2014 Fantasy Football: The Receiver to Own in St. Louis
There are a ton of questions surrounding the St. Louis Rams receiving corps. With a bunch of unproven receivers, who is the guy to own? Most will say Tavon Austin. Despite a disappointing rookie campaign, he is currently being drafted as the No. 43 WR (ADP 112.29). In this case, most people would be wrong. The next Rams WR being drafted is Kenny Britt. The troubled Rutgers alum is currently being drafted as the No. 56 WR (ADP 147.63). Britt has talent and has shown flashes of greatness in the past, however he is also not the receiver you should be drafting in St. Louis. The man to own is second-year WR Stedman Bailey.
Bailey saw only four offensive snaps last season through the first eight weeks, before seeing a steady increase in playing time from week nine on. As he showed his talent on the field, the Rams started giving him more opportunities. Although he will be suspended for the first four games of the season, Bailey should be on the field as much as any other WR on the team once he returns. Rams beat writers and coaches have been raving about how Bailey has been the standout WR in camp this summer. Austin may have been the eighth overall pick in last year’s draft and Bailey went in the third round, but Bailey was a more productive receiver on their old team just like he will be on the Rams this season.
In 2012 at West Virginia, Austin totaled 114 receptions, 1289 yards and 12 TDs. Bailey went for 114 receptions, 1,622 yards and 25 TDs. So why was Austin drafted so much higher than Bailey? Because Austin was a combine hero. He was no slouch at West Virginia, however his value was inflated by his great measurables. The fact still remains that Bailey is the superior football player and always has been. Barring injury or suspension, I personally guarantee that at this time next year, Bailey’s ADP will be significantly higher than Austin’s. While Austin is the superior athlete, Bailey is a better route runner, more physical and has better hands. While Bailey has shown great development as a pro, Austin has continued to sputter throughout camp.
Even with the four game suspension, expect Bailey to score more fantasy points than any other Rams’ pass-catcher. Much like Josh Gordon did last year in Cleveland, on a much less prolific scale of course. Britt has only 73 receptions over the past three years and has dealt with a handful of major injuries. Brian Quick has looked good in camp but only managed 29 receptions in his first two seasons. Chris Givens and Austin Pettis are not only not all that productive, they also have not fared well in camp and could slip down the depth chart further than they had hoped. There are no receivers that are overly impressive on their roster, and Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks will share targets at TE again this season. Expect Bailey to vastly improve on his 226 yard rookie campaign and possibly even pull away from the pack.