Frank Gore running
Frank Gore headlines the running back scene in the NFC West, but he has some pretty serious injury concerns. He has missed nine games over the past three years, and didn’t reach 250 carries in any of those seasons. While he is very active in the receiving game averaging 51 catches per season over the past five years, he only has 32 rushing touchdowns over that stretch. He brings the average just over eight total touchdowns a year over that stretch thanks to his receiving scores, but he is a low end RB1 in non-PPR leagues and a middle of the pack RB1 in PPR leagues. Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter will battle for handcuff duties, but neither present much fantasy value as long as Gore remains healthy.
Steven Jackson is a true workhorse back for the Rams, averaging 327 carries and 48.5 receptions over the past two years. His 3.8 yards per carry as well as his low touchdown totals (six per year over the past four season) keeps him from the top tier of fantasy backs. The talk has been that the Rams will add a veteran running back to compliment S-Jax. He’s still a solid RB1, especially in PPR leagues.
The Cardinals must have  seen enough from Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower as the team overlooked several needs and selected Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams with the 38th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. It will be interesting to see how Beanie responds to the challenge. Beanie could be a nice value pick this year if he can stay healthy and finally prove his worth.
Marshawn Lynch had some moments for the Seahawks, especially in their thrill upset of the Saint. Despite the feeling the he’s been in the league for a long time, he’s just 25. Justin Forsett will still get plenty of touches, especially in the passing game, but isn’t a threat to Lynch or a player with considerable fantasy value.
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You might as well call it the NFC Mess. Aside from St. Louis, this division is riddled with questions.
Sam Bradford set the rookie completion record and truly delivered as the first overall pick. Bradford still has a ways to go before he can be considered a QB1, but he certainly has the makings of one. He only had six multiple touchdown games and just one 300-yard effort. Amazingly he did it without many weapons. The Rams added  tight end Lance Kendricks and receivers Austin Pettis and Gregory Salas in the NFL Draft.
Matt Hasselbeck would probably be the second best quarterback in the league, if he returns to Seattle. That has become a major question mark. Charlie Whitehurst didn’t quite cut it. We’ll have to wait and see who wins the starting gig next year we can say if their quarterback has fantasy value next year.
Alex Smith is expected to be back with the 49ers, but Colin Kaepernick is expected to be the future. Smith can be a decent spot starter if he wins the job, but he may not respond well to looking over his shoulder. Seems like a situation to avoid.
Then you have Arizona, who is in dire need of an upgrade at the position. They are rumored to be the front runners in the Kevin Kolb sweepstakes. If he does land in the desert, he would instantly become the second best quarterback in the division. Other than St. Louis, this really is a wait-and-see division.

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This week’s topic
What non-top 35 wide receiver do you project to finish in the top 25?
Click here for the full article.


My response:
I think that Danario Alexander, at 6’5″, 220 could be in for a very big year for the Rams in 2011. He has the size and explosiveness to make a big leap in his second season. Sam Bradford turned in one of the most prolific rookie seasons in NFL history and is not a strong candidate for a sophomore slump. With Josh McDaniels on board to guide the offense, the Rams could return to the days of “The Greatest Show on Turf”.
There should be plenty of opportunities for Alexander to shine. Even if the Rams select a receiver early in the 2011 NFL Draft, he won’t likely be ready to make an immediate impact. The Rams will try to resign Mark Clayton, but he will be more of a possession receiver should they sign him. Alexander figures to be the deep threat. Danny Amendola will work out of the slot.
Alexander showed some glimpses of what he is capable of last year. In Week 6 he caught four passes for 72 yards against the Chargers. In Week 12 he caught four passes for 95 yards against the Broncos. In Week 15 he caught six passes for 99 yards against the 49ers. He did this despite going unsigned until just before the season began. With an offseason of work with Bradford, the dividends could be bountiful. Obviously he will have to work on his consistency and be able to stay healthy, but I am optimistic. You may draft Alexander as a WR4 or WR5, but he could end up producing like a WR2 on good weeks and a WR3 overall.


Mark Clayton never quite made the splash everybody was expecting him to in Baltimore. Things did not look good when Baltimore acquired Anquan Boldin. Then the acquisition of T.J. Houshmandzadeh sealed his fate. Obviously going from a playoff team to a 1-15 team is not good for your chances of winning, but will the move be good for his fantasy value?


I’m in the camp that thinks it will. For starters he doesn’t have much competition in St. Louis. Laurent Robinson, Danny Amendola, Mardy Gilyard, and Brandon Gibson aren’t exactly the who’s who of NFL wideouts. My guess is Clayton will eventually force start opposite of Robinson and Amendola to the slot.


Clayton won’t have a lot of time to build a rapport with Sam Bradford, but it shouldn’t take long for the two former Sooners to get on the same page. You won’t want to use him the first couple of weeks as he gets used to the system, and potentially will be matched up with Nnamdi Asomugha in Week 2. After he gets by Washington in Week 3, it should be smooth sailing for a few weeks (Seattle, Detroit, San Diego, Tampa Bay).


Clayton represents a low risk, but he could end up paying dividends. If you have question marks at WR, it wouldn’t hurt to give Clayton a shot.


You can also check out my Week 1 Rankings:
Week 1 QB Rankings
Week 1 RB Rankings
Week 1 WR Rankings
Week 1 TE Rankings
Week 1 K Rankings
Week 1 DEF Rankings
Week 1 IDP Rankings

Donnie Avery Injures Knee

26 August 2010

Image courtesy of Icon SMI


St. Louis Ram WR Donnie Avery was injured in tonight’s preseason game against the Patriots. More details to come, but this could be a serious blow to the young WR. If you drafted him, give it some time until you hear the extent of his injury before doing anything drastic. If you are drafting before word comes out, you probably want to pass on him. I would also pass on any Ram other than Steven Jackson.

The Rams selected their QB of the future in Sam Bradford. Unfortunately the pieces aren’t in place for him to turn things around too dramatically this year. At least there is hope.


Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
They take on the Saints on the road in Week 14 followed by home games against Kansas City and San Francisco. It’s not a terribly frightening schedule, but aside from Steven Jackson, who are you counting on from the Rams?


Five Star Fantasy Option
Steven Jackson – My hope is that Bradford will at least keep defenses honest. Jackson was such a warrior battling through injuries to amass 1738 total yards (1416 rushing) and 4 TDs. He could have easily quit given the Rams’ ineptitude, but he didn’t. Gotta respect that. If the team is any better, which I expect it to be, Jackson should easily be a top 5-8 fantasy RB.


Four Star Fantasy Options


Three Star Fantasy Options
Donnie Avery – Avery burned fantasy owners last year, so he should come at a value. He will have some consistency issues with a rookie QB under center, but he at least has a competent one this year.


Two Star Fantasy Options
Sam Bradford – I’m not the biggest fan of this year’s QB class, or rookie QBs in general, but Bradford has the tools. He could start the year watching A.J. Feeley, but you have to imagine he’ll get his opportunity.


One Star Fantasy Options
A.J. Feeley – While he’s probably an upgrade over the QBs the Rams had last year, he does not have a firm grip on the job. Even if he holds off Sam Bradford, he will eventually yield to the future.


Kenneth Darby & Chris Ogbonnaya – Unless Steven Jackson goes down, you needn’t worry about this duo.


Keenan Burton, Mardy Gilyard, Danny Amendola, Laurent Robinson – None of these options excite me, but Burton and Robinson, assuming they have recovered from injuries, are the ones to watch.


Daniel Fells & Michael Hoomanawanui - Neither TE does anything to excite me.


Rams Defense/Special Teams – The Rams’ D would have taken a step in the right direction if they took Ndamukong Suh. That said, I see why they wanted a franchise QB instead. There is no reason to think the Rams’ D will be fantasy worthy in 2010.


Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Donnie Avery, who many fantasy football owners are counting on as their #3 Wide Receiver, will miss the next four to six weeks with a foot injury that occured in the Rams’ Friday scrimmage.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, an X-Ray on the foot revealed no fracture, but an MRI “showed more than we thought,” according to coach Steve Spagnuolo.  He went on to add that “it’s probably a four-to-six-week injury.”

Avery was the #1 WR on the Rams depth chart following Torry Holt’s departure to Jacksonville.  The second round pick out of Houston had 53 receptions for 674 and 3 TDs in his rookie season last  year, including a six reception, 163 yard effort against the Patriots. 

Avery could miss the first couple weeks of the regular season , which should bump him down a few notches in fantasy drafts.  Considering this is an injury that could linger all year, I would have a hard time taking him as anything more than my 5th WR at this point.  I obviously don’t want him as a starter, and am leery of him as my top backup as well.  Laurent Robinson and Keenan Burton will likely start in any game Avery misses, and newcomer Ronald Curry should see some reps as well.  If you can downgrade Marc Bulger any further, I would do so.  I don’t trust anyone in the Rams’ passing attack now.

Steven Jackson running
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Steven Jackson showed signs last yer that he can still be a fantasy force when healthy.  Staying healthy is the tricky part though as he missed four games last year matching the four he missed in 2007.  Despite missing a quarter of the season S-Jax accumulated 1421 total yards (1042 rushing, 379 receiving) and 8 TDs (7 rushing).  The questions are whether Action Jackson can stay on the field and do they have enough pieces in place to allow Jackson to return to fantasy dominance.  He is likely going in picks 4-8 in most fantasy leagues so he’ll need to produce to justify that early selection.

Jackson will likely take on more of a leadership role with the Rams as Torry Holt and Orlando Pace have moved on.  Marc Bulger doesn’t appear to be the answer at QB.  Rookie Tackle Jason Smith should help, but he’ll having a learning curve.  The Rams will once again lean heavily on S-Jax.  If he can shoulder the load he’ll have a monster season.  If not he’ll break down and dash fantasy hopes once again.

Unfortunately for S-Jax owners, the Rams have a fairly difficult schedule with games against the Vikings, the Colts, and the Titans.  He does have a nice three-game stretch in which he plays Detroit, New Orleans, and Arizona.  For the fantasy playoffs the Rams face Tennessee, Houston, and Arizona.  If he can avoid the injury Jackson should be good for 1600 total yards and 12 TDs.

The Rams need a lot of work.  That’s to be expected when you go 2-14, losing your last ten to close the season.  Marc Bulger isn’t the answer at QB, but he’ll be with the team in ’09 because he’d be too costly on their cap to cut.  I don’t see them going QB with the second pick though because they would have over $100 earmarked to that position.  A more likely scenario is they attempt the monumental task of replacing Orlando Pace with either Michael Oher or Andre Smith.  Steven Jackson looked great down the stretch running for 517 yards and 4 TDs (3 rushing, 1 receiving) in the last five weeks.  He needs to prove he can stay healthy though as he missed four games.  Kenneth Darby and Antonio Pittman are his backups, but that’s a spot that could use and upgrade.  New Coach Steve Spagnuolo saw first hand what a solid stable or RBs can do for a team.  He didn’t quite pass the torch yet, but this could be the year Torry Holt relinquishes his throne on the #1 spot.  There is talk that he could even be cut or traded.  Donnie Avery will likely be the new number, unless they surprise everyone and select Michael Crabtree.  Keenan Burton dealt with a lot of injuries in his rookie season, but should see an expanded role next year.  This is another spot attention.  The Randy McMichael experiment did not work out.  Joe Klopfenstein doesn’t appear to be the answer so Tight End needs to be addressed as well.  So if you’re keeping score at home the Rams need to upgrade on O-Line, WR, TE, and backup RB on Offense. 

Last year’s #1 pick Chris Long should improve in his second year.  Leonard Little is in the last year of his contract and will be playing for a new deal.  They both should be able to produce in Spags’ scheme.  The Rams will likely bring Restricted Free Agent Victor Adeyanju back and lose La’Roi Glover as a cap casualty or to retirement.  Their LBs are fairly set with Pisa Tinoisamoa, Will Witherspoon, and Quinton Culberson.   The Rams have some key free agents in their secondary.  CB Ron Bartell and S Oshiomogho Atogwe will likely be back.  Fahkir Brown and Corey Chavous (already cut) will not return.  With so many needs, Rams fans need to be patient.  Rough waters are ahead.

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
QB Brock Berlin RFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
RB Samkon Gado UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
RB Travis Minor UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
FB Richard Owens UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
WR Matt Caddell Signed St. Louis Rams St. Louis Rams
WR Joel Filani Re-signed St. Louis Rams San Francisco 49ers
WR Dante’ Hall UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
WR Dane Looker UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
TE Dominique Byrd RFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
OG Mark Setterstrom RFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
OT Adam Goldberg UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
OT Brandon Gorin UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
OT Clint Oldenburg Signed St. Louis Rams Denver Broncos
C Nick Leckey UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
DL Victor Adeyanju RFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
DL La’Roi Glover UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
DL Eric M. Moore UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
DL Willie X. Williams Re-signed St. Louis Rams St. Louis Rams
LB Gary Stills UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
CB Ron Bartell UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
CB Fakhir Brown UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
CB Jason Craft UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
CB Ricky Manning Jr. UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent
SS Corey Chavous UFA (Cut) St. Louis Rams Free Agent
FS Oshiomogho Atogwe UFA St. Louis Rams Free Agent

St. Louis Rams Preview

4 September 2008

Few teams had to deal with the kind of injuries the Rams did last year. Although they are getting older (Torry Holt and Orlando Pace especially), they still have the skill players to get it done. They welcomed in Al Saunders to inject life into their Offense. They have a talented QB in Marc Bulger. If he can stay healthy, he should be able to return to form. They brought in Trent Green to hold the clipboard. He’s good for a game or two in a pinch if need be. Steven Jackson held out for and eventually got the big bucks. He’s deserving, but I don’t get what took so long. He would have been better served to get into camp and get the rust off. He should be fresh from missing the preseason, but could come out of the gates a little slow. The Rams will need to be cautious with him to avoid an hamstring or groin injury, which tend to happen when you try to do too much too fast on a football field. Torry Holt is still the leader of the WR corps, but they’ll have to make due without Isaac Bruce, who moved onto San Fran. Drew Bennett is penciled in as the other starter, but he’ll have to prove he can stay healthy. Dane Looker and Dante Hall should factor in the receiving game as well. At Tight End they are hoping to get more production out of Randy McMichael, who was underwhelming in his first season with the Rams.

On Defense the Rams drafted Chris Long to help their Defensive Front. He joins Leonard Little, La’Roi Glover (6 Sacks), and second-year first rounder Adam Carriker. This should be a pretty strong unit if they can stay healthy. Will Witherspoon (110 Tackles, 7 Sacks) is an outstanding Middle Linebacker. Cornerback Fahkir Brown picked off 5 passes last year. Safeties Oshiomogho Atogwe (75 Tackles, 8 INTs) and Corey Chavous (75 Tackles, 3.5 Sacks) give them a pair of solid Safeties.

If they can stay healthy they will challenge for the NFC West. This division is pretty wide open. I still think the Seahawks will find a way to win it. The Rams will win around 8 games.

Fantasy-wise Steven Jackson is worthy of a top four selection. He is a dynamic runner that is capable of catching the ball out of the backfield. Al Saunders has a pretty good history with RBs. Torry Holt is still worthy of being a #1 WR, but he’s no longer a Top 5 WR. Marc Bulger is taking a shot on as a fantasy starter, but you should have a capable backup. Randy McMichael is worth a look at Tight End. He’ll probably start off as a reserve, but could prove worthy of a starter.

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