Fantasy Impact: St. Louis Rams Select Stedman Bailey
After losing Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, and Brandon Gibson from a team that was already lacking in skill-position players, the Rams have made an early effort to help Sam Bradford in the draft. First was the trade up to select Tavon Austin, the dynamic receiver out of West Virginia. Then, in the third round, the Rams selected his former West Viginia teammate Stedman Bailey.
It sounds a bit silly to say that Austin and Bailey could be a little too much of an overlap of skills when you consider that they have already been teammates and been quite productive alongside one another in school. However, Austin’s major cause for concern is his lack of size, and Bailey is on the small side himself at 5’10 190 lbs and is likely better suited for a role in the slot, where it is presumed that Austin would play.
Despite their lack of experience, the Rams receivers Brian Quick and Chris Givens are clear outside receivers, and free agent acquisition Jared Cook is a legitimate down-field threat who sported a 9.5-yard average depth or target last season which was in the upper-third of his position. That makes either Austin or Bailey a natural complement, but having both could take away from the upside potential of each player.
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College statistics courtesy of Sports Reference.
Fantasy Impact with the St. Louis Rams
The Rams are in a similar place to where they were a season ago, with a bunch of players with tremendous fantasy potential without a clear indication of who the real favorites are. I take the drafting of Bailey as an indication that the Rams are looking to use Austin in a more versatile role, possibly similar to that of Darren Sproles in New Orleans where a lot of his value comes in the backfield and as a returner. That provides some hope for volume for Bailey, who has excellent hands and does not have to rely entirely on speed to handle bigger NFL corners because of his more-physical style.
Still, I would have preferred Bailey’s short-term potential on a team that did not already spend a higher pick on a player competing for touches in his ideal role. The lack of an established No. 1 on the Rams means you can draft Bailey on his upside, but I think he makes more sense in dynasty leagues in the hopes of production two years from now. I think Antonio Brown is a comparable player if Bailey can fulfill his potential, but not having an elite quarterback could delay that realization.