29th in a series.
The Rams play in London this season, have a new head coach in Jeff Fisher, a new general manager in Les Snead and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. They plan to employ smash mouth football to open the run. That is if we believe Schottenheimer can commit to that, considering his offensive play calling the past few years with the Jets. They have a big task to overcome with a poor offensive line and aging back. Look for the team to trade the second overall pick in the draft to stockpile picks in the hopes quantity over quality can speed the rebuilding process up.
Can Sam Bradford be a fantasy franchise QB?
Fisher nixed any talk about trading Bradford and believes he's a franchise quarterback with the work ethic to be a team leader and a success. That's great for dynasty league owners, but Bradford regressed his sophomore season, throwing for 2,164 yards, six TDs with six interceptions. He missed six games dealing with an ankle injury but was not effective. Fisher will focus on the run to protect him and that means outside long-term dynasty leagues, Bradford has no fantasy value entering 2012. Fisher also has a mixed track record in developing fantasy relevant quarterbacks. Steve McNair, Kerry Collins and Vince Young have failed to be consistent fantasy performers. Arguably his best fantasy quarterback was Billy Volek during his short stints as a starter in 2004 when McNair was hurt.
What happens to Steven Jackson with the team rebuilding?
Jackson will be the workhorse but with a questionable offensive line and entering his ninth season with too many miles on his wheels, he could be a risky early-round pick. Jackson was the Rams' only bright spot last season with 260-1,145-5 rushing and 42-333-1 receiving on 58 targets — a per-game average of 21.2 utilizations for 98.5 yards from scrimmage and 0.4 TDs per game. Jackson had a great run from Week Eight to Week 10, averaging 30.3 utilizations for 161.3 yards from scrimmage. He also came through in Week 16 with 127 yards from scrimmage. While a bull, he's someone who is likely to wear down as the season goes on and will be seen as a high-end No. 2 fantasy back who can post No. 1 numbers any given week. He's a hold in keeper leagues.
The team is not expected to bring backup RBs Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood back. Williams was inactive for three games and did not play in two more ending with 87-361-1 rushing and 14-93-0 on 23 targets. Look for the team to find someone in free agency or in the draft to complement Jackson.
What is the wide receiver pecking order?
Injuries took their toll on the receiving corps and now their best wideouts are free agents. Danny Amendola, Mark Clayton and Brandon Lloyd could all move on. The team will target a wideout either through the draft or free agency and targeting someone like Marques Colston, Dwayne Bowe or a Vincent Jackson type is possible.
The team states it will try to re-sign Lloyd but he's made no secret his want to follow offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to New England. Lloyd has thrived in McDaniels' system. Starting as a Bronco the first five weeks of the season, he was inactive one week and posted 19-283-0 on 31 targets — a per-game average of 4.75 catches for 70.75 yards on 7.75 targets. Once traded to St. Louis, he had 51-683-5 on 117 targets — a per-game average of 4.63 catches for 62.1 yards and 0.45 TDS on 10.64 targets — impressive considering how bad the Rams were.
Amendola played one game before going down with an elbow injury that cost him the rest of the season. A Wes Welker clone, he doesn't have speed as much as quickness and if the Rams don't re-sign him he has value depending where he goes. He could be a PPR king, making him a player to watch in the offseason. In one appearance, he posted 5-45-0 on six targets.
Danario Alexander is a player the Rams previous regime was high on but in two years he's missed 14 games. A great prospect with vertical speed, the new regime may not be as patient with him and ended 2011 with 26-431-2 on 60 targets. He has no value entering the offseason and will battle to make the squad.
Rookie Greg Salas (27-264-0 on 38 targets) ended the season on injured reserve with a fractured fibula and rookie Austin Pettis (27-256-0 on 48 targets) was suspended for performance-enhancing drug use. Both will compete for a roster spot but have no value right now. Brandon Gibson (36-431-1 on 71 targets) is likely gone after three disappointing seasons and Mark Clayton suffered a devastating knee injury in 2010 and setback in 2011. Until he shows he's 100 percent ready, he has no value entering 2012.
Can Lance Kendricks become fantasy relevant?
There's hope for Kendricks, who has elite talent but suffered with drops, ran bad routes and looked lost at times. Fisher has a history of using tight ends, specifically two-tight end sets, but Kendricks is the only quality receiving TE on roster making him someone to watch. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer used Dustin Keller with mixed results but Keller was fantasy relevant but right now — outside deep dynasty leagues — he has minimal fantasy value.