The 2022 NFL Season is nearly upon us. As part of the run up to the season, we’re preview all the teams, culminating with our picks for who makes the playoffs and who wins the awards this season. Check back each day through September 5. Let’s get ready for some football!
The 2021 Los Angeles Rams had a dream season. During the off-season, the team traded former No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff to the Lions for veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford. It was a move that paid off, as the Rams finished 12-5, winning the NFC West. Then, with Stafford at quarterback and wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., added to the passing attack, the team moved through the NFC and earned a bid to the Super Bowl. In the final game of the season, the Rams’ gambit paid off as the team topped the Cincinnati Bengals for the Super Bowl title.
The gang is back, mostly intact, for 2022, leading many to wonder if the Rams can do it again.
The Rams weren’t immune to off-season losses, including among coaches. Offensive Coordinator Kevin O’Connell is now the Head Coach in Minnesota, while defensive assistant Ejiro Evero is in Denver. The team also saw Von Miller, acquired during an in-season trade with Denver, move on to the Buffalo Bills, while the Rams traded long-time receiver Robert Woods to the Tennessee Titans for a Sixth-Round pick. Beckham, another player acquired during the 2021 season, remains unsigned.
But the Rams were able to re-load. Part of the reason the team felt comfortable trading Woods was the signing of former Jaguar and Bear Allen Robinson. Robinson struggled through a down year in 2021 in an inefficient Bears’ offense, but in 2020 he caught 102 passes and he caught 98 passes in 2019. Robinson has 495 receptions for 6,409 yards and 40 touchdowns in eight seasons. He’s regarded as one of the better receivers in the game and will be playing in his best offense with the best quarterback of his career.
The Rams didn’t have a First or Second-Round pick in the draft, but still made eight selections. The only interesting one for fantasy was running back Kyren Williams, out of Notre Dame, taken in the Fifth Round. Williams rushed for 2,127 yards and 27 touchdowns in back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons the past two years. He adds another option to the Rams’ stable of running backs.
The Rams’ fantasy prospects begin at quarterback, where Stafford is one of the better options in the game. He finished as QB5 in 2021 and figures to be a lock for another Top 10 finish, especially with the addition of Robinson. Behind him, the Rams’ backfield is still something of a question. Cam Akers was a Second-Round pick in the 2020 draft. He tore his Achilles prior to the 2021 season but returned in time to make an impact in the playoffs. He could be poised to take off in year three, but the Rams still have veteran Darrell Henderson, Jr., and the rookie Williams in the mix. I suspect Akers is the lead back but I think he’s a low-end RB2. Henderson figures to still play, likely finishing in RB4 range. Williams is a long-term stash for me as Henderson is in a contract year.
The other place the Rams have fantasy gold is in the passing game. Cooper Kupp had an amazing 2021 season, finishing as WR1. He has a great connection with Stafford, which continued all the way through the Super Bowl, where Kupp was named MVP. He’s easily a WR1 and should again compete to be the overall WR1. Still, the Rams’ passing game is bullish enough for Robinson to thrive. He could push for Top 12 numbers, but I think he safely finishes as a WR2. Van Jefferson could have some flex appeal as well, while the team is still in the mix to bring back Beckham. I suspect Beckham doesn’t play until late November or December—if at all—making him little more than a stretch run stash. Tight end Tyler Higbee finished as TE14 in 2021, which feels about right. I see him as a high-end TE2 that offers a lot of peaks and valleys in week-to-week play.
The NFC isn’t as strong as the AFC heading into 2022 and the Rams remain one of the best teams in the league. That gives them a leg up. I expect the Rams to win the NFC West again, earn a high seed and make a deep run in the NFC Playoffs.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.