Top 5 2013 Fantasy Football Players: St. Louis Rams

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St. Louis Rams' Top Five Fantasy Options

St. Louis Rams' Top Five Fantasy Options
Scott Rovak- USA TODAY Sports

After years of the St. Louis Rams being devoid of any fantasy weapons besides running back Steven Jackson, the team's new administration has done great work to rebuild the roster, and with that the team has become a much greater fantasy force. With a revitalized passing attack which will include new acquisitions Jared Cook and Tavon Austin as well as draft picks of recent years such as Chris Givens, Brian Quick, Austin Pettis and Lance Kendricks, quarterback Sam Bradford will be relied upon to pass much more, and he should be a much better fantasy player as a result.

Givens had a stretch last season where he went five straight games catching passes of 50-plus yards. If the plays the Rams have been working on during their early practices and scrimmage are any indication, the Rams will be throwing even more long balls this season. The only negative to this situation fantasy-wise is that the Rams' receivers may be hit-or-misses; if they don't catch a big pass in a particular week, they may be victimized by the team spreading out their receiving attack among seven or eight different players.

If there is anything to be wary of for the Rams as a fantasy team this year, it may be their rushing attack. The team's running backs come into this season with 529 career NFL rushing yards, 475 of which came from Daryl Richardson last season. Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy, Terrance Ganaway, or even undrafted rookie Benjamin Cunningham could end up getting significant carries, but it's a mystery as to who will get the majority of them. Coach Jeff Fisher said last week that the team could be “playing two or three backs all the time”, so at least these backs won't be fantasy disappointments to the point that they end up putting up zeroes in certain weeks.

The Rams have plenty of players who could make impacts in fantasy football this year, but here are the five best bets.

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5. Daryl Richardson, RB

5. Daryl Richardson, RB
Kim Klement- USA TODAY Sports

Richardson has been getting the majority of the snaps with the first team early on in training camp, and he figures to start at least the team's season opener while his chief competition, fellow second-year back Isaiah Pead, serves a suspension for a drug arrest last offseason. Last year's 252nd overall pick was a pleasant surprise, being part of the biggest timeshare in the Rams' backfield since Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson split carries in 2004. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry and gained 475 total rushing yards.

Last year, Richardson's playing time and performance dwindled down the stretch, and he never scored a touchdown. Look for these things to change as Richardson has gained more experience and no longer has Jackson hovering over him. Though he will have to fend off competition from the other backs, look for him to take the lead and get the most playing time in scoring situations.

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4. Sam Bradford, QB

4. Sam Bradford, QB
Joe Nicholson- USA TODAY Sports

Though many consider Bradford to be a disappointment three years after he was taken first overall, he improved last season and can be expected to put up even better numbers this year now that he has improved receiving options. As the Rams move on from the Steven Jackson era, they are going to become much more of a passing-based team, and it's all on Bradford to execute that plan.

Last year, Bradford finished 15th in the league with 3,702 passing yards, and was also tied for the 15th-most interceptions thrown in the league with 13. The turnovers are something that Bradford should be working to cut down on, but he should definitely be able to move his way up the passing leaderboard if only because of the addition of elite receiving options in Tavon Austin and Jared Cook. Though he's never going to have the dual-threat fantasy superstar ability of Colin Kaepernick or Cam Newton, he's a very reliable fantasy quarterback at this point who may end up being a pleasant surprise for his owners.

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3. Tavon Austin, WR/RS

3. Tavon Austin, WR/RS
Scott Kane- USA TODAY Sports

The potential for Tavon Austin as a fantasy superstar is unlimited. He's garnered massive praise thus far through training camp; the NFL Network's Brian Baldinger went so far as to say that Austin is the fastest football player he's ever seen. The rookie from West Virginia can be expected to line up as an outside receiver, in the slot and at running back, and he is also currently listed first on the Rams' depth chart at both punt and kick returner.

He is going to be a major part of the offense right away, and his ability to contribute from virtually any area of the field is unmatched in the NFL. The only negative with Austin as a fantasy player is that his snaps will probably be limited to prevent him from hitting the rookie wall too quickly, but Austin is still a very good fantasy option.

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2. Jared Cook, TE

2. Jared Cook, TE
Jeff Curry- USA TODAY Sports

Cook was brought in to more or less replace the departed Danny Amendola, who had been the Rams' best fantasy receiving option for several years when healthy. Though he is listed as a tight end, Cook will see a significant amount of action out of the slot, and he surely is going to be one of the team's top receiving options. His biggest value likely is going to come in the red zone, where Cook's 6-foot-6, 248-pound build will make him a powerful touchdown target. With Cook's prominent role in the Rams' offense and Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez's removal from the fantasy landscape, Cook should be one of the best fantasy tight ends in the league this year.

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1. St. Louis Rams Defense/Special Teams

1. St. Louis Rams Defense/Special Teams
Scott Rovak- USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Rams' defense ascended to new levels in 2012, and they are likely to keep improving in 2013. The team tied with the Denver Broncos for first in the league with 52 sacks. If the team can keep defensive tackle Michael Brockers healthy for the entire 2013 season, he should be able to team with defensive ends Robert Quinn, Chris Long and William Hayes to form an even more potent Rams pass rushing attack.

The Rams will also have back two powerful weapons in the defensive backfield in corners Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan. Jenkins led the league in defensive touchdowns last year with four, and he should be even better as he heads into his second season. Finnegan had three interceptions last year, and should continue to produce while also serving as one of the defense's most important veteran leaders. The group should also be helped by replacing safety Craig Dahl, who was a disciplined hitter but struggled mightily when he was overmatched in coverage. New starters Darian Stewart and T.J. McDonald are less likely to get burned for long touchdowns.

Finally, the special teams should be better for the Rams in 2013. Rookie Tavon Austin is currently slated to serve as the team's primary kick and punt returner, and his speed and elusiveness will make him perhaps the most dangerous returner that the Rams have had since Tony Horne in 1999. It would be about as safe a bet as you can make to select the Rams' DST in your fantasy draft this year.

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St. Louis Rams' Top Five Fantasy Options

St. Louis Rams' Top Five Fantasy Options
Scott Rovak- USA TODAY Sports

After years of the St. Louis Rams being devoid of any fantasy weapons besides running back Steven Jackson, the team's new administration has done great work to rebuild the roster, and with that the team has become a much greater fantasy force. With a revitalized passing attack which will include new acquisitions Jared Cook and Tavon Austin as well as draft picks of recent years such as Chris Givens, Brian Quick, Austin Pettis and Lance Kendricks, quarterback Sam Bradford will be relied upon to pass much more, and he should be a much better fantasy player as a result.

Givens had a stretch last season where he went five straight games catching passes of 50-plus yards. If the plays the Rams have been working on during their early practices and scrimmage are any indication, the Rams will be throwing even more long balls this season. The only negative to this situation fantasy-wise is that the Rams' receivers may be hit-or-misses; if they don't catch a big pass in a particular week, they may be victimized by the team spreading out their receiving attack among seven or eight different players.

If there is anything to be wary of for the Rams as a fantasy team this year, it may be their rushing attack. The team's running backs come into this season with 529 career NFL rushing yards, 475 of which came from Daryl Richardson last season. Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy, Terrance Ganaway, or even undrafted rookie Benjamin Cunningham could end up getting significant carries, but it's a mystery as to who will get the majority of them. Coach Jeff Fisher said last week that the team could be “playing two or three backs all the time”, so at least these backs won't be fantasy disappointments to the point that they end up putting up zeroes in certain weeks.

The Rams have plenty of players who could make impacts in fantasy football this year, but here are the five best bets.

2 of 6

5. Daryl Richardson, RB

5. Daryl Richardson, RB
Kim Klement- USA TODAY Sports

Richardson has been getting the majority of the snaps with the first team early on in training camp, and he figures to start at least the team's season opener while his chief competition, fellow second-year back Isaiah Pead, serves a suspension for a drug arrest last offseason. Last year's 252nd overall pick was a pleasant surprise, being part of the biggest timeshare in the Rams' backfield since Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson split carries in 2004. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry and gained 475 total rushing yards.

Last year, Richardson's playing time and performance dwindled down the stretch, and he never scored a touchdown. Look for these things to change as Richardson has gained more experience and no longer has Jackson hovering over him. Though he will have to fend off competition from the other backs, look for him to take the lead and get the most playing time in scoring situations.

3 of 6

4. Sam Bradford, QB

4. Sam Bradford, QB
Joe Nicholson- USA TODAY Sports

Though many consider Bradford to be a disappointment three years after he was taken first overall, he improved last season and can be expected to put up even better numbers this year now that he has improved receiving options. As the Rams move on from the Steven Jackson era, they are going to become much more of a passing-based team, and it's all on Bradford to execute that plan.

Last year, Bradford finished 15th in the league with 3,702 passing yards, and was also tied for the 15th-most interceptions thrown in the league with 13. The turnovers are something that Bradford should be working to cut down on, but he should definitely be able to move his way up the passing leaderboard if only because of the addition of elite receiving options in Tavon Austin and Jared Cook. Though he's never going to have the dual-threat fantasy superstar ability of Colin Kaepernick or Cam Newton, he's a very reliable fantasy quarterback at this point who may end up being a pleasant surprise for his owners.

4 of 6

3. Tavon Austin, WR/RS

3. Tavon Austin, WR/RS
Scott Kane- USA TODAY Sports

The potential for Tavon Austin as a fantasy superstar is unlimited. He's garnered massive praise thus far through training camp; the NFL Network's Brian Baldinger went so far as to say that Austin is the fastest football player he's ever seen. The rookie from West Virginia can be expected to line up as an outside receiver, in the slot and at running back, and he is also currently listed first on the Rams' depth chart at both punt and kick returner.

He is going to be a major part of the offense right away, and his ability to contribute from virtually any area of the field is unmatched in the NFL. The only negative with Austin as a fantasy player is that his snaps will probably be limited to prevent him from hitting the rookie wall too quickly, but Austin is still a very good fantasy option.

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2. Jared Cook, TE

2. Jared Cook, TE
Jeff Curry- USA TODAY Sports

Cook was brought in to more or less replace the departed Danny Amendola, who had been the Rams' best fantasy receiving option for several years when healthy. Though he is listed as a tight end, Cook will see a significant amount of action out of the slot, and he surely is going to be one of the team's top receiving options. His biggest value likely is going to come in the red zone, where Cook's 6-foot-6, 248-pound build will make him a powerful touchdown target. With Cook's prominent role in the Rams' offense and Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez's removal from the fantasy landscape, Cook should be one of the best fantasy tight ends in the league this year.

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1. St. Louis Rams Defense/Special Teams

1. St. Louis Rams Defense/Special Teams
Scott Rovak- USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Rams' defense ascended to new levels in 2012, and they are likely to keep improving in 2013. The team tied with the Denver Broncos for first in the league with 52 sacks. If the team can keep defensive tackle Michael Brockers healthy for the entire 2013 season, he should be able to team with defensive ends Robert Quinn, Chris Long and William Hayes to form an even more potent Rams pass rushing attack.

The Rams will also have back two powerful weapons in the defensive backfield in corners Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan. Jenkins led the league in defensive touchdowns last year with four, and he should be even better as he heads into his second season. Finnegan had three interceptions last year, and should continue to produce while also serving as one of the defense's most important veteran leaders. The group should also be helped by replacing safety Craig Dahl, who was a disciplined hitter but struggled mightily when he was overmatched in coverage. New starters Darian Stewart and T.J. McDonald are less likely to get burned for long touchdowns.

Finally, the special teams should be better for the Rams in 2013. Rookie Tavon Austin is currently slated to serve as the team's primary kick and punt returner, and his speed and elusiveness will make him perhaps the most dangerous returner that the Rams have had since Tony Horne in 1999. It would be about as safe a bet as you can make to select the Rams' DST in your fantasy draft this year.


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