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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
Seahawks C Max Unger not practicing Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:15 pm ET) Seahawks starting center Max Unger, who's missed four straight games with knee and ankle injuries, was unable to practice Wednesday, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Lemuel Jeanpierre will start Sunday night at Arizona if Unger can't go.

Coach Pete Carroll said Unger had a "tough recovery" after participating in last Friday's practice.


Chiefs' Jamaal Charles puts in limited work on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:03 pm ET) Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles was able to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday. 

Charles was listed with both an ankle and knee injury. He's missed one game this season, but has been able to play through bumps and bruises for the most part. Charles' status will likely be determined based on how much work he can put in on Thursday and Friday.


DeMarco Murray to wear protective padding, not cast, if he plays
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:00 pm ET) If Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray plays less than a week after undergoing surgery, it will be with protective padding on his left hand, not a cast, reports the Dallas Morning News. Murray went through individual drills Wednesday wearing a glove enforced with a hard plastic shell.

"I think we need to see something where there’s a comfort level we all have and certainly a comfort level that he has," coach Jason Garrett told the paper. "Carrying the football is an important responsibility. You have to be able to do it."

Dallas is a 3-point home favorite over the Colts on Sunday. If Murray can't play, Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar will share backfield duties.

Randle is averaging 7.0 yards per carry and would be the favorite to start, but he hasn't gotten more than two carries in a game since Week 10. Dunbar is a better receiver than Randle and would handle most of the passing downs.

Murray underwent surgery Monday, one day after breaking a bone in his left hand. He leads the NFL with 351 carries for 1,687 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.


Chiefs' Dwayne Bowe unable to practice on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:56 pm ET) Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe was unable to practice on Wednesday, according to the Kansas City Star.

Bowe is dealing with an illness. He's yet to miss a game this season, and his status will likely be determined by how much work he can put in on Thursday and Friday.


Vikings RB Matt Asiata limited with foot injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:50 pm ET) Vikings running back Matt Asiata was limited in Wednesday's practice due to a foot injury, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Asiata has received at least 12 touches in four of the past five games entering Week 16 at Miami.

Ravens WR Torrey Smith not on injury report
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) Ravens receiver Torrey Smith, who had been dealing with a sprained knee, is no longer on the team's injury report, ESPN.com. Smith played 51 snaps Week 15 against the Jaguars and caught two passes for 16 yards.

He'll visit the Texans on Sunday.


49ers RB Carlos Hyde does not expect to play Week 16
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:29 pm ET) 49ers rookie running back Carlos Hyde said that "barring a miracle," he does not expect to play Saturday against the Chargers, reports CSNBayArea.com. Hyde did say the MRI on his injured ankle came back with good news, though he wasn't specific.

Veteran running back Frank Gore could be in for a big workload if he gets cleared from his concussion. 


Bills' C.J. Spiller able to practice on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:24 pm ET) Bills running back C.J. Spiller was able to put in limited practice on Wednesday.

Spiller has been medically cleared for contact, but has yet to be added to the team's 53-man roster. Spiller is attempting to come back from a broken collarbone, and said the team will likely make a decision on his status later in the week. "We’ll see how I feel [Thursday] when I come in," Spiller said. "If it is we’ll keep plugging away and I’m pretty sure they’ll consult with me and see how I feel and we’ll make a decision."

For what it's worth, the team has already cleared a roster spot for Spiller, releasing fullback Frank Summers. Head coach Doug Marrone admitted Spiller looked pretty good in practice as well. "I’m not going to sit up here and see he didn’t look good," Marrone said "He looked good."


Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph dealing with knee, ankle injuries
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:23 pm ET) Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph did not practice Wednesday due to knee and ankle injuries, reports 1500ESPN.com. Rudolph, who had sports hernia surgery earlier this season, is coming off his best game of the year, catching seven passes for 69 yards against Detroit.

If Rudolph can't play Sunday at Miami, Chase Ford would start. Ford has 22 catches for 236 yards and a touchdown in nine games played.


Chargers' Keenan Allen ruled out for Week 16
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:14 pm ET) Chargers wideout Keenan Allen has been ruled out for Week 16.

Allen broke his collarbone Week 15 against the Broncos, so the news is expected. Head coach Mike McCoy confirmed that Allen wouldn't play at a press conference on Wednesday. The injury will likely keep Allen out the rest of the season. If that's the case, Allen would finish with 783 yards on 77 catches. He scored four touchdowns in his sophomore year.


 
 
 
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