Similar to his counterpart Cooper Kupp, wide-receiver Robert Woods had a tremendous 2019 season. The seven-year pro from USC tacked on another 1000 yard receiving season and solidified himself as a top 20 wide receiver in the NFL. Together, Woods and Kupp enter 2020 as one of the leagues top-5 receiving duos and perhaps the most underrated of the bunch. With another solid season and fewer mouths to feed aka Brandin Cook’s departure, I believe a healthy Woods will achieve 75+ receptions and 900+ receiving yards.
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Robert Woods continues to be an underrated receiver despite two consecutive 1000 yard receiving seasons. More impressive is that his past two seasons have come with Woods battling Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks (both top-30 receivers when healthy) for targets. Overall, Woods ended 2019 with 90 receptions for 1134 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Fantasy-wise Woods ended with 232 total fantasy points and 15.5 fantasy points per game. The only knock against Woods at this point in his career is that he does not find the end zone; in seven seasons, Woods has only caught more than five touchdown passes once.
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Robert Woods has found a home in Los Angeles. After middling around 50 receptions for 600 yards in his first four seasons with the Bills, Woods has exploded in his last two seasons under McVay’s system. Lineups predict that this explosion will continue in 2020 with a projected 82 receptions for 921 yards and six receiving touchdowns. Lineups also predict that Woods will collect 209 fantasy points for 13.06 points per game.
I agree with Lineup’s projections. The Rams were a disappointment in 2019, ending with a 9-7 record and a missed playoff appearance. I expect the team to come back hungrier, elevating their level of performance. I also believe that the absence of Brandin Cooks will help Woods gain more receiving targets and solidify his role as a borderline number one wide receiver. Analysts will argue that his role and full ceiling could be hindered by Cooper Kupp. However, Woods was able to achieve these numbers with Kupp beside him for the past three years. I do not believe that Kupp’s spot on the roster will negatively affect Woods. In fact, I think Kupp’s presence will ease the burden of Woods and prevent opposing defenses from double-teaming the wide receiver.
The Rams still have an explosive offense and a young quarterback despite the offensive line’s struggles. I fully expect that if the offensive line returns to form, Woods will get more opportunities to capitalize on deep balls.
Most yards after catch in last two seasons (WRs)
1. Michael Thomas – 1,091
2. Robert Woods – 1,008
3. Juju Smith-Schuster – 901
4. Davante Adams – 869 pic.twitter.com/IYBhQ3QBYE
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) May 20, 2020
ADP: 50.2 WR:19
Auction Value: $20
Robert Woods’s current average draft position is 50.2 making him a WR2 for most leagues. Also, Woods is currently listed as the second wide receiver on the Rams depth chart, which definitely hurt his average draft position. Nonetheless, I think the ADP is fair given the Rams roster, the productivity of wide receivers ahead of Woods, and his issues finding the endzone. Woods is similar to Julio Jones in that they fail to catch touchdown passes hurting their viability in non-PPR leagues. Despite these issues, I think Wood’s is valued correctly. If you can get the receiver at this ADP, you are getting one of the premier WR2’s in the draft.
Wood’s floor is high given his steady production over the past two years as a Ram. Again, Woods seems more fluid within the offense and his role should only solidify with the departure of Brandin Cooks. However, I worry about Wood’s durability and lack of touchdowns. On one hand, the lack of touchdowns is something that might change with Todd Gurley no longer apart of the offense. Yet history shows that Wood’s has never been a touchdown machine. This history makes me hesitant to draft Wood’s as a WR1. Also, in seven seasons, Woods has only played 16 games twice. While never missing a long stretch of time, fantasy owners are gambling if they expect Woods to be healthy the entire season.
I don’t have a high ceiling in non-PPR leagues given the touchdown issues. Again, history says Woods will average 5 touchdowns or less. That number would put rank Woods in the mid-30s for touchdowns. I have a higher ceiling in PPR leagues given his receptions, reception yards, and yards per catch (12.4) in 2019. However, I do not foresee Woods eclipsing his past season. The Rams drafted another running back in Cam Akers which signals that the team will be run-first in 2020. Injuries also make me hesitant that he will surpass his 2018/2019 numbers. In order to reach a higher ceiling, he has to play a complete season. Based on his career, he has less than a 50% chance of doing so.
The Rams added RB Cam Akers and WR Van Jefferson who should make his name in the slot. While the Rams, including General Manager Les Snead, have publicly declared their desire to go back to becoming a run-dominant, 12-man personnel team, I think they are just looking for some sort of balance in their offense. The Van Jefferson acquisition will help to provide depth at the receiver position and a slot threat if they want to switch back to an 11-man personnel. This signals a desire to at least keep a strong passing game. Essentially, as the best players on the Ram’s offense, Woods and Kupp should still get their touches.
I am worried that the Rams have no vertical threat. Cooper Kupp operates best in the slot and does not have elite speed to truly space the field. Robert Woods has the acceleration but not top-end speed to beat corners on go or post routes. Van Jefferson is a great route runner but not a speed threat. Brandin Cooks was their speed threat, who helped Kupps and Woods on underneath routes. While I think the lack of a vertical threat could hurt Woods, I think his elite separation abilities and sharp route running will minimize this absence. However, the absence of a vertical threat is still something to acknowledge.
Rams Strength of Schedule
This upcoming season, the Rams will play tough pass defenses including the Bills, Patriots, and division rival 49ers twice. Most receivers will struggle against these teams and Woods is no different. However, the Rams have the luxury of playing the Giants, Redskins, Buccaneers, and Cowboys, all of who are expected to have weak secondaries. Given the mix of weak and strong competition, I fully expect Woods to produce similar numbers if healthy.
Given his ADP and past two seasons, I expect Woods to continue to bring value to any team. His numbers, besides touchdowns, are borderline number WR1 status and most teams are getting him as their WR2. If he can get his touchdown numbers up in 2020, Woods could become a top-ten fantasy receiver.