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 Premier Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.
There was a lot of talk about Johnny Football coming to St. Louis as the 2014 NFL Draft rolled around. As it turns out, the Rams weren’t lying when they said they were still confident Sam Bradford was their quarterback for now and the future.
With that said, the Rams still knew they had some moves to make to make the offense flow better in 2014. A huge part of that was to protect Bradford better, and to help ease the pressure with another weapon if possible.
St. Louis looked to do that in the 2014 NFL Draft,and in turn fantasy owners might have reason to be excited about St. Louis Rams players when their fantasy drafts roll around.
Let’s break down the Rams’ top offensive rookies and see how or why they might be worth tracking going into the new fantasy season:
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn (Round 1 – Pick 2)
No, you can’t use Robinson to score points in fantasy football (unless you’re in one of those “trenches” leagues – and yes, they do exist), but he surely will have an impact on what you think of Rams fantasy options this year. At least, he should.
Robinson is a massive tackle with the size, length and athleticism to play on either side at tackle, while he has the tenacity to play inside at guard, as well. He’s not a finished product as he stands, but he’s still an elite offensive tackle as we speak and will only get better by the day. Right away, he should find himself starting somewhere on the line for the Rams. That spot is likely going to be on the right side, with Rodger Saffold at guard and Jake Long on the left side.
Robinson’s presence helps solidify a formerly suspect offensive line, and really gives the Rams a strong group for the first time since quarterback Sam Bradford has been under center. That alone could help improve Bradford’s protection, while it should also go a long ways to help him stay healthy. In addition, the beefed up line should be able to run block better, as well, which should positively impact Zac Stacy and the other running back’s value.
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn (Round 3 – Pick 75)
The man who pushed Daryl Richardson out of town. Initially, it was at least slightly a head scratcher when the Rams drafted the versatile and explosive Mason in round three of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Rams already had four running backs on the depth chart, and all of their roles were fairly well define. A week later, it makes total sense.
At least on paper, that puts Mason as the Rams main third down and passing situation back. He’s a rookie, so he’ll have to earn his keep, but he’s easily the most talented runner in the entire backfield, has much more versatility and explosiveness than starter Zac Stacy and is probably already more reliable than Isaiah Pead. Truth be told, the disappointing Pead is probably still at risk of being cut, with Cunningham potentially falling in line behind Stacy and Mason.
It’s also entirely possible the Rams don’t view Stacy as their long-term franchise rusher. He has the size and power to handle the rigors of the NFL, but he’s not quite as versatile as you’d like, while he also doesn’t have the speed or explosiveness you like out of a feature back.
Worst case, though, Mason is going to quickly end up being a very nice change of pace option for the Rams in the running game. Even if he’s just a third down back as a rookie, he still could carry Flex value thanks to his immense talent and all the different things he can do.
While Mason is obviously going to be drafted relatively high in Dynasty leagues, we need to keep in mind Stacy’s presence is going to curb his redraft value significantly in 2014. Add in that he’s a rookie with no guaranteed role just yet, and Mason is probably being appropriately drafted in about round 12. Considering running back lacks depth and injuries always open the door for random monster performers, Mason needs to still be owned. That may mean he sits and does nothing at the bottom of your bench for most of the year, but the upside is there if he ever sees major time on the field for the Rams.
Garrett Gilbert, QB, SMU (Round 6 – Pick 214)
Sam Bradford’s heir apparent? It’s doubtful, while Gilbert isn’t about to overtake one of the league’s best backup quarterbacks in Shaun Hill, either. Needless to say, even if Bradford goes down with an injury for the millionth time, Gilbert probably isn’t going to see much action – if any.
In fact, as a sixth round rookie that many might call a bit of a reach, Gilbert may have his work cut out for him just to beat out Austin Davis for third quarterback duties.
While it’s no lock, Gilbert is actually a lot better than most of his critics suggest, and he’s probably a talent worth a longer look that Davis is. Sitting behind Bradford and Hill, there is no harm done just letting him learn and develop. With Bradford’s contract situation up in the air, if Gilbert learns the offense and shows well in camp and preseason, it’s not insane to think the Rams could take a longer look at him down the road.
For now, he has absolutely zero fantasy value and he’s probably not worth a look in Dynasty leagues, either. Still, this is a guy that originally went to Texas as a five star recruit. He has excellent size and build, and has displayed solid accuracy on short and intermediate routes. Gilbert had his confidence rocked at Texas before leaving for SMU, but he seemed to get his head on straight with a change of scenery, so it’s possible the Rams found a bit of a gem here in round six. Just don’t bank on it equating to a changing of the guard at quarterback or any fantasy value anytime soon.