Coming off a breakout season in 2013 when he threw for 2,891 yards with 27 touchdowns and two interceptions in what amounted to less than 11 full games, Nick Foles was a fantasy darling heading into last season. Although a dropoff was to be expected from his 2013 production, Foles disappointed as he threw for just 2,163 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in eight games as he was unable to remain healthy. The interceptions were clearly a problem for Foles but his completion percentage also dropped from 64.8% to 59.8% and his accuracy on deep balls was noticeably reduced. That was enough for Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who shipped Foles to the Rams as part of a package to acquire Sam Bradford. In St. Louis Foles will lead a Rams offense that has struggled for years and lacks the receiving talent Foles worked with in Philadelphia, and also lacks the talent on the offensive line that the Eagles have. While there is a chance that Foles rediscovers his accuracy and big play ability, the Rams lack of proven weaponry at wide receiver and their poor offensive line limit his fantasy upside making him a low end QB2.
Desperate for help along the offensive line and lacking a true number one wide receiver as well as a franchise quarterback, the Rams instead selected Todd Gurley with the 10th pick in this year’s draft. This, despite selecting Tre Mason with an early 3rd round pick last year and Zac Stacy in the 5th round the year before. Don’t even get me started about the Rams taking Isiah Pead in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft. Gurley is the first running back selected in the 1st round since the 2012 NFL Draft when Trent Richardson, Doug Martin and David Wilson were rookies. It is highly questionable to believe this Rams administration knows how to draft running backs.
A 6’1”, 222 pound Georgia product, Gurley enjoyed a prolific collegiate career, rushing for over 3,000 yards, showcasing solid receiving skills and finding the end zone over 40 times. One highlight is all it takes to see that Gurley is a special player. However, he is coming off a torn ACL and joins a Rams team with an offensive coordinator with no NFL experience in that role in Frank Cignetti, lacks offensive talent, has major issues along the offensive line (will likely start two rookies and has a trio of unproven players fighting to start at center) and which scored 20 or more points in only half of their games last season. Initial reports are that Gurley will be on the Rams opening day roster. However, we have no idea when or if he will regain full health in 2015 or when or if he will supplant Mason in the starting lineup. While Gurley has the potential to emerge as one of the top running backs in the league playing for a coaching staff that wants to run the ball heavily, he is a risk at his current ADP as the 24th running back taken in fantasy drafts. He does rate as the top dynasty prospect at the position, however.
Supposedly drafted to be the Rams running back of the future after being taken in the 3rd round of last year’s draft, Mason didn’t disappoint as a rookie, gaining 765 rushing yards, 146 receiving yards and scoring five touchdowns while averaging a respectable 4.3 yards per carry behind one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Did we mention that Mason failed to get a single touch during the first four games of the year? As impressive as Mason was, the Rams didn’t view him as a feature back, choosing to select Todd Gurley with the 10th pick in this year’s draft. While that killed Mason’s value in dynasty leagues, he still figures to have value in redraft formats in 2015 since Gurley isn’t likely to be fully healthy early in the season. Look for Mason to start enough games early in the year to approach 800-900 total yards with 4-5 touchdowns. He rates as an upper tier RB4 since he won’t likely have much value during the second half of the season.
After emerging as a reasonably productive backup during the 2013 season, Cunningham watched as the Rams drafted Tre Mason in the 3rd round of last year’s draft. In 2014, Cunningham pushed Zac Stacy aside to finish the season as Mason’s main backup. Then St. Louis drafted Todd Gurley in the 1st round of this year’s draft. The Rams don’t believe in Cunningham and, with a pair of highly drafted young players ahead of him on the depth chart, neither should you.
Taken with the 2nd pick of the 2nd round in the 2012 draft, Quick was a huge disappointment during his first two years in the league but the light seemed to come on early in 2014. During his first four games of the year, Quick hauled in 21 of his 31 targets for 322 yards and three touchdowns. After a pair of middling performances in Weeks 5 and 6, he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury that ended any thoughts of a 3rd year breakout season. However, he was on pace to approach 1,000 receiving yards with eight touchdowns after Week 6 and he is expected to open 2015 in the starting lineup as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. While we aren’t about to predict a breakout campaign given the Rams expected struggles on offense as well as a wide receiver depth chart that runs four deep, Quick is definitely worth taking a flyer on in fantasy drafts this summer provided he is fully recovered from shoulder surgery.
Coming off the worst season of his five-year career in 2013, having caught just 11 of his 35 targets for 96 yards, Britt was signed to a one-year, prove it contract with the Rams for the 2014 season. Sure enough, he resurrected his career in St. Louis, catching a career-high 48 passes for 748 yards and three touchdowns despite playing in an offense that regularly had difficulty moving the football. Given his level of play, Britt would have enjoyed an even stronger bounce back campaign playing in a stronger offense with better quarterback play. Signed to a two-year contract to remain in St. Louis, Britt will enter training camp as a starter but will have to hold off the likes of Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin to remain the Rams leading wide receiver. With the Rams expected to run the ball heavily, look for Britt to stay in the starting lineup given his size. However, we don’t expect his target count from a year ago (just 84) to increase significantly given that Quick missed significant time last season. Just 26 on opening day, Britt rates as a WR4 in 2015, although a bit of an intriguing one who could surprise.
When given a chance to produce, Bailey hasn’t disappointed. The 5’10” and 195 pound West Virginia product hauled in 15 of his 22 targets for 195 yards and a pair of touchdowns over the final five games of his rookie season in 2013 when given an expanded role in the Rams offense. Over the final six games of last season, Bailey caught 22 of his 32 targets for 371 yards and one touchdown. Which begs the question – is Bailey worthy of more playng time or do the Rams view him as a capable backup whose playing time is dependent on injuries to those ahead of him on the depth chart? In 2015, Bailey faces an uphill climb to unseat Brian Quick and Kenny Britt in the starting lineup with Tavon Austin likely to work mainly out of the slot. Since Britt has a history of off the field issues and Quick is returning from a major shoulder injury, it wouldn’t exactly rate as a surprise if Bailey winds up in the starting lineup at some point and produces. Nonetheless, right now he is waiver wire material in redraft formats and is a middling dynasty prospect.
Entering his third year in the league, the fantasy community seems to have given up on Austin. And it’s hard to arrive at any other conclusion based on his production and usage during his first two years in the league. Taken with the 8th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Austin has failed to carve out a meaningful role in the Rams offense. Or did former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer fail to devise a playbook that put Austin in a position to succeed? With Frank Cignetti taking over for Schottenheimer, at least there is some faint hope that Austin can emerge as a consistent contributor in a Rams offense desperate for playmaking ability. While he is unlikely to start or play on two wide receiver packages, Austin has the tools to contribute as a slot receiver, occasional threat on deep passes and as a runner out of the backfield. The key for his fantasy prospects is Cignetti’s willingness to get him enough touches. And with Austin having amassed just 660 receiving yards and 375 rushing yards with three touchdowns in two years, we don’t see enough evidence to expect that to happen. That makes Austin waiver wire material in redraft formats and nothing more than a slot pull in dynasty formats.
Givens used his blazing speed to haul in 42 passes for 698 yards and three touchdowns during his rookie season in 2012 but his career has gone downhill since then. The former 3rd round pick barely topped 500 receiving yards in his 2nd season but failed to find the end zone before falling further down the depth chart last season, catching 11 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. In fact, Givens may not even have a roster spot heading into training camp if not for the Rams having failed to develop any other potential big play threats on their roster. While Givens has a chance of being on the unemployment line on opening day, he also has a chance to emerge as a big play threat for St. Louis although those odds are slim.
Two years into his career with the Rams, it’s fair to say that Cook hasn’t produced as the team envisioned when they signed him to a five-year, $35.1-million contract prior to the 2013 season. After catching 51 passes for 671 yards and five touchdowns during his first year in St. Louis, Cook wasn’t much better last season, hauling in just 52 of his 98 targets for 634 yards and three touchdowns. While the Rams have replaced the unimaginative Brian Schottenheimer with Frank Cignetti at offensive coordinator, you would be hard pressed to find many who will predict a breakout season for Cook in 2015 in his seventh year in the league. While he has the talent to produce such a season, his inconsistency (just six games with more than 60 yards during his two years in St. Louis) is just too hard to overlook. Cook rates as a lower tier TE2.