st_-louis-rams

Saint Louis Rams (6-10)

Written by: Bill Cervi / DFW Primary Content Director

Follow me on twitter (@wcervi)

Coaching Changes:

Head Coach: Jeff Fisher (Retained)

Offensive Coordinator: Frank Cignetti (New)

Defensive Coordinator: Gregg Williams (Retained)

The Rams lost their Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to the University of Georgia and for some reason either passed on, or could not retain several high profile OCs that interviewed for the job. In the end, the team promoted from within and selected former QB coach Frank Cignetti. When questioned about the hire Fisher stressed consistency in scheme as being the main reason they went with the inexperienced and untested Cignetti. A little consistency sure can’t hurt as Bradford will now be going on his 4th OC in the last 5 years.

 

Key Free agents:

WR Kenny Britt

2014 Stats: 84 Targets, 48 RECs, 57.1% catch rate, 748 YDS, 15.6 YPC, 3 TDs

Age: 26 years old

NFL: Preseason-St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns

Britt is still only 26 years old, will he find a new home and take the next step in his career?

Kenny Britt is entering his 7th year in the NFL, which is amazing when you consider he is still only 26 years old. While he has not quite lived up to his potential yet, he seemed to rebound last year when he was reunited with his former head coach Jeff Fisher. In 2014, despite playing with a rag tag group of QBs, Britt had his best season since 2010 when he recorded 42 catches  for 775 yards and 9 TDs. Britt played on 813 snaps last year, and really stepped up his game after Brian Quick went down in week 8. Britt did not finish particularly well for fantasy purposes (#54 PPR WR), but he was ranked as PFF’s #35 overall rated WR. Britt has indicated that he wants to stay in St Louis and I can’t see any reason why the Rams would not try to resign him. If the Rams drag out negotiations there are several WR needy teams out there that he could make an impact on like the Niners or Seahawks.. If he stays in St. Louis and Sam Bradford is finally able to stay healthy, Britt could emerge as a consistent #3/4 WR for fantasy purposes and is an attractive “buy low” right now.

QB Austin Davis (RFA)

2014 Stats: 181 completions, 63.4 % CMP Rate, 1,998 PYDS, 12 PTD, 9 INT, 36 RYDS, 0 RTD

Age: 25 years old

When you look at Davis’ 2014 numbers and you consider that he had not completed a pass in his 4 year career, the season can’t be viewed as a complete loss. Davis started the season fairly slowly and quickly peeked in weeks 3 and 5. Against the Cowboys in week 3, he posted 327 yds passing, threw for 3 TDs and had 2 INTts.  In week 5 against Philly, he threw for 375 yards and 3 TDs. Those two defenses happened to be two of the worst vs the pass all year so you have to take that into consideration. After week 5, his play rapidly regressed and Davis eventually lost his starting job to journeymen QB Shaun Hill in week 11. The Rams should resign Davis, but they may bring in a veteran QB to help solidify the QB position, especially considering Bradford’s injury history.

TE Lance Kendricks

2014 Stats: 38 Targets, 27 RECs, 71% catch rate, 259 YDS, 9.6 YPC, 5 TDs

Age: 27 years old 

Lance Kendricks and Kansas City’s Anthony Fasano were two of the biggest TD vultures in the NFL last season and I am sure they had plenty of expletives thrown their way by Travis Kelce and Jared Cook owners. Kendricks is a very good blocker and excellent red zone target so I would imagine the team will make a push to resign him. If they do, he has very little Dynasty value unless you are in a 14 -16 man non PPR league.

Other Free Agents:  G Davin Joseph, T Joe Barksdale, DE Alex Carrington, S Rodney McLeod

 

Review/Preview of Fantasy relevant players:

QB Sam Bradford

2014 Stats: Did not have any 2014 stats.

Age/Contract status:  27 years old / Signed through the 2015 season

Sam Bradford

Will the Rams keep Bradford? If so can he live up to his 1.1 NFL draft pedigree?

The St Louis Rams had big expectations for their team heading into the 2014 season, but the wind was knocked out of their sails almost immediately. In a meaningless preseason game, Cleveland’s DE Armonty Bryant ripped passed LT Jake Long and tackled Bradford tearing the ACL in his left knee for the second time in as many years. Bradford’s 2015 cap number is a massive 13 million dollars so there are many questions surrounding the former overall number one picks future with the Rams. As of late February, head coach Jeff Fisher said “We’re counting on him, I’m betting on him, and if that doesn’t happen, then we’ll win games with someone else.” Not exactly a a ringing endorsement, but considering the options in FA and the limited market for Bradford, it looks like he will be back in St Louis. With respect to Bradford’s potential for 2015 and beyond, I believe that there are several reason to be optimistic about his long term value. My first reason is based on the fact that he is dirt cheap to acquire right now, so the risk is minimum for a player with his draft pedigree. Secondly his production through the first seven weeks of the 2103 season was very good. Bradford totaled 1,687 yards passing, a 61% completion rate and threw 14 TDs to only 4 INTs. If you project those numbers out over a full season he would have flirted with 4,000 yds passing and scored almost 30 TDs. That production would have easily assured him a top 10 finish among fantasy QBs that year. His future with the team and the NFL are still uncertain, but the risk/reward payoff has me buying Bradford at a steep discount where ever I can get him.

RB Tre Mason

2014 Stats: 179 carries, 765 YDS, 4.3 YPC, 4 TDs, 26 Targets, 16 REC, 148 YDS, 1 TDs

Age/Contract status: 21 years old / Signed through the 2017 season

Tre Mason

Can Tre Mason become a top 15 fantasy RB this year?

The Rams drafted Tre Mason in the third round (3.11) of the 2014 draft and upon his arrival in St Louis, he found himself buried in a very congested backfield. His preseason was less than stellar to be kind. He carried the ball 43 times, gained 91 yards (2.2 YPC avg) and caught 3 of his 6 pass targets for 16 yards. That production combined with his difficulties in pass protection led to Mason riding the pine until the team’s week six contest vs the 49’ers where he made an immediate impact. Mason averaged 8 yards a carry in that game and he scored his first NFL TD on a 12 yard pass. The following week Mason was given the start vs the Seattle Seahawks and Mason stepped up big time. He rushed for 85 yards on 18 carries (4.7 YPC) and scored his first rushing TD. Mason became the team’s primary ball carrier after that game and he went on to have a fairly productive rookie year. There are areas of his game that he will need to improve to earn a larger share of the workload, mainly he needs to improve his pass pro and do a better job catching the ball out of the backfield. If he is able to take the next step this year Mason could be looking at playing 80% of the teams snaps as opposed to the 51% from last year. The extra reps, the potential return of Sam Bradford and the likely hood that the Rams will address their Oline deficiencies in the draft or FA has me very optimistic for his 2015 prospects. If you project Mason’ 2014 production out for a full season he would have finished with almost 1,100 all purpose yards, caught 25 passes and scored 6 TDs. Those numbers would have placed him among the top 17 RBs in PPR leagues and I think that will be Mason’s floor for 2015 (if he stays healthy). Mason’s current dynasty start-up ADP here at DFW is 4.1 which is almost a full round ahead of Ellington(4.9) and Gio (5.1) so apparently I am not alone in my optimism. As high as that ADP may seem now I believe it will only rise as we get closer to the start of preseason action. Long term I think that Mason has the ability to become a low end RB #1 for fantasy purposes, possibly as early as 2015.

RB Benny Cunningham

2014 Stats: 66 carries, 246 YDS, 3.7 YPC, 3 TDs, 52 Targets, 45 REC, 352 YDS, 1 TD

Age/Contract status: 24 years old / Signed through the 2015 season

Heading into the 2014 season, Cunningham seemed most likely to get lost in the Rams crowded backfield. The truth is he maintained a steady presence in the Rb rotation, first serving as Stacy’s back up then Mason’s later in the year. Cunningham also proved to be fairly efficient catching the ball out of the backfield through out the year as evidenced by his 87% catch rate. Cunningham does not have any real fantasy value, but he will be a free agent after this year so maybe he will get a chance to play more than 450 snaps in 2016.

RB Zac Stacy

2014 Stats: 76 carries, 293 YDS, 3.9 YPC, 1 TDs, 23 Targets, 18 REC, 152 YDS, 0 TD

Age/Contract status:  24 years old / Signed through the 2016 season

Zac Stacy, a pre-draft favorite of our very own Dan “Burgandy” Heins, made an impressive first impression on fantasy owners when he exploded onto the scene in 2013. The Rams selected him in the 5th round and when given the chance week 5 against the Jags, he made the most of it. Stacy went on to finish the season with 1,100+ yards from scrimmage, 26 catches and 8 total TDs. Fantasy owners were feeling very confident that they had mined a late round nugget, but then the Rams changed everything by drafting Tre Mason in the third round of the 2014 draft. Dynasty owners suddenly were anxious and their fears quickly became justified in week 5 when Stacy suffered a calf strain which in turn, opened the door for Mason to get on the field. Stacy had only 15 carries in the final 10 games of the season and his fantasy value tanked. At this point, it looks like Stacy will need an injury to see any significant playing time in 2015.

WR Brian Quick

2014 Stats: 39 Targets, 25 RECs, 64.1% catch rate, 375 YDS, 15.0 YPC, 3 TDs

Contract status: 25 years old / Signed through the 2015 season

Brian Quick

Can Brian Quick return to early 2014 form when he was on pace to be a top 25 WR?

Brian Quick was the first pick, in the second round, of the 2012 draft. He was a small school product, out of Appalachian State, that had impressive size/speed numbers, but it was acknowledged by all that he would be a project and take some time to adjust to the NFL game. Those assessments were right on the money as Quick followed the prototypical growth curve of a rookie WR and struggled through his first 2 years in the NFL. Entering the 2014 season, there were early reports that the light had gone on and Quick was looking sharp in camp and he built on that momentum with a solid preseason. To be fair, Quick’s first 5 opponents were not exactly defensive power houses, but he still had an extremely productive beginning to the season and was on pace to finish with 60+ catches, 1,000+ yards, and 8 TDs. That level of production would have translated to roughly high end WR #3 production. While those numbers are just projections, it is important to remember that Quick never really had a NFL caliber starting QB throwing to him so the potential return of Bradford could improve his 2015 performance. As of early January, there were reports that the shoulder injury that landed him on IR last year was more significant than expected and the Rams now hope to have Quick back by the start of training camp. If he is able to return to full health, I am bullish on Quick’s long term value. I think he has the potential to be a solid #3 WR for fantasy purposes and is an attractive “buy low” target at this point of the off season. Quick’s current dynasty start up ADP here at DFW is round 10 and he is generally the 56th WR taken overall. That is larceny with his upside, in my opinion.

WR Stedman Bailey

2014 Stats: 46 Targets, 30 RECs, 65.2% catch rate, 435 YDS, 14.5 YPC, 1 TD

Age/Contract status:  24 years old / Signed through the 2016 season

Stedman Bailey was also part of the Rams 2014 draft class and like Quick his role with the team through the first two years was very limited. Last season, Bailey got off to a terrible start when the NFL suspended him for 4 games (later reduced to 2) for violating the leagues policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Bailey was almost invisible through his first 9 games, but he really came on strong down the stretch recording over 85% of his yearly production in the final 6 games of the year. Bailey’s value is really tied to Britt’s re-signing and Quick’s recovery. If both the Rams WRs return to full duty, Stedman would most likely be limited to the slot role which would limit his upside. Should Quick or Britt not be in the line-up long term and the Rams pass a on a top WR in this draft, Bailey may have some sneaky value in PPR leagues as a flex/bye week fill in.

WR Tavon Austin

2014 Stats: 44 Targets, 31 RECs, 70.5% catch rate, 242 YDS, 7.8 YPC, 0 TDs,  36 carries, 224 YDS (6.2 YPC), 2 TD

Age/Contract status:  23 years old / Signed through the 2016 season

Tavon Austin

Will Tavon Austin’s fantasy value continue to fall?

It doesn’t seem like too long ago that Tavon Austin was being selected in the top 2 picks of 2013 rookie drafts, over top RBs like Eddie Lacy and Le’Veon Bell. To say that he has been a disappointment, to date, would be a huge understatement. Austin has yet to exceed 40 catches in a season and the Rams have really struggled to get the production they expected out of him when they drafted him with the eighth overall pick. In 2014, the Rams tried to use him more in running plays and  he did have some solid rushing numbers as evidenced by his 6+ YPC average. Looking forward into 2015 it is hard to see Austin ascending to a fantasy relevant role especially if Britt and Quick are back and playing well. I was never an Austin fan and I doubt there are any left out there, but if you can find one get whatever you can for him and move on.

TE Jared Cook

2014 Stats: 99 Targets, 52 RECs, 52.5% catch rate, 634 YDS, 12.1 YPC, 3 TDs

Age/Contract status:  27 years old / Signed through the 2017 season

Jared Cook is a player that has teased fantasy owners for years. He has good size, speed, and catching ability yet he never seems to put a whole season together. He is basically a boom or bust player on a weekly basis. Cook’s development and production have been hurt by the lack of consitancy at QB and the presence of one of the worst TD vultures in all of fantasy football, the hated Lance Kendricks. Kendricks has scored 13 TDs over the last 3 years and that would have gone along way towards stabilizing Cook’s weekly fantasy production. Cook will count 8+ mill against the cap next 3 years, so it is possible that the team will release after the 2015 season (if they released him in 2015 the result would be 8+ mill in dead cap money).

 

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