Update, Thursday, Oct. 19 — The Rams backfield continues to be a tough nut to crack for fantasy football. Head coach Sean McVay, when asked if Zach Evans would get the lead work, he replied, “I wouldn’t say that.” With Evans, Royce Freeman, Myles Gaskin, and Darrell Henderson all vying for touches this week, we are going to need some assurances on who the starter will be before committing to them in fantasy.
The Los Angeles Rams announced on Wednesday that starting RB Kyren Williams is expected to miss multiple weeks due to a sprained ankle. Rams backup RB Ronnie Rivers has a sprained PCL in his knee and is expected to miss 4-5 weeks. So with the Rams’ top-2 backs sidelined, they’re going to have to turn to rookie RB Zach Evans and veteran Royce Freeman for the immediate future. There’s also RB Myles Gaskin on the roster and perhaps Darrell Henderson gets a look due to familiarity with Sean McVay’s offense. Either way, if you’re a Williams manager or not, here’s how the Rams’ backfield should shake out.
Fantasy football advice: Kyren Williams injury
Williams was playing almost all of the snaps at RB before the injury. In Week 6 vs. the Cardinals, Williams ran the ball 20 times for 158 yards and a TD. Rivers also chipped in four touches. Evans did get some work and had 10 yards on four carries. For that reason, we are all expecting Evans to step up and be the lead back of sorts after these injuries. So far this season, Evans only has those carries from Week 6. In college for Ole Miss and two seasons at TCU, Evans posted 6.9 yards per carry with 20 total TDs.
Freeman has technically been active for three games this season but hasn’t seen any field time. He’s seen limited action with the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers in recent seasons. Freeman started his career with the Broncos and was viewed more as a bruising RB, someone used in short yardage situations and at the goal line. He also had 43 receptions in his second year in the NFL and converted most of his targets, albeit for a weak yards per catch (6.0).
So, what does this all mean for fantasy football and who should you play? It means we could see Evans get the first crack at carries and he could be more of the feature back. Freeman should get into games, perhaps as a pass-catcher or in short yardage situations. Though, it is telling how McVay likes to use his RBs. After Cam Akers was dealt, Williams basically got all of the work out of the backfield. Actually, in Week 3, Williams played 100% of the snaps (55). That could mean if Evans doesn’t screw up and is productive enough, he would dominate the backfield snaps.
That isn’t to say Freeman doesn’t have value. If you’ve got a deep bench and can roster Freeman for a week, he’s definitely worth adding. This is especially true if you missed out on Evans and had Williams in your starting lineup. You never know with rookies and there’s even a scenario where Freeman takes the lead or Gaskin gets carries. If none of them are capable, expect the Rams to make a move.
For this week, play Evans and bench Freeman. Evans should get around 10-15 touches and could be a high-risk, high-reward type of start. Be on the look out for a potential signing this week, if not next week.