The Rams performance last Sunday against the New Orleans Saints caused a lot of fantasy owner to sit up and take notice. For the first time all season Rams’ players were a force in Standard, PPR and even IDP leagues. With the toughest part of their schedule behind them can we finally get on board with the Rams’ players as legit fantasy options?
Yes and no. As impressive as their collective performances were against the Saints I would still suggest evaluating any Ram on a game by game basis. The only exceptions would be Brandon Lloyd and Steven Jackson. For Robert Quinn and Chris Long duplicating the days they had will go a long way toward putting them into that conversation.
That being said week 9 in Arizona should be an all hands on deck for Rams in fantasy football. Their best weapon in Larry Fitzgerald is being somewhat limited by their QB situation the same way Colts receivers are. With a bottom of the pack offensive line and a less than spectacular defense (sans Adrian Wilson) this week match-up has the makings of a productive fantasy day.
Here are this week’s plays.
Brandon Lloyd: In his first two games with the Rams, Lloyd has immediately stepped in as the focal point of St. Louis' passing game -- even with A.J. Feeley at quarterback last week. Indeed, he has been the target on nearly 55 percent of passes intended for Rams wide receivers during that span. That's an Andre Johnson-esque usage pattern, and, given that he's the only wideout on the roster with a mastery-level knowledge of Josh McDaniels' offense, it's unlikely to change anytime soon.
This week, Lloyd faces a Cardinals pass defense that we rank 29th. In seven games this season, Arizona has allowed a 100-yard receiver five times, and has even allowed 98 or more yards to two receivers on the same team twice. If you're scoring at home, that's essentially one 100-yard receiver allowed per game.
Steven Jackson: Nice to see Jackson healthy and performing at a high level. When he is, like now, Jackson is a one-man wrecking crew, and while he won't have to do it all by his lonesome if, as expected, Sam Bradford returns to action this week, at least it's nice to know he still can. Coming off of his best week of the season another 100 yard performance and a score is well within reason.
Sam Bradford: Baby steps. Bradford has missed two games now with that ankle sprain, and is only now out of his walking boot for the first time. Eventually, adding Brandon Lloyd to the mix in St. Louis is going to pay huge dividends, but it might be some time before the timing clicks.
AJ Feeley: Feeley didn't throw down the field much, but protected the ball and helped guide the Rams to a huge upset win. There's a good chance that this will end up being Feeley's last start, as Sam Bradford (ankle) could return in Week 9. Football Outsiders list Feeley as their second most favorable matchup of the week at a +17.
Josh Brown: Through six weeks (five games) Brown has just 25 total points, only one better than league doormat Jay Feely in Arizona. The Rams just aren't scoring points and Brown and his 77.8 percent accuracy rate aren't helping. The team has a league-low four touchdowns on the year and Brown has made just one field goal over 40 yards. Bottom line, you can do much, much better than Brown when it comes to filling that kicker slot on your fantasy team each week.
Danario Alexander: Alexander aggravated his hamstring injury "a bit" Wednesday and did not practice Thursday, STLouisRams.com reports. It's not clear whether Alexander should be considered any better or any worse than questionable for Sunday's game, but this development is yet another concerning bullet point in Alexander's exceptionally rough injury history.
Brandon Gibson: With the addition of Lloyd and the return of Mark Clayton, so Gibson's days on the active roster may be numbered as the club wants to give rookies Greg Salas and Austin Pettis as much run as possible heading down the stretch. The potential return of Alexander this week also limits his potential.
Rams D: One tremendous performance against New Orleans doesn't suddenly allow us to buy in to this unit, though if Kevin Kolb's injury lingers into the weekend, I’d be tempted to give them a shot against a very bad Arizona team.
Chris Long: Coming off a strong 3 sack performance against the Saints and now facing an Arizona team that has allowed Kevin Kolb to be sacked 24 times, the second-most in football behind Ben Roethlisberger, is an inviting matchup (no matter the starter for the Cardinals).
Quintin Mikell: This season, Mikell is again the NFL’s top-ranked safety (+17.5) according to the guys at profootballfocus.com and is also a top-10 IDP performer. He remains a virtual must-start in all IDP leagues. Look for a strong outing against a poor Arizona offense.
James Hall: As the Rams D-line continues to improve look for more production out of Hall. A solid week 8 against the Saints could mean good things are on the horizon. Hall will get a few tackles and a sack is not out of the question.
James Laurinaitis: The Rams strongest player on the defensive side of the ball this season, Laurinaitis continues to produce quality numbers and remains a decent IDP option. Laurinaitis registered 10 tackles and a sack in Sunday's game versus New Orleans.
Robert Quinn: After a break out game against the Saints Quinn showed the talent that made him the 14th overall pick in last year’s draft. Zeroing in on John Skelton will be his easiest assignment to date. Look for Quinn to get behind the line often on Sunday.