I know lots of people are gearing up for fantasy football, and even though it's a bit early in my opinion (why draft now when there's a month full of training camp injuries and position battles still to come?) I thought it was as good a time as any to take a look at the Rams roster and fantasy implications. Sort of a public service announcement from TST.
Now, since lots of our fellow TST'ers play fantasy football on top of following the Rams, you've got to make you voice heard on this.
Below the jump, I've listed Rams players capable of making a fantasy impact, ranking them based on their likelihood of contributing something to your team.
Steven Jackson, RB - Jackson is poised to have a big season, the only question is how big? I like to use Jackson's 2006 season as benchmark, when Jackson ran for 1528 yards, 13 TDs and 90 receptions, 806 receiving yards and 3 TDs. Jackson's receiving numbers will almost certainly be closer to those totals than what they've been in the last two seasons. As for his rushing numbers, consider this: playing less than a full season in each of the last two years and behind a paper thin offensive line, Jackson has totaled 2,044 yards and 12 TDs. Now, look at the improvements the Rams have made on the offensive line, particularly the addition of C Jason Brown to beef up the middle, where most of Jackson's runs have gone, and ask yourself what he could do behind this line. He get a full five Incognito fan waves, our highest fantasy ranking this season.
Josh Brown, K - It's a little strange to put a kicker in the five Richie Waves category, but Brown is about as good a kicker as you can draft. Think about it: the Rams offense is going to be better, meaning they'll be getting the ball in place for Brown to work his magic legs. And the defense should be better too, making for a few more close games, where three point attempts will figure into the mix.
Donnie Avery, WR - Some will balk at this, but Avery's the go-to guy among the Rams receivers. He's good enough to be a second or third WR in most fantasy leagues, and some experts have even made him their top guy. With a more complete game and another year in the league, Avery could indeed become a fantasy regular. For now, you can be the smartest cat in the room by sneaking him onto your roster. Four Richie Waves.
Randy McMichael, TE - Missed out on one of the brand name TEs or just want to wait so you can stock up on running backs? That's cool, you can pick McMichael who figures heavily into the Rams new West Coast-style offense. There's a bit of a health risk here, but it's also a contract year, when players have been known to do wonderful things to their stats. Four Richie Waves might be a bit exhuberent, but I like this pick.
Marc Bulger, QB - Three Richie Waves is easy to argue as too much for Bulger, especially considering his last two seasons. However, the factors weighing on Bulger's performance that are outside of his control, i.e. pass protection, have been addressed. If Steven Jackson stays healthy, he'll be the focus of the offense, and opposing defenses, giving Bulger a better chance to succeed with the quick, accurate passes he'll be making as part of the new offense. This is a risky pick, no doubt about it, and I wouldn't make him my starting QB to start the season. Still, I think if he can adjust to the new playbook and get used to playing upright again, he should put up some acceptable numbers.
Keenan Burton & Laurent Robinson, WRs - Predicting the Rams receivers behind Avery is tough, real tough, but someone's going to catch passes besides Avery, Jackson and McMichael. Either one of these guys has the chops for a breakout season, and could be a waiver wire steal by October. Two Richie Waves...a category for sleepers.
Daniel Fells, TE - If McMichael gets hurt, Fells is the guy. He played strong down the stretch last year, making Devaney's waiver wire savvy look easy. By all accounts, he had a great spring, looking like a natural with the playbook and showing his stuff. Watch and see how Fells plays in camp when the pads are on and the hitting starts. If he plays as advertised, he could even be a threat in two TE sets, something you're likely to see in Pat Shumur's offense.
Rams DEF - This is probably a stretch, but I have to think that the Rams days of 40 and 50 point blowouts are done. Under Spagnuolo and coordinator Ken Flajole, the defense will be a more competitive group, using the pass rush to keep scores a little more managable. For leagues that award points for sacks and interceptions, you could do worse than the Rams defense.