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.

 

Changing of the Guard

Updated: December 4th 2016

Hopefully, everyone’s waistbands held up on Thanksgiving and you kept all your fingers and toes if you were brave enough to go out on Black Friday. The NFL has its own dark day where feelings are hurt and human dignity can sometimes be called into question. I am referring to the “Black Monday”, a day when coaches are released following the final week 17 games. For those of you who follow hockey hopefully any coaches who are released are left with a little more dignity than Coach Gerard Gallant of the Florida Panthers. Yikes.

Regardless, there will be at least one head coach, if not multiple, that will not be with their current teams in 2016. Others might narrowly avoid the guillotine but will be on thin ice for next season. I have pulled together a list of four coaches that I think should be let go in the next month, two that could be let go and three others who could be surprise cuts either this year or next.

Guys Who Gotta Go

John Fox, Jeff Fisher, Chuck Pagano, Gus Bradley

John FoxJohn Fox – The writing has been on the wall for a couple of weeks now and it looks like both he and Jay Cutler have worn out their welcome in Chicago. Management seems content with letting them as well as Alshon Jeffrey and starting fresh with a new crew. A new coach should be welcomed but there is a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball before anything fantasy relevant returns to the windy city. It’s a real knock on Jordan Howard who looked like he could be a decent player if there was enough around him.

 

Jeff-FisherJeff Fisher – Why does this guy still have a job!? For those who have read my articles in the past know I don’t hold back on Fisher and his questionable coaching status. He was almost given an extension early in the season but that seems to have been pulled off the table with their recent slide. Unlike Howard’s outlook with a coaching change, there can only be good things that can happen to Todd Gurley’s value with Fisher removed. Ideally, GM Les Snead should look to bring in a coach who is defensive minded and focuses on controlling the clock and running the ball on offense.

**Editor’s note Fisher and Snead have been given contract extensions which can only suggest that the Rams are okay with presenting their fans a mediocre product. If you have Todd Gurley you should be selling him before the start of next season.**

 

Chuck PaganoChuck Pagano – Some thought that Chuck wasn’t going to make it through last season but he was given a second chance to work things out with GM Ryan Grigson. The team still has no offensive line to protect their hundred million dollar QB and their defense is suspect at best. Unless the Colts make a miraculous playoff run this season I don’t see how Pagano and potentially Grigson keep their jobs heading into 2017. Hopefully, the new regime comes in and invests more into protecting their QB before his career becomes a “ya but” legacy.

 

Gus Bradley – When people said they expected Allen Robinson to regress from 2015 I have a hard time believing that they meant this bad. He has been a ghost for most of this season and borders on droppable in a redraft. Blake Bortles himself has dropped from his top 5 fantasy season last year but maybe this is just numbers returning to the average. However, the reason Bradley should be gone by season’s end though is the defense and the failure to move forward. The team has been a sleeper to win the AFC South the last two years and Shahid Khan has spent a small country’s GDP on free agents in Bradley’s tenure to try taking advantage of a weak division. Another well below .500 season should be the final straw for Bradley.

Wouldn’t Be Surprised

Marvin Lewis, Mike McCarthy

Marvin LewisMarvin Lewis – It would be sad to see this be the season that Marvin Lewis is finally let go. His recent successes and the strong core of players he has built up over the last 5 years made the Bengals one of the most consistent teams in the AFC. However, without having a playoff win to his record, and given the big of a step back this season it may finally be the time to remove the second-longest tenured coach in the league. A change of coaches shouldn’t hurt the value of the Bengal’s players but there could be growing pains next year with a new style of offense to learn, something Dalton has had the benefit of avoiding thus far in his career.

Mike McCarthy – Similar to Lewis McCarthy has been one of the most successful coaches over his time in Green Bay, but not all jobs are judged evenly. Title Town expects Super Bowl contenders and the Packers are far from that this year. The return of Jordy Nelson proved that there still isn’t something right in the clubhouse and it may come down to a coaching change to try and liven up the team. With Aaron Rodgers in town, the team would still be considered “in the hunt” for 2017 but they have serious rebuilding work everywhere else if they want Rodgers to ever wear the belt again.

Surprising but Understandable

John Harbaugh, Sean Payton, Mike McCoy

John HarbaughJohn Harbaugh – Four years removed from a Super Bowl victory and the Ravens have fallen out of the elite class in the AFC. Last year was a huge disappointment and this year, while the record might not be that bad, it isn’t up to the standards of what they are expected to do year in and year out. The offensive coordinator was let go earlier this season and it hasn’t improved in recent weeks. He’s likely to keep his job with a chance still at the playoffs but maybe it is time to move on to the next phase. The Ravens could turn out to be in a year what the Bears are now, a team with minimal talent and a mediocre QB that is leeching all the cap space.

Sean PaytonSean Payton – What a ride it would be since 2005 with a top 10 offense year after year and a Super Bowl trophy to hold high. But the defense has been historically bad for years now and it likely isn’t going to be fixed before Drew Brees is gone in what everyone expects to be next season. Brees moving on would likely force the team to look to start fresh with their coaching staff too and would be a fitting end to the Payton-Brees Era in New Orleans.

Mike McCoyMike McCoy – The Chargers this season read like a heart monitor and for many of its fans they may have had to be hooked up to one. With so many puzzling losses early in this season, failing to capitalize on Phillip Rivers in his prime the last couple years and the looming move to Los Angeles next year the Chargers could be looking to make a splash move.

Who do you think will be let go this season? Let me know @naandrews19.