner played on the Franchise tag in 2018 but his play did not warrant that type of money. LB Samson Ebukam started all season and was decent but he needs to provide more outside pressure. 2018 draft pick LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo missed his rookie season with a foot injury so hopefully he can help this unit in 2019. If the defense plays like it did to end the season, the Rams will be in good shape.
It was a bitter sweet ending for the Rams in 2018 but the reality is that this team has the potential to repeat as NFC Champions in 2019. The offensive line concerns me the most as LT Andrew Whitworth is considering retirement, RG Roger Saffold is an unrestricted free agent, and OC John Sullivan will be entering his twelfth season. All three could return of all three could be gone when the Rams open training camp. The NFL Combine is next week and so draft talk and free agency will be the highlight of our next report. Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year and best wishes for a great 2019. Love and blessings to my family. Miss you Pops! Aloha!
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