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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: I'm ready to roll for Sunday game
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:13 am ET) Bengals stud wideout A.J. Green has proclaimed himself ready for the Sunday game against visiting Tennesee, per the team website.

Green, who has been dealing with a toe ailment, returned to practice Thursday missing the Week 2 defeat of Atlanta. He exploded for six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in the season-opening win in Baltimore.


Matt Bryant misses only field goal, still puts up points
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:28 am ET) Falcons kicker Matt Bryant managed points despite missing his only field goal attempt.

With time running out in the second quarter, Bryant lined up for a 59 yard attempt. He missed wide left. While that was the only field goal attempt he received, Bryant actually got a ton of work. He hit all eight of his extra point attempts, finding a way to put points on the board.

Bryant will take on the Vikings Week 4. 


Falcons DST wrecks havoc on Bucs Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:24 am ET) The Falcons DST had a big game Thursday against the Buccaneers. 

Atlanta held the Bucs without a score until 8:46 was left in the game. The team was already ahead 56-0 at that point. Some of those points came as a result of strong defensive play. Atlanta managed one defensive touchdown after picking off Josh McCown. Devin Hester also returned a punt, putting Atlanta on the board for a second time. Overall, the team forced five fumbles, four of which were recovered. 

Atlanta will look for more Week 4 against the Vikings. 


Falcons backups get on the board Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:15 am ET) The Falcons backups made an impact Thursday against the Buccaneers.

With the team up by a ton, Atlanta started using their subs in the third quarter. Jacquizz Rodgers received five carries for 6 yards. Rodgers also caught a pass for 3 yards.

Eric Weems seemed to be the biggest beneficiary, hauling in four passes for 69 yards. Fullback Patrick DiMarco gained 35 yards on three catches. Levine Toilolo also contributed, catching two passes for 25 yards. Courtney Roby picked up 11 yards on one reception. 

They'll take on the Vikings Week 4. 


Harry Douglas picks up a score before leaving
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:11 am ET) Falcons receiver Harry Douglas manages to catch a touchdown before exiting Thursday's game.

Douglas caught two balls for 14 yards. He hauled in a 3 yard score on the team's first drive of the game. He injured himself with four minutes left in the second quarter, and did not return to the game. 

If Douglas can play, he'll take on the Vikings Week 4. 


Devin Hester makes big impact Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:08 am ET) Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester made a big impact Thursday against the Buccaneers.

Hester caught just one ball for 25 yards, but found a way to make an impact in other places. He managed to score on his only carry, running in a 20 yard touchdown. Hester then managed to score on a punt return, breaking the NFL record for return touchdowns. He did so with former record holder Deion Sanders watching the game. Hester would leave the game twice due to cramping.

He'll take on the Vikings Week 4. 


Julio Jones dominates Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:04 am ET) Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones turned in a fantastic performance Thursday against the Buccaneers. 

Jones hauled in nine passes for 161 yards and two scores. The Bucs had no answer for Jones on defense, even though Jones was Atlanta's only healthy weapon. After making a ridiculous catch on a 40-yard touchdown, Jones left the game. At that point, the team was up 42-0. Jones received a team-high 11 targets. 

Jones will take on the Vikings Week 4. 


Devonta Freeman gets 11 carries Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:59 am ET) Falcons running back Devonta Freeman got 11 carries Thursday against the Buccaneers. 

Freeman got most of his work after Steven Jackson was taken out of the game. Freeman did little to distinguish himself, though the Bucs defense was basically selling out against the run. Freeman gained just 12 yards on his 11 carries. He caught one pass for 7 yards. 

Freeman will take on the Vikings Week 4. 


Antone Smith breaks off a big run Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:55 am ET) Falcons running back Antone Smith managed to rip off a score Thursday against the Buccaneers.

Smith received two carries when the game was still in reach, but made his big play with the game already in hand. After Steven Jackson left the game, Smith got two carries on the next drive. The first went for -2 yards, but the second was much more exciting. Smith broke a 38 yard score. He managed to beat the defense to the outside, and out-ran everyone to the end zone. Smith finished with four carries for 50 yards. 

Smith will take on the Vikings Week 4. 


Steven Jackson runs one in Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:42 am ET) Falcons running back Steven Jackson managed to run in a score Thursday against the Falcons.

Jackson didn't get a ton of work, as the Falcons took a commanding lead early. He ran the ball 14 times for 54 yards. He scored his only touchdown in the third quarter. With the team already up 49-0, Jackson managed to pick up a 2 yard score. The run was impressive, as Jackson broke two or three tackles on the play. The team then went to other backs, opting to keep Jackson fresh.

Jackson will take on the Vikings Week 4. 


 
 
 
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