In years past, the St. Louis Rams and their "greatest show on turf" served as a breeding ground for fantasy studs. Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Marc Bulger, and Steven Jackson all at one point and time helped fantasy owners secure their league's hardware at season's end.
However, with the Rams officially parting ways with Holt, a seven-time Pro Bowler, this Friday, St. Louis' fantasy cupboard may be bare.
The rebuilding phase that the Rams have decided to undergo, releasing not only Holt, but also tackle Orlando Pace, a seven-time Pro Bowler himself, does not bode well for the likes of Bulger or Jackson. There's no denying that these two players, when healthy, possess incredible talents, but football is a team game, and the team surrounding these two just isn't impressive.
First and foremost, despite the injuries that have recently plagued Pace, he was still the Rams' best offensive lineman. His departure will be a huge hit to the Rams, even if they decide to use their second overall pick in this year's draft on their O-line.
A talented rookie is always nice to add the mix, but he's not going to come in and be able to fill the shoes of a guy who plays at the level Pace does. Bulger better be ready to get comfortable on his back because with Pace out of the picture, he'll no doubt come close to his career high of 49 sacks.
Jackson's fantasy value will also be hurt by the dip in production by the Rams' O-line as holes will be harder to come by for the stud back in 2009.
The receiving corps is another cause of concern for both Bulger and Jackson's fantasy value.
Yes, Donnie Avery, put together a fine rookie campaign, notching 674 receiving yards and three TDs, but in no way is he ready to become the team's No. 1 receiver. That becomes doubly true when you consider he'll be dealing with double teams as opposing defenses will have little concern regarding Keenan Burton, who with just 13 catches in his career, is slated to line-up across from Avery at the moment.
With Avery and Burton as his prime targets, Bulger will be far removed from the days when he had both Holt and Bruce to throw to and his numbers will reflect that.
Poor receivers also pose a problem for Jackson. Sure, it means more of the workload will go his way as the Rams are sure to give him more rush attempts and throw more screens his way than before, but greater attention in the Rams' offensive playbook, also means greater attention from opposing defenses. Every team in the league, until Avery and Burton prove themselves, will be keyed on Jackson and will stack the box against St. Louis.
Once the "greatest show on turf," the Rams now appear to have the "greatest shot at the No. 1 pick in 2010" as their offense, which managed just 14.5 points per game in 2008, looks even weaker as we head into 2009. It's definitely time to downgrade both Bulger and Jackson on your cheat sheets.
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