ESPN's Lindsey Thiry calls it "a toss-up" whether Darrell Henderson or Cam Akers will lead the Rams backfield in touches this season. "Expect Henderson to earn more touches early in the season, given Akers could take extra time to acclimate because of the virtual offseason program," Thiry adds. That scenario certainly seems possible, but it's also just a guess at this point. The Rams' heavy draft investment in Akers this spring just a year after they selected Henderson (a round later) leaves us expecting Akers to lead the backfield. The uncertainty of the situation is worth keeping in mind as you consider both players in best-ball drafts this summer.
Rams RB Darrell Henderson told reporters on Wednesday that he had surgery on the ankle injury that sidelined him for last year's finale. We don't have any other details on the injury or procedure -- but Henderson said he's fully recovered and will be ready for the start of camp. He'll be battling rookie Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown for snaps in the Rams' Todd Gurley-less backfield.
The Rams added Purdue TE Brycen Hopkins in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Hopkins is coming off an 830-yard, 7-TD redshirt senior season, ranking 5th in yards per route run among 18 of this year’s top WR prospects. The 6’3, 257-pounder ran a 4.73-second 40-yard dash at the Combine and averaged a big 15.0 yards per catch in college. Hopkins is a bad blocker and dropped 14.5% of his catchable targets over the past 4 years. But he has enough playmaking ability to become a fantasy factor down the road. Hopkins joins Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett in Los Angeles and is an extreme long shot for 2020 fantasy value. Higbee is signed through 2023, but Everett is set to hit free agency next offseason.
The Rams selected Florida WR Van Jefferson in the 2nd round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Scouts consider Jefferson 1 of the top route runners in this class. “He’s got size, really good quickness and route savvy,” an anonymous scout told The Athletic’s Bob McGinn. “He can separate. He’s going to be a really good pro.” Jefferson’s college career got off to a strong start when he ranked top 3 on Ole Miss in catches (49), yards (543) and TDs (3) as a redshirt freshman — notably finishing ahead of A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf. He flattened out from there, though. Jefferson posted a 42-456-1 line in 2017 before transferring to Florida, where he totaled 84 catches, 1,160 yard and 12 TDs over the past 2 seasons. He posted weak market shares in 2019 and ranked 24th in yards per route run among 30 of this year’s top WR prospects. Jefferson is also already 23 years old and is currently sidelined after undergoing surgery to repair a Jones Fracture in his right foot. He joins Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds in Los Angeles. Kupp and Reynolds are both set to be free agents after this season, while Woods is only signed through 2021.
The Rams selected Florida State RB Cam Akers in the 2nd round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Akers was tough to evaluate this past season because Florida State’s offensive line was so damn bad. Akers averaged a mediocre 5.0 yards per carry on his 231 attempts but ranked top 12 among draft-eligible RBs in both yards after contact and missed tackles forced, per Pro Football Focus. His 125.9 Elusive Rating was near the top of the class — notably ahead of guys like Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and J.K. Dobbins. Akers arrived at Florida State as a 5-star recruit after playing QB in high school. His 1,025 rushing yards in 2017 broke Dalvin Cook’s freshman school record. Akers also contributed in the passing game all 3 years in Tallahassee, posting 16-116-1, 23-145-2 and 30-225-4 receiving lines. He showed out at the Combine, running a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at 217 pounds and posting strong marks in the vertical and broad jumps. Akers joins Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown in the Rams’ Gurley-less backfield. This will likely be a committee, but consider Akers the early favorite to lead the group in touches.
Rams HC Sean McVay said Tuesday that the trade of WR Brandin Cook was “a big vote of confidence” for WR Josh Reynolds. “We just feel he’s a capable starting receiver," McVay added. Reynolds has spent the majority of his first 3 NFL seasons as Los Angeles' #4 WR. But he's been elevated due to injuries to the Rams' other WRs on occasion and fared decently. Reynolds has played 60+% of the offensive snaps in 14 career games and averaged 5.6 targets, 2.9 catches, 38.5 yards and .5 TDs in those outings. Cooks leaves behind an average of 6.3 targets per game over the last 2 seasons, creating a significant opportunity for Reynolds.
Shortly after signing K Lirim Hajrullahu, the Rams added K Austin MacGinnis. MacGinnis connected on all 10 of his FG attempts for the XFL's Dallas Renegades earlier this year and has also kicked in the defunct AAF. He's never kicked in the NFL. Los Angeles is clearly planning a K competition this summer and might not be done adding to the position. It's a situation to avoid in early best-ball drafts.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that the Rams are signing K Lirim Hajrullahu. The Canadian-born kicker spent the past 6 seasons in the CFL, earning 2 all-star bids. He converted 83.3% of FG attempts over that span, finishing 5 of 6 campaigns above 80%. Hajrullahu's career long of 56 yards came last season. He looks like the favorite to take over for Greg Zuerlein, who signed with Dallas this offseason. Zuerlein fell to 72.7% in FG conversion rate last year after 3 straight seasons of better than 85%.
Rams RB Darrell Henderson (ankle) is out for Sunday’s finale against the Cardinals. That’ll only matter if L.A. decides to rest RB Todd Gurley. In that case, Malcolm Brown would be left as the feature back.
The Rams have ruled CB Jalen Ramsey (knee) out for Sunday's game against the Cardinals. Fellow outside starting CB Troy Hill (thumb) is doubtful after missing last week following surgery on a fractured thumb. That will leave L.A. without both starting outside corners, which obviously helps the matchup for Kyler Murray and his WRs. Unfortunately for Murray, the rookie QB is dealing with his own hamstring injury that has him questionable. The Arizona passing game still looks risky for fantasy.
Rams TE Gerald Everett (knee) isn't listed on the final injury report after practicing all week. He'll return for Saturday night's game against the 49ers. Everett isn't a fantasy option but is a concern for TE Tyler Higbee, who was already in a tough spot vs. the league's 3rd-ranked TE defense. Consider Higbee a low-end TE1 for Week 16, despite his recent hot streak.
Rams TE Gerald Everett (knee) was a full participant in Wednesday's practice. That puts him on track to return for Saturday night's game against the 49ers. Tyler Higbee leads all TEs in targets, catches and yards over the last 3 weeks -- but note that Everett out-targeted Higbee 59 to 33 over the Rams' first 11 games. We'd bet on Higbee sticking as the lead TE in Week 16, but Everett's return certainly adds risk to his outlook.
Rams TE Gerald Everett (knee) is out for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys. Tyler Higbee leads all TEs in targets (19), catches (14) and yards (223) over the last 2 weeks and is a locked-in TE1 for Week 15.
Rams TE Gerald Everett (knee) remained sidelined on Wednesday. HC Sean McVay labeled Everett "day-to-day," adding, "His knee is making progress, but not ready to get out there and practice with us yet." Don't bank on Everett playing against the Cowboys this weekend. That'll again make Tyler Higbee a TE1.
Rams TE Gerald Everett (knee) is out for Sunday night’s game against the Seahawks. That again makes TE Tyler Higbee a spot-start option. He played 91% of Los Angeles’ offensive snaps and garnered an 18% target share with Everett out last week.
Rams TE Gerald Everett (knee) remained sidelined for Wednesday's practice. If he misses Sunday night's game against the Seahawks, TE Tyler Higbee will remain on the spot-start radar after his massive Week 13.
Rams TE Gerald Everett (knee) is out for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. That turns TE Tyler Higbee into an upside fantasy play vs. the league’s worst TE defense.
Rams TE Gerald Everett (knee) missed his 2nd straight practice on Wednesday. He appears to be in real danger of missing this weekend's game against the Cardinals. Everett's absence would turn TE Tyler Higbee into a legitimate fantasy option in the plus matchup.
Rams TE Gerald Everett (knee) was held out of Wednesday's practice. He missed a chunk of Monday night's loss to the Ravens but was able to eventually return. So we're tentatively expecting him to play against the Cardinals this weekend but will continue to update his status.
Rams WR Robert Woods is active for tonight’s game against the Ravens. He re-joined the team on Thursday and practiced all week, so expect him to play his usual every-down role tonight.
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