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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
A.J. Green staying loyal to Andy Dalton
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/10/2014) Bengals receiver A.J. Green told NFL Network he's hoping quarterback Andy Dalton receives a contract extension. "We came in together and that is the great thing for me and him," Green said. "I know he's my guy. I don't want any other quarterback throwing me the ball. I think he feels the same way about me."

Green said he's built chemistry with Dalton in their three years together.

"He feels confident that whether I'm double covered, triple covered, it don't matter I'm going to come down with the ball," Green said. "And I feel like we've grown over these last three years and I feel like this year is going to be another key year for us."


Derek Sherrod focusing on right tackle
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/10/2014) Former first-round pick Derek Sherrod broke both bones in his lower right leg in December 2011 and returned to the active roster only last year, playing six offensive snaps. But Packers offensive line coach James Campen said Sherrod "looks terrific" and will focus on playing right tackle behind starter Bryan Bulaga, reports ESPN.com.

"The next step for him is to get him into the daily grind, put the pads on and go pound it," Campen said of Sherrod. "That's his next step, but we've been very pleased with where he's come from."


Marion Grice to struggle for playing time
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/10/2014) Chargers rookie running back Marion Grice scored 39 touchdowns in 24 games at Arizona State, but he'll have a hard time cracking the lineup in San Diego, according to the team's website. The sixth-round pick finds himself behind Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown in the backfield and will need "a very special camp performance to earn playing time," the report said.


Chris Ivory's carries expected to drop
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/10/2014) With the Jets' addition of Chris Johnson, running back Chris Ivory most likely will get "a decent number of carries, but not as many as he did last year," reports the New York Post. Ivory averaged 12 carries per game last year while amassing 833 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

The paper said it will be interesting to see how Ivory reacts to a smaller workload. "One of the reasons he was unhappy in New Orleans was he was part of a crowded backfield and did not feel he was being used enough," the paper said. "Will he bite his tongue if he is riding the bench?"


Four draft picks unsigned as camp nears
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/10/2014) With training camp fast approaching, four of the NFL's 256 draft picks remain unsigned. They are Browns corner Justin Gilbert (first round, eighth overall), Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (first round, 11th overall), Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee (second round, 39th overall) and Dolphins offensive tackle Billy Turner (third round, 67th overall).

Getting rid of Andre Johnson would be costly
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/10/2014) The Texans would incur $12 million in dead money on their salary cap if they cut or trade receiver Andre Johnson, reports ESPN.com. Johnson has asked for a trade, but the Texans are resistant to the idea, according to NFL Network.

Johnson is owed $21.5 million over the next two seasons. He's unhappy with the direction of the team, which is rebuilding with a new coach and new quarterbacks.


Eddie Lacy not content
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/10/2014) Packers running back Eddie Lacy set a franchise rookie rushing record with 1,178 yards last season while scoring 11 touchdowns. He won't take anyone by surprise in 2014, a challenge he's preparing for.

"I just need to regain focus," he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "Don't let what I did last year flow over into this year. It's a new team, it's a new season and a new year pretty much."

"I know it's going to be a lot tougher than last season," Lacy added. "But we have the greatest quarterback in the NFL, and with him being back there, it's not just like they'll be able to stack the box and focus on me. They have to play him, because if not, he's just going to kill them through the air. So I still think I have a bit of breathing room.

"I think it will be tougher, because it's not like you're surprising everyone. When you first come in, people doubt you. They know what you did in college, but they don't know if it will translate to the next level. But once you get that year in and people see what you've done and it's no longer surprising, they're going to prepare for you the way they prepare for whoever else is good at that position."


Falcons 'certain' Julio Jones will be good as new
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/10/2014) The Falcons are "certain" receiver Julio Jones will "return to his old explosive self," reports ESPN.com. Jones is coming off foot surgery and is waiting for doctors to clear him to go all out. 

Jones says he's running routes and feels no pain in his foot.


Report: Browns 'not likely' to cut Josh Gordon
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/10/2014) It's possible, but not likely, that the Browns cut receiver Josh Gordon, reports Pro Football Talk. Gordon is facing a possible one-year suspension for alleged failed drug tests, according to PFT. He also was suspended two games at the start of last season.

If Gordon is exposed to the waivers system, the Texans would get the first chance to acquire him because they had the league's worst record last year.


Henry Melton won't be 'full go' to start camp
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/10/2014) Cowboys defensive tackle Henry Melton won't be "full go" at the start of training camp but is convinced he'll be ready for the season opener, reports ESPN. Melton continues to rehab from a torn ACL.

 
 
 
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