This article is not going to be an article about imagining the Rams making it to the Super Bowl in 2010. That is a true fantasy. This is going to be about what Rams can help you and your fantasy team, as you get ready for the upcoming season. I know a lot of leagues are beginning to hold draft dates, me included, this weekend. Here are some of the players to watch out for, and stay away from, on your fantasy team as it relates to the St. Louis Rams.
Sam Bradford: If you select Bradford in your draft it is very important to know how your rules work. If you are in a keeper league your draft strategy for Bradford is going to be wildly different then if you are not in a keeper league. The other factor in selecting Bradford will depend on your scoring system. If you are penalized for interceptions then Bradford might cost you more then help you initially.
Bradford will be the starter for the Rams on opening day unless something unforeseen happens between now and the start of the season. So right or wrong I will compare him to Peyton Manning’s first season and project him to be a little short of that. Manning had 3739 yards 26 TD and 26 INT his first season. My projection for Bradford, from a number perspective, is 3400 yards, 20 TD and 18 INT. Which for the Rams QB position is an upgrade but not so great from a fantasy perspective.
I would strongly suggest taking Bradford as a backup for your team. If you can match him as a bye replacement for your starter who has a bye week during Week 4 (vs. Seattle), attention Brett Favre owners. Week 5 (at Detroit) attention Tom Brady owners. Week 7 (at Tampa Bay) attention Peyton Manning owners. That will give you the optimal chance to having to use him only once against inferior teams and maybe stash Bradford away for future years.
Steven Jackson: Every fantasy publication in the country has Steven Jackson as a top 5 running back and top 10 overall pick. He is an every down back which is becoming rarer in the NFL these days. The biggest concern in drafting Jackson is his health and the team he plays on. The team could not put points up last season, but Jackson was still able to amass 1,416 yards rushing.
This is the key to drafting Jackson: Know your league scoring rules. I am in two leagues with pretty different scoring rules. One values total yardage while the other league values touchdown scoring. In the first league Jackson is gold, in the other league Jackson has a lesser value. Jackson had only 4 touchdowns the entire 2009 season. You would have to think he will do better this season with a theoretically improved offensive line and a better quarterback. My projection for Jackson is 1,500 yards rushing, 400 yards receiving and a combined 9 touchdowns between rushing and receiving.
Donnie Avery: I don’t care for Avery from the Rams perspective as the #1 receiver and I don’t care for Avery from a fantasy perspective either. Avery managed 47 receptions for 589 yards and 5 touchdowns last season. Certainly Avery has a better quarterback this season but I am still not buying that he will ever turn into an elite type of receiver. My projection for Avery will be 55 receptions, 700 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns. Avery will be nothing more then a late round roster filler for your fantasy team.
Laurent Robinson: This is the one player that could hold some fantasy potential late in your fantasy draft. Robinson is someone who tantalizes the Rams because he has been very impressive in 2 preseasons. His problem has been staying on the field. If, and that is a big if, Robinson can stay healthy I think he could be the #1 receiver for the Rams this season. I don’t think that Robinson will be able to play all 16 games so I advise staying away from him unless you have the roster space to take a gamble. My projection for Robinson is 45 receptions, 500 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
Other Rams WR: I don’t believe that there is any reason to select any of the Rams wide receivers for your fantasy squad. You are better off taking 3rd and 4th wide receivers off of teams like the Colts, Patriots, Saints or Packers then you would be selecting Danny Amendola or Mardy Gilyard unless you are rewarded for return yardage points or special teams points from those players.
Daniel Fells: Right now Fells is the number one target at tight end but he has not been impressive in training camp and could lose his job if he doesn’t get it together. I would avoid drafting Fells unless it is a last ditch situation. Fells could get you 2-4 touchdowns this season but I would avoid him at all costs.
Josh Brown: The Rams kicker has not been healthy during Training Camp but the Rams expect him to be fine for the regular season. Brown was not great last season making only 79% of his field goals but has been consistently better then that through his career. He also is very good from more than 50 yards away, which if your league gives bonuses for long field goals he should be higher on your list. If you figure that the Rams offense is going to be better, but might not be great putting the ball in the endzone, then Brown might be a good selection as kicker. Brown projects as a top 5-10 kicker in the NFL this season.
Rams Defense/Special Teams: This is difficult to project because it all depends on your league. I play in two pretty different leagues. In one league I am not penalized at all for points and yards against. In the other league I am penalized greatly for those categories. The other variable is how your return yardage is scored and how turnovers are assessed. If you want a team that will create a lot of turnovers and has a lot of opportunity for defensive touchdowns then the Rams are not your option. If you want a team that has an opportunity to return some kicks or punts for touchdowns then the Rams could be a good selection. Danny Amendola has shown how good he is returning the ball and adding Mardy Gilyard into the mix gives the Rams two dangerous threats in the return game. Again it all comes down to how your league does scoring.
Picking St. Louis Rams players in 2010 is nowhere like picking players in 2000. It used to be every Rams offensive player would be selected by someone in your league. Even players like Trung Canidate were picked. Now in 2010, selecting the Rams starting quarterback may or may not happen depending on your league. Times have changed. Hopefully we aren’t too far away from seeing every Rams player drafted again in the near future.
For more info: Get updates from Rams Park here and instant updates by Twitter here.