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Offseason Primers: St. Louis Rams

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Rams didn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence in Fantasy owners with the moves they made this offseason. It's hard to explain that the team got better when they let their No. 1 running back in Steven Jackson and No. 1 receiver in Danny Amendola leave via free agency without any quality replacements in return.

St. Louis did upgrade at one spot with the addition of tight end Jared Cook from Tennessee, but the Rams are clearly rebuilding on offense with the exception of quarterback Sam Bradford. And even he has a lot to prove after three inconsistent seasons as the starter.

2012 Touches Leaders
742 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Steven Jackson 295 (257 car., 38 rec.) 39.7%
Daryl Richardson 122 (98 car., 24 rec.) 16.4%
Danny Amendola 65 (2 car., 63 rec.) 8.7%
Brandon Gibson 51 rec. 6.8%
Chris Givens 45 (3 car., 42 rec.) 6.0%
All Others 164 22.1%

We'll likely find out during NFL Draft weekend how the Rams plan to replace Jackson -- drafting Alabama's Eddie Lacy is a strong possibility -- and it appears like Chris Givens and Brian Quick will have the chance to emerge as starting receivers for the Rams (they also lost Brandon Gibson as a free agent to Miami). Cook also has the chance to be a starting Fantasy tight end, especially in deeper leagues.

You probably won't find many starting Fantasy options on the Rams roster this year (the Rams DST and Greg Zuerlein are possibilities as well), but Givens, Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead have some sleeper appeal. And if Bradford can continue to improve, even with a scaled-down receiving corps, he might find himself as a quality bye-week or injury replacement.

But the look of this roster on offense coming into the season, especially in the tough NFC West led by defensive stalwarts San Francisco and Seattle, could make it hard to trust many of the "weapons" for the Rams this year.

Chris Givens -- Sleeper

2012 Target Leaders
557 pass attempts
Danny Amendola 101 18.1%
Brandon Gibson 82 14.7%
Chris Givens 80 14.3%
Lance Kendricks 64 11.4%
Steven Jackson 53 9.5%
All Others 177 31.7%

Givens has the chance to be the No. 1 receiver for the Rams this year with Amendola gone and if no significant receiver is brought in for competition. In 2012, his rookie year, Givens posted moderate stats with 42 catches for 698 yards and three touchdowns, but he played well during the five games Amendola was out, which was Weeks 6-8 and 13-14. Givens had at least eight Fantasy points in four of those five games and benefitted from the increased targets. He should be considered a late-round flier in all leagues this season, even if he's the No. 1 option in the passing game. But Givens has plenty of upside, so keep him on your radar on Draft Day.

Jared Cook -- Bust

Cook wanted out of Tennessee, but he wanted to be reunited with former coach Jeff Fisher. It made sense for him to sign with the Rams because St. Louis is desperate for help in the passing game with Amendola gone and a lack of talent at the position with Lance Kendricks mediocre at best. But is Cook really going to blossom into an elite-level Fantasy option? Consider that his best year so far in the NFL was 2011 when he had 49 catches for 759 yards and three touchdowns. He had just one game with double digits in Fantasy points in 2012. And the Rams haven't exactly featured the tight end in Bradford's tenure with Kendricks' stats last year (42 catches for 519 yards and four touchdowns on 64 targets) the best in three seasons. We hope Cook uses this opportunity as a stepping stone for his career, but we're not buying into him as a No. 1 option. At best, leave him undrafted in most standard leagues, and if he starts off the season playing well then add him off the waiver wire.

Daryl Richardson/Isaiah Pead -- Remember the names

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Sam Bradford Undrafted
Daryl Richardson 106-114 overall
Isaiah Pead 126-133 overall
Chris Givens 130-139 overall
Brian Quick Undrafted
Austin Pettis Undrafted
Jared Cook 143-150 overall

When the expectation was Jackson was leaving the Rams (he signed with the Falcons in case you missed it) the thought was Richardson and Pead would have the chance to compete for the starting job. That still might be the case, but Fisher told me at the NFL owners meeting in March that the Rams want to add a "big back" to the mix. That probably leaves Richardson and Pead in complementary roles. Still, if the Rams miss on Lacy or another rookie or fail to sign a quality veteran, we could be looking at Richardson and Pead as the main options in the backfield. In 2012, Richardson's rookie season, he was the No. 2 running back in St. Louis with 98 carries for 475 yards and 24 catches for 163 yards. Pead, meanwhile, was a bust as a rookie with 10 carries for 54 yards and three catches for 16 yards. We'll see what happens between now and training camp, but keep an eye on Richardson and Pead all offseason. If either is named the starter they could emerge as a No. 3 Fantasy running back with upside.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Cardinals' Larry Foote '50-50' on playing in 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Though Larry Foote is on the Cardinals' coaching staff at the moment, he hasn't ruled out a potential return to the team

Speaking to the team's website, Foote said he's "50-50" about playing in 2015. He talked about the factors that could play into whether or not he returns to playing. 

“Draft, what happens with (suspended linebacker) Darryl Washington, stuff like that, how my knee feels (after offseason surgery),” Foote said. “I’ll sit down with (Bruce Arians) and the next couple of months are really going to be the deciding factor.”

If Foote doesn't play, he'll be the linebackers coach for Arizona's upcoming season. He's been adjusting to the role of being a coach this offseason. 

“I am starting to like coaching,” Foote said. “It’s a little tough in the office, eating M&Ms, snacking all day, drinking coffee. I started my diet a couple days ago.”


Panthers pick up option on Luke Kuechly contract
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) What was promised by general manager Dave Gettleman is now official - the Panthers have picked up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of standout linebacker Luke Kuechly, per the team website.

The two-time Pro Bowler has led the NFL in tackles in two of his three seasons and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He has racked up 473 tackles since 2012, the most in the NFL.


Ravens TE Dennis Pitta hopeful for 2015 return
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta hopes to take the field in time for the 2015 season, but admits it's too early to determine if that goal can become a reality.

Pitta has undergone surgeries to repair a fractured and dislocated hip in each of the last two years.

"We still have some time to be able to assess where I'm at," Pitta told the Baltimore Sun. "I sure hope that I'll be on the field next year. That's my hope; that's my goal. We'll just see if I can get there."

Pitta has played in just seven games in the last two seasons combined.


Mark Sanchez: Eagles said Tim Tebow was just a camp arm
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wasn't concerned that the team signed Tim Tebow, because the Eagles told him Tebow was just there to throw in camp.

"We needed another guy to throw while Sam's (Bradford) still recovering. So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me," Sanchez said, per CSN Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Tebow on Monday. He hasn't played in the NFL since getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp prior to the 2013 season. He spent last year as a television analyst for the SEC Network. 

Tebow and Sanchez were teammates on the Jets in 2012. Tebow's presence as a back-up created a quarterback controversy among fans and media that last ed throughout the season. 


Vikings CB Terence Newman has familiarity with Mike Zimmer
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Vikings cornerback Terence Newman won't have a steep learning curve now that he's with his new team. 

Newman played under Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. Drafted in 2003, Newman learned Zimmer's defense from his rookie season through 2006, before Zimmer left to take the same position with the Falcons. 

“I just know exactly what to expect from him as a coach, as well as everybody else in this locker room,” Newman told the Vikings' website. “You play your best football under him.”

In his career, Newman has recorded 741 tackles and 37 interceptions. Entering his 13th NFL year, Newman has already impressed his teammates with voluntary workouts underway. 

“I met with him and he seemed like a great guy,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “Like he’s going to come in and teach us what we need to know about the technique of the game and about the defense because he’s been in it before, so he’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a big asset to this team and the defense.”


Chiefs pick up option on NT Dontari Poe
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, per NFL.com. He is set in Kansas City through 2016, when he will earn $6.146 million.

The 350-pound Poe has earned the money. He racked up six sacks and contributed to 46 tackles in 2014.


Lions GM Mayhew OK with James Ihedigbo skipping workouts
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Safety James Ihedigbo was the lone absence from voluntary workouts this week for the Lions. But general manager Martin Mayhew understands. After all, Ihedigbo's agent has stated that he would not work without a new contract.

"I look forward to talking with James," Mayhew told ESPN. "I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player, when I felt that a time in my career that I was underpaid and I had to deal with that.

"So I have empathy for him. I understand what he's going through and I look forward to sitting down and talking with him. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've gotten to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

Mayhew declined to discuss whether the Liins will rework Ihedigbo's contract.

The 31-year-old Ihedigbo contributed 71 tackles and two sacks with a career-high four interceptions in 2014 despite missing three games at the start of the year with a nerve injury. He earned Pro Bowl alternate status.


Eagles withdraw qualifying offer to RB Chris Polk
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Running back Chris Polk is now a free agent. 

According to the NFL transaction wire, the Eagles rescinded their $1.6 million tender they offered this past March. The Eagles placed the tender on Polk, previously a restricted free agent, before signing both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in free agency. 

With Darren Sproles on the roster, it didn't make much sense for Polk to stay with the Eagles. 

In 2014, Polk ran for 172 yards and four touchdowns. 


RB Bobby Rainey signs qualifying offer with Buccaneers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Buccaneers have announced that running back Bobby Rainey has signed a one-year qualifying offer the team extended to him before the free agency period. He was a restricted free agent and was given an opportunity to negotiate with other teams.

Rainey will compete for playing time with Tampa Bay. He rushed for 406 yards in 2014, but faded at the end of the season with just two carries in the last six games combined.


Jaguars planning to play 2015 season without Justin Blackmon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) As far as the Jaguars are concerned, Justin Blackmon will not be lining up at receiver for them this season. 

At least that's the approach Jacksonville is taking. Blackmon has been indefinitely suspended since Nov. 1 2013 for three violations of the substance-abuse policy under the old CBA.

"Our process hasn't changed," Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. "[We] plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges, and he's going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys. Hopefully we're able to get some news, but if not we weren't planning on [having Blackmon]. We're just going to go [without him]."

Before he can re-join the Jaguars, he'll need to file an application for reinstatement, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell making a decision within a 60-day window. The application letter would include details of the treatment he's received. 

Since being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blackmon has only played in 20 games. He has 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in his career. 


 
 
 
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