Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp entered the 2022-2023 NFL season as the premiere wide receiver in fantasy football. He posted historically hilarious numbers last season, winning the triple crown. He led the NFL in catches (145), receiving yards (1,947) and receiving touchdowns (16).
Despite the Rams' struggles on offense, Kupp was quietly putting in another stellar year. Entering Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, Kupp had 75 catches for 813 yards and six TD's in just eight games. That led to fantasy owners relieved with their first-round draft choice of the All-Pro receiver.
But all of that changed Sunday. Late in the loss to the Cardinals, Kupp took a hit low and was seen writhing in pain on the ground. He suffered a high ankle sprain and was later placed on injured reserve by the Rams. Typically, a high ankle sprain will cost anywhere from four to six weeks. But he just had surgery and with the Rams season going so miserably, it is certainly possible we have seen the last of him this year.
Obviously, if you have an IR spot on your roster, you should use it. But depending on the structure of your roster and bench, you might need to utilize that spot elsewhere.
Considering Kupp's injury, let's take a look at the fantasy football impact.
Fantasy Implications for the Rams amid Cooper Kupp surgery
It stands to reason that when someone with a target share as ridiculous as Kupp's. He leads the NFL reeling in 35.7 percent of the team's receptions. Normally, the fantasy fallout on the rest of the team would be worth investing in. But that's not necessarily the case in Los Angeles.
Rams head coach Sean McVay mentioned that Allen Robinson is expected to take over the role as the number one receiver. The Rams acquired Robinson this offseason and had high hopes for the former Pro Bowl receiver. Thus far, he has been a massive disappointment. He has just 29 catches for 292 yards and two touchdowns and only reached double-digit fantasy points twice this season.
He's worth a flier if you find him on your waiver wire. But don't expect even WR2 numbers, never mind Kupp numbers.
Van Jefferson gets a bump but his role is not likely to change very much. He's particularly used downfield and the Rams offensive line is not good enough to give Matthew Stafford the time to look deep. Stafford, who missed last week's game with a concussion, made his return to practice on Wednesday.
The one player that might get the largest bump in production, especially in PPR (point per reception) leagues is tight end Tyler Higbee. He has easily been Stafford's second favorite target after Kupp this season. Higbee is averaging just under eight targets per game this year. Keep in mind, he left Week 6 early with an injury too.
With the Rams offensive line's struggles, Stafford and even John Wolford, have looked his way underneath. That's not likely to change. If anything, amid Kupp being out of the lineup, that target share should increase even more. But unlike the other receivers, his targets are generally more catchable balls.
Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Replacements
Obviously, you are not going to come close to replicating the fantasy production that Cooper Kupp gave you. If your bench does not really have anyone you trust to produce on a consistent basis, there are a few dart throws out there with potential upside.
Waivers cleared in most leagues Wednesday morning, so Christian Watson was likely scooped up. Hopefully, Kupp owners were the ones to grab him. He's coming off the best game of his career with 107 yards and three touchdowns. The Packers face some poor secondaries coming up, making Watson an intriguing play.
Another wide receiver with upside that you can probably find as a free agent is Commanders' wideout Jahan Dotson. You certainly aren't going to play him this week. He returned last week to play on a limited basis, catching one of two targets for 14 yards. But we saw the rookie make a big impact the first few games of his career when he scored four touchdowns in the first month. The Commanders play the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12 and depending on how he performs this weekend, could be a sneaky good play against the league's worst secondary next week.
The last player worth looking at, that you can start this week is Chargers wide receiver DeAndre Carter. Even though Keenan Allen and Mike Williams practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, it's unlikely either suit up Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.
You know Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense is going to score points. Justin Herbert has to throw to someone and with Joshua Palmer getting all of the love, Carter has also been making an impact for fantasy managers. The last two weeks without either Allen or Williams, he's topped 50 yards receiving in both games and scored last week. You could do worse.
Losing Cooper Kupp is a difficult pill to swallow. But it doesn't have to be the end of a fantasy season.