QB Sam Bradford (St. Louis)
After an ankle injury limited to 10 games in his 2nd season in the league in 2011, Bradford bounced back from in his 3rd year in the league, playing all 16 games again and improving on his rookie numbers by throwing for 3702 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. With the addition of Jake Long, Tavon Austin, and Jared Cook around him, he looks poised to exceed all of those career highs in his 4th year in the league. There’s a lot of uncertainty with him, but he’s a high upside QB2.
Projection: 3850 passing yards 22 touchdowns 12 interceptions 100 rushing yards 1 touchdown (234 pts standard, 278 pts 6 pt td league)
RB Daryl Richardson (St. Louis)
8/20/13: Daryl Richardson has been named the starting running back of the St. Louis Rams. He shouldn’t feel too comfortable as Isaiah Pead and/or Zac Stacy could both steal carries and even starts from him this season, but he gets moved up. Steven Jackson’s primary running back, Richardson rushed for 475 yards on 95 carries and also caught 24 passes for 163 yards. He’s a solid bet to go over 200 touches. Pead will be the change of pace back. There’s still an opportunity for Zac Stacy to eventually become a starter at some point this season if the unproven players above him on the depth chart don’t impress, but he’s not really worth drafting. He might be a nice late season waiver wire pickup if anything.
The Rams have a 3 way battle for the starting running back job and all 3 should see carries. You shouldn’t use a high pick on any of them unless one starts to run away with the job. They’re all draftable though. I consider Richardson the favorite. He was Jackson’s primary backup last season, rushing for 475 yards on 98 carries, while contributing 24 catches for 163 yards. The 7th round rookie leapfrogged 2nd round rookie Isaiah Pead on the depth chart for that job.
Projection: 180 carries for 790 rushing yards 6 total touchdowns 35 catches for 250 receiving yards (140 pts standard, 175 pts PPR)
RB Isaiah Pead (St. Louis)
Pead is my 3rd favorite running back in St. Louis’ backfield. He’s draftable, but he had just 10 carries as a rookie. The 2nd rounder has talent and I’m not going to write him off or anything, but it’s certainly been a disappointing start to the career of a player who I thought was overdrafted (he’s a change of pace/passing catching back/return man).
Projection: 100 carries for 430 rushing yards 3 total touchdowns 18 catches for 130 receiving yards (74 pts standard, 92 pts PPR)
WR Chris Givens (St. Louis)
I think Givens will actually lead this receiving corps in yardage. As a mere rookie, Givens led the Rams’ nondescript receiving corps with 698 yards and caught 42 passes and 3 touchdowns. In his 2nd year in the league, he should be able to improve on them as he’s another year matured and another year more comfortable with the offense and Sam Bradford, especially since he figures to play more snaps. He averaged 1.90 yards per route run, 25th in the league out of 82 eligible wide receivers. This year, with Brandon Gibson and the oft injured Danny Amendola gone, Givens is by far the team’s leading returning receiver. Unlike the new batch of receivers, he has a year of experience in the offense and with Sam Bradford.
Projection: 56 catches for 820 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns (112 pts standard, 168 pts PPR)
WR Tavon Austin (St. Louis)
Tavon Austin is overrated in fantasy circles. He’s just a rookie. Since 2005, 28 receivers have gone in the 1st round. They’ve averaged 40 catches for 557 yards and 3 touchdowns per season. Austin will do some nice things as a rookie and they’ll line him up in the backfield on occasion to get him his touches, but I think he’s at least a year away from being the type of player a lot of people think he already is. He might not even start as a rookie, focusing on the slot
Projection: 39 catches for 650 receiving yards and 5 total touchdowns, 20 carries for 150 rushing yards (110 pts standard, 149 pts PPR)
TE Jared Cook (St. Louis)
Jared Cook was underutilized in Tennessee and put up good per snap numbers as a receiver despite never really having great quarterback play. He has 1718 career receiving yards on 1057 career routes run, a rate of 1.63 yards per route run. For comparison, Owen Daniels had 1.63 yards per route run this season, good for 11th in the NFL. However, he doesn’t block, which is a big part of the reason why he was only a part-time player in Tennessee and he’s still relatively unproven. The Rams are paying a lot of money to find out if he can be an elite tight end in the right situation. They’ll give him every opportunity to live up to his contract, but I don’t think he will.
Projection: 45 catches for 700 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns (100 pts standard, 145 pts PPR)