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Our St Louis Fantasies

Let’s take a look at the Rams roster and see if any of our illustrious group can prove fantasy relevant in 2010…

QBs

Bradford isn’t a certainty to get 16 games, let alone put up solid numbers in 2010. A good season for Bradford would be throwing more TDs than INTs and unless you are playing in a keeper league, Bradford is no more than a fantasy bench warmer. For me he stacks up as a lower-tier backup QB in a 10 team league with a decent amount of upside. I think the best you could hope for from Bradford is that he finally gets comfortable and starts getting decent numbers by the final few weeks of the season (KC, SF, @SEA) but I’m not sure I can envision a situation where you would make your league’s Championship game if you’d have to consider starting Bradford! A.J.Feeley shouldn’t start more than a handful of games. He has no place on any roster.

RBs

Steven ‘Action’ Jackson is a rare breed in today’s NFL. He is one of the top 3 backs in the league talent-wise and is also one of the few ‘feature backs’ in the league since a slow graduation to a RBBC strategy. He can pound the rock up the gut and also catch out of the backfield. Expecting Bradford to start, he’ll need a safe check down option and as we don’t have a TE of repute on the roster, Jackson could find himself Sam’s safety outlet. In 06/07 S-Jax clocked up over 800yds receiving of 90 receptions and I’m expecting a move back towards that level of production.  He’s a first round pick in any fantasy league and is a boosted in PPR leagues. He’s behind CJ, All Day, MoJo and Ray Rice based on injury concerns, but he’s very closely matched with Frank Gore and Michael Turner, but I see him as slightly above them with his catching skills. No other Rams running back should even cross your mind in 2010 fantasy football.

WRs

The Rams receiving corps is an upgrade over the 2009 bunch, but that’s not to say they are a unit that opposition secondaries will fear. The #1 and #2 on the depth chart will be Donnie Avery and Laurent Robinson. Avery probably has more upside with his deep-threat speed (think 800yds, 6-7 TDs), but Robinson projects to be a safer pair of hands and more consistent target for Bradford (or Feeley). With a burner like Avery there is always the potential for some long scores and that gives him the fantasy edge over Robinson in my book, although you’d have to think both players will be bench/depth players in most fantasy leagues unless you are starting 3 WRs.

The remainder of the Rams wide-outs are projects and raw prospects. Rookie Mardy Gilyard has been looking like a rookie in camp by all accounts and looks set to play a limited role this year. It’s highly unlikely he’ll be fantasy relevant this year. Danny Amendola is similar to Avery in the fact he is undersized but speedy, however, he is a kick returner (a record setting one for the Rams), so if your league awards points for KR and PR he gains some value. He will be battling to be the Ram slot receiver though and I’d be hard pressed to advocate selecting him as anything other than a DEEP waiver wire pick-up if and when he shows some chemistry with the heir apparent Bradford. Keenan Burton was Robinson’s replacement last year until he got injured. A possession receiver who has had 38 career catches and one TD in two years, he will be looking to prove his worth to make the Rams roster, let alone a fantasy one. Brandon Gibson, acquired in the Will Witherspoon trade to the Eagles, looked solid in his role as an over-the-middle guy. He’ll be fighting, along with Brooks Foster, to make the final roster which doesn’t bode well for big fantasy numbers.

TEs

With the ineffective Randy McMichael gone Daniel Fells became the Rams starting TE. He managed to score three times in 2009 and will almost certainly be the starter this coming season unless the either of the rookie duo of Onobun or Hoomanawanui show unexpected levels of development in camp. Of the trio only Onobun projects as a receiving threat of note and his career catch total in college was just two. Blocking doesn’t earn you fantasy points unfortunately or Billy Bajema might have had something to say. Fells will be the recipient of Bradford check downs but I’d be wary of an increased role for Steven Jackson in that regard too. I can’t recommend drafting any Rams TE in fantasy football, even as a backup. In a 10 team league there are plenty of players with far more scoring potential than Daniel Fells.

And for those who play in IDP leagues after the jump!

D-Line

Although Chris Long hasn’t exploded on to the scene like we might have hoped when we selected him #2 overall in 2008, he is showing signs of progress. 5.5 sacks last year with 9 QB hits and 21 hurries (according to Football Outsiders) is a step in the right direction. Long would benefit from a legitimate threat playing the other end of the line, which sadly James Hall is not. Long may be the victim of double teams, depending on the success of the line as a whole, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect further progress and improvement in his numbers. Long should achieve 8+ sacks, ideally double figures and that makes him on the cusp of fantasy relevance if you start 1 DE in your league.  The Rams also drafted three DEs in Hall Davies, Eugene Sims and George Selvie. Of the trio, Selvie has garnered the most press in camp. He played alongside Jason Pierre-Paul, the back-flipping Giant, in college and may see spot duty but cannot be considered a fantasy option.

Of the DTs Clifton Ryan and Fred Robbins look to be our ageing starters. Neither posses much threat in the sack department and that is the only stat that matters for fantasy DTs as their tackle numbers are so small. You can’t draft either.

LBs

James ‘Little Animal’ Laurinaitis stepped in to his role as leader of the Rams defense and racked up 120 total tackles, 2 sacks and 2 interceptions last year. He can certainly be counted upon as a tackle machine and therefore an IDP points monster, which makes him a valuable fantasy proposition. His tackle numbers should remain comfortably over 100 and he’ll only develop more in coverage and pass-rushing. Whilst not a sleeper as such, Little Animal has potential to step it up another notch. The rest of the Rams linebacking unit offers little in the way of sack potential and that hugely restricts their fantasy value. I will be interested to see how Bobby Carpenter plays out in a 4-3 scheme alongside a former Buckeye, but he is not more than waiver wire fodder IF he shows flashes of potential and even then he still may not offer enough scoring potential to be more than a bye-week fantasy fill in.

Secondary

I’ve always found the secondary to be one of the toughest places to figure fantasy wise. Safeties aren’t too bad as you know who will be in the box making tackles and which players will be in deep coverage making picks though. The key, in my opinion, is finding players with solid tackle numbers who can add big play potential. O.J. Atogwe fits that bill nicely with his 15 INTs and 9 FFs since 2007 while making around 75-80 tackles a season. The Rams defense propensity for allowing opposition players deep into the secondary also helps Atogwe pad his stats a little! Atogwe is a top 5 rated safety when it comes to fantasy. James Butler and Craig Dahl do not offer the same high scoring points potential and with there a debate over who should start, both must be avoided in fantasy.

Cornerbacks are difficult to project. Interceptions do rack up decent points, but it is consistent tackle numbers that get you the repeat scoring week in week out you need to succeed. If your league awards points for pass deflections you can look more towards your Asante Samuel-esque playmakers rather than the Richard Marshall run-support corner. Serviceable starting rookie corners can often prove valuable in fantasy as they will be picked on by opposing QBs giving them more chance to make a tackle, pass deflection or even a pick (see Jarius Byrd). This bodes well for Jerome Murphy who may well be thrust into a starting role alongside Ron Bartell. If the starter opposite Bartell can look down his place, he may be worth a fantasy roster place based on the fact he’ll been seen as the weak link in the secondary and therefore will be targeted more often.

Summary

You should certainly be looking seriously at Steven Jackson, OJ Atogwe and James Laurinaitis as fantasy relevant Rams, while Donnie Avery is the best of the sleepers, although somewhat obvious as a #1 wideout. Chris Long should be snapped up but not relied on while Bradford and Murphy offer some value off the bench if they can lockdown starting roles early. Laurent Robinson offers consistent low-mid level scoring potential and in deeper leagues may be a bye-week or match-up starter.


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One Response to “Our St Louis Fantasies”

  1. […] Our St Louis Fantasies Revisited Posted by Ross Miles on September 8th, 2010 in Features Following the Rams summer camp I wrote an piece on what to expect from the Rams players in a fantasy perspective. After a morale boosting pre-season and one […]

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