Fantasy Impact: St Louis Rams Select T.J. McDonald
McDonald had long been a touted future NFL prospect in part due to his NFL bloodlines via his father, Pro Bowl safety and SuperBowl winner, Tim McDonald, and also due to his pro football size (6’3”, 219lbs). As a big hitting in-the-box safety, his landing spot in St Louis is an excellent match for a Jeff Fisher-style defense so concerns about his ability in coverage is somewhat neutered.
In his senior year McDonald recorded an impressive 112 total tackles. However, his draft stock slid, partly due to his poor fit in the Tampa-2 scheme ran by Monte Kiffin. Still, prospective fantasy owners will be more concerned with whether he can repeat such numbers on the NFL field rather than the round he was drafted in.
College statistics courtesy of Sports Reference.
Despite the doubts about his coverage skills, there lack of talent in the St Louis safety corps gives T.J. McDonald a pretty clear path to a starting gig early in his NFL career. He’ll have to beat out 2012 UDFA Matt Daniels who only saw time on special teams last season.
As previously mentioned, McDonald is a productive eighth-man-in-the-box kind of safety which has served fantasy owners well down the years, so he is one of the biggest winners in the terms of their immediate fantasy value. Having seen Quintin Mikell and Darian Stewart have DB2 value for the Rams in previous seasons over prolonged stretches there is plenty of reason to think McDonald could post similar figures.
The Titans’ defenses under Jeff Fisher often produced 80-plus total tackle safeties, so schematically McDonald appears to have a higher floor than most. Being such a deep safety class means McDonald only scrapes into my top-five in dynasty rankings, but he is a great sleeper option in redraft leagues this year in the final rounds of your draft.