Steven Jackson seemed destined to be one of those great players that will never win anything. After his best season in 2006 where the Rams finished a respectable 8-8, St. Louis was a hot pick to make the next jump into the playoffs in ’07. I remember Trey Wingo liking the Rams for the Super Bowl.
But, it didn’t take long for that to fall apart.
Orlando Pace was lost for the season during the first game against the Carolina Panthers, Marc Bulger took a beating and was lost for various periods in the season and the last remnants of the “Greatest Show on Turf” finally faded away with Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt leaving in subsequent seasons. Scott Linehan, the coach of the Rams during their sudden downfall, was given two and a quarter seasons to see if he could stabilize the team. I think we all know how that went.
Jackson was sidelined at various times throughout his career, the Rams coaching staff was fired and after several seasons of picking in the Top 5 of the draft, little improvement was seen on the field. Holding last year’s No. 1 pick in the draft, the Rams selected QB Sam Bradford out of Oklahoma, a pick which, at the time, was much debated.
Well we’ve all seen how that has worked out, with Bradford immediately solidifying himself as the best QB in his division while seemingly growing by leaps and bounds every week. Now Jackson, with the help of Bradford, is poised to not only win the NFC South, but cement himself as a Top 5 fantasy RB for the rest of the season.
I’ll tell you how.
Thus far, Jackson has been the most consistent RB in fantasy football. Six weeks into the season, he’s had only one game in which he failed to score double digit fantasy points, and that was in Week 1. His string of double digit points, though never more than 16 points, is about as consistent of an asset in fantasy football as there is.
The most impressive thing about this is that he does all of this without scoring TDs regularly. Last season—a year in which Jackson’s Rams won only one game and he was the team’s only threat on a terrible offense—he somehow managed to score 4 TDs. This season, he’s already scored 2 and it appears as though he’s heading towards more.
…Keeps Getting Better
So, let’s start with the obvious. The Rams—and particularly Sam Bradford—have been much better than anyone suspected. Bradford looks like the best QB since…well, really I look at him and see a young John Elway. He’s been awfully impressive and throws the football better than a majority of QBs in the league. He’s been especially impressive when you consider the fact that virtually all of his top receiving threats coming into the season have either been forced to miss games (Laurent Robinson) or ended up on injured reserve (Donnie Avery/Mark Clayton).
How does this help Jackson? Well, teams have to respect the Rams passing game now, a fact which stops opposing defenses from putting EVERY guy down in the box. Will Jackson still face loaded fronts? Yes, of course he will, but they won’t be AS loaded. Bradford is still a rookie, after all.
Perhaps the greatest reason as to why Jackson will see his stats improve as the season goes on is that the Rams have already wrapped up the most difficult part of their season. Yeah, that’s right, the Rams’ already-weak opening six opponents are about to be followed by even weaker ones: Tampa Bay, Carolina, San Francisco, Atlanta, Denver, Arizona, New Orleans, Kansas City, San Francisco again and Seattle.
Do any of those run defenses (or defenses in general) scare you from starting Jackson? They shouldn’t. In fact, after doing some research, Jackson and the Rams have one of the most favorable schedules in the entire league. There is no reason that St. Louis cannot win its division, nor is there any reason that Jackson can’t continue to see his fantasy value rocket upwards.
Last week was Jackson’s best outing with 16 total fantasy points, but against one of the weaker fantasy run defenses in Tampa Bay waiting for him this weekend, I expect Jackson to break the 20 point barrier for the first time this season. He might even threaten to reach 30 points.
Well, the 30 points might be a little unrealistic and Jackson will probably never be the top performer in any week this season, but I’ll take a consistent double digit points every week rather than one 40 pointer and a bunch of single digits. I guarantee that Jackson will enter next season as a Top 5 fantasy pick and seeing as how we often treat the first round of fantasy drafts as an awards ceremony for the previous season’s best players, you can put two and two together.
It equals 39, by the way. That’s Jackson’s number, you lazy bum.