Fantasy football: How Matthew Stafford trade impacts Cam Akers, Rams offense

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Cameron DaSilva
·5 min read
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Big changes are coming to the Los Angeles Rams offense with Matthew Stafford arriving as the team’s quarterback. They agreed to trade Jared Goff to the Lions for Stafford, ushering in a new era for Sean McVay and his offense in L.A.

Obviously, Stafford taking over at quarterback impacts the rest of the Rams offense, including players such as Cam Akers, Van Jefferson, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. But how will they be affected in fantasy football?

Here’s a breakdown of the fantasy implications for the Rams after this trade, including how it affects Stafford himself.

Matthew Stafford

Stafford is a clear upgrade over Jared Goff for the Rams. Had they not seen it this way, they wouldn’t have given up two first-round picks to make the trade happen. From a fantasy perspective, Stafford’s stock is on the rise now that he’s with the Rams. Though the Lions weren’t a terrible situation for him, with Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay in the mix, he now gets to team up with a brilliant offensive coach in Sean McVay. His success on play action fits perfectly with what McVay likes his quarterbacks to do, frequently calling play-action fakes when the quarterback is under center. According to NFL.com, the Rams used play action 33% of the time, which was fifth-most. Stafford will also have a bevy of weapons to utilize, ranging from Cooper Kupp to Robert Woods to Van Jefferson and Cam Akers. He’s a legitimate threat to throw for 5,000 yards and 35 touchdowns with the Rams, so his fantasy stock is trending up as a low-end QB1.

Cam Akers

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Akers might be the biggest beneficiary of Stafford’s arrival. Though Akers was terrific as a rookie, he wasn’t heavily involved as a receiver. He was targeted only 14 times in the regular season, catching 11 passes for 123 yards and one touchdown. He was highly productive when targeted, averaging 12.4 yards per reception including his three catches for 51 yards in the postseason. On 590 total pass attempts by the Rams last season, only 71 went to the running backs (12%). Stafford threw 528 passes (582 total were thrown by Lions QBs) and their running backs were targeted 105 times (18%). D’Andre Swift alone saw 57 passes thrown his way in 13 games. So Akers stands to not only benefit from the offense opening up with more deep passes downfield, but also as a pass catcher with Stafford checking down to him fairly often, presumably. He’ll be a RB1 next season.

Van Jefferson

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jefferson figures to take on a larger role next season with Josh Reynolds set to hit free agency. The Rams currently lack a deep threat at wide receiver, but Jefferson can fill that void with his speed and route running. Jefferson isn’t the deep receiver that Golladay or Jones were, but his ceiling is high in the Rams offense with Stafford in the mix. At the very least, he should put up numbers similar to the ones Reynolds had in 2020: 52 catches, 618 yards, two touchdowns. Stafford will make Jefferson even more valuable and at least a WR4, possibly even WR3 in 2021.

Robert Woods

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Woods’ stock doesn’t move all that much with Stafford stepping in. He’s still a quality WR2 option in fantasy due to the Rams’ reliance on the run and the presence of Kupp on offense. Woods isn’t necessarily a true deep threat for the Rams, but Stafford’s accuracy and willingness to take shots downfield will open things up for Woods. His average targeted air yards (TAY) in 2020 was just 7.1, which was well below average compared to other receivers. Even Lions TE T.J. Hockenson averaged more than that (7.2) for the Lions last season. Again, Woods isn't necessarily Marvin Jones, but the Lions wideout averaged 12.9 targeted air yards with Stafford this past season. Woods will still rack up big yardage after the catch, but he also should get more chances to make plays downfield.

Cooper Kupp

(AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

Kupp benefits even less than Woods. He was a good fantasy wideout with Goff and that won’t change much with Stafford. His targeted air yards in 2020 was just 6.3, tied with Gerald Everett. In other wods, he was hardly ever targeted far downfield. He’s never been a deep threat for the Rams, though he does win on passes over the middle in the short and intermediate areas. Stafford will still make those throws – he’s not strictly a deep-ball passer – but his arrival doesn’t do much for Kupp’s stock. I still expect him to put up 1,000 yards and score a bunch of touchdowns next season, with even more deep digs and posts being run by the Rams wideout. He’s a solid WR2 in fantasy.

Tyler Higbee

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Like Jefferson, Higbee benefits in multiple ways next season. Everett will be a free agent and is likely to leave, given the Rams’ cap situation and tight end depth. And with Stafford coming in, Higbee’s target share could increase. Hockenson was targeted 101 times last season, second-most on the team. He caught 67 passes for 723 yards and six touchdowns, out-producing Higbee in 2020 (44 catches, 512 yards, five touchdowns). Higbee stands to see an increase in targets and snaps next season, and with Stafford relying on his big tight end Hockenson last season, Higbee can play a similar role on offense. He may not be a true TE1, but Higbee is a good TE2 option.