St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford entered the NFL with high expectations after being the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, and he had a solid rookie season with 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns while completing 60 percent of his passes. He struggled mightily in 2011, with just six touchdown passes as a left ankle injury caused him to miss six games and be ineffective in multiple others. Despite some lingering concerns with the ankle Bradford rebounded in 2012, setting career-highs in passing yards (3,702) and touchdowns (21) while playing all 16 games.
The Rams have made it a priority to bolster Bradford’s supporting cast this offseason, with the signing of tight end Jared Cook and offensive tackle Jake Long in free agency and the addition of some young talent at wide receiver (Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey) and running back (Zac Stacy) in the draft. The loss of veteran running back Steven Jackson hurts, but 2012 draft picks Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson give the Rams some depth in the backfield.
Bradford will be working in the same offensive system for two straight seasons for the first time in his career, with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer returning to the same post. That alone should benefit the entire Rams’ offense, and head coach Jeff Fisher has indicated Bradford will be given more autonomy at the line of scrimmage in his fourth NFL season.
Fantasy football owners should not expect Bradford to become an elite option in 2013, but the stage is set for him to take a significant step forward and set career-highs across the board as long as he stays healthy. Those in 12 and 14-team leagues will be hard-pressed to find a QB2 with better upside, and at a possible draft day discount to boot.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.