Why Robert Woods Will Be A Top-10 WR (2020 Fantasy Football)
Throughout the offseason, Kyle Yates will be highlighting several marquee fantasy players as he walks through his projection process. These projections are subject to change based on injuries, signings above/below them on the depth chart, new information regarding scheme or player usage, etc. They’ll serve as a way to give a “peek behind the curtain” into Kyle’s projections thought process and whether or not a player will be a fantasy value in 2020.
In this article, we look at how Robert Woods is well-positioned to finish as a top-10 WR in 2020.
In fantasy football, there’s a seemingly obvious correlation between snap counts and production. It’s a pretty simple understanding that the more a player is on the field, the higher the probability that they’ll receive targets, carries, etc.
There are only a handful of players that can claim that they were on the field for more than 94% or higher (on average) of their team’s snaps last year in the games that they played…
- DeAndre Hopkins: 97% (1,000 snaps)
- Odell Beckham Jr.: 95% (1,017 snaps)
- Woods: 94% (1,009 snaps)
- Allen Robinson: 94% (1,025 snaps)
- Jarvis Landry: 94% (998 snaps)
- Christian Kirk: 94% (804 snaps)
These are the types of players that are worth your draft selections in fantasy football leagues. They have an advantage over the rest of the players at their position because they’re simply on the field more. They don’t always pan out to being fantasy football superstars, but they’re not going to destroy your team. They have an extremely safe floor, and while some may not hit their true ceiling, others can take advantage of the increased opportunity and become the backbone of your fantasy football roster.
Last season, we saw Robert Woods put up an incredible snap percentage and, after an offensive philosophy shift, it resulted in solid fantasy football production. The Rams moved away from heavy 11-personnel (1RB/1TE/3WR) sets to featuring more 12-personnel (1RB/2TE/2WR) to compensate for their poor OL play after their bye week in week nine and we saw Woods take a step forward because of it. The main reason is that he was no longer sharing snaps with Cooper Kupp, who would only come on the field in 3WR sets, while Woods would always stay on the field.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) June 19, 2019
We saw Woods put up consistent enough fantasy production to be the WR12 from Weeks 9-17 last season (despite missing Week 10), while Kupp fell down to the WR31 over that time frame. Whereas, Kupp was the WR5 from Weeks 1-9, while Woods was the WR32.
This offense drastically shifted after their bye week, but will that continue into 2020?
One of the parts of this job that I enjoy so much is analyzing a team’s moves throughout the offseason in an attempt to try and project what they’re going to do when the games start. For the Rams, they chose to completely bypass their need for OL help this offseason and instead drafted another RB, another WR, and a third-string TE in the first few rounds. This indicates that they prefer to keep multiple tight ends on the field this season to help with blocking, which would continue the trend of utilizing 12-personnel more heavily.
If that’s the case, we can expect another year of high snap percentages from Woods, while Kupp will only come onto the field in 3WR sets. This means that either Josh Reynolds or Van Jefferson will start opposite of Woods in 2WR sets, but they’re unlikely to truly command a significant amount of the overall targets.
The Rams threw the ball an exorbitant 632 times in 2019 and it’s not unreasonable to expect a similar output in 2020. This defense lacks talent, outside of Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald, and could cause the Rams to throw the ball more than they would like to this year. As of right now, I’m comfortable projecting 590 pass attempts, but there’s certainly the potential for even more than that.
As for projecting the target distribution for this offense, we can safely assume that Woods will be the predominant option and work our way down from there.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) December 10, 2019
If we take the projected 590 projected pass attempts, it’s arguably reasonable to break up the receiving options with the following target percentages:
- Woods: 24% (142 targets) (8.85/game)
- Kupp: 15% (89 targets) (5.53/game)
- Tyler Higbee: 17% (100 targets) (6.3/game)
- Josh Reynolds: 12% (71 targets)
- Gerald Everett: 10% (59 targets)
- Cam Akers: 8% (19 targets)
- Van Jefferson: 7% (41 targets)
- Darrell Henderson: 5% (30 targets)
- Malcolm Brown: 2% (12 targets)
From weeks 9-17, Woods averaged 11.2 targets per game when he was on the field. Over that same time frame, Higbee averaged 8.25 targets per game, while Kupp saw his average targets decrease to 5.875. With that projection and target share breakdown in mind, we’re able to see how Woods can easily hit 142 targets this season.
While Woods finished as the WR12 from Weeks 9-17 last year, it should’ve been much higher. In my recent article on Calvin Ridley, I discussed how projecting the average yards per touchdown rate allows us to determine a player’s baseline heading into a season.
If we take that same rate, which was that a WR (on average) scored a TD every 168.13 receiving yards last year, we’re able to project Woods’ baseline for this upcoming season. However, we can also look back and realize that Woods fell extremely short of the expected TDs based on his receiving totals. In 2019, Woods finished the season with 90 receptions for 1,134 yards and only 2 touchdowns. Based upon the league average, Woods should’ve finished with 7 receiving TDs in 2019. While there are always going to be players that finish much higher or lower than the league average, it’s important to recognize those statistics as potential outliers. In 2017 and 2018, Woods scored 5 and 6 touchdowns respectively. We can safely project a return to the mean in 2020 and assume he’s going to finish much closer to the league average.
Robert Woods 👏
— PFF (@PFF) December 1, 2019
If that’s the case, based on Woods’ projected 142 targets and a projected 62% catch rate with 13 yards per reception, he’d finish with 1,141 receiving yards. If we apply the league average from last year, we’re able to determine that Woods’ expected receiving TDs is 7. He has the potential to finish higher than that, but we can stay conservative and project his expected rate.
If that happens, Woods is looking at 88 receptions for 1,141 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns.
With those projected receiving statistics, Woods slides in at WR9 in my current projections. Woods has been a steady contributor for fantasy football over the past several seasons and has shown that he has the potential to finish as a top-12 option at the position already. As previously mentioned, he was the WR12 from Weeks 9-17 last season, but he’s also finished as the overall WR10 in 2018.
Robert Woods END AROUND to the 🏠#SFvsLAR
— PFF (@PFF) October 13, 2019
This Rams team could be forced to throw even more than the projected total I gave them, which only increases Woods’ opportunity. He’s currently ranked as the WR18 in ECR (Expert Consensus Rankings) and is going off the board as the WR23 based on ADP data. He’s an absolute steal right now in fantasy drafts and I don’t expect that to continue for much longer. He’s a fantastic buy right now in Dynasty leagues for a contending team and you should be able to get him for super cheap.
“Kyle Why” Fantasy Football Series
- Why David Montgomery Will Be a Top-15 RB
- Why Ke’Shawn Vaughn Will Be a Top-20 RB
- Why Joe Burrow Will Be a Top-12 QB
- Why Calvin Ridley Will Be a Top-10 WR
- Why Robert Woods Will Be a Top-10 WR
- Why DeSean Jackson Will Be a Top-30 WR
- Why Michael Pittman Jr. Will Be a Top-30 WR