The PYRO Fantasy Football Depth Chart is a rundown of where Team PYRO projects the fantasy production for each team at each position. It is NOT an attempt to inform you of the current starters for each team. For example, we are well aware that Brandon Manumaleuna is currently the starting TE for the Chicago Bears, but if you look at the Bears Team Page, we have Greg Olsen listed at TE. Why? We’re projecting that Greg Olsen will be the most Fantasy Football relevant TE for the Bears this season. Since Olsen will be the Bears leading FF point scorer at TE, it’s his name at the top of the TE column on our PYRO Fantasy Depth Chart.
Jeff Fisher says Bradford will be under center in 2014
In an interview Tuesday with ESPN's "Mike and Mike," Fisher said Bradford is making good progress in his rehab from a torn ACL and left little doubt who will be under center as the starter when the 2014 season begins.
"Sam's doing great with the rehab," Fisher said. "He's really excited. He took on a leadership role last year and he's maintained that and he's our quarterback, and we've said that."
Fisher also touched on Bradford's contract, which has become a topic of discussion. Bradford, heading into the fifth year of a six-year deal, is set to count $17.6 million against the salary cap. There has been speculation that the Rams, who hold two first-round picks in May's draft, could cut Bradford or redo his contract.
"We talk about extensions with all our players under contract," Fisher said. "Whether or not we do so with him, I don't know where all this came from, but Sam's our quarterback. He's going to be under center."
Pyro's take: Bradford is coming off a torn ACL, and still looking for a signature season in his career. The Rams are going to have the potential to help him out even more with their high picks (2 & 13) in this years NFL Draft. That will go along with Tavon Austin and Zac Stacy, both of whom showed nice potential in their rookie seasons.
This could be a put up or shut up season for Sam. We had him as a sleeper candidate last season, and he was off to a good start with 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions in seven games.
I like to bet on players that have to bet on themselves. Bradford will be avoided in most drafts next year, so he will be a smart add as a backup toward the end of your draft.
Stacy, who has represented arguably the most important member of the Rams’ offense since taking over as the team’s lead back in the fifth game of the season, has already run for more yards than any other St. Louis Rams rookie with 696 entering Sunday. Conversely, Arizona has allowed only one back to rush for 100 yards this season. San Francisco’s Frank Gore carried 25 times for 101 yards in Week 6. Stacy’s ability to produce on first and second down could prove crucial against a defense that has an affinity for bringing excessive pressure from a variety of positions on third down. Arizona has received a sack from 11 different players on the season.
“You look at first, second down, there’s a lot of pressure,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “Third down it jumps off the roof. There’s a bunch of pressure that they’re doing, some real exotic stuff, multiple stuff, but they’re doing a great job. I think (Defensive Coordinator) Todd Bowles has been doing it for a long time at a very high level, and those guys are having a lot of fun. It’s kind of a veteran group with a few young players in there, but a very, very good group.”
Pyro's take: Stacy has been good for owners, but don't count on him this week. The Cardinals are beastly upfront, and they are going to force the Rams to beat them by throwing the ball.
If you own Stacy it would be a good idea to look for another option if you have one. If you don't, then just hope that he becomes a trend buster this week.
After allowing 174 rushing yards Sunday against Ray Rice and the Ravens, the Bears dropped to 31st in the NFL in rushing defense (127.5 yards per game). They were ninth after three weeks (88.7 yards per game) when defensive tackle Henry Melton suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Rice, who entered the game averaging 2.5 yards per carry, gained 131 yards on 25 carries (5.2 yards per carry) against the Bears. He was the sixth player to rush for 100 or more yards against the Bears. No other NFL team has allowed more than four 100-yard rushers.
With a 47-yard run on his first carry of the game, Rice became the fifth player to have his seasonlong run against the Bears. The others are the Packers’ Eddie Lacy (56 yards) and James Starks (32), the Lions’ Reggie Bush (39) and the Giants’ Brandon Jacobs (16).
On Sunday, the Bears will face Rams rookie Zac Stacy, who has rushed for 537 yards on 129 carries (4.2 yards per carry). Stacy ran for 134 yards against the Seahawks and for 127 against the Titans in back-to-back games but was held to 62 yards on 26 carries in a 38-8 victory Nov. 10 against the Colts. Stacy’s long run this season is 32 yards against the Titans.
Pyro's take: I would expect the trend of a season long run to continue, as Stacy should easily break a run longer than 32 yards against the Bears. The Bears defense has been atrocious against the run, and is making average running backs look like all-pros.
Zac is having himself a very nice rookie season, and with the bye week leading up to this game he will have fresh legs. Stacy should see a lot of action in this game, and could end up being the most productive back in fantasy this week.
When the St. Louis Rams traded up to select wide receiver Tavon Austin at No. 8 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, they had visions of Percy Harvin dancing in their heads. What they have seen through six games more closely resembles Dexter McCluster.
Austin's playing time steadily has declined over the past four games, culminating in a season-low three offensive snaps in Sunday's blowout victory over the Houston Texans.
"It's just the way the game went," coach Jeff Fisher said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We didn't have a whole lot of plays, didn't have a lot of opportunities on offense."
Fisher's explanation checks out, as the Rams ran Austin's "11" personnel package on just seven snaps in Week 6.
The approach has changed on offense the past two weeks, with Sam Bradford passing the ball just 41 percent of the time versus 71 percent in the first four games.
Pyro's take: I warned owners about going after Austin this season back in August. Austin was, and still is the most dynamic player drafted this season, but it just does not happen for slot receivers in their first season.
It especially does not happen for these slot receivers when they are the best receiver on their team. Slot receivers need to have weapons on the outside to keep the defense honest, and to keep themselves in one-on-one coverage.
The Rams are struggling to find their identity and so is Austin. If you are in a keeper league Austin still has a lot of value, but it is going to be a struggle for him the rest of his rookie campaign.
Zac Stacy misses practice, Coach Fisher not worried
Rookie running back Zac Stacy, who ran for 78 yards in his first NFL start Sunday in a 34-20 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Edward Jones Dome, did not practice Wednesday as the Rams began preparations for Sunday's game against the Texans in Houston.
But head coach Jeff Fisher, who said Monday that he expected to stick with Stacy at running back, downplayed the absence.
“He just took the day off, a little sore after that outing, but he'll be fine.'' the coach said.
Pyro's take: Stacy did a hell of job actually being a productive running back for the Rams last week, which no other running back has been able to do to this point. Stacy was making nice hard runs and was always moving forward with the ball. He is going to have to learn how to play through injuries if he wants to be successful in the NFL, as well as fantasy. The rookie should be able to go on Sunday, but this is a tough match-up against the Texans.
Richardson was a limited participant in the St. Louis practice on Monday, but he does not expect to miss the game despite a short work week.
“It’s a little [frustrating] but you have got to just keep praying and treating it because when it’s time to go, you’ve got to be ready to go,” Richardson said, via ESPN.com. ”I’m good to go for Thursday.”
Pyro's take: It will be interesting to see what the split of carries are between Richardson and Isaiah Pead, but Pead should be the main ball carrier this week in the short turnaround against the 49ers. Neither running back is recommended start this week.
Daryl Richardson made an appearance for the St. Louis Rams in Sunday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys. A brief one. Richardson's day ended as quickly as it began when someone stepped on his injured foot, according to Jim Thomas.
Richardson had been ailing all week. He missed practice on Wednesday to rest his foot. Jeff Fisher made it clear then that he expected the running back to play. It led to the decision to leave rookie runner Zac Stacy on the inactive list for the game.
Pyro's take: As often happens with players that are injury prone, you think all is fine and then they get injured again. We have been telling you about Isaiah Pead for awhile now, he got his chance Sunday with the Richardson injury. The Rams have a quick turnaround this week, so it is likely that Richardson will not play on Thursday Night.
Pead has yet to show great ability running the ball, and only had 20 yards on 6 carries this week, but he added 7 catches for 43 yards and showed some potential. Pead should be getting the the majority of reps and as we had mentioned in our last Newsfeed Pead is on the field a lot. Pead was on the field for 42 of the Rams offensive snaps yesterday.
Of the 77 snaps the Rams ran last week in their 31-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Isaiah Pead was in on 29 of them (38%) compared to 40 (52%) for starter Daryl Richardson.
In Week 1, while Pead was serving a one-game suspension due to his July, 2012 arrest for possession of two ounces of marijuana, Richardson was in the game for 59-of-67 snaps (88%).
Pyro's take: Basically, after running for 63 yards on 20 carries (3.2 YPC) in Week 1 and just 35 yards on 10 carries (3.5 YPC) in Week 2, the Rams will be looking to their 2012 second-round pick (Pead) for a little more juice out of the backfield in the coming weeks.
Pyro hitched ourselves to the Isaiah Pead wagon at the end of last season and have refused to jump off (even though most others have) despite Richardson's initial "starter" status. Not only is Pead slightly bigger and more befitting of an early-down role, but he's also just as fast (sub-4.4 40-yard dash) and adept as a receiver out of the backfield as Richardson is.
If you've been patient on the second-year Pead, nice work! If you couldn't wait any longer and dropped him, if he's still available on your waiver wire, do yourself a favor and pick him back up.
09/17/13, 10:34 AM CDT by Dawgmaticå
After fumbling on his first touch in the preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns, (Isaiah) Pead began his work on a much more positive note against the Green Bay Packers in the second tilt. His 11-yard gallop around the right end to start the night was the high point for his entire body of work unfortunately as Pead played into the third quarter with only 11 carries and 21 yards to show for his efforts. He did show his versatility as a receiver with a nice 10-yard catch and run down the sidelines during the game, but his general ineffectiveness has to give the Rams pause about his future prospects.
Pyro's take: Pead has failed to impress in two preseason games, and if he continues to put game film like this together he is going to quickly find himself at the bottom of the Rams depth chart. Pead struggled in his rookie season and only had 10 carries on the year. Pead had a great opportunity this offseason with the departure of Steven Jackson, but has done nothing with his chances to this point.
The all important 3rd preseason game is next, and if Pead fails once more he may see his chances for an impact this season all but vanish.
Isaiah Pead had 3 carries for 18 yards, but also had a costly fumble.
Pyro's take: Isaiah Pead is trying to compete with Darryl Richardson for the starting running back job with the Rams, but after his performance in the Rams first preseason game it is more likely he is battling against Zac Stacy for the backup role to Richardson. Pead was an early pick of ours to come out with the starting job, but he has continued to fall down our rankings and this poor performance, highlighted by a fumble, will keep him in Jeff Fisher's doghouse.
“I think Daryl comes back as our starter,” Jeff Fisher said Tuesday.
Last week, Fisher talked about using a committee of two or three running backs, and he still might have that idea. But for him to talk about Richardson specifically has to lead you to believe that Fisher likes what he sees out of the 2012 seventh-round pick (for the record, Pead was the team's second round pick in 2012).
And that makes sense, because Richardson had success last year, averaging 4.8 yards per carry (475 yards total) and catching 24 passes for another 163 yards while backing up Jackson.
Pead, meanwhile, has struggled in his pro career so far. He's been suspended for the first game of this season for violating the league's substance abuse policy, and in the offseason, he called 2012 a “miserable life."
Though he showed plenty of talent at the University of Cincinnati, Pead hasn't done enough to take many reps away from the players ahead of him on the depth chart in St. Louis. Apparently, that now includes Richardson.
“I'm a good quality back, I feel I can do it all, be an every down back,” Richardson said, via Tony Softli.
Pyro's take: This is good news for Richardson and bad news for Isaiah Pead. Pead is a player that we thought would have the inside track to the starting job, but Richardson is the one who has made a more lasting impression on Fisher and the coaching staff. Pead also has to deal with a 1 game suspension to start the season, which just gives Richardson another leg up in this competition. It appears that Pead is going to have to stand out in preseason games in order to take the job from Richardson. With this news Richardson moves up in my tiers, while Pead takes a hit.
Jeff Fisher once again has Jared cook as his starting tight end, but this time he plans to use him a lot more and has a lot of confidence in Cook. Fisher said, "He's obviously got years of experience under his belt, he understands the league, he understands defenses and he's picked things up really well...He's going to play all over the place...We've even got him in the backfield, so we've got some good things for him."
Pyro's take: This is great news for Cook. Cook is a player that has a ton of potential, but never realized it in Tennessee. Fisher went out and got Cook back to play for him, which is a great vote of confidence from a head coach. The fact that the Rams are a young team, especially at all the skill positions, it makes sense that Fisher is going to try to utilize Cook in more ways on offense. Cook could be a threat to make the biggest jump at the tight end position this season.
According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, it looks like the Rams will be using rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin all over the field this year, including out of the backfield, à la Randall Cobb and Percy Harvin.
Pyro's take: Austin may end up with WR3 fantasy numbers this year, but by no means is it guaranteed. Rookie WRs tend to have a tough time adjusting to the speed of the NFL, especially slot receivers like Austin. He certainly has upside with his extreme dynamic abilities, but the Rams also have one of the toughest schedules against the pass this season, as well as one of the youngest teams in the league, so a bit of caution would be advised here.
Draft him for his upside, but don't bank on him as a fantasy starter all season.
The influx of talent and speed into the Rams offense this offseason has the fourth-year quarterback foaming at the mouth. "I've been waiting for this, just wanting to see this offense succeed and maybe do some things we haven't been able to in the past. Defenses are going to have to choose who they pay attention to... with the speed we've brought in, it really allows us to open things up and put other teams in a bind," said Bradford.
Pyro's take: The additions of rookie WR Tavon Austin and TE Jared Cook certainly make this St. Louis offense more formidable, as does the signing of left tackle, Jake Long. The speed and talent on this team are undeniable, but it may take awhile for a team this young to gel. We'd also like Bradford's fantasy prospects a little more if he didn't have one of the tougher strength of schedule's for QBs in the league. His Week 16 match-up (fantasy Super Bowl week) against a much improved Tampa Bay defense starring CB Darrelle Revis doesn't help either. We love his future in the NFL, but believe it would be wise to temper expectations of a break-out season here.
Pro Bowl: Fitz pulls out, replaced by Steve Smith (NYG)
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will not be making the trip to Miami for the Pro Bowl this year due to various injuries he's been dealing with for awhile now. Fitz will be replaced on the team by Giants WR Steve Smith.
Pyro's take: Smith ended up 3rd in the NFC in receiving yards this year with 1,220 and 1st in receptions with 107. The third-year receiver is also the first Giants wideout to make the Pro Bowl since 1968.
According to 49ers coach Mike Singletary, wide receiver Isaac Bruce will not be active for either of the team's final two games, which means he will not get to play his final game against his former team, the Rams, in Week 17.
Pyro's take: Just for fans of the NFL, it would have been nice to see Bruce suit up one last time, but that's not going to happen. If Bruce has indeed played his final snap, he will end his career with 1,024 receptions, 15,208 yards, and 91 TDs.
Ravens wide receiver Mark Clayton (knee, hamstring) is being listed as doubtful after missing practice again on Friday. He is unlikely to active for the game against the Bears this weekend.
Pyro's take: We wouldn't say this gives the Bears a much better shot at winning this game, but it doesn't hurt. Clayton could maybe have been used as a flex for your fantasy team this week, but you won't have to worry about that now.
12/18/09, 12:45 PM CST by Dawgmaticå
After going through a full practice on Wednesday, Jaguars wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker (calf) is being listed as probable for the game against the Colts on Thursday night.
Pyro's take: MSW will be playing tonight, but might not be more than a WR3 for your fantasy team as the Colts don't let up many WR touchdowns. He also doesn't seem to be 100 percent quite yet, so if you start him, don't expect the WR1 numbers he used to put up earlier in the year.
12/17/09, 10:00 AM CST by Dawgmaticå
Ravens wide receiver Mark Clayton (knee, hamstring) was still missing from practice on Wednesday.
Pyro's take: Luckily the Ravens are playing the Bears this Sunday, so their lack of wide receivers shouldn't make too much of a difference. However, even if Clayton plays, he's hardly worth using as a flex for your fantasy team this weekend.
12/16/09, 01:15 PM CST by Dawgmaticå