Fantasy Phobia: St. Louis Rams Backfield
In the previous Fantasy Phobia columns, I highlighted a single player and discussed why I am afraid to own them on my fantasy rosters this season. This article will be a little bit different, as it will feature three players, rather than just one.
With long time starter Steven Jackson out of the picture, the St. Louis Rams running back depth chart is uncertain. I mean, you have two sophomore backs who didn’t really establish themselves yet, as well as an incoming rookie. This has all the signs of a running back committee situation, which spells fantasy headache for fantasy owners. Of course, running back isn’t as deep as it once was, so you may find yourself have to drafting one of these guys. However, if I can help it, I am most definitely staying away.
The speedy back showed some flashes last year, getting a lot of work. In fact, he actually leapfrogged ahead of Isaiah Pead on the team depth chart. He averaged a solid 4.8 yards per carry and caught 24 balls, all while playing behind S-Jax. Now, with Jackson gone, Richardson is very much in the mix to enter Week 1 as the team’s starting back. He easily has the most speed of any back in St. Louis, and provides the best big play potential, something that this new-look Rams offense seems to be suddenly interested in. CBS Sports’ Clark Judge believes that Richardson is the “favorite” to win the starting job, for what it’s worth. However, if you look at his build of 5’10″, 196 lbs, Richardson appears to be more of a change-of-pace back, a guy who can be utilized on passing downs and in space quite often. I’d agree that Richardson has the best chance, considering he has the best track record, but I’m not sure he will remain the starting option for the entire season.
The Rams used their 5th round pick in this year’s draft on Stacy, a strong back out of Vanderbilt. While there isn’t necessarily exciting about Stacy’s game, I do think he has been a bit overlooked among the rookies. Stacy doesn’t have anywhere near the breakaway speed that Richardson does, but he is a more patient runner between the tackles. He operated out of the Wildcat a ton in college, which could be something the Rams may look to implement in their new high-powered offense with fast guys like Tavon Austin and Chris Givens. Stacy can run with power and is a disciplined runner, and if he impresses during camp, he can very well start Week 1. Still, it’s rare to see the onslaught of dominating rookies like last season, so expectations need to be tempered for Stacy.
While many people still believe Pead will be Jeff Fisher’s number one back, I’m still not so sure. Remember, Pead didn’t impress at all in his rookie season, being outplayed by third string back, Richardson. Fast forward to 2013 and Pead has been suspended for the first game of the season after violating the substance abuse policy. Pead may already be in the doghouse, but Fisher stated that he has been very pleased with the sophomore’s progress, so who really knows? Pead is more of an every-down back than Richardson, and Stacy is a rookie, so I understand why people are higher on him. However, I’ll have to see him bounceback and really make a name for himself after he serves his suspension before I add him to my fantasy roster.
I see this running back situation shaping out in a rather annoying way. Fisher could very well just feed whoever has the hot hand at the time, so I see fantasy owners constantly flipping back and forth between Pead, Richardson and Stacy. I don’t think there will ever be a bellcow workhorse back in St. Louis, which isn’t very appealing to me when it comes to fantasy.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.