Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is a fascinating, semi-under-the-radar player who’s been incredibly productive in his short career thus far. I say “semi-under the radar” because he’s not as flashy as the upper echelon of NFL wide receivers and doesn’t produce as many splash plays, but he’s an integral part of the Rams’ passing game and is productive with plenty of volume.
Kupp bounced back from mid-season ACL surgery in 2018 to remarkably play all 16 games in 2019. He got off to a blistering start with 58 catches for 792 yards and five touchdowns in the first half of the season, but stumbled down the stretch with just 36 catches for 369 yards on five fewer targets per game than his first-half average in the final eight games—he did catch another five touchdowns, though.
His snap count dropped considerably from Week 13 on as well. From Weeks 1-12, Kupp was on the field for 88.2% of the Rams’ offensive snaps. His snap percentage from Weeks 13-17 dropped to 72%, 29%, 92%, 61%, and 61%, respectively. That averaged out to playing 79.6% of Los Angeles’ offensive snaps in 2019 after playing 82.5% of his team’s snaps when active in 2018.
Kupp is going to come off the field more often than fellow receiver Robert Woods, especially when the Rams use two-tight end sets. And following the trade of wide receiver Brandin Cooks and the emergence and contract extension of tight end Tyler Higbee, many expect more multi-tight end sets (with Higbee and Gerald Everett) from head coach Sean McVay in 2020. So what does that mean for Kupp’s statistical projections?
MyBookie.ag posted the following season totals for Kupp in 2020:
Receptions: 89.5 (over -115; under -125)
Receiving Yards: 1,120.5 (over -120; under -120)
Receiving TDs: 7.5 (over -115; under -125)
To determine how many catches Kupp will have in 2020, we need to project expected targets. In order to do that, let’s find out how often we expect Jared Goff to throw. The 25-year-old quarterback threw a league-leading 626 times last season. His volume has increased each season in the league, but that trend stops in 2020. Something closer to the average of the last two seasons (593 pass attempts) is more palatable.
Over the last two campaigns, Kupp has received 21.02% of the Goff’s target share (20.15% in 2018 and 21.41% in 2019). That 21% should be replicable in 2020 as the infusion of more two-tight end sets offsets the loss of a true No. 3 wide receiver (Cooks) in terms of opportunity for Kupp. Using 593 pass attempts as a benchmark, Kupp should get about 125 targets in 2020. With a catch rate of 70.90% over the last two seasons, that works out to about 88.6 catches over 16 games. The receptions prop is too sharp to bet on either side, unless you believe Kupp will be used far less often in McVay’s offense this season.
How about receiving yards? Kupp had his first 1,000-yard season in 2019 wth 1,161. Will he be around that mark in 2020?
Kupp is averaging 9.14 yards per target over the last two seasons (and 9.17 in his three-year career). Assuming he gets 125 targets in 2020, that works out to 1,142.2 receiving yards. Once again, that’s way too close for comfort to bet on either side.
“Can I at least bet on touchdowns?” Maybe. Let’s see how the numbers play out.
Kupp is averaging a touchdown every 11.81 targets over the last two seasons. That works out to 10.58 touchdowns on 125 targets. If we add in Kupp’s rookie season, his per-125-target average is 9.27 touchdowns. When active, Kupp has caught 41% of Goff’s total touchdown passes over the last two seasons. I project Goff to have 28 passing touchdowns in 2020, so a 41% touchdown share equals 11.49 scores. All the projected numbers point to over 7.5 receiving touchdowns (-115) for Kupp in 2020.
Sportsbooks have very sharp numbers when it comes to the Rams receiver’s 2020 output, but there is some money to be made on his touchdown total. His usage late in the 2019 season will scare some away, but Kupp is a huge part of the Rams’ offense and no longer has to contend with a third viable starter at wide receiver. Expect plenty of targets and touchdowns for Kupp this season, even with Higbee and Everett on the field together more often.