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Ram Fantasy

I want to thank Eric form SBN's fantasy site, Fake Teams, for taking some time to give us a fantasy run down for the Rams. We exchanged notes and you can read my thoughts over at Fake Teams.

The Rams have been a fantasy football favorite for what seems like forever.  Last season was no different as QB Marc Bulger threw for more than 4,000 yards, Stephen Jackson rushed for more than 1,500 yards and caught 90 passes,  Torry Holt continued to be one of the best wide receivers in the game despite professionalism not seen in some of his peers, and Isaac Bruce provided something very few 2nd wide receivers do - 1000+ yards receiving.  With the friendly confines of a domed stadium, K Jeff Wilkens always brings a smile to his owner's face knowing there are going to be a few 50+ yarders to grab those bonus points for FG distance.

And the off-season brought more fantasy goodies.  The first is the signing of the Tennessee Titan's #1 WR Drew Bennett, whose 16.o YPC last season conjures memories of his 1,200+ yard 2004 season.  It also hints that the ability remains, and the drop in receiving yards last season was more a fucntion of the transition to QB Vince Young than to a decrease in Bennett's ability.

The Rams brought in a top receiving TE in former Miami Dolphin Randy McMichael.  His 640 yards receiving last season was more the the top Rams' TE had in the past three years combined.  Given head coach Scott Linehan's familiarity with McMichael and his capabilities, the days of the non-contributory receiving TE are over.

Finally, there is second-round draftee Brian Leonard out of Rutgers University.  There aren't enough footballs for Leonard to be a fantasy asset, but the team-first attitude he displayed at Rutgers will manifest itself regardless.

An examination of the past three season's yardage totals broken down by position shows the consistency that makes the Rams such a favorite.  It also provides a framework to determine how the new parts will fit into the Rams' high octane offense.

Year Rushing Yd RB1 Passing YD WR1 WR2 WR3 TE1 RB1
2006 1805 1528 4328 1188 1098 479 226 806
2005 1535 1046 4351 1331 801 525 129 320
2004 1624 774 4615 1372 1292 494 174 310

There is no reason to believe Jackson will not repeat his 2006 rushing performance.  However, those 90 receptions may be out of reach thanks to the ability of Leonard to give Jackson a rest on passing downs.  As a second round pick, Leonard will get on the field.  In Points-Per-Reception (PPR) formats, keep this in mind.  In standard formats, it shouldn't make too much difference in his value.

At QB, the Rams, and fantasy teams, are set with Marc Bulger.  He'll throw for 4,000 yards and 20+ TDs. 'nuff said.  However, another player familar with Scott Linehan's system from the Dolphins Days, Gus Frerotte, is backing-up Bulger.  If Bulger is unable to play, Frerotte can step in and not miss a beat.

Amongst the wide receivers, Drew Bennett is likely to get more receptions than last season's #3 receiver, Kevin Curtis.  Those extra catches will likely come at the expense of Isaac Bruce's numbers.  As a result, I do not believe either is a legitimate WR2 whilst the other one is healthy.  However, the moment either misses a game, the other becomes that fantasy starter.

With a viable option at TE, Randy McMichael is another reason RB Stephen Jackson will not catch 90 balls.  Given the Rams have not incorporated the TE as a receiving option for quite a few seasons, do not expect McMichael to get 600 yards, but even 400 would open up the field for Holt, Bruce and Bennett.

At kicker, Jeff Wilkens remains a quality option.  Like most kickers in fantasy football, one shouldn't pass on a quality WR depth i.e. 800 expected yards in favor of him.  But it is not a venal sin if you did so.  If Wilkins were hurt, his replacement would be an immeidate upgrade over half the kickers in the league.

Overall, the Rams remain one of the best teams for elite fantasy football players, and one with players who become must-starts if the depth is tested by injuries.  Come over to Fake Teams to participate in our Community Player Rankings.  #1 WRs is going on right now.