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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
Arians: Cardinals TE Troy Niklas unlikely to return in Week 8
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8:46 pm ET) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians indicated Tuesday that tight end Troy Niklas (ankle) is unlikely to play in Week 8 against the Eagles, FOXSports.com reports.

Niklas has missed the last two weeks after suffering an ankle sprain. He has one reception for 16 yards on the season.


Report: Patriots expected to sign DE Alan Branch
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:48 pm ET) The Patriots are expected to sign free-agent defensive end Alan Branch, the Boston Globe reports.

Branch was released by the Bills after a DUI arrest in August. The Patriots reportedly are going to be without defensive end Chandler Jones (hip) for about a month, leaving a need to add depth on the defensive line.


Report: Patriots DE Chandler Jones (hip) out multiple weeks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:16 pm ET) Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones missed practice Tuesday with a hip injury and is expected to be sidelined for about a month, the Boston Globe reports.

Jones recorded four tackles and a sack in the team's Week 7 win over the Jets last Thursday after entering the contest listed as probable. He has posted 4.5 sacks over six games this season.


Panthers LB Luke Kuechly to avoid fine after ejection
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:06 pm ET) Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly will not be fined for making contact with an official during his team's Week 7 loss to the Packers, NFL.com reports.

Kuechly was ejected from Sunday's game after the incident, which the linebacker contends happened because he wasn't aware it was an official pulling him from behind after a play. Panthers coach Ron Rivera disagreed with the decision to eject Kuechly and predicted the linebacker wouldn't face a fine.


Seahawks sign TE Brett Brackett, waive TE RaShaun Allen
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:03 pm ET) The Seahawks claimed tight end Brett Brackett off waivers from Tennessee Tuesday and waived tight end RaShaun Allen. Brackett played two games with the Titans before being waived Monday.

Colts add Jeff Demps, Konrad Reuland to practice squad
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:38 pm ET) The Colts signed running back/return specialist Jeff Demps and tight end Konrad Reuland to the practice squad Tuesday, the team announced. The team released quarterback Dominique Davis and wide receiver Chandler Jones to make room for the new additions.

Identifying a few streaming DST options
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(6:16 pm ET) If you need to pick up and play a DST unit in Week 8, Jamey Eisenberg identifies three worth snagging in his waiver-wire column: the Colts (59 percent owned) in Pittsburgh, the Cowboys (43 percent) against Washington, and the Dolphins (36 percent) in Jacksonville.

Hitting the wire for tight ends
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(6:07 pm ET) With how up-and-down many tight ends have been this season, identifying the right ones on waivers can be a key. In his Week 8 waiver-wire column, Jamey Eisenberg tries to pin down the best ones for you to target this week.

Ravens tight end Owen Daniels, coming off a six-catch performance with a touchdown in Week 7, is the top pick for the 41 percent of CBSSports.com leagues in which he is available. A big reason why is a matchup against the Bengals, who have allowed four double-digit Fantasy scoring games by tight ends this season.

The remainder of the top five for the week is rounded out by Coby Fleener of the Colts (44 percent owned), Charles Clay of the Dolphins (34 percent), Jared Cook of the Rams (47 percent) and Kyle Rudolph of the Vikings (32 percent), who makes more sense as a stash option if you can afford the roster space. 


Prioritizing waiver-wire picks at wide receiver
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(6:01 pm ET) In his Week 8 waiver-wire column, Jamey Eisenberg takes a look at the wide receivers most worth adding ahead of this week's games.

The list is headlined by new Seahawks' No. 1 Doug Baldwin (33 percent owned), with Odell Beckham (68 percent) of the Giants, Davante Adams (21 percent) of the Packers, Allen Robinson (34 percent) of the Jaguars and Brandon LaFell (56 percent) of the Patriots rounding out the remainder of the top five.

If you need to drop someone to make room for any pickups this week, he also recommends possibly parting ways with the Vikings' Cordarrelle Patterson (81 percent) or the Steelers' Markus Wheaton (35 percent). 


Falcons WR Roddy White trying to eliminate the drops
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:53 pm ET) Falcons wideout Roddy White remains down on his play despite catching nine passes for 100 yards and a touchdown Week 7, reports ESPN.com. He has dropped five passes this year, tied for fourth-most in the NFL.

"Mentally, I feel like I'm in the game plan. Mentally, I feel prepared for the games. It's just ... I don't know what it is," he told the website. "I'm not finishing plays. I'm not doing what I'm supposed to do."

White, who turns 33 next month, vowed to fix the problem. And he said injuries are not a factor.

"It's frustrating me," he said. "I'll figure it out, though. I will figure it out."


 
 
 
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