As a life-long Oklahoma Sooners fan, owner of a full blown Daryl Richardson man crush, and as a supporter of Brian Quick, the St. Louis Rams offense was of particular interest to me, so I dug through the data a bit. Here are my thoughts on the early returns of the 2013 Rams offense:
- Sam Bradford‘s career Adjusted Yards/Attempt is 6.3. Against the Cardinals on Sunday, it was 7.9. Bradford has only 5 other games in his career over 7.9 A/YA per attempt and considering the opponent, I’m encouraged. The Cardinals ranked 5th in the league against passing yardage and Net Adjusted Yards Per Attempt. They aren’t the Seahawks or 49er’s, but they aren’t pushovers either. Bryan Fontaine has been predicting a Bradford breakout all off-season, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the first indicator. In the waning minutes, Bradford lead his team from their own 20 to the Cardinals 30 to set up the game winning field goal by going 3-4 and 37 yards. He didn’t look frazzled or overwhelmed, so at least he hasn’t been David Carr‘ed quite yet. For those who practiced Late Round Quarterback, Bradford is a nice start in a pass heavy game against the Falcons next weekend, and a potential top-12 guy, after finishing as QB11 in Week 1.
- Most of the offseason hype went to first round draft pick Tavon Austin, but the difference maker on this offense is clear. It’s Jared Cook, the Douche’s favorite. I wasn’t sure if Cook would ever turn his physical gifts into fantasy production, but it turns out all he needed was competent quarterbacking play. Bradford targeted Cook 10 times for 7 catches, 141 yards and 2 scores; that’s a 14.1 yards per target. An early fumble by Cook eliminated a 3rd touchdown as well. Basically, all the hypotheses about a big, athletic tight end came true. I think there were a couple tight ends who really established themselves this weekend and Cook was one of them. If you own him, don’t be actively trying to sell high.
- Daryl Richardson’s final ADP ended up as RB25 at 4.09. I think he is well on his way to earning that value. D-Rich played 62-of-71 snaps, carried the ball 20 times, caught 5 passes on 6 targets with 27 pass routes ran and per Pro Football Focus, graded out as a positive in the pass blocking game. He ended up with a total of 93 yards, albeit on plenty of touches. Zac Stacy got one carry and Benny Cunningham touched the ball as many times as I did. In short: he did nothing incredible, but he didn’t screw up either. It seemed before kickoff that maybe Fisher was planning on mixing in Cunningham and Stacy, but it never emerged. After Isiah Pead fumbled his way through a hazy preseason, I think it’s pretty unlikely that he gets a chance to carry the load. There is some usage risk with Richardson going forward, but I think owners who got him as their RB3 are probably going to be pretty happy, and I still think there is a chance he can be acquired too cheaply in a trade, although the best time for that might be after the Rams’ first game against the 49er’s in Week Four.
- I don’t really know why Austin Pettis is playing so much. He played the same amount of snaps as Chris Givens and ran 2 more pass routes. Predictably, he had only 3 catches for 16 yards. It’s worth noting that defenses now know who Givens is and he may struggle a bit to separate downfield. Givens’ 6.5 aDOT would seem to indicate that either he wasn’t gaining separation or Bradford just didn’t need him because Cook was dominating so hard. Some of Givens’ value was under the assumption that Bradford would be looking his way, but as an ancillary option, his value dips a bit.
- Tavon Austin did what ‘offensive weapon’ players do. He was 2nd on the team in targets, but only turned them into 41 yards. He didn’t receive a carry, which I think is what fantasy owners who reached for Austin were hoping for. Rookie wide receivers of his size profile rarely accomplish anything fantasy relevant, but he will be a flex-ish type play in PPR leagues. He ran a pass route over half the time he was on the field, which probably shouldn’t be surprising, considering you don’t want a 170 pound dude trying to lead block.
- Brian Quick played just under 1/3 of the Rams’ snaps and saw 2 targets for 16 yards. The Rams’ talked up Quick as a situational player in the preseason, essentially the goalline back of wide receivers, but again, if Cook is taking over that RZ role, fantasy points are going to be hard to come by. I still think that Quick eventually takes over for Pettis and the Rams most used offense looks like Richardson, Cook, Austin, Givens and Quick, but until they get to that point, Quick isn’t worth rostering in redraft.
- Lance Kendricks caught 3 passes for 25 yards and he’ll likely be in on running downs and in the redzone, since Quick and Austin can’t be in those packages for differing reasons. However, these aren’t the Greatest Show On Turf Rams, so I’m not quite sure why I just spilled pixels on Lance Kendricks.