QB Sam Bradford (St. Louis)
Bradford had shown signs of becoming the long-term answer at quarterback for the Rams last season. Bradford completed 60.7% of his passes for an average of 6.44 YPA, 14 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions in 2013. That TD:INT ratio looks pretty good, but I put more stock in completion percentages and YPAs because they show you what happens on a greater percentage of snaps. Even if Bradford has a breakout season, he won’t throw an interception on just 1.5% of throws like he did last season.
Bradford set a career high in completion percentage and had the 2nd best YPA of his career, but neither 60.7% nor 6.44 YPA is really that impressive. On top of that, Bradford went down with a torn ACL after 7 games and missed the rest of the season. We’ve seen better quarterbacks (Tom Brady, Robert Griffin, Carson Palmer) all struggle in their first season back from that type of injury so it doesn’t really bode well for his chances. He’s now has a torn ACL, a serious knee injury, and a serious shoulder injury on his resume in the last 5 seasons, dating back to his final season at Oklahoma.
3500 passing yards, 21 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 80 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns (208 pts standard)
RB Zac Stacy (St. Louis)
Zac Stacy only averaged 3.89 yards per carry (973 yards and 7 touchdowns on 250 carries) last season, including just 3.59 yards per carry in the 2nd half of the season (625 yards and 7 touchdowns on 174 carries). Stacy rushed for 2.45 yards per carry after contact, as the 5-8 216 pounder ran with great power and strength, but he didn’t average a high YPC overall because he doesn’t have great burst or ability to turn into a 2nd gear. There’s a reason he fell to the 5th round in the 2013 NFL Draft. The Rams drafted Tre Mason in the 3rd round and he’ll be his primary backup. Mason could cut into Stacy’s carries. Stacy carried the ball 249 times in his 12 starts (an average of 20.75 carries per game, 332 carries over 16 games). He’ll be lucky if he gets to 280 carries this season. There are better RB2s.
260 carries for 1070 yards, 8 total touchdowns, 28 catches for 170 yards (172 pts standard)
WR Tavon Austin (St. Louis)
The 8th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Tavon Austin only caught 40 passes for 415 yards and 4 touchdowns on 62 attempts (61.5%) on 305 routes run, an average of 1.37 yards per route run as a rookie. He contributed as a runner (9 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown) and a return man (18 kickoff returns for 398 yards and 33 punt returns for 280 yards and a touchdown), but not as a pass catcher. That’s led to a lot of people calling him a bust, but I think that’s really premature.
Rookie wide receivers rarely do anything. Since 2005, 31 receivers have gone in the 1st round. They’ve averaged 41 catches for 558 yards and 3 touchdowns per season. Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson were top-3 picks and they had 58/780/8 and 48/756/4 respectively as rookies. Austin could be a lot better in his 2nd year in the league. He finished the season out well, catching 9 passes for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns in his final 4 games. That’s 844 yards and 8 scores over a 16-game season. There’s upside with him in the late rounds.
60 catches for 740 yards and 5 touchdowns, 100 rushing yards (114 pts standard)
WR Kenny Britt (St. Louis)
Kenny Britt is one of the real fantasy wild cards this season. The 2009 1st round pick looked on his way to a promising career in 2010 and 2011. After averaging 1.86 yards per route run as a rookie in 2009, Britt averaged an absurd 3.07 yards per route run in 2010 and 2011, catching a combined 59 passes for 1064 yards and 12 touchdowns on a combined 347 routes run. However, a torn ACL suffered 3 games into 2011 derailed his career big-time. As good as he was in 2010 and 2011, he only played a combined 15 games thanks to multiple injuries, including that torn ACL. He averaged just 1.49 yards per route run in 2012.
In 2013, his final year in Tennessee, he was a train wreck. He only caught a third of his 33 targets, with 11 catches for 96 yards and he dropped 7 passes. He averaged just 0.48 yards per route run on 201 routes run. He was the definition of awful and also got into it with his coaches, which is why he had to settle for a minimum deal in free agency. He’s reportedly dominating off-season practices though, which is why he’s listed as a starter. I’m still skeptical, but he’s only going into his age 26 season, we know he has insane natural talent, and he has every reason to give 110%.
40 catches for 600 yards and 4 touchdowns (84 pts standard)
TE Jared Cook (St. Louis)
The Rams’ leading receiver in 2013 was tight end Jared Cook, who caught 51 passes for 671 yards and 5 touchdowns. Still, he didn’t really live up to the insane 5-year, 35.11 million dollar deal he got last off-season. That deal was undeserved as he’s not much of a run blocker and he’s maxed out at 49 catches for 759 yards and 3 touchdowns. My guess is either he or Austin leads this team in receiving yards, but Austin has more upside. Cook is a low end TE1 at best.
54 catches for 700 yards and 5 touchdowns (100 pts standard)