With Brandin Cooks off to the Texans, there is no doubt that Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp get upgrades to their fantasy stock, but there is a lot to unravel when it comes to what to expect from the Rams offense.
Woods absolutely killed it once Cooks got hurt; he went over 95 yards in 5 of the 7 games he played after Cooks got hurt. He also didn’t have less than 9 targets in any of those games; Woods averaged 11.3 targets, 7.4 receptions, and 94.7 yards during that span. From Weeks 10-17. he was the WR4 in PPR fantasy points/game.
Kupp was actually not as much of a full-time player when Cooks came back from his concussion. While we’re used to seeing the Rams in 11-personnel (3WR) almost 100% of their offensive plays, they started to dabble in 12-personnel, mainly due to the 6-1 defensive front some teams have been using to stop the outside zone run that their offense was built upon, and the fact that their offensive line could use the help. Because of that, the two WRs on the field for 12-personnel would be Woods (100% of snaps every week) and either Cooks or Kupp as the WR2.
The Rams went to about 65% 11-personnel and 35% 12-personnel in a handful of their final games, but not consecutively; they still brought out 11-personnel almost 100% of the time in Week 12 and in Week 15, somewhat in line with what they were doing from Weeks 1-8. With Cooks gone, one can think Kupp would be a full-time player, switching back and forth from outside to inside, but I’m not sure it’s guaranteed. It’s still possible someone like Josh Reynolds can mix in with Kupp on the outside; according to Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception, Kupp has never been good against man or press coverage, and thrived off of an unusual rate of zone coverage against him throughout his career.
Despite all that, it’s not like the Rams haven’t been running 12-personnel at the rate the Vikings have in 2019; the Vikings have run the fewest 3-WR sets of any team by a mile. Kupp will still get a ton of snaps from the slot; he played 75% of snaps from the slot from Weeks 1-7, and 59.7% of snaps from the slot in Weeks 10-17 (after Cooks got hurt). So, he was still running a majority of his snaps from the slot. However, when you consider that he’s running that percentage of a small percentage of overall snaps, the opportunity that Kupp once had might not be there in the last year of his rookie deal… might be crazy to think, but Van Jefferson might be taking his spot in 2021.
If the Rams go back to mainly 11-personnel, Kupp should be on everyone’s radar because of the increased target share. But would they rather have Woods + Kupp + Reynolds and only one TE between Higbee/Everett as their base formation, or Woods + Kupp/Reynolds and Higbee + Everett as their base formation? I would assume the latter, along with the reasons I mentioned above. If that happens, Kupp’s share might actually not increase by much.
Robert Woods is being drafted a full round after Cooper Kupp. Woods is the guy I’m aiming for, and I would be drafting him even if their ADP was flipped.
I didn’t touch the Higbee/Everett situation, but that’ll be out soon… so much to unravel with this Rams offense going into 2020.
If you’re interested, more on the supposed shift to 12-personnel:
There were two outlier 12-personnel games after Cooks got hurt. One was in Week 11, where they had no Cooks and no Woods (only 25% 11 personnel, so that drives the percentage down). The other was in Week 14, where they blew the Cardinals out, going into the 4th quarter with a 34-0 lead. Other than that, they still went primarily 11-personnel – they were either close to 100% 11-personnel, or averaging about 65% of 11-personnel, with the rest 12-personnel.
In the three games where they shifted from exclusively 11-personnel to some 12, Kupp and Cooks shared snaps. In those 3 games, Kupp played on 58.2% of snaps from the slot, still a healthy share from the slot. He’s not going exclusively outside. As far as Kupp’s overall snap percentage, in those 3 games (Weeks, 13, 16, 17), he played on 72%, 61%, and 61% of snaps. I don’t think it’s far fetched to think Josh Reynolds will share snaps with Kupp on the outside in 12-personnel.