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The Rams Wide Receivers are the New Patriots Backfield: The Case for Cooper Kupp

“You want the cheapest Patriots running back” has been a refrain for quite a while now. It’s a thought that went from tongue-in-cheek to spot on. There has typically been value in getting that position right for your fantasy team. That got me thinking, are there other crowded position groups to which we could apply this same logic? Enter the WR corps for the Sean McVay-led Rams. The best part about drafting the cheapest player in these situations is that you’re typically getting them at their floor while the most expensive player is being taken closer to their ceiling. The cherry on the top of this situation is the fact that we’re not waiting for an injury to make this work out in our favor because all three wide receivers will be involved in most of the plays the Rams run. 

How They’re Being Drafted

As things stand, the Rams WRs are all pretty tightly clustered. Brandin Cooks is going around the WR17 (4.06 in 12 team leagues) while Robert Woods is going around WR19 (5.01). Cooper Kupp is making it until the 5/6 turn and, over the past month, has gone as late as the middle of the 7th round. That puts him around WR24 or later. Over the past week or so, his ADP has even dipped a bit despite nothing but glowing reports from camp.

Kupp’s Comp List

Having too many solid wide receivers is a good problem to have and that’s exactly the situation that the Rams find themselves in again this season. Kupp has been efficient through the start of his career but to set his floor. To see how efficient he’s been, I took his per-game averages from his rookie year and injury-shortened campaign — which can be found in the table below — and searched for wide receivers since 2013 that have been within range of those numbers (footnote: I capped each stat as well so that it wasn’t picking up true alpha WRs in their offenses) to generate a comp list for Kupp.  

Receptions Targets Receiving Yards Fantasy Points over Expectation Expected Points (Red Zone)
Cooper Kupp (Career) 4.4 6.5 61.9 2.7 3.8
Threshold 4 – 6 6 – 9 55 – 85 2 – 4 3.5 – 5.5

Of the 1,040 wide receivers in the Screener database since 2013, only 16 wide receivers fit into these thresholds. The results are encouraging for Kupp’s 2019 outlook. 

PlayerYearReceptions/GameTargets/GameReceiving Yards/GameFantasy Points over ExpectationExpected Points (Red Zone)PPR PointsPPR Points (n+1 Season)
Robert Woods20185.
Tyler Boyd20185.47.773.43.53.615.8-
A.J. Green20185.18.677.12.44.316.8-
Amari Cooper201857.
Alshon Jeffery201857.
Robert Woods20174.
Stefon Diggs20174.66.860.63414.217.6
Brandin Cooks20165.27.878.23.43.616.413.7
Rishard Matthews20164.16.859.12.33.513.311.2
Doug Baldwin20165.97.870.534.715.913.8
Davante Adams20164.77.662.32.73.715.415.9
A.J. Green20155.
Jeremy Maclin20145.38.982.
Keenan Allen20134.76.970.23.34.51512.8
Randall Cobb20135.27.872.22.54.817.718.5
Jordy Nelson20135.37.982.134.916.520.5

His career numbers put him on a list with some RotoViz favorites like Tyler Boyd and Stefon Diggs, among other useful fantasy WRs. The wide receivers from that list have averaged just under 16 PPR points per game in the year after hitting those thresholds. That would have been good for WR19 in 2018. 

Projecting the Rams WRs for 2019

Using the Projection Machine, I figured I’d see how the Rams WR corp shakes out. If the big three WRs for Los Angeles stay healthy, we could be in for a very tight concentration of targets here. Even when I dropped Kupp’s target share to 19 percent and put him around 8% TD rate, he still comes in as WR22. That would put him, somewhat pessimistically, at his rookie year levels though. Best case scenario for him and his ceiling would probably be hitting 21% market share and just a shade under 10% for his TD Rate. Those numbers would put him at WR13 in my projections. Buying Cooper Kupp at his floor in an offense that may have to rely a bit more heavily on the pass can pay off handsomely in 2019.

Image Credit: Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Cooper Kupp.

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