The Rams performance last Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals from an offensive standpoint was nothing short of maddening. Dominating nearly all statistical aspects of the game yet no pay dirt. That is about as frustrating as it gets for a fantasy GM. Add to the mix head coach Steve Spagnuolo seemingly looking to run out the clock with 20 minutes left and it would seem Spagnuolo has a personal vendetta against any fantasy owner of a Rams offensive player.
The defense however was another story. Dominating as well in a game they played more than well enough to win. With three sacks, two forced fumbles and two, yes two, safeties with only 13 points allowed. This week’s opponent, the Cleveland Browns present a similar opportunity.
It has been a rough fantasy season for anyone associated with the Rams, players and owners alike. Looking ahead the best bet for fantasy redemption lies with the Rams defense. The Rams have shown some life during the past few weeks, thanks largely to their relentless pursuit of the pocket and their trio of effective defensive ends. With Chris Long leading the way and savvy vet James Hall benefiting from the attention on Long. The real gem of the line is rookie end Robert Quinn, who has emerged for the Rams of late. In dynasty and deep keeper leagues, Quinn is one to keep an eye on, as he and Long could thrive together in the seasons to come.
Here are this week’s plays.
Brandon Lloyd: Lloyd’s value rose when he was reunited with OC Josh McDaniels, but he’s still not a must-start wideout in fantasy land. In fact, he’s someone to avoid this week against CB Joe Haden and the Browns. Just one opponent’s No. 1 wideout has scored in double digits against them since Week 1.
Steven Jackson: On a major roll right now and Browns are giving up 6th most FPG to RBs in last five weeks and should get a ton of touches.
Sam Bradford: In his first game back from a bad ankle sprain, Bradford threw for 255 yards and scored a mere 8.40 fantasy points against a questionable Cardinals defense. Now he faces the Browns, who have given up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. He needs to be placed on the fantasy sidelines.
Mark Clayton: Head coach Steve Spagnuolo said Clayton is about 90 percent healthy, so the team decided to activate him and give him a shot at playing this week. Since Clayton is still not fully healthy, consider him questionable for Week 10.
Josh Brown: Starting to come on a little bit and certainly this should be a close game.
Danario Alexander: Alexander (hamstring) is out for Sunday’s game against Cleveland.
Brandon Gibson: He’ll likely start again and he did have 5 catches on 5 targets so not worthless but Browns don’t give up much in passing game. With Greg Salas and Danario Alexander out of the way, Gibson could get enough targets to be worth a look in deep and/or PPR leagues.
Rams D: Brown offense is a disaster right now and giving up 10th most FPG to DTs in last five weeks.
Chris Long: with four sacks and a forced fumble in the past two games. Long’s four sacks in the last two games puts him at a near sack-per-game pace (seven sacks in eight games). While it’s unlikely he will continue to churn out this type of production over the remainder of the season, he should be able to easily pass his career-high for QB takedowns (8.5, set last season).
Quintin Mikell: Mikell is the NFL’s top-ranked safety 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 terrible Cleveland offense.
James Hall: Hall isn’t nearing his dominant 2010 performance, but does have a sack in two of his past three outings and could benefit from the attention the raring Long will regularly demand.
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 has 61 tackles and one interception on the season.
Robert Quinn: Over the past two weeks Quinn has recorded 2 sacks, 2 hits and 5 pressures on 77 snaps against the Saints and Cardinals, also adding a blocked a punt against New Orleans. Now he is seeing 55%+ of snaps he will start to creep onto the IDP radar as he gets on the stat sheet.