Through six weeks, Los Angeles Rams RB Kyren Williams is on the short list of fantasy football MVP candidates, but a sprained ankle is expected to sideline him in the short term, leaving managers in a tough spot.
Can you replace Williams’ production by simply picking up the next best option in Los Angeles? How will this offense function in the short term? Will Williams be the asset at the end of the season that he was at the beginning?
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How Does Kyren Williams’ Injury Impact His Fantasy Value Going Forward?
Williams’ exact fantasy value for the rest of the season is a bit of a moving target due to the vague nature of the projected timetable. The most likely outcome, at this moment in time, would be a three-game absence, taking the Week 10 bye to get fully ready for the stretch run, and return for a divisional showdown against the Seahawks in Week 11.
If we’re operating under that assumption, Williams can still guide your fantasy team to a title. With the lack of proven options behind him on the depth chart, the lead role figures to be his the second he is healthy enough to take the field.
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For the season, Williams is averaging 18.3 touches per game (17.5 in the two games since Cooper Kupp returned).
Is there a chance that number gets reduced a touch upon his initial return? Yes, but come fantasy playoff time, that role seems to be a reasonable one to project him to hold.
The end-of-season schedule isn’t favorable, but we’ve seen volume alone guide Williams to fantasy stardom. While the quality of opponents does stiffen (Cleveland and Baltimore to open December is no picnic), it’s worth noting that the Rams — on extended rest after playing Thursday the week prior — get the Giants for the fantasy Super Bowl (Week 17).
The lack of clarity on the recovery play has me a little nervous, but if the timeline presented above is accurate, Williams is still a top-15 RB the rest of the way for me, ranking ahead of another banged-up star in David Montgomery, who has more touch competition behind him.
What Is the Fantasy Value of Zach Evans, Royce Freeman, Myles Gaskin, and Others?
In the short term, L.A.’s backfield is one to avoid. Not only are the Rams the fifth pass-heaviest offense in the league (61.4% of their plays), but they play a pair of top-10 blitz defenses over the next two weeks in Pittsburgh and Dallas.
That type of defensive scheme can be vulnerable to quick strike pass attacks with high-quality target-earning receivers — something the Rams happen to have two of.
Zach Evans is considered the favorite to get the first run at work in Williams’ absence and is my preferred option, but he’s not a top 30 option for me at running back this week and is unlikely to be as much next week either with no teams on a bye.
Royce Freeman has been in this system all season while the Rams brought in Gaskin off the street this week, further adding to the cloudy nature of the hierarchy here. In theory, they’ve held onto Freeman for a reason, so I have him ranked as the next best option behind Evans, but not a must-rostered player by any means.
I’d argue that Williams’ injury actually boosts the value of Matthew Stafford. He was a drive finisher prior to the Week 6 win over Arizona more than a drive sustainer, thus giving Stafford and this passing game more scoring equity as they approach the red zone.
MORE: Week 7 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet
Stafford is a fine streaming option this week, and I touted him on the PFN Fantasy YouTube Channel as an elite stacking option when it comes to building DFS tournament lineups.
My current RB rankings (as part of our PFN Consensus Rankings) for Week 7 in the Evans tier:
- 35. AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers
- 36. Jeff Wilson Jr., Miami Dolphins
- 37. Zach Evans, Los Angeles Rams
- 38. Ezekiel Elliott, New England Patriots
- 39. Emari Demercado, Arizona Cardinals
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