4 Los Angeles Rams That’ll Make or Break Your 2020 Player Productivity Betting

Los Angeles Rams And NFL Logo

The Los Angeles Rams head into 2020 looking to shed their Super Bowl hangover from the season before in which they missed the playoffs. The result was a subpar season that saw the team drop from NFC West Champions in 2018 to a 3rd-place finish in 2019.

The offense was inconsistent and the running game tanked. While the defense improved, it wasn’t enough for an ailing offense to overcome.

Despite the setback, the Rams have overhauled the running back position with 2 up and comers to replace the departed Todd Gurley. They also have much of their 2019 puzzle intact and are looking to use the nucleus they built to return to prominence.

Here are 4 important pieces of that nucleus:

1- Stud: Cooper Kupp, WR

2019 statistics:

  • 94 receptions
  • 1,161 yards
  • 12.4 yards per reception
  • 10 touchdownsL

Cooper Kupp came back from a torn ACL that kept him sidelined during a promising 2018 campaign. He recorded a career-high 94 receptions, a career-high 1,161 yards, and a career-high 10 touchdown receptions.

The guy drew some comparisons to Wes Welker in terms of his role and speed but as a taller, stronger version. He emerged as the top receiver for quarterback Jared Goff and was the team’s top playmaker in 2019.

At just 26, he’s now entering his prime and can prove to be a top target in Los Angeles for years to come, especially if he stays healthy.

Rams Cooper Kupp WR

While it’s a mystery whether Kupp will stay healthy, given the fact he rebounded in 2019 and played in all 16 games he should be given the benefit of the doubt. For this reason, he’s a safe bet for the over if betting on player productivity is your thing.

He’s also an early-round pick in fantasy football and he’ll go at the latest in the 4th round but in larger leagues, he’ll go higher. In smaller leagues, while the 4th round is likely his floor, look for him to be a higher draft pick in Points Per Reception (PPR) leagues.

Kupp is just now coming into his own and he will serve as a fantastic go-to receiver in Los Angeles now and in years to come.

Per ESPN.com, here are Kupp’s 2020 projected statistics:

  • 80 receptions
  • 988 yards
  • 12.4 yards per reception
  • 6 touchdowns
  • 4 carries
  • 23 yards
  • 0 touchdowns

2- Sleeper: Darrell Henderson, RB

2019 statistics:

  • 39 carries
  • 147 yards
  • 3.8 yards per carry
  • 0 touchdowns
  • 4 receptions
  • 37 yards
  • 0 touchdowns

Henderson starred at the University of Memphis, averaging 8.9 yards per carry over his final 2 seasons but struggled to get on the field in 2019 and was limited to just 89 snaps.

Despite the poor performance in 2019, he’ll get the first crack to succeed Todd Gurley, who signed with the Atlanta Falcons.

While there’s competition from rookie Cam Akers and perhaps from Malcolm Brown, Henderson’s upside includes a low build and respectable strength for a smaller change-of-pace running back. This will allow him to become an undersized featured back as the Rams move on from Gurley.

It depends on how he performs when camp rolls around and given that NFL teams have the green light to reopen their facilities, live practice should follow soon enough for all 32 teams. It’s a guarantee that, unless the COVID crisis rears its head again, that training camp will begin in July.

Rams Darrel Henderson RB

This gives you an opportunity to see Henderson’s role for yourself and if he’s in with the 1st team offense often, be ready for a potential breakout year.

If you bet at online sportsbooks on player productivity, chances are Henderson may see lower numbers from oddsmakers because of Akers potentially supplanting him.

If you play fantasy football, handcuffing Henderson and Akers is a good idea, especially if you can snag them in the later rounds. This gives you both a 2nd-year player and a rookie on your roster and if you’re in a keeper or dynasty league, you have real estate to work with.

Either way, Henderson is getting the first crack to carve out a starting role in the Rams’ backfield and look for him to become the team’s featured back if he has a good camp.

It’s also worth noting Henderson can catch passes out of the backfield, so his skill set makes him a versatile back.

Here are Henderson’s 2020 projections:

  • 136 carries
  • 558 yards
  • 4.1 yards per carry
  • 4 touchdowns
  • 36 receptions
  • 289 yards
  • 1 touchdown

3- Stumbler: Robert Woods, WR

2019 statistics:

  • 90 receptions
  • 1,134 yards
  • 12.6 yards per reception
  • 2 touchdowns
  • 17 carries
  • 115 yards
  • 1 touchdown

For some reason many NFL betting sites and even ESPN have Woods ranked higher than Kupp. As with the Mike Evans-Curtis Godwin dilemma, you’re making a huge mistake if you pick Woods over Kupp. While Woods carved out a niche in the NFL after a few slow seasons, Kupp is the better choice here.

Woods has more speed than Kupp, but Kupp is the far better route runner and the latter has produced well since his days at Eastern Washington.

From 2013 to 2017, Woods was so-so during his career and didn’t breakout until 2018, setting a career-high in receptions in 2019.

ESPN claims that Woods emerged as the go-to receiver and it’s certain other outlets will claim the same.

This is false. All you need to do is look at the numbers and they’ll tell you everything you need to know. Kupp had more receptions, yards, and 8 more touchdown receptions than Woods.

Rams Robert Woods WR

Woods is the more versatile of the 2 players, but Kupp is far more productive. Don’t make the mistake thinking Woods is the better pick than Kupp.

If you bet on player productivity, don’t wager too much on Woods going over his projected statistics. He may get close. The only stat line bet over with Woods are touchdowns. ESPN project 3, and you should consider adding this into your NFL betting strategy for this season.

Other than that, his 83 reception projection is rather high considering Kupp is another year removed from his ACL injury and will, therefore, earn more targets. This will further limit Woods’ production.

Woods is a fantastic WR2 in the NFL and is a legit WR1 in some locker rooms. But in Los Angeles, he’s a WR2.

On your fantasy team, he’s a WR2 if not a WR3. He’s a great player who deserves to be in the NFL. But he’s overrated on many outlets.

Here are his projected 2020 statistics:

  • 83 receptions
  • 1,046 yards
  • 12.6 yards per reception
  • 3 touchdowns
  • 16 carries
  • 101 yards
  • 1 touchdown

4- Rookie: Cam Akers, RB

2019 statistics:

  • 231 carries
  • 1,144 yards
  • 5.0 yards per carry
  • 14 touchdowns
  • 30 receptions
  • 225 yards
  • 7.5 yards per reception
  • 4 touchdowns

Akers has a legitimate shot to be the Rams’ RB1 after the team took him in the 2nd round in the 2020 NFL Draft. He displays adequate size and strength and runs a decent straight line speed. But that’s where the upside ends with Akers.

Under normal circumstances, Henderson would’ve been my projected stumbler but given Akers’ moderate college career I will not crown him Todd Gurley’s Great Successor. Instead, he’s more likely to be in a timeshare with Henderson unless he has an excellent camp.

However, Akers will see the field more than Henderson saw it in his own rookie campaign, given the fact there’s no featured back in Los Angeles. When Gurley ran the show between 2015 and 2019, he was the clear-cut starter, which would’ve limited Henderson’s carries anyway.

Akers isn’t in the same position as Henderson and he’ll drastically cut into Henderson’s carries if he proves himself worthy.  In fact, ESPN projects Akers to see more carries than Henderson. However, Henderson is far more effective of a receiver out of the backfield.

Rams Cam Akers RB Rookie

This renders Akers mainly to a rushing role and not a dual role that Henderson may see. For that, it’s much better to bet the under with Akers in 2020 unless he supplants Henderson early in camp. But given his moderate upside, it won’t happen overnight or even by Week 1.

Instead, he’ll continue the timeshare role with Akers as a 2-down back while Henderson figures to be better suited as a 3-down back given his pass catching capabilities.

If you’re a fantasy owner, handcuff the backs, preferably taking Henderson before Akers. You can even take them in back-to-back rounds. They should be there in the mid-to-late rounds but if you like the backs, pick them earlier and handcuff them.

You can also take them in the mid-rounds if you load up on receivers early. I have opponents in my league who do this and they have seen fantastic results when the games begin.

Here are Akers’ projected 2020 statistics:

  • 167 carries
  • 695 yards
  • 4.2 yards per carry
  • 7 touchdowns
  • 22 receptions
  • 179 yards
  • 1 touchdown

Conclusion

The Rams may not be as hot as they were in 2018 but Cooper Kupp leads the way on offense while Darrell Henderson has a fantastic opportunity to succeed Todd Gurley.

However, Cam Akers looks to cut into Henderson’s carries but considering his less than stellar skillset and underperformance at Florida State (by future NFL running back standards), he might struggle early. This allows Henderson to seize the opportunity to become the lead back while Akers complements.

Stay away from Robert Woods if you bet solely on player productivity. However, you can draft him in the mid-rounds in fantasy football and he makes an excellent WR2.

What do you think of my projections? Do you like Kupp more or Woods more? Henderson or Akers? Should I have added Jared Goff or Tyler Higbee to the list? Let me know in the comments.

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Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.