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First Down: Donnie Avery down and out, Laurent Robinson now prime 'Shocker Special' material

Brad Evans
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Donnie Avery(notes), the future lamentable selection of unprepared auto-drafters and mag-exclusive strategists everywhere, experienced a buzz-kill Sunday when team officials revealed the game-breaking wideout will miss the next 4-6 weeks with an unidentified left foot injury.

Cue the proverbial "Damn!!!"

Based on the setback's lingering nature and the learning curve associated with Steve Spagnuolo's implementation of a brand new West Coast scheme, it's very likely the popular mid-round sleeper will be unavailable until at least Week 4.

Entering the week with an ADP of 82.5 per Mock Draft Central, Avery's draft stock obviously plummets. Marc Bulger(notes) and Steven Jackson are also negatively impacted. Because the Rams' ragtag group of leftovers resembles a UFL, not NFL, receiving corps, the passing and ground games could stagnate without No. 17's blazing speed stretching defenses.

Though still acquirable in deeper leagues, especially PPR, Avery is largely ignorable in traditional 10-team formats. Due to his unfamiliarity with the new offensive system, it's certainly possible the second-year wideout will not make a significant fantasy impact until at least midseason. Sidelined by a hip fracture in training camp a year ago, he's in a situation eerily reminiscent to his rookie campaign. Recall he was barely a blip on most fantasy radars until an eye-opening 4-73 performance at Washington in Week 6.

Laurent Robinson(notes) and Kennan Burton entered training camp locked in battle for the No. 2 job. Both are now players of interest. According to the Turf Show Times and's Steve Wyche, Robinson, coming off a forgettable '08 campaign in Atlanta, has impressed in early action:

"St. Louis might have found a complementary receiving option in third-year player Laurent Robinson, who was acquired in a low-profile trade with Atlanta over the summer. The 6-2, 200-pound Robinson is working in the top-three receiver rotation, playing wide and out of the slot. He is a deep threat but is also a solid catch-and-run player, which is ideal for St. Louis' West Coast system. He had a solid rookie season with the Falcons after being taken in the third round of the 2007 draft, but injury problems and a lack of physicality in the running game made him expendable in Atlanta. His upside could provide the Rams with some needed help...Spagnuolo likes what he's seen from Robinson, but he's withholding judgment until he watches him play in preseason games."

Of course, this is the rancid Rams. Spags and company will have to summit Mt. Olympus to regain respectability. But because St. Louis' opening week matchup at Seattle is wide receiver favorable, Robinson, Burton and dark-horse Ronald Curry(notes) (remember him?) are capable of making a Hank Baskett-like initial splash. Last season, the Hawks surrendered the most fantasy points to receivers in virtual pigskin. The offseason acquisition of corner Ken Lucas(notes) bolsters the secondary, but it's fairly uncommon for a defense to reverse course overnight.

It's safe to assume if either pass catcher has a standout performance prior to Week 1, fantasy owners will jump on the bandwagon.

In light of Avery's disastrous injury, what is your updated Fearless Forecast? Will Robinson be added to your deep sleeper list? Post your comments below.


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