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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
49ers not ready to award Steve Johnson No. 3 receiver role
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:31 am ET) The 49ers aren't ready to declare Steve Johnson as the team's No. 3 receiver. In fact, according to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, the team won't "put numbers" on their receivers. Johnson is fight Brandon Lloyd, Quinton Patton, and rookie Bruce Ellington for snaps this preseason.

When asked if Johnson is the third wideout, offensive coordinator Greg Roman said: "It depends. It depends. I think we'll have some flexibility there."

Brent Celek compiles 41 receiving yards vs. Eagles
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:15 am ET) Eagles tight end Brent Celek made his presence felt with only two catches Thursday night against the Steelers in exhibition play.

Celek came down with a 23-yard grab during the second series of the night. On the ensuing drive late in the first quarter, he caught an 18-yard pass from Nick Foles. He played the entire first half with the starters and finished the game with two receptions for 41 yards.

Darren Sproles scores rushing TD Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:10 am ET) Eagles running back Darren Sproles found the end zone during Thursday's exhibition game against the Steelers.

With LeSean McCoy sidelined after the first two series, Sproles tooke over and scored a rushing touchdown from 1-yard out in the second quarter. He played the entire first half with the starters and finished the game with six carries for 33 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt. He was targeted only four times and finished the game with one catch for 4 yards.

Nick Foles not at his best in preseason tuneup
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:04 am ET) Eagles quarterback Nick Foles didn't look impressive Thursday night against the Steelers in exhibition play.

Foles threw a short pass to LeSean McCoy, who turned it into a 22-yard touchdown. He was picked off by Troy Polamalu in the second quarter. He played the first half and compiled 179 yards through the air while completing 19 of 29 passes. He added a touchdown and an interception, registering a 79.5 passer rating.

Foles has passed for 304 pass yards through three preseason games. His next game will likely be the regular season opener against the Jaguars on Sept. 7.

Antonio Brown racks up 59 receiving yards Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown bounced back from a slow start in Thursday's exhibition game against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

Brown was held without a grab in the first quarter and came down with a 19-yard reception in the second quarter -- his only catch of the half. He bounced back after halftime with a pair of catches. He was targeted five times and finished with three catches for 59 yards, averaging 19.7 yards per grab.

Brown has compiled 173 receiving yards and a touchdown through three preseason games.

Markus Wheaton not on the same page with Ben Roethlisberger Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton had a bad drop and endured some communication issues with Ben Roethlisberger Thursday night against the Eagles in preseason action, per the NFL Network. Wheaton finished the first half without a grab and caught passes for 10 and 14 yards in the third quarter. He caught half of his four targets for 24 yards.

"It looked bad. We'll go watch the film, it could be 'this here is wrong, that is wrong,' you fix it and you get rolling," Wheaton said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.


Martavis Bryant scores late-game TD in preseason game
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Steelers rookie receiver Martavis Bryant worked with the second-team offense and came down with a touchdown reception Thursday night against the Eagles.

Bryant caught a 25-yards pass in the fourth quarter. Backup Bruce Grad Gradkowski hooked up with the rookie for a short 3-yard touchdown strike on the ensuing drive. He was targeted four times and finished with two catches for 28 yards.

Heath Miller looks like old self in preseason tuneup
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Steelers tight end Heath Miller looked like his old self during Thursday's preseason game against the Eagles in Philadelphia.

Miller played deep into the third quarter with the first-team offense. He came down with a 27-yard touchdown grab late in the third quarter. He finished five catches for 53 yards and a touchdown, averaging 10.6 yards per grab.

Darrius Heyward-Bey makes touchdown grab in exhibition game
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Steelers wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey hauled in a touchdown Thursday night against the Eagles in preseason action.

Heyward-Bey worked with the backups and caught a 22-yard pass from Bruce Gradkowski in the fourth quarter. He caught all three of his targets for 54 yards and a touchdown, averaging 18.0 yards per grab.

Heyward-Bey is struggling to find a prominent role with his new club. He finished last season with just 29 catches for 309 yards and one touchdown for Indianapolis.

Le'Veon Bell, LeGarrette Blount get extended work with backups
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/21/2014) Hours removed from being charged with marijuana possession, Steelers running backs Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount both received extra snaps with the backups deep into Thursday's preseason game against the Eagles in Philadelphia. 

Bell got the start but shared carries and was outplayed by Blount throughout the night. He took nine handoffs for 23 yards, averaging only 2.6 yards per attempt. He caught only one pass for 3 yards while being targeted twice. Blount had seven carries for 32 yards, averaging 4.2 yards per attempt. He caught all three of his targets for 14 yards.

Both players played late into the game as part of a "punishment," according to head coach Mike Tomlin, per the Observer-Reporter.


 
 
 
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