The Los Angeles Rams were once touted as an elite offense. That was a few seasons ago after winning the Super Bowl. Going into this season, nobody really knew what to expect with a weak backfield and aging superstars in QB Matthew Stafford and WR Cooper Kupp. We’re into Week 16 of the 2023 NFL regular season and it appears the Rams’ offense is back. Well, it has been for a bit now. The Rams are averaging almost 30 points per game over the past five games. A big reason why is Kupp and WR Puka Nacua.
The Rams take on the New Orleans Saints in a big matchup with NFC playoff implications. We go over how to approach Kupp and Nacua for fantasy football in your playoff matchup.
Fantasy football start sit advice: Rams WRs
Injuries continue to mire Kupp, who has played in just 10 games this season. After missing all of September, Kupp returned to a new-look offense that didn’t exactly have him at the forefront. Kupp had a few vintage games upon return but has had more weeks with little production this season. More recently it appears Kupp is healthy and back to being an elite, top-5 WR in fantasy football. He has at least six catches in three straight games, 16 over the past two on 18 targets for 226 yards and 2 TDs. But just because Kupp is producing over the past few games doesn’t mean we absolutely play him on TNF vs. the Saints, right?
You’re still playing Kupp. It’s a tough matchup, though, so temper expectations. But Kupp is one of those WRs you don’t want to galaxy brain a decision on. Don’t overthink this. Kupp is one of your studs and he should be in your lineup in all formats.
Nacua is someone we can have a discussion on before slotting in on Thursday night. Nacua had one of the fastest starts for a rookie WR in the NFL for fantasy of anyone ever. Things have slowed down a bit for Nacua since Kupp returned from injury. But the rookie has still been a productive PPR receiver. Nacua has double-digit fantasy points in 10 of 15 games this season. He’s still seeing a solid target share, though it isn’t anything close to what we saw the beginning of the season. Still, Nacua has at least four catches in each of the past five weeks and double-digit FPTs in four of five.
The Rams almost exclusively run in three-wide sets. Last week, Kupp and Nacua played every offensive snap vs. the Commanders. WR3 Demarcus Robinson played 95% of the snaps. The emergence of Robinson has cut into Nacua’s target share a bit, plus Robinson is getting looks in the red zone; he has three TDs over the past three games.
Los Angeles is also running the ball quite a bit. Kyren Williams is healthy and had 27 carries last week. Even in a close game the Rams lost to the Ravens, Williams had 26 carries. There’s a commitment to the run that hurts Nacua’s volume from earlier in the season.
So does all this mean we have to rethink playing Nacua? Not really. The Saints have a great defense and strong secondary. It’s also TNF and you don’t want to lose early in the week. But Nacua is safe enough in PPR and his ceiling can’t really be ignored. Maybe we rethink things for standard formats with Nacua. The books like this game to be high scoring with the total at 46 on DraftKings Sportsbook. The game environment could be good for fantasy points. So it feels good to fire up Nacua in all formats really.
Can you play both Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua in the same lineup?
You can but would we recommend it? It feels very much like an all-in type of play and the Saints defense isn’t one you normally stack against. If the Rams are trailing at all, that would be helpful for the passing game. Los Angeles is a 4-point favorite, so the books feel the Rams will be ahead. In PPR, Kupp and Nacua can get to decent marks based on their projections. The odds of both popping in this matchup feels unlikely.