Robert Woods signed a five year, 34 million dollar contract on day one of the 2017 free agency period. The move surprised many as Woods failed to meet expectations after being drafted out of USC 41st overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2013. As a four year starter, Woods’ best season across the board was a 65-699-5 sophomore campaign in 2014. This wasn’t bad, especially with Kyle Orton and E.J. Manuel throwing the passes, but it was overshadowed by an even better performance by the rookie and new WR1 Sammy Watkins. This would become the theme for Woods’ career – even right now at the time of writing.
After signing with the Rams, Woods had few believers at any dynasty price. He was set to be the WR1 with some volume potential. But he was in an offense that looked absolutely putrid with a quarterback selected first overall in the NFL Draft who was completely lost in his rookie season. In April of 2017, his ADP was WR83. Any belief in his Rams WR1 volume should have evaporated on August 11th of last year when the Rams made a blockbuster trade to acquire none other than the same wideout who overshadowed him in Buffalo – Sammy Watkins. As a result, Woods value hit rock bottom in September ADP. WR92. Lower than the likes of Phillip Dorsett and Chris Conley. In both April and September, Woods remained lower than Tavon Austin in ADP as well.
So here Woods was, set to be the WR2 on a team that had finished 32nd in points and 31st in passing yards. Putting up 500 yards probably would have been seen as a success. However, a funny thing happened when the season started. The Rams looked good! Woods’ first big game came in week three in a thrilling 41-39 win over the 49ers. He put up a 6-108-0 line on just seven targets. Unfortunately, Watkins was nearly identical plus two touchdowns with a 6-106-2 line on seven targets. Overshadowed. After week four, Woods was WR64 and while Sammy wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire, he had caught 14 of 16 targets with those two TDs to Woods’ none. The Rams were 3-1, Jared Goff and Sean McVay were already changing the course of the franchise, and nothing had changed for Woods.
In weeks five and six, the Rams faced two of the toughest secondaries in the (still healthy at the time) Seahawks and Jaguars. Watkins had just one catch for 11 yards on eight targets. Woods? 5-66-0 vs the Seahawks and 5-70-0 vs the Jaguars. From week five on, he would see fewer than seven targets just once in nine games – he missed three games due to a shoulder injury and sat out week 17 along with the rest of the starters. He would never again see fewer targets than Watkins. More importantly, he put up the numbers of a fantasy WR1.
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