Josh Reynolds, Tyler Higbee's Fantasy Outlook After Cooper Kupp's Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2018

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 28: Wide receiver Josh Reynolds #83 of the Los Angeles Rams runs in a pass for a touchdown in the third quarter beside free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21 of the Green Bay Packers at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams received rough news on Monday, as star wide receiver Cooper Kupp was lost for the season with a torn ACL, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. 

Kupp's injury is a major loss, as he had established himself as arguably the most reliable target for Jared Goff.

James Palmer @JamesPalmerTV

In 2018, Jared Goff has a 134.4 passer rating when targeting Cooper Kupp. Highest passer rating when targeted in the NFL this season (Min. 50 targets)

In his absence, players like wide receiver Josh Reynolds and tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett will be given a chance at a bigger role. But will those roles be enough to make them fantasy relevant?

Sigmund Bloom @SigmundBloom

Josh Reynolds and to lesser extent Higbee/Everett, your time is now. Rams have done a good job amassing enough weapons to keep the offense on track. Lots of teams lack an outside size/speed threat like Reynolds or one receiving TE as talented as either Higbee or Everett https://t.co/VFK3Q5qReo

In the case of Reynolds, yes. He'll become a starter for the team on the outside, with Robert Woods likely moving to the slot, and that could seriously improve his fantasy outlook.

In two games with Kupp out of action earlier in the year, Reynolds caught four passes for 61 yards and two scores, though he was only targeted six times. 

Adam Levitan @adamlevitan

In the two games Kupp missed earlier this year, Josh Reynolds played on 120-of-129 snaps. Brutal 10.3% target share though. https://t.co/fCI2OO6D6V

While he'll still be the team's fourth option in the passing game, behind Woods, Brandin Cooks and running back Todd Gurley, the Rams' offense has facilitated fantasy value for three receivers all season long. Reynolds isn't as good as Kupp, but there's no reason to believe he won't be in the flex conversation with Kupp done for the year.

Without question, Reynolds should be rostered in all formats. 

Higbee and Everett, however, may hurt one another in the fantasy conversation, as neither has established themselves as the top dog. Both are almost entirely reliant on touchdown production to have any sense of fantasy relevance, and it's likely Reynolds will see far more targets in Kupp's absence than any of LA's tight ends.

Neither one of these players needs to be rostered at this point, though either is a fine speculative play if you like keeping a TE2 on your roster. And it's possible that either one could pop with Kupp out for the year, so at the very least, they are players worth monitoring. 

As for the team's top guns in the passing game, Woods and Brandin Cooks, each could see a slight bump in production and targets, though both were pretty firmly established as high-end WR2 options already.

While it's likely they'll remain in that tier, Woods has more potential to ascend to the WR1 realm given his versatility. He replaced Kupp in the slot when Kupp was injured earlier in the season and likely will reprise that role.

"He's just become a guy that I can really trust with any route, any sort of cut, anything," Goff said in mid-October, per Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register. "He's a guy that I really have a lot of faith in."

With Kupp out of action, Woods' targets should increase slightly. But it's Reynolds who has the potential to make the biggest leap for fantasy players.