A Fantasy read on the St. Louis Rams

Rams quarterback Marc Bulger needs a hug after what happened last year.

Bulger had his worst year as a starting quarterback in 2007. He appeared in only 12 games due to the effects of a concussion and was beat up following injuries along the offensive line and to running back Steven Jackson .

Bulger was the fifth quarterback drafted in the majority of leagues on CBSSports.com last year but finished as the No. 22 quarterback in standard scoring leagues. That's what happens when you pass for 2,392 yards and have more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (11). He also was sacked 37 times, which was an average of three per game.

By comparison, New England's Tom Brady was sacked 21 times in 16 games.

But Bulger should bounce back in 2008. Since becoming a starter in 2003, he's never had two bad years in a row. And his offensive line should return intact, especially trusted left tackle Orlando Pace , who is expected to be healthy after two years with injuries.

Bulger does lose trusted receiver Isaac Bruce , who was released and is now in San Francisco. But the Rams drafted rookie wide receiver Donnie Avery , and having everyone healthy around Bulger will improve his stock.

Positives: When healthy, Bulger is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Three times in his career he's played at least 14 games, and he averaged 4,037 yards, 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions during those years. He plays for an offensive coach in Scott Linehan, who has a strong history of passing (including Bulger's best year in 2006 when he passed for 4,301 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions). Torry Holt is still a standout receiver, and Avery should make a difference. Bulger also has a solid supporting cast with Drew Bennett and tight end Randy McMichael , and Jackson is a threat catching the ball out of the backfield. The addition of offensive coordinator Al Saunders will also help Bulger as well.

Negatives: Bulger is injury prone, but what's also a concern is the health of the offensive line. Pace has played nine games in the past two years, and the rest of the line is a shell without him. Bulger also doesn't help you running the ball with no rushing touchdowns the past three years. The loss of Bruce will be hard to overcome because Bulger has played with him his entire career. The Rams also will lean on Jackson because he's ready to be a workhorse.

Outlook: Bulger will return to being a starting Fantasy option. He is projected to throw for 3,634 yards, 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The Rams play in a weak division, which will help Bulger's stats, and he's always good in the eight games at home. The way to approach drafting Bulger is to build your team around strong running backs and wide receiver and let Bulger fall to you in the sixth or seventh round.

Position battle: No. 2 running back

Brian Leonard
Pro: Leonard played well in place of an injured Jackson last year and will likely be the running back to fill the role again if Jackson goes down. He is a powerful runner and has good hands out of the backfield. Leonard will also see time at fullback and could be on the field in tandem with Jackson.
Con: If Leonard plays well at fullback, the Rams might not want to replace him if Jackson were hurt. At times last year, when Jackson was out, Leonard disappeared in the offense. He had 160 yards in his first two starts when Jackson was hurt, but he only had 62 yards the next two games. He also didn't score a touchdown in his rookie year.
Antonio Pittman
Pro: Pittman played well in a limited role with the Rams last year after he was released in a surprise move by New Orleans. He will be a true tailback and could be the first one off the bench if Jackson gets hurt. The Rams might not want to move Leonard from fullback, meaning Pittman could be the starting tailback in place of an injured Jackson.
Con: Pittman had a disappointing rookie season and was released by the Saints. He averaged 3.7 yards per carry on 38 attempts but didn't score a touchdown. He has minimal experience, and the Rams might not trust him to touch the ball 15-20 times a game.
Prediction: Leonard. Even though he will play fullback, he still will be the first player to get touches if Jackson were hurt. And because he will be on the field with Jackson, he has more upside for Fantasy owners. He's worth a late-round selection in all leagues and is a good handcuff for Jackson.

Position battle: No. 2 wide receiver

Drew Bennett
Pro: Bennett is being given the chance to start opposite Torry Holt and replace the departed Isaac Bruce . He struggled last year as the No. 3 receiver, but he's been a solid player when he starts. Bennett averaged 61 catches, 907 yards and six touchdowns from 2004-07 when he started at least 10 games each year. He should be a quality red-zone target for Bulger.
Con: Bennett proved to be fragile last year when he injured his quad in Week 1 and the injury lingered for most of the season. The Rams drafted Donnie Avery for a reason, and Bennett also will get competition from Reche Caldwell . Bulger might not trust Bennett after what happened last year.
Donnie Avery
Pro: Avery was the first rookie wide receiver drafted in 2008, which was a surprise, but it shows how much the Rams like him. He has plenty of speed, which will work on the turf in St. Louis, and should do well in tandem with Holt. Bulger should love throwing to Avery.
Con: He might not be able to learn the Rams offense right away, and St. Louis has a lot invested in Bennett. Avery might be more suited to play the No. 3 role. He also could lose playing time to Caldwell.
Prediction: Bennett. Avery has more upside and is a decent sleeper, but Bennett will bounce back this year from a poor 2007. Look for him to be a threat in the red zone and benefit from Bruce's departure. Consider Bennett a No. 4 Fantasy option in 2008.
Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

Show Comments Hide Comments
CBS Sports Store
NFL Nike Gear
Our Latest Stories