FA Expectancy: Robert Woods

Updated: July 31st 2017

For the final 2017 FA Expectancy article, I wanted to shine the spotlight on Robert Woods who signed with the L.A. Rams. His arrival wasn’t a big splash like Brandin Cooks in New England or Alshon Jeffery in Philadelphia and most owners have seen Woods move from one stagnant offense in Buffalo to another in L.A. as neutral at best. So why should anyone be excited about a receiver moving to the 27th ranked team in pass attempts in 2016 and who hasn’t accumulated more than 700 yards or 5 touchdowns in a season? It all has to do with the situation he finds himself with new coach Sean McVay and the lack of experienced receivers on the depth chart.

Can Woods Be the #1 Option?

The Bills for the last two seasons under Rex Ryan finished 31st and 32nd in pass attempts. Before Ryan arrived Woods had 65-699-5 in his sophomore season playing alongside Sammy Watkins and the team was ranked 13th in pass attempts. With the three years that most expect receivers to develop it would have been interesting to see how Woods would have developed in a moderate passing offense these last two years.

Last season Watkins missed weeks 2-11 forcing Woods to be the WR1 and he produced an average of 10.66 points in PPR leagues. This was highlighted by his game on Monday Night Football in week 9 against Seattle of all teams when he had 10 catches for 162 yards. Clearly, he can contribute enough to be a fantasy relevant receiver and this all came with only a single touchdown in 2016. Increasing his touchdown total to even a moderate 5 or 6 would make Woods a solid WR3 with WR2 upside on a weekly basis.

Fisher-less Rams

Despite some confusion midseason with the Rams giving Jeff Fisher a contract extension the team finally came to their senses and fired him before the end of the season. His replacement, Sean McVay, is the youngest head coach in the modern NFL history (30). With all the hype surrounding Kyle Shanahan and how he will be changing the fortunes of the 49ers, there’s not much being talked about with McVay’s success. I argued this in a previous article that Shanahan wasn’t that dominant of a play caller for Washington and after McVay replaced him the team actually scored a slightly higher amount of touchdowns (38:34) per season.

So why are people so high on players like Pierre Garcon and Joe Williams but aren’t as high on Robert Woods and Todd Gurley? The only reason must be because of how little publicity the moves the team made in the offseason have been and the stigma of a Fisher-led team leaves. We should remember that before last year’s draft most expected Jared Goff and Carson Wentz to be developmental QBs and were likely going to be 2-3 years away before deciding what their NFL talent levels would be. Therefore, it should be expected that there be an improvement from last year. Even if the quarterback play doesn’t improve drastically from Goff the addition of McVay should increase the passing numbers from Fisher’s 27th ranking last year.

 

Addition by Subtraction

The team added Andrew Whitworth to the offensive line which was a big reason for Gurley’s disappointing sophomore season. Getting a running game involved in the offense will always help open up zones in the secondary which is where Woods earns his money. At 6ft, 200lbs and a 4.51 40-time Woods isn’t going to blow the top off or box out defenders, he will need time to create separation and make himself open. Luckily for Woods, the Rams still have Tavon Austin who can be the speedy, gadget player that can stretch the field. They also released last year’s receiving leader Kenny Britt along with Brian Quick which immediately put Woods in the role of the X receiver. The team did draft Josh Reynolds (a Matt Waldman darling) and Cooper Kupp who people are very excited about for the future. Still, somebody has to be the primary option and at least for 2017 that would seem to be Woods. Averaging 10PPR points seems like a floor for Woods who wouldn’t need to be more than a WR4/5 on any roster. With the upside of being a target volume vacuum in what should be a more pass friendly team, the cost of $3-6MM for Woods offers tremendous value for the stat line he could have.

 

Cap Analysis: Bills

Updated: March 9th 2016

Buffalo Bills

Trending: Flat →

2015 was the first full year of the Pegula’s ownership. The team kept general manager Doug Whaley, and hired coach Rex Ryan. The team signed Tyrod Taylor to be the starter, keeping former first-round pick E.J. Manuel on the bench. Taylor performed well, but the team finished 8-8, losing twice to the Patriots, but beat the Dolphins & Jets four times.

 

Projected 2016 Team Salary$146.7M (not including escalators and not likely to be earned incentives)

Projected 2016 Cap Room: ~$13M (~$155.27M Estimate; ~$3.9M Rollover)

Situation: Weak

The Bills have very little cap space – they released Mario Williams to help free up the very little space they have. They are working on re-signing Richie Incognito, and they need to work on an extension for Tyrod Taylor – presuming they decide he’s the answer beyond 2016.  

Notable Free Agents:

Bills FAs

Mario Williams was a disappointment in Rex Ryan’s defense and was released (headed to Miami). Leodis McKelvin is headed to Philadelphia, and Percy Harvin may be done with football all together.

Top Projected Cap Hits:

Bills Top Proj Cap Hits

This is a fairly long list, and it doesn’t include Tyrod Taylor, who will undoubtedly be appearing on it in the near future.

Cap Casualty Watch List:

Bills Cap Cas

Extension Watch List: 

Bills Ext Watch List

While Tyrod Taylor certainly showed signs of promise last season, the Bills are being smart and waiting to see how Taylor plays in 2016 (or at least the first half) before making a decision on a contract extension for Taylor. Remember, Taylor hadn’t started a game since when he was in college when he opened the season last year as the Bill’s QB1. 

Position Needs: 

Defensive line, wide receiver, and linebacker.

Sleeper Watch: 

I think Robert Woods is going to have a tremendous season. 


Matt Papson (@RealitySportsMP) formerly worked in football administration for the Philadelphia Eagles. He is the President, co-founder and creator of Reality Sports Online, a fantasy front office platform that enables fantasy owners to build and manage their fantasy team like a professional sports general manager. The Reality Sports Online platform has been featured in Fortune, on Bloomberg TV, and was the 2012 Fantasy Sports Trade Association Rookie of the Year.

Sources: Spotrac, Pro-Football Reference, and Rotoworld