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.
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]
Yeah, that’s right, a WR1. Woods wasn’t just good for the remainder of the season. He was great. He was the WR9 in points per game and this was highlighted by a WR1 finish 8-171-2 game in week ten. Woods would then finish the season with a 9-142-0 performance against the Falcons in the playoffs. Sammy’s tenure with the Rams ended with just one catch for 23 yards on four targets. Over those final nine games (including the playoff loss), Woods’ full 16-game season pace looks like this: 94 receptions, 1310 yards, and eight touchdowns. Clear cut, without-a-doubt stud numbers.
To back this up, Pro Football Focus graded him as WR15 right behind A.J. Green and Mike Evans. That was with his early season struggles too! Did I mention that Robert Woods hasn’t even turned 26 yet? So how high has his price skyrocketed as the clear WR1 in this high-flying offense that finished first in points and top ten in passing yards and passing TDs? WR25? WR20 maybe?
Nope, think again. Even now, after a stellar season where Woods finished as WR32 despite accumulating 81% of his fantasy points in just eight games and after a dominant playoff performance, Woods has an ADP of WR36 in the March 2018 data. That is behind four unproven rookie WRs, behind Cooper Kupp and, of course, behind Sammy Watkins. I haven’t actually mentioned Kupp yet and he’s a fine player but he was soundly out-produced by Woods on a per game basis and was just WR30 in PPG from week five on whilst Woods was WR9. And Kupp is only a year younger than Woods, so no big gap there.
Why? Going back to what I mentioned at the beginning, Woods was tremendously overshadowed. The success for the Rams on offense has been attributed to Sean McVay, Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Andrew Whitworth and the offensive line, and probably even the rookie success of Cooper Kupp. I don’t recall anyone saying Robert Woods was a major factor in the amazing offensive turnaround of the Rams. (To the one guy on Twitter that probably HAS said this, I apologize).
When you look at his overall stat line of 56-781-5 you would see a slight improvement over his Buffalo numbers as you might expect going to an offense that turned out to be very good. Of course, that would be lazy and doesn’t consider all the points I’ve listed above.
So what will Robert Woods do in 2018 and beyond? I’ve been completely sold on the idea of Sean McVay and Jared Goff which in turn led me to delve into Robert Woods performance and being sold on him as well. In addition to the stats mentioned above, Robert Woods averaged just over 8.5 targets a game in his final nine. That comes out 136 for a full season which would have been tied with Mike Evans for 11th. With the departure of Sammy Watkins (and right now it looks like Josh Reynolds is set to move into his role), I think it is extremely realistic to expect that to continue, or at least very close to it.
Another thing to consider is that the Rams leaned very heavily on Todd Gurley and were just 24th in pass attempts. I don’t expect them to move away from Gurley but I do think there is room for the number of pass attempts to increase. The Rams should start to take the kid gloves off Goff, much like the Seahawks handled Russell Wilson – a QB that has seen his pass attempts increase every year of his career after the team leaned on Marshawn Lynch in his early years.
In fact, we already saw an increase in pass attempts between Goff’s first eight games and final eight games. Over the first eight: 244 attempts 13 TD, 4 INT. Over the final eight: 278 attempts, 16 TD, 3 INT. That is already a significant increase in pass attempts and the second half pace would have bumped the Rams from 24th in pass attempts to 16th. It opens up things for a guy like Kupp to see more volume that some expect while Woods still gets 120+ targets.
I’m not going to bank on Woods continuing his WR9 pace, but top 20? Easily. For a 26-year-old under contract for four more years with an offense I fully believe in, that makes him an absolute steal at his ADP of WR36. He was also going after ten rookies in the most recent ADP data. I would be very comfortable paying 1.06 for Woods and I believe many owners would bite at that, and some at a lot less. Get out there and acquire Robert Woods before he finally steps out of the shadow and thank me later.
Latest posts by Zachary Wilkens (see all)
- Mark Andrews: Second-Year Tight End to Target - July 14, 2019
- Stop Neglecting the Bottom of Your Roster: Three Off-Season Dynasty Adds - June 15, 2019
- Curtis Samuel: The Panther Who Needs More Attention - June 10, 2019