Rams Preview Capsule
LOS ANGELES RAMS (4-12)
New faces: Coach Sean McVay, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, WR Sammy Watkins, WR Robert Woods, LT Andrew Whitworth, LB Connor Barwin, C John Sullivan, CB Kayvon Webster.
Key losses: WR Kenny Britt, TE Lance Kendricks, OL Greg Robinson, WR Brian Quick, S T.J. McDonald, DL William Hayes, DL Dominique Easley (injury), QB Case Keenum.
Strengths: Defense should remain solid in Phillips’ new scheme. D-line has looked sharp in preseason despite depletion, and will get big boost when (if?) All-Pro DT Aaron Donald ends holdout. Watkins, Woods provide much-improved targets for Jared Goff. Offensive line appears to be upgraded significantly. Team energy has improved with arrival of McVay, youngest head coach in modern NFL history.
Weaknesses: Offense still must prove its competence after two terrible seasons. McVay doesn’t have wealth of personnel options, but is building scheme to take advantage of few strengths. Goff under big spotlight after unimpressive rookie campaign, but is dedicated to improvement. Defensive depth looks sketchy, particularly on line and in secondary.
Fantasy Players To Watch: RB Todd Gurley looks rejuvenated in preseason after inexplicably poor relocation season. Watkins will get ample opportunity to pad stats in potential contract year. TE Tyler Higbee could be sleeper with McVay expected to target tight ends with many passes. CB Trumaine Johnson will be out to prove his worth with big contract on tap for 2018.
Expectations: After 12-year playoff absence and 13 straight non-winning seasons, postseason return seems like long shot in McVay’s first year. More realistic to expect incremental offensive improvement, groundwork set for future. If Donald’s holdout lingers deep into season, future of franchise could take hit. Best guess for finish is 6-10.
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