The St. Louis Rams will undergo a lot of change this season, with a new head coach (Jeff Fisher) and new offensive coordinator (Brian Schottenheimer) helping quarterback Sam Bradford and the offense turn things around after an abysmal 2011.
The Rams’ offense is likely to center around the running game behind veteran running back Steven Jackson, especially given the lack of proven wide receivers on the roster right now. Schottenheimer’s offense when he was with the New York Jets certainly had a fairly conservative approach, so that is unlikely to change in his first year in St. Louis.
The tight end position has proven to be prominent in Schottenheimer’s offense, as evidenced by the production Jets’ tight end Dustin Keller had over the last few years. Keller led the Jets in targets last season with 115, and he also had over 100 targets in 2010. The Rams’ lack a proven tight end on their roster right now, but some recent buzz has surrounded the player at the top of their depth chart at the position, 2011 second round draft pick Lance Kendricks. Schottenheimer has already said, for what it’s worth in June, that the other tight ends on the roster will play a complementary role to Kendricks, and he was reportedly deployed all over the field (fullback, wide receiver) during the team’s offseason program.
Kendricks had just 28 receptions for 352 yards without a touchdown as a rookie last season, as he was bothered by a foot issue and a concussion, but eight of his catches did come over the final three games of the season to create a little bit of positive momentum. He missed time during minicamp with an ankle injury, but there seems to be no concern about his health for the start of training camp at this point.
A lot, if not all, of Kendricks’ fantasy potential for 2012 will be tied to Bradford’s health after he was hampered by an ankle injury last season and if the Rams can improve their pass blocking. All in all, fantasy football owners in 12 and 14-team leagues or leagues with deep rosters can do a lot worse than Kendricks as a late-round draft day gamble and possible TE2 with upside.