St. Louis Rams Wide Receivers: Fantasy v. Reality

August 18, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola (16) catches an 8 yard touchdown pass between his legs as Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Javier Arenas (21) defends in the first half at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Attention Fantasy Football Shunners: Before you pass on this post, give me a moment to explain. What you're about to see, and read, is going to contain fantasy football insight and information. The implications of what are going to be discussed, however, directly apply to the success of the WR corps [at least in terms of productivity] in the actual NFL season.

As I was preparing for yet another fantasy football draft, which will take place tomorrow, I happened to stumble on ESPN's Complete 2012 Projections [the link will direct you to WR's], which ranks players by position and provides a little tidbit about how this upcoming season should compare to lasts.

For the Rams, I can't say I'm surprised with the lack of 'love' that's given to the their receivers. I was, nonetheless, a bit surprised with one statistic: touchdowns. For those of you that do participate in FF, you can probably guess who the Rams most successful receivers will be in 2012, but with such a 'mixed bag' nothing is for certain.

There's been much speculation about an improved passing game, and personal statistics for the upcoming season. Let's take a look at ESPN's top two Rams wide receivers, and just how many times they'll get to celebrate in the end zone…
53. Brian Quick, StL WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2011 Statistics -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
2012 Projections 108 57 689 12.1 4 0 0 0 92
2012 Outlook: Quick went to Appalachian State, and until this April only draftniks had heard of him. But NFL teams fell in love with his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame and his solid outside speed, and he was the first pick of the second round. There are questions about how Quick will fare against elite athletes, but he fits the profile of a fantasy sleeper. He's got a huge catch radius and strong hands, making him a potential red zone option, and he landed on a Rams team desperately in need of a No. 1 WR. If he proves a quick study, Quick could soar up fantasy draft boards. He might be Sam Bradford's new best buddy.
What do you think? #53. This is your St. Louis Rams leading receiver for 2012. The yardage doesn't strike me as 'off,' though stats pushing AJ Green and Julio Jones' 2011 campaign would be preferred. Four TD's though, as the Rams leading receiver, concerns me a bit. And I say that because here's what you can expect from the Rams second most touchdown dancer…

78. Danny Amendola, StL WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2011 Statistics 6 5 45 9.0 0 0 0 0 4
2012 Projections 116 77 636 8.3 1 0 0 0 69
2012 Outlook: Heading into '11, the logic was overly simplistic: Josh McDaniels was the Rams offensive coordinator, Amendola is a poor man's Wes Welker, and McDaniels coached Welker to great heights in New England. Why wouldn't Amendola suddenly become a Welker-esque fantasy star? The reason, it turns out, was that Amendola dislocated his left elbow in Week 1. Now he's healthy, but McDaniels is gone. St. Louis still hasn't figured out its receiving corps, but we think there's a good chance Amendola goes right back to being the team's receptions leader, and thus a PPR asset. Just don't expect much yardage or many TDs.
What do you think? #78. Eight more targets than Quick, with 20 more catches. Essentially the same amount of yardage….and a lone TD.

Just for S's and G's, here's a few other guys on the Ram's roster who'll be catching balls from Sam this season….and one that will not.

86. Chris Givens, StL WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2011 Statistics -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
2012 Projections 77 36 489 13.6 1 0 0 0 54
2012 Outlook: Givens has excellent vertical speed, which could give him a leg up on the competition in St. Louis. For years now, the Rams have been collecting slow WRs like Greg Salas, Austin Pettis, Mardy Gilyard and Brandon Gibson, and it hasn't worked out great. With Givens, the organization may finally have found a guy who can "take the top off" of defenses. Of course, the Rams are already penciling Brian Quick into their starting lineup, and starting two rookies as outside receivers is dangerous. Givens may make a couple big plays in '12, but for fantasy he's likely to be dreadfully inconsistent.
92. Danario Alexander, StL WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2011 Statistics 60 26 431 16.6 2 0 0 0 51
2012 Projections 56 26 376 14.5 2 0 0 0 49
2012 Outlook: A knee or hamstring injury waiting to happen, Alexander is absolutely no lock to make the Rams' final roster this summer, especially not after the team selected Brian Quick and Chris Givens in April's draft. If Alexander can't show he's nearing perfect health during training camp, we're betting Jeff Fisher will cut ties. But it's worth remembering that when he's healthy, Alexander is a special athlete, a 6-foot-5 man who can scoot and get open. The likeliest scenario is that he winds up a fantasy afterthought again this season. But in deep leagues, there are worse lottery tickets around.
97. Greg Salas, StL WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2011 Statistics 38 27 264 9.8 0 1 8 0 21
2012 Projections 52 33 382 11.6 2 0 0 0 50
2012 Outlook: Salas suffered a gruesome broken left leg in Week 9 last season just as he was becoming a strong weapon for Sam Bradford out of the slot. Healthy again, Salas is no longer the Rams' leading slot candidate, since Danny Amendola is healthy, but he's in the mix -- along with Brian Quick, Steve Smith and Danario Alexander -- to start as an outside receiver. Salas has good split-end size and excellent quicks after the catch, and if he wins a starting job outright he could be worth a look in PPR leagues. Of course, the Rams haven't produced a fantasy-relevant WR for a few seasons, so keep your expectations well in check.
98. Steve Smith, StL WR YEAR TAR REC YDS AVG TD RUSH YDS TD PTS
2011 Statistics 20 11 124 11.3 1 0 0 0 15
2012 Projections 37 24 271 11.3 1 0 0 0 33
2012 Outlook: The other Smitty has come down a long way since his halcyon days with the Giants; after amassing 1,220 yards receiving in '09, Smith was injured for much of '10 and couldn't find his way into the Eagles' rotation in '11. His left knee hasn't been the same since microfracture surgery, but the Rams are reportedly excited about what they've seen from the 26-year-old this summer. He has a chance -- along with Brian Quick, Greg Salas and Danario Alexander -- to start as an outside receiver. We're skeptical this Smith can ever be the guy he was in Gotham, but of all the Rams' WR candidates he's really the only guy who's ever actually been a fantasy asset.

ESPN hates Steve Smith… but only the one on the Rams. 271 yards? It's clear that they don't expect him to get back to his 2009 ways. If Smith's numbers look anything like this at the end of the season, I, for one, will be extremely disappointed.

Do you have more love for Steve Smith than the Worldwide Leader? Does any of this look accurate to you? The Rams own the 90's in these rankings. You agree?
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