We've talked punting. We've talked special teams. We talked backup linemen and their semiotic connection to a Bee Gees impersonation. We poked and probed around the dimly lit corners of interest where it pertains to the Rams this week to get our football craving satisfied while we wait for a season that seems like it'll never start.
Topically, why should today be any different, just because it's Friday Fantasy? We Rams fans know Steven Jackson is a top 3 pick, McMichael's a sneaky TE pick, etc. Let's continue probing dark places (wait a minute, that analogy might have gone too far) and take a look at the hated but necessary fantasy roster position of Defense/Special Teams.
Browsing around the various preseason lists of DST rankings, it comes as no surprise the Rams DST isn't sitting toward the top. On the DST list at CBS Sportsline, the Rams rank 29th.
Again, that's not really a surprise. If you recall our discussion of special teams earlier this week, the Rams, according to DVOA, ranked 27th last season, jumping up from 31st the season prior. Special teams, as those of you who had the Bears DST in recent seasons will recall, get their value from touch downs. The Rams scored no TDs on kick returns and just one on punt returns last season. Fantasy rankings, particularly as it relates to DSTs, are heavily derived from precedent, how they performed the season before. It's no great secret, and using pundit rankings alone have sunk more than one rookie fantasy player's season. And given the Rams recent run of ST performance, that ranking comes as no surprise. I wouldn't expect much from the Rams ST this season, fantasy wise, and as fans we just want them to do their job helping out the offense and defense with field position.
Where you might see some value from the Rams DST is the D. With Little and Long and the Spoon, all healthy and ready to swoop in at the mere taste of blood in the water, the Rams should pick up a few more sacks than the 31 they had last year. Where the Rams D could really surprise us all, fan and fantasy player alike, is in the INT category. Last year, O.J. Atogwe led the NFC with 8 INTs, turning one into a TD. Fakhir Brown, playing in just 12 games, had 4 INTs and a TD. With healthy players and improved work up front from the QB killers, the Rams backfield could match or beat their INT total from last season. Progress among players like Jonathan Wade and Tye Hill could spread the ball around some too.
Of course, their real week-in, week-out value will come from their ability to limit opponents scoring. That's not going to be an easy task early in the season, but if they can play mistake free football and if Haslett can squeeze every precious ounce of effort out of his unit, they could surprise even the most reolute fantasy player, giving someone in some league a decent backup or a solid option to play the matchups right.