With the start of free agency and the draft behind us, it’s not too early to start looking ahead to the 2022 regular season.
ESPN’s fantasy football guru, Matthew Berry, released his first player ranking for the 2022 fantasy season on May 9. Berry’s list of the top 100 fantasy players includes a few Los Angeles Rams, including one in the top five.
Cooper Kupp Gets Top Fantasy Receiver Nod
Wide receiver Cooper Kupp had a monster 2021, making him one of the top fantasy players to watch to watch in 2022.
Berry has Kupp ranked as the top receiver fantasy and the No. 4 player overall, trailing three running backs (the Indianapolis Colts‘ Jonathan Taylor, the Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey, and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Austin Ekeler).
Kupp’s top ranking shouldn’t come as a surprise. The soon-to-be 29-year-old won the receiver triple crown in 2021, leading the league in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947), and receiving touchdowns (16). In half-point per reception leagues (PPR), Kupp was the best non-quarterback and the fifth-overall point-getter in 2021, getting 367 points. In PPR leagues, Kupp was the No. 1 overall player with 439.5 points. Kupp didn’t dominate as much in standard scoring leagues, scoring 294.5 points, which was the 13th-best in such leagues.
Kupp was able to put up huge numbers in just his first season playing with quarterback Matthew Stafford. Prior to Stafford’s arrival to Los Angeles, Kupp did put up good numbers in his first four seasons in the league. However, he cracked 1,000 receiving yards only once and had 24 receiving touchdowns for his career.
Two Other Rams Crack Top 100
Los Angeles’ potent offense is represented on Berry’s list in more than one way.
Running back Cam Akers is ranked 27th overall, making him the No. 15 running back. Akers is one to watch. As a rookie in 2020, he rushed for 625 yards and two touchdowns while splitting carries with Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown. Then, he looked poised to be the Rams’ top rusher in 2021 before tearing his Achilles in July, which kept him out for all but one game in the regular season. Akers did return for the playoffs but he ran for just 172 yards on 67 carries (2.6 per carry) and didn’t have a touchdown over four games.
Akers should be the Rams’ starting running back entering 2022, but he won’t be alone in the backfield. Henderson also projects to get a lot carries given that he’s rushed for over 600 yards in each of the last two seasons and has played a minor role in the passing game. Rookie running back Kyren Williams could also enter the mix if he plays strong enough in training camp and the preseason, which would make getting fantasy points from Akers even more difficult.
Newly signed receiver Allen Robinson also cracked Berry’s top 100, coming it at No. 74 overall and the 34th-ranked wide receiver.
Robinson’s had some outstanding seasons. In 2015, he had 1,400 receiving yards and 14 receiving touchdowns for the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2020, he had 1,250 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns with the Chicago Bears.
He struggled, though, in Chicago last season. Playing with rookie quarterback Justin Fields, he caught 38 passes for 410 yards and a touchdown. Those are all the lowest in his eight-year career, outside of his injury-shortened 2017 season.
Robinson’s career-worst year could be explained by playing for a Bears team that went 6-11 with a rookie quarterback that struggled. If that’s the case, then playing with Stafford should do wonders for Robinson.
Speaking of Stafford, he wasn’t included in Berry’s list. Quarterbacks typically aren’t as valuable in fantasy as they are in the actual game. But Berry’s exclusion of Stafford might raise some eyebrows considering he included 10 quarterbacks in his top 100, and Stafford was fifth in points for quarterbacks in 2021. Quarterbacks who have an ability to gain yards on the ground do have a bit more valuable in fantasy. Stafford doesn’t possess that ability, running for just 43 yards in 2021.