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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
Titans' Massaquoi rehabbing shoulder, to miss OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(4:34 pm ET) Outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi will not participate in the Titans' first organized team activities, per ESPN.com.

Massaquoi, who was claimed off waivers from the Falcons earlier this year, is recovering from shoulder surgery. He had a bone spur removed from the area, but the procedure was categorized as a minor cleanup.

Massaquoi recorded 22 tackles in 15 games with Atlanta last season.


Entering third season, 49ers' Lawrence Okoye eyeing roster spot
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(4:04 pm ET) This might finally be the year Lawrence Okoye can crack a spot on the 49ers' roster, per the Bay Area News Group.

Okoye, a former British Olympics discus thrower and rugby player, is feeling confident about his improvements and feels like his potential is worth a roster spot.

“It’s very different from the first time I came here. I’m feeling very good about things,” Okoye said Thursday while sitting at his locker. “I’m just happy I was given the opportunity to stay here so long, so I could catch up. I have a good opportunity to show what I can do.”

Okoye has worked under new head coach Jim Tomsula for two years and with Justin Smith's retirement, his emergence might be rewarded.

“You’re going to get lots of people telling you things. But the main thing is to just keep yourself motivated, despite what people say about you," Okoye said. "People will write you off. People will say this or that. Just keep yourself motivated, keep going every day and you’ll be good.”

 


Bengals' Terrelle Pryor still dreams about winning it all
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:45 pm ET) Terrelle Pryor's chances of taking the Bengals to the Super Bowl and winning it are slim, but that won’t stop him from dreaming.

Pryor -- in his fourth year in the league -- dreams about winning the Super Bowl with quite some frequency, he just isn't sure what team he's doing it with.

“I don’t know the team. It’s always in black uniforms,” Pryor said. “I didn’t see any orange. No, it’s not the Raiders. But I believe it can happen because I can visualize it like that. I’m into visualization.”

Pryor hasn't played a down since the 2013 regular season, when he passed for 1,798 yards, seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games.


Flowers' college position coach thinks he can fill in for injured Beatty
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:18 pm ET) Things are moving really fast for Giants offensive lineman Ereck Flowers. The eighth overall pick in the draft, because of an injury to Will Beatty, might have inherited a huge workload this season, per nj.com.

Art Kehoe, Flowers' offensive line coach at the University of Miami, thinks Flowers will be up to the task of protecting quarterback Eli Manning.

"I'm sure he raised his level up a notch or two, but I think he plays every week, I think he plays hard in practice," Kehoe said. "He's an unproven commodity at the next level, and he's a high draft pick, [the Giants] drafted him to be a fixer, so I'm sure he's going in there to do what he did in Miami — scrap his ass off every day in practice, and if you're supposed to be a badass the next weekend [against] your opponent, he's gonna be there and he's gonna bring everything he's got. That's what he does. He wants to know that there's a dude, and he has to take care of him, and he'll be up to the challenge.

Giants' 2013 first-round pick, Justin Pugh is also a top candidate to fill in for the injured Beatty.


Union: Goodell must back off hearing of Patriots QB Tom Brady
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:00 pm ET) NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith is growing impatient awaiting word from Roger Goodell on the request of the NFL commissioner to recuse himself as arbitrator of the appeal hearings ofPatriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The league suspended Brady for the first four games next season for his alleged role in the Deflategate scandal, claiming that he likely knew that game balls were being deflated for his benefit before the 2014 AFC title game.

Smith is claiming that neither Goodell nor the Wells Report, which investigated the incident, could legitimately claim impartiality. He added that the NFLPA will "advance the volume" of the request if they don't hear from Goodell by next week. Part of the union's press release reads as follows:

Given a process that has contained procedural violations of our collective bargaining agreement, the Commissioner's role as a central witness in the appeal hearing and his evident partiality with respect to the Wells report, the Commissioner must designate a neutral party to serve as arbitrator in this matter. The players also believe that the Commissioner's history of inconsistently issuing discipline against our players makes him ill-suited to hear this appeal in a fair-minded manner.

As for the Wells Report, Smith stated that "you can't really have credibility just because you slap the word independent on a piece of paper." He offered into evidence the findings in regard to NFL official Walt Anderson, who was a key figure in the investigation, citing one part of the report questions his memory and another credits it.


Zimmer happy with progress of Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:32 pm ET) Mike Zimmer has expressed optimism that underachieving Vikings wideout Cordarrelle Patterson is gaining a better understanding of route-running and the nuances of playing the position in the NFL, which would allow his talent to result in greater productivity.

Patterson took a step back in 2014 after a mediocre rookie year. He played in every game, but managed just 33 receptions for 384 yards and one touchdown. He has since stated that 2015 is his make-or-break year and is apparently acting like it in the offseason.

"He's done real well," Zimmer told Fox Sports North. "He's running routes good. He's working hard. So we just need him to continue to do those things and continue to keep getting consistent and keep improving. I've been impressed."


GM: Dolphins LT Branden Albert should be fine for Week 1
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:22 pm ET) Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey has expressed optimism that left tackle Branden Albert will be ready to roll by the regular season opener.

Albert has been rehabbing from a torn ACL and MCL sustained last November against Detroit. He had signed a five-year, $46 million contract the previous March and had been performing particularly well before going down.

"It's been a long rehab and he's really attacked it every day," Hickey told SiriusXM NFL Radio, adding that there was a "reasonable explanation" that he would be ready for Week 1. "We really like his progress. He's out there with his team working out. We're really encouraged by what we're seeing with him."

Ja'Wuan Williams was forced to move to left tackle following the Albert injury in 2014. But he struggled at that position and is expected to move to his more familiar right tackle spot this year.


Report: Bills still want to extend Marcell Dareus
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:15 pm ET) The Bills still want to extend the contract of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, according to a report by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

Despite the one-game suspension levied by the league against Dareus on Thursday, the team still hopes to have an extension wrapped up before the start of training camp. 

2015 is scheduled to be the last season of Dareus' current contract. He'll make $8.06 million.


Shanahan: Struggles of Robert Griffin III unrelated to injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:13 pm ET) Former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan does not believe injuries have prevented quarterback Robert Griffin III from maximizing his potential in the NFL. Rather, he feels it was the team not creating an offensive system that best fits his talents and his own belief that he could play a traditional role at that position.

Griffin sustained a serious knee injury in the 2012 playoffs. He then struggled in 2013 in an offense designed to transform him into a drop-back quarterback rather than one that took advantage of his mobility. He suffered another knee injury last year and did not perform well in the offense of new coach Jay Gruden.

"I don't think getting hurt has anything to do with it," Shanahan told 106.7 The Fan. "In college he didn't have a route tree, didn't have a playbook. That does take some time. ... If you take a quarterback like that you must run the kind of system that allows him to be successful. ... I really believe Robert thought he was more of a drop-back quarterback. He hasn't done things the NFL asks you to do. It does take some growing pains. You better really work on it inside and out."

Some have wondered why the Redskins went so hard after Griffin if they weren't willing to create an offense that maximizes his skill set.


Sheldon Richardson not at Jets' OTAs because 'I have a life'
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:05 pm ET) Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson is skipping the team's OTAs this week, a decision that earned him criticism from fans and media. 

Richardson's explanation isn't likely to win anyone over. 

Richardson went on Twitter and told fans he missed the workouts because, "I have a life outside of football."

"I chose to enjoy my family a little longer," he continued. "So to (you) fans that know everything, please worry 'bout yourself."

Richardson pointed out in another tweet that he "jus' wasn't at practice," but that he was still "putting in work tho'"


 
 
 
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