Two seasons ago, Cooper Kupp had one of the best receiving years we have ever seen in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams. Considered the top target for quarterback Matthew Stafford, he finished with the second-most receiving yards (1,947) and second-most receptions (145) in a single season in league history.
Last season, Kupp was still on a strong pace, even though the Rams struggled overall. He averaged 8.3 receptions a game and 90.2 yards before suffering an ankle sprain in Week 10 that would require surgery and force him to miss the rest of the season.
Kupp has landed on the injury list again before the 2023 regular season begins. Should we be worried about the latest hiccup? And what does this mean for the Rams and fantasy football teams everywhere?
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What Happened to Cooper Kupp?
Early in August, head coach Sean McVay revealed to the media after a practice that the former Super Bowl MVP had pulled up with an injury in a red zone drill.
It turned out Kupp had strained his hamstring.
"He's a cheat code! Touchdown Cooper Kupp!"
🎥 Radio Call of the Game: The score that started our rally in the NFC Championship pic.twitter.com/9oRERTW2xp
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) February 2, 2022
Taking all precautions in the preseason, the Rams had him get an MRI on his hamstring. It was revealed to be a minor strain that would only take a few weeks to heal. Luckily the injury seemed to come at a time of year when he did not need to play through the pain or sit out any regular season weeks for healing.
As of a few days ago, Kupp said that he was on track to be ready for Week 1 of the regular season, but late Thursday afternoon, news popped up that he suffered a setback in his recovery and was considered “day-to-day.”
However, Kupp was in Minnesota on Saturday to meet with a “noted body specialist to further understand his hamstring issue,” per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Kupp and the Rams want to “fully comprehend the root of the issue.”
While there has been no firm word on Cooper Kupp’s status, exercising caution for Week 1 is the likely outcome. It’s a long season and putting him on the field early at less than 100% doesn’t help anyone. https://t.co/JpXpTrYS97
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 2, 2023
Los Angeles will likely “exercise caution” on Kupp for Week 1, according to Rapoport, suggesting that the Rams’ star wideout won’t be available for the team’s opener against the Seahawks. Although L.A. hasn’t formally ruled Kupp out for next Sunday’s game, that seems to be the direction they’re leaning.
The setback is worrisome and poses a lot of questions about Kupp’s durability for the 2023 season. While described as only a muscle strain, it is just the latest in a series of injuries to his legs. We will have to watch the news closely to see what this does to his status leading into Week 1.
What Are Los Angeles’ Options If Kupp Misses Time?
If Kupp was to miss time due to his hamstring injury, the Rams are not set up to survive easily. Their receiver room is full of a hodge-podge of names that haven’t had much success in the NFL.
The next receiver on the chart would be Van Jefferson. Jefferson also had a strong 2021 with 802 yards and six touchdowns, but he struggled in 2022, even when Kupp went out. He amassed just 369 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games.
After Jefferson, Ben Skowronek, Tutu Atwell, Demarcus Robinson, and rookie Puka Nacua are the remaining options for the Rams. Certainly not a room that gives fans a lot of confidence.
Kupp’s status to play week one is definitely in question. If Kupp is to miss time, the Rams’ passing game will likely struggle. Kupp’s health is essential to the success of their 2023 season, and having these hurdles before the season even starts is not great in LA.
What Does This Mean for Kupp’s Fantasy Ranking?
As we stand, Kupp is questionable to play in Week 1. From a redraft standpoint, I may be a little more apprehensive about taking him early. Ultimately, I wouldn’t drop him more than a slot or two in WR rankings.
He is still one of the top five options for fantasy teams this year at the wide receiver position. When he is healthy and on time with Stafford, Kupp is a cheat code in fantasy matchups that can single-handedly win you weeks.
From a dynasty perspective, I am getting a bit more leery if I own him. The 30-year-old has seen 547 regular season targets in the last four seasons.
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Add another 42 targets in the Rams 2021 Super Bowl run, and Kupp is near 600 contested passing routes, not to mention his 90-plus snap percentage in all four seasons where he was run blocking when he wasn’t catching passes. Bottom line: There is a lot of wear on the receiver’s tires.
The Washington native now has had an ankle injury that required surgery and a hamstring strain in camp that was reaggravated just weeks later. All of this in under a year. As the injuries pile up, you have to be concerned about the former Super Bowl MVP’s durability. Multiple leg injuries so close together have a few red flags going up.
If you are a contender in dynasty, you should still hold the Rams’ top receiver. Maybe even buy him if a rebuilding team is selling him. But if you don’t think you will be a top dog this year, you may want to see what the market is for Kupp.
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