This season’s fantasy football rookie outburst will come by the way of St. Louis Rams rookie running back Tre Mason. In the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Rams stumbled upon a buried jewel in Mason. The 5-foot-9, 205-pound back appeared in Jeff Fisher’s lap quietly despite making a lot of noise in 2013 with the Auburn Tigers. Although Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson appeared in most fantasy leagues at some point in 2014 with decent value, Mason will have the opportunity to earn the bulk of carries.
The 20-year-old Auburn tailback flew under the radar after an impressive 2012 season, as a 3-9 (0-8 SEC) record overshadowed Mason’s 1,002 rushing yards, 5.9 yards per carry and eight scores. Auburn’s 2013 Heisman finalist kept pace in his junior season, carrying the ball 317 times rushing for 1,816 yards. Considering he played in the SEC, his 5.7 YPC and 23 touchdowns speak even louder to what he is capable of.
Don’t be fooled by Mason’s stocky, short build as he is far more qualified of running between the tackles than you would assume. His downhill running style reminds me of a poor-man’s Ray Rice out of Rutgers, bestowing the traits to pick up real estate after first contact. A low pad shelf and good feet make him a nightmare to wrap up when the defense doesn’t have a good hold on him. Mason will thrive in Fisher’s zone-blocking scheme using his elite ability to cut back plays to instinctively read his next destination.
As a team the Rams were slightly below average last season in rushing with 426 attempts (17th), 1751 yards (19th), 10 TDs (23rd) and 109.5 yards per game (19th). Mason’s arrival to St. Louis will surely spike the workload for the Rams backfield in addition to becoming a more balanced offense. A late flyer on a rookie running back can put a team over the top for a flex position or depth at the position as Le’Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy and Giovani Bernard combined for 507 fantasy points (standard scoring) in 2013.