If Steven Jackson can’t suit up in Week 3 at the Chicago Bears for the St. Louis Rams, one of his three rookie backups looks primed to take the reins. Seventh-rounder Daryl Richardson from Abilene Christian should step into Jackson’s starting role.
Jackson has a legitimate chance of missing this game, unfortunately lending fuel to the idea that the 29-year-old veteran is prone to sitting out due to injury.
He has actually never missed more than four games in a season and has been unavailable to the Rams in just two contests in the last three years.
The role of the Rams’ starting tailback has proved to be a valuable one for fantasy owners.
In Jackson’s stead last season, Cadillac Williams started on Monday Night Football and carried the ball 13 times. He didn’t do much with it, gaining 36 yards as the Rams trailed for 54 minutes against the Giants. Williams also had three receptions for four yards on five targets.
Williams and fellow former Rams backup Jerious Norwood have since been unceremoniously jettisoned as St. Louis went with a youth movement to back Jackson up in the offseason.
Steven Jackson is now the only non-rookie running back on the Rams’ roster. Following him on the depth chart are 2012 seventh-rounder Daryl Richardson, second-rounder Isaiah Pead and sixth-rounder (from the New York Jets) Terrance Ganaway.
Richardson has been able to find his way to the field while Jackson was healthy. He carried the ball twice at Detroit in Week 1 and gained nine and 11 yards on the two carries.
He currently possesses a 6.1 yards-per-carry average (17 rushes for 103 yards) and has two receptions for 19 receiving yards to his credit.
The fact that Richardson recorded 15 carries (and both catches) in Week 2 suggests that the Rams trust him to shoulder a workload that would at least be fantasy-relevant.
Neither Pead nor Ganaway has a career carry for St. Louis yet.
The Chicago Bears, despite their reputation, may not be as vicious and unforgiving a run defense as fantasy owners may be led to believe.
Chicago allowed Cedric Benson (of the Green Bay Packers) and the Indianapolis Colts’ Donald Brown to carry the ball 29 times for 129 yards (4.4 average) and a touchdown in the early going this season.
If Richardson gets 20 rushes at that average, he’s looking at 88 yards on the ground against Chicago in Week 3. Add that to his ability to catch balls out of the backfield and a second consecutive 100-total-yard day is not out of the question for Richardson if Jackson misses this game.
If Richardson scores his first career touchdown on top of that, he could end up as a low-end No. 1 fantasy RB in Week 3.
A lot of ifs, but all it takes is one star to miss a game for it all to be set in motion.