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Fantasy Weekend: Steven Jackson, start or sit?

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The St. Louis Rams kick off the 2010 NFL season today, facing division rivals, the Arizona Cardinals. Oh yeah, and there's that whole thing about the team that used to be in St. Louis, but whatever. It's also the first weekend that you've got to get those last minute questions answered about who to start and who to sit on your fantasy team. What about Steven Jackson? 

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Last year, Jackson played against the Cardinals just once; he missed the Rams' second matchup in week 15 sitting out the only game of the season he missed. In his one appearance last year against the Cardinals, Jackson rushed for 116 yards, 1 TD on 24 carries. He caught zero passes in that game. It's important to remember that his 116 yard effort against AZ last year came when he was the only legitimate offensive threat on the team. The Rams passed for just 191 yard that day, so Jackson shouldered most of the load. It's also important to remember that many of those passing yards came in the second half, with the Rams trying to close Arizona's 21-3 margin. 

Opening day hasn't traditionally been one of Jackson's best. He's topped the 100 yard rushing mark just once, in 2006 against Denver, in the Rams' season openers. The good news here is that SJ39 looks to be in the best shape of his playing career, even though he didn't see much work in the preseason. 

The Rams will probably lean on him heavily early on to try and keep the AZ pass rush honest and Sam Bradford upright. Last year the Cardinals rushing defense had a -4.6 percent DVOA, 14th best in the league. They've had a lot of personnel changes, but still look to be a good unit. 

So, should you start Steven Jackson or sit him? You've got to start him. He's an elite back with a skill set that's unmatched in the league today. The Rams will feed him the ball early and often, and he's also likely to catch a couple passes on checkdowns and screens. 

As for the rest of the Rams offense, it's harder to make a recommendation when there are other, more surer things out there. Sam Bradford will give the Rams a passing game this year, but it remains to be seen just who'll get the most catches. The TEs look to play a prominent role, but we're still waiting to see whether they throw more to Daniel Fells or Michael Hoomanawanui. Similar situation with the receivers. Do keep an eye on Laurent Robinson, Danny Amendola and Mark Clayton; all three of those guy could emerge as nice pickups for a fantasy team once the Rams establish their offense. 

 

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