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St. Louis Rams: 2014 Fantasy Football Analysis & Team Outlook


The Rams are certainly not rich in fantasy talent and are buried in a division full of elite defenses. However, there are some interesting skill players that are waiting to break out after showing flashes of talent in 2013. With the help of an outstanding defense and the play-making potential of Zac Stacy and Tavon Austin, the Rams may find their footing in 2014.

 

St. Louis Rams Quarterback

RotoBaller-Fantasy-Football-Advice-Analysis-Waiver-Wire-Pickups-Sam-BradfordThe hot topic for any NFL organization is whether or not it has a franchise quarterback. That has been the question in St. Louis for the last few years, and Sam Bradford has done a great job of making it difficult to answer. The big issue is that he cannot seem to make it through a season healthy, and even when he has been healthy he's been nothing more than slightly above average.

2012 was easily Bradford’s most productive (and healthy) year. While he did throw for over 3,700 yards, he only connected on 21 touchdowns. With the running game kicking into high gear, Bradford will be more game manager than gunslinger. The most telling number is 35, which is the average number of sacks Bradford has taken from 2010-2012. He probably would have surpassed that number last year had he not gotten hurt. Unfortunately he'll see the punishing Seahawks and 49ers defenses four times a year, which could very well result in another IR stint. Bradford will go un-drafted in most leagues and will only surface in desperate mid-season pickups or in 2 QB leagues.

 

St. Louis Rams Running Backs

By Johnmaxmena2 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsMuch like the quarterback position, Rams running backs were pretty much a fantasy non-factor entering last season. Relative unknown Zac Stacy burst onto the scene in the latter part of 2013, and will look to earn elite fantasy status this year. Stacy is only 5’9” but built like a bowling ball. From what I saw, he looked durable enough to carry the load for a full season. His big fantasy run started in week eight, and he was fairly consistent for the remainder of the season, especially at home. However, the NFC West is no joke when it comes to shutting down skill players, so expect at least a few clunkers this season.

Stacy looks to be ranked at the beginning of the 3rd round, being the 14th or 15th running back off the board. If he had an easier schedule, I could see him rated much higher. As it is, Stacy is a solid pick in that range.

 

St. Louis Rams Wide Receivers

Tavon Austin has that “lightning in a bottle” feel to him. He has the potential to be a game changer with his raw speed, burst and elusiveness. Unfortunately, fantasy owners were expecting that from day one last year, and it didn’t pan out. Austin succumbed to the typical limitations that prevent most rookie wide receivers from making an impact, particularly memorizing the playbook. I have already heard reports that he is much more at ease with his responsibilities this year. Hopefully, it will include a better knowledge of the playbook and using his running ability on sweeps a la Percy Harvin.

Austin is going in the ninth or tenth round currently. If Bradford and Austin both stay healthy, it will be a solid pick, but that is a gamble to say the least. Austin and the fast turf of St. Louis seem like a good idea, but I am skeptical.

Chris Givens and Austin Pettis will be getting plenty of snaps, but it would be a surprise if either contributed enough to add to a fantasy team. Givens was targeted 83 times for only 34 receptions and no touchdowns, although it is worth mentioning that some of their potential production was curtailed from poor quarterback play.

 

St. Louis Rams Tight Ends

Fantasy owners quickly scrambled to pick up Jared Cook after his week one explosion last year. In a matchup against the Cardinals, he caught seven passes for 144 yards and two TDs. All of those who jumped on the Cook bandwagon realized that week one was a blip on the radar screen versus a developing trend. Cook became a consistent 3-4 catch/30-40 yard option. In leagues that require a tight end, Cook is an undrafted depth option.

Defense

With improved secondary play, the Rams defense could rival the Seahawks and 49ers. It is not there yet, but it will be a top-tier starting option for fantasy purposes. If the NFC West is hard on opposing offenses, the reverse is true to an extent. Seattle, San Fran, and Arizona are steady but not spectacular with the ball in their hands. In fact, Robert Quinn and company made the Hawks o-line look like cardboard cutouts in their Monday night matchup last year. You can expect a ton of sacks, fumbles and low-scoring games from the Rams this year. I will definitely have this team highlighted, starred and whatever else I need to do as a reminder to pick them up on D.