I don’t know about you, but my Saturday was ruined by the news of Robert Woods’ ACL tear. Woods became such an unlikely star in the NFL. You couldn’t help but root for the guy. As is the case, though, the show must go on. How will the Rams’ WR situation shake out without Woods? Is Van Jefferson an every-week fantasy football starter, or will Odell Beckham Jr. and Ben Skowronek eat into his value?
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Van Jefferson has been the Rams’ WR3
There was a stretch from Weeks 4-6 where the Rams decreased Jefferson’s usage. Other than that, he has mostly been an every-down player.
The Rams run a ton of 11 personnel (3 WR, 1 RB, 1 TE). With Cooper Kupp and Woods as the clear top two WRs, Jefferson still averaged a 90% snap share the past three weeks. Following Woods’ season-ending injury, it stands to reason Jefferson steps into the WR2 role.
Robert Woods and Van Jefferson are very different players
Although Jefferson is the likely WR2 in Los Angeles, expecting him to be a one-for-one replacement for Woods is unrealistic. Jefferson is two inches taller than Woods and a heck of a lot faster (4.39 vs 4.51 40 times).
Jefferson is more of a downfield burner than Woods, who was always reliable underneath. Woods is also an excellent blocker. It’s unclear whether Sean McVay would trust Jefferson in that role.
Who is Ben Skowronek?
Without Woods, the Rams are in need of a wide receiver to play in the three-receiver sets they so often run. Beckham has been with the team for all of three days. Even though he’s playing tonight, there is simply no way he will see a significant snap share.
Enter Ben Skowronek. Skowronek has been the Rams’ WR4 behind Kupp, Woods, and Jefferson. On Monday Night Football, he may be their WR3.
The Rams drafted Skowronek in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft. For those keeping score at home, that’s five rounds after Los Angeles selected Tutu Atwell, who played just 10 offensive snaps this season before going on the injured reserve. Skowronek is the same height as Jefferson, but he’s 20 pounds heavier and a whole lot slower.
The reason Skowronek’s name has come up recently is that Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported he is expected to start in Woods’ place tonight.
Will Skowronek be fantasy-relevant?
The short answer here is no. Skowronek is a seventh-round rookie that has caught just 3 passes this season. All 3 of them came in Week 8 after the Rams benched their starters because they were blowing out the Texans. Skowronek was not targeted in any other game this year. Last week, he played just 3 offensive snaps.
Although Skowronek is going to be the Rams’ WR3 tonight, I would expect Los Angeles to run a little more 12 personnel (2 WR, 1 RB, 2 TE) while also rotating Beckham in as well. Skowronek is not going to see an 80% snap share. He’ll be lucky to crest 60%.
Jefferson is a much more talented player than Skowronek, and he’s barely been fantasy-relevant this season, averaging just 9.8 PPR fantasy points per game. He’s currently outside the top 48 wide receivers in fantasy scoring. Fantasy managers have no reason to expect Skowronek to even be as good as Jefferson.
Kupp will see all the targets he can handle. Tyler Higbee could also be in line for some increased work. Jefferson, Beckham, and Skowronek will fight for what’s left. I expect Jefferson to graduate from fantasy WR5 to WR3/4. Beckham, meanwhile, will eventually become a WR4. As fun of a story as Skowronek would be, I doubt there’s anything here for fantasy.