INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Sam Bradford is entering his third season in the NFL and will have his third different offensive coordinator. After a promising rookie season that saw him throw for 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns, Bradford took a step back during his sophomore campaign as he limited by injuries. In his 10 starts a year ago Bradford threw as many interceptions (6) as he did touchdowns (6). During his two-year career and his 26 starts the Rams’ signal caller has eclipsed the 300-yard mark in just three games.
St. Louis’ slate is an easy one, but it remains to be seen if they can take advantage of it. Nine of their 16 contests come indoors and they only have one true cold-weather game on tap. Only five of their 16 games are against teams that finished with 10 or more wins a year ago. They only have one prime time game as they host Arizona on Thursday night in Week 5. The fantasy playoff matchups at Buffalo, Vikings and at Tampa Bay in Weeks 14-16 are extremely favorable.
The most consistent fantasy performer on the Rams is hands down Steven Jackson. The running back has cranked out seven consecutive 1000-yard seasons and has caught at least 40 balls out of the backfield in each of the past four years. He’ll be 29 by time the season gets underway which raises some area of concern, but he will continue to be the focal point of the Rams’ offense. Jackson is a low-end RB1 and is likely to slip to the end of Round 2 into Round 3 on draft day.
Despite showing great flashes since his days at Missouri, wide receiver Danario Alexander has been unable to shake the injury bug. His blazing speed and 6-foot-5 frame has made him a favorite sleeper for fantasy owners the past two seasons, but the fact he’s only played in 18 games during that span makes him hard to count on. The team added plenty of depth at the position in the offseason and that coupled with the durability concerns has caused Alexander to no longer be fantasy worthy.
With Josh McDaniels no longer calling the plays, tight end Lance Kendricks is expected to be a much larger factor in the Rams’ passing attack. He caught 28 balls for 352 yards during his rookie season, but he is still searching for his first career touchdown. Look for big strides in year two for the young tight end, but with so much depth at the position entering this season fantasy owners are better off to monitor his progress early in the season as a potential waiver wire grab rather than drafting him.
Head coach Jeff Fisher has arrived in St. Louis and he brings offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer with him. The duo is expected to change things up and that should lead to the Rams grinding it out more frequently. Despite posting a 142-120 record during his 17-year reign in Tennessee, Fisher led teams only finished as a top 10 scoring offense twice during his tenure.
The organization completely overhauled its receiver corps during the offseason. Big things are expected from second-round pick Brian Quick, who could quickly emerge as the team team’s top option in the passing game. Fourth-round pick Chris Givens slid in the draft and could start opposite of Quick with a good camp. Veteran Steve Smith was added and his experience could help him land the starting job early on. Danny Amendola is a great slot player, but needs to prove he’s 100 percent. The battle for targets is going to be important to watch early on.
The Rams added Isaiah Pead to serve as Jackson’s primary backup in the running game. Pead has the ability to be a capable passing game weapon and should be the primary kick returner out of the gate. With the team hoping to keep Jackson fresh, expect him to get touches. If Jackson goes down with an injury, Pead would immediately become a fantasy commodity. Jackson owners should be sure to add him as insurance, but any owner could benefit from the depth, especially in PPR formats.
Fantasy Football, NFL