Alfred Morris: Redskins Rookie Runner Is Smart Fantasy Start vs. Rams

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIISeptember 16, 2012

Look for a second conescutive big week in fantasy for Redskins rookie Alfred Morris.
Look for a second conescutive big week in fantasy for Redskins rookie Alfred Morris.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Lost in the midst of a sensational beginning for the new face of the Washington Redskins franchise was the steady production of rookie running back Alfred Morris.

The undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic justified his starting role in Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints after averaging five yards per carry in three preseason showings. Morris carried the ball 28 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns in the Superdome.

Although the yards per carry weren't up to par with his preseason totals, Morris should be heavily featured in the game plan for the second outing in a row when the Skins take on the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

Among other troubles the revamped Rams defense presents, the chief concern should be the impressive outing by their new starting cornerback duo. Janoris Jenkins, who was selected with the Redskins' 39th overall pick acquired in the trade for Robert Griffin III, had a red-zone interception in his NFL debut.

Cortland Finnegan, who played for first-year St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher in Tennessee, returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown in the team's narrow defeat in Detroit last week.

Needless to say, RGIII's arm may not be as dependable as it was in New Orleans, if only because his receivers will have a much more difficult time getting open. The best hope for the Redskins is to keep the ball on the ground even more while still preserving the health of their valuable new commodity in Griffin.

That's where Morris comes in.

With a thick 5'10", 218-pound body, Morris is built to take the punishment that being an every-down back in the NFL entails. Head coach Mike Shanahan loves to play musical chairs with his running backs, as many fantasy owners can attest to. However, he may have found a diamond in the rough in Morris during training camp.

Morris is the ultimate longshot story and is continuing the trend of dime-a-dozen productive backs in the NFL. In his scouting report, Morris was considered too slow, not quick enough and even perhaps more suited as a fullback in the NFL.

The Sun Belt conference isn't exactly a factory for NFL prospects, but Morris managed to rise to the top of the depth chart amidst a crowded backfield featuring promising youngsters such as Roy Helu, Jr. and Evan Royster.

As Mike Jones of the Washington Post notes, Morris ripped off only 21 yards on his first nine carries against the Saints, but rebounded with a much better second half. Jones also mentions that Morris left himself to blame for the slow start rather than any lack of push generated by the offensive line.

If Morris had what he describes as a "bad track" in the opener, it will be interesting to see how he fares in St. Louis, because the Rams were 31st in allowing over 150 yards per game on the ground.

The Rams attempted to address that need by drafting defensive tackle Michael Brockers in the first round, but he has yet to play a snap due to an ankle injury, as reported by

Absent any other added threats on the St. Louis defense beyond Kendall Langford, Morris should easily eclipse 100 yards in Week 2. Sometimes, knee-jerk reactions kill in fantasy football, but Morris is well worth a play even over other top backs based on the matchup alone.