Biggest sleeper in Rams-Saints: WR Josh Reynolds has filled a key role for L.A.

The New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams have been the two best teams in the NFC for months. This should be a fun NFC championship game.

They played once this season and it was a thriller. The Saints jumped out to a 35-14 lead in the first half, the Rams came all the way back to tie it 35-35 in the fourth quarter, then with the Saints holding a 38-35 lead, New Orleans receiver Michael Thomas caught a 72-yard touchdown on a third down to put it away.

With a spot in Super Bowl LIII on the line, let’s look at the biggest sleepers from the Rams and Saints:

Los Angeles Rams WR Josh Reynolds

The Rams are a creative offense, but they are static when it comes to their personnel grouping. They run “11” personnel — that’s one running back and one tight end, with three receivers — practically every play. They used “11” personnel on 96 percent of their snaps this season, according to Sharp Football Stats. No other team topped 82 percent.

There was a problem in midseason: The Rams lost slot receiver Cooper Kupp to an ACL injury. Kupp, Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods were the Rams’ star-studded three-receiver set. Without Kupp the Rams had to either change their offensive identity or find someone to fill in for the valuable and talented Kupp. Reynolds became practically a full-time player and while the Rams missed Kupp, they found that Reynolds was up to the challenge.

In five of the six regular-season games since Kupp was hurt, 2017 fourth-round pick Reynolds played at least 95 percent of the offensive snaps. Reynolds had 22 catches for 304 yards and three touchdowns in those six games.

The Saints will be focused on Cooks and Woods, as well as the Rams’ strong running game. That opens up an opportunity for Reynolds to be an unlikely hero in the NFC title game. We already know he’ll be on the field a lot.

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KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 20: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime during the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 20, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Patriots defeated the Chiefs 37-31. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 20: Ted Ginn #19 of the New Orleans Saints makes a 43-yard catch against Lamarcus Joyner #20 of the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 20, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees is sacked by Los Angeles Rams' Ndamukong Suh during the first half of the NFL football NFC championship game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Los Angeles Rams players celebrate after overtime of the NFL football NFC championship game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) spins in the air as he is tackled by New England Patriots defensive back Jonathan Jones (31) during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with his teammates after the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 13: Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots breaks up a pass intended for Mike Williams #81 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the second quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) gestures as he runs past Indianapolis Colts safety Clayton Geathers (26) and linebacker Anthony Walker during the second half of an NFL divisional football playoff game in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) lies on the turf in front of New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) after the Saints intercepted a pass in the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. The Saints won 20-14. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 13: Sony Michel #26 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown as he is defended by Casey Hayward #26 of the Los Angeles Chargers during the first quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 12: Inside linebacker Cory Littleton #58 of the Los Angeles Rams tackles running back Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional Round playoff game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 12: Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs is tackled by J.J. Wilcox #37 and teammate Kenny Moore #23 of the Indianapolis Colts during the first quarter of the AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 12, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) pulls in a touchdown reception against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Cre'von LeBlanc (34) in the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JANUARY 06: Melvin Gordon #28 of the Los Angeles Chargers loses the ball on the 1 yard line against the Baltimore Ravens during the fourth quarter in the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 06, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 05: Eric Ebron #85 of the Indianapolis Colts catches a pass for a touchdown defended by Tyrann Mathieu #32 of the Houston Texans in the first quarter during the Wild Card Round at NRG Stadium on January 5, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Cre'von LeBlanc (34) breaks up a pass intended for Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller (17) during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) celebrates his first down near the goal line against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of the NFC wild-card NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) tries to break free from Los Angeles Chargers free safety Derwin James in the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews (89) leaps over Los Angeles Chargers defenders as he rushes the ball in the second half of an NFL wild card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) flies for the goal line and makes a first down against Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark (55) during the second half of the NFC wild-card NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Cre'von LeBlanc (34) breaks up a pass intended for Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller (17) during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey (1) reacts after missing a field goal in the closing minute during the second half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Chicago. The Eagles won 16-15. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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New Orleans Saints FB Zach Line

While the Rams are predictable when it comes to their personnel, the Saints still believe in the fullback. And he’s good.

Line touched the ball 14 times the entire regular season, and his longest gain was 9 yards. But he makes a difference with some shattering blocks.

Line plays an average of about 14 snaps per game for the Saints, and he knows his role. He’s clearing lanes for Mark Ingram or Alvin Kamara, and he does it well. The Saints were sixth in the NFL in rushing yards. The Saints’ second-longest play against the Eagles in the divisional round was a 36-yard run by Mark Ingram in the fourth quarter, and Ingram ran behind a fantastic block by Line on Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham.

“There’s a little bit of an ego sense to the fullback position, because if you can make a big block people hear the crack — that’s one of those you’re kind of setting the tempo or you’re creating a spark for the offense,” Line told Herbie Teope of NFL.com. “I feel like sometimes if you make a big block to clear a running back, people see that.”

Both teams in the NFC championship game want to establish the run to set up everything else they want to do. For the Saints, Line plays a vital role in that part of their offense.

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Frank Schwabis a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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