ST. LOUIS (FootballStL) – It is that time of year when fantasy drafts are wrapping up and the uncertainty of injuries begins to loom over key players on your roster. Who will be the biggest surprise? Biggest disappointment? That remains to be seen, but the Rams could hold several key pieces to your team’s fantasy success this season if your league includes defensive and special teams players.
Steven Jackson – Obviously he isn’t getting any younger, but the arrival of Jeff Fisher may bring about a rejuvenated Jackson who has seen the roughest period in St. Louis Rams history firsthand. The arrival of Isiah Pead may also set off a spark for the 29-year-old running back which reminds him that now is the time to quickly find the fountain of youth or else he could be replaced. It is the first time since he has been a Ram that he has a backup who could truly threaten him for playing time.
The bottom line on Jackson is that he runs like a beast. He plays with an edge that many players don’t have and he could wind up in the ring of honor at the Edwards Jones Dome someday. He was plagued early last season with injuries, but there is no reason to believe those will hamper him in 2012.
One problem for Jackson is that he plays on a team that often played from behind last season which forced the Rams to throw the ball more. If the Rams can’t find a way to stay in games than Jackson’s true value will remain unseen.
Chris Long – Each season has been better than the next for Long, who recorded 13 sacks in 2011, so why wouldn’t 2012 be any different for the most consistent defensive player on the roster? It wouldn’t be.
Since his rookie season in 2008, Long’s sack totals have gone from four, to five, to eight and a half, to 13. He has also distanced himself from other defensive lineman as a premier pass rusher in the league as he finished seventh in the league in the sack category.
There is one major reason why Long will have more sacks in 2012 – that is Robert Quinn. As a rookie, Quinn recorded five sacks in 15 games played last season. It should be noted that he started only one game. In four preseason starts Quinn recorded three sacks.
James Laurinaitis – It doesn’t take long to recognize that Laurinaitis is the best Rams linebacker since London Fletcher. The Ohio State product is a tackle machine.
Laurinaitis was third in the league in solo tackles and eighth in total tackles last season. He also added three sacks for a truly underrated defense.
Another plus for Laurinaitis to be on your fantasy team is that he is unbreakable. He has started in every game since his rookie season in 2009 so you won’t have to worry about whether or not he will play.
Greg Zuerlein – There is a lot of excitement swirling around Greg “The Leg.” The rookie was drafted out of Missouri Western State and his length strength is unlike any that has played for the St. Louis Rams.
The Rams offense can only go up after finishing last in the league in points scored. The offense was the only team not to surpass two hundred total points scored in 2011 and was awful in the red zone. These problems amounted to more field goal attempts. It is a good chance that the Rams will look to “The Leg” a lot this season and especially because he has shown he can connect from long distances.
This preseason Zuerlein missed only one field goal in eight attempts – the only miss came on a 62-yard attempt. The distances made this preseason came from 59 yards, 55 yards, 52 yards, 52 yards, and 37 yards. Those distances amount to extra fantasy points in most leagues which might make it a reasonable selection to draft him.
Of course you wouldn’t want to draft him in the early-to-mid rounds, but Zuerlein could be a valuable kicker.