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L.A. Rams

Kupp has setback

Cooper Kupp suffered a hamstring injury earlier in the preseason, and yesterday came the news that he's apparently picked up an additional issue in his recovery. He's being called day t0 day with a muscle strain. The start of the season is a little over a week away, so his availability for the opener can't be taken for granted.

We've been a little cool on Kupp all along. He's 30 years old, and both he and his aging quarterback have seemed like injury risks. If Matthew Stafford gets hurt, how good would Kupp be with fourth-round rookie Stetson Bennett at quarterback? (If you saw Bennett in the preseason, you know the answer is probably not great.) And if Kupp does miss time, how good would Stafford be throwing to Van Jefferson, Puka Nacua, Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek? It's not a promising situation.

However, the news on Kupp does make me wish I had a little more stock in Cam Akers. He's in a contract year, and if Kupp (or Stafford) were to miss time, I think they'd lean more heavily on the ground game. That's how things played out a year ago, with Akers the star.

Last season, both Kupp and Stafford were hurt by the middle of the season, and the Rams went very run heavy. In the second half of last year (seven games for him), Akers averaged 93 total yards and nearly a touchdown per game. In PPR leagues, he averaged 16 points per game. That was better than all but seven other running backs, among players to appear in at least six games.

RUNNING BACKS PER GAME, 2022 (2ND HALF)
PlayerGRunNoRecTotTDPts
Christian McCaffrey, S.F.968.24.742.8111.0.8921.1
James Conner, Ariz.776.73.925.4102.11.0020.1
Austin Ekeler, LAC954.25.237.992.1.8919.8
Josh Jacobs, L.V.9101.13.125.3126.4.6719.8
Tony Pollard, Dall.862.63.431.393.9.8818.0
Derrick Henry, Ten.883.52.432.3115.8.5017.0
Jerick McKinnon, K.C.918.74.139.658.21.0016.2
Cam Akers, LAR778.41.614.192.6.8616.0
Saquon Barkley, NYG866.63.618.685.3.6315.9
Najee Harris, Pitt.974.81.913.087.8.7815.3
Aaron Jones, G.B.865.13.423.188.3.3814.7
Leonard Fournette, T.B.643.85.034.278.0.1713.8
Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.854.11.47.561.61.0013.5
Nick Chubb, Cle.976.01.918.894.8.3313.4
Dalvin Cook, Min.962.82.219.682.3.4413.1
D'Andre Swift, Det.932.83.627.260.0.5613.1
David Montgomery, Chi.850.52.521.672.1.5012.7
Rhamondre Stevenson, N.E.852.84.324.377.0.1312.7
Kenneth Walker, Sea.768.62.116.785.3.2912.4
Jamaal Williams, Det.957.9.31.859.71.0012.3
Isiah Pacheco, K.C.970.31.113.083.3.4412.1
AJ Dillon, G.B.847.61.513.461.0.7512.1
Devin Singletary, Buff.859.01.49.168.1.6311.9
Latavius Murray, Den.770.62.19.780.3.2911.9
Rachaad White, T.B.845.53.819.464.9.2511.7
Raheem Mostert, Mia.759.02.615.074.0.2911.7
Miles Sanders, Phil.968.11.04.072.1.5611.5
Brian Robinson, Was.782.6.77.690.1.2911.4
Tyler Allgeier, Atl.876.51.35.582.0.2511.2
Alvin Kamara, N.O.856.82.621.478.1.1311.2
Travis Etienne, Jac.855.62.017.873.4.1310.1
Cordarrelle Patterson, Atl.741.92.012.053.9.4310.0

Maybe it's too early to get too worried about Kupp. Entirely possible he's ready for Week 1, and maybe he only misses a game. But without even playing a game he's dealing with hamstring and muscle issues, despite the fact that you know Sean McVay hasn't had the veteran doing anything too strenuous in August. You start to wonder if this isn't the beginning of a rough season for the star wideout.

I'm not a big believer in the other receivers on the roster, although I suppose you need to bump Jefferson et al up a little if you think Kupp won't be available for regular-season games. Tyler Higbee had a couple of games with 8-9 catches after Kupp got hurt last year (but just 19 in his other seven games, so not a given he'll be hugely productive).

But in general, I'm more interested in the ground game: Akers for sure, and third-down back Kyren Williams to a lesser extent. Could be more running than passing coming up.

--Andy Richardson

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