This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.
The St. Louis Rams were an interesting machine in 2013, both in the NFL and fantasy football. The Rams started off with enough upside, as sleepers Sam Bradford and Jared Cook connected for two scores in an exciting and explosive week one.
It only went downhill from there, though, as Cook struggled to make a significant dent for the remainder of the season, while Bradford missed half the season with a torn ACL.
St. Louis was still able to stay competitive in the real world, though, backed by the emergence of rookie running back Zac Stacy. Stacy gave the Rams a legit force in their ground game, and from week five on, was a consistent fantasy performer that the Rams leaned on.
Stacy was a big reason why the Rams were able to remain competitive without Bradford, and he’s going to be a big reason why they have a shot at taking the next step in a tough NFC West division in 2014. With Bradford back in the saddle and the team possibly adding more talent at wide receiver in the draft, there is some untapped upside within the offense.
To get a good idea of just how much upside is here, let’s break down the key players on offense for the Rams and hammer out some individual projections:
Sam Bradford (Quarterback)
Bradford will be an interesting situation, as his future is somewhat in doubt as the Rams enter the 2014 NFL Draft. If the team brings in a new passer early in the draft, he could suddenly hit the trading block and we might be having a discussion about his value elsewhere.
However, for now, Bradford is still a Ram. If he’s the guy in St. Louis, there’s little reason to think he can’t pick up where he left off before a knee injury last year. In fact, he was on pace to put up career numbers. If he can just stay on the field, it’s extremely possible he finally realizes his potential in 2014.
Projection: 3,855 passing yards, 24 TD, 16 INT
Zac Stacy (Running Back)
Stacy wasn’t an exciting back coming out of Vanderbilt. He’s short, lacks explosiveness and isn’t particularly elusive. However, he packs quite a punch for his size and proved in his rookie season he can carry a full load. He even blocks well and is versatile enough to catch the ball effectively out of the backfield.
Stacy is far and away the Rams’ top back heading into 2014, and after a successful run in 2013, he figures to have an even bigger role. It won’t be quite as amazing as some may project, but he should be a rock solid RB2 with reasonable RB1 upside.
Projection: 1,255 rushing yards, 8 TD, 35 receptions, 250 receiving yards, 2 TD
Daryl Richardson (Running Back)
Richardson was a minor sleeper going into 2013, but he quickly was discovered to be a very average fantasy asset. With Stacy busting into a massive role, Richardson has very minimal value for the upcoming season. He’s barely even on the Flex radar.
Projection: 300 rushing yards, 2 TD, 20 receptions, 195 receiving yards, 0 TD
Tavon Austin (Wide Receiver)
Austin came into his rookie season last year as a small slot receiver that needed his touches manufactured. That still might the case to a certain degree in 2014, but he should be more well-rounded and also won’t be catching passes from Kellen Clemens for half the year. He didn’t crush it in his first season as many had hoped, but he’s still extremely versatile and explosive. He’ll enter 2014 as a WR3 with some nice upside.
Projection: 65 receptions, 855 receiving yards, 5 TD, 225 rushing yards, 2 TD
Chris Givens (Wide Receiver)
Assessing Given’s 2014 fantasy value is a bit tricky, as there will be another receiver or two added to the mix, while it’s unclear exactly how the Rams plan on using him. He has the speed to be a big play threat, but doesn’t possess elite size. He still has some upside, but given all the other mouths to feed in the passing game, his upside appears somewhat curbed. With that said, he could still approach WR3 value if all goes well.
Projection: 45 receptions, 700 receiving yards, 5 TD
Austin Pettis (Wide Receiver)
Pettis remains a starter by default, but he’s a marginal talent that really isn’t anything more than a chain mover. With that said, he does have good size and has had spurts of solid red-zone ability. He’s going to be jammed up by the other receivers, so it’s unlikely he tops WR3 value this season.
Projection: 35 receptions, 355 receiving yards, 4 TD
Brian Quick (Wide Receiver)
Quick has terrific size and play-making ability, but being able to consistently separate has been a real problem. Playing time has been an issue, as well. The Rams supposedly still like Quick, but he seems to be buried on the depth chart. With no clear sign of a big role coming his way, it’s tough to look at him as anything other than a deep fantasy sleeper.
Kenny Britt is in the same boat as Quick, for the most part. They are similar big play receivers and only one can really fill a role in the offense. Either Britt will make the team and push the unreliable Quick down the depth chart, or he’ll be cut and Quick will be the one fighting for some scraps.
Projection: 20 receptions, 255 receiving yards, 2 TD
Jared Cook (Tight End)
Cook exploded onto the scene with the Rams in week one of his St. Louis debut, busting out for 141 yards and two touchdowns off of seven catches. The rest of the way, he caught just 44 balls and three touchdowns. Cook has always been pretty inconsistent, but he was expected to take a massive leap with Bradford on the turf in St. Louis. If Bradford can stay healthy, he just might be able to do that this year.
Projection: 60 receptions, 700 receiving yards, 5 TD