St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers fantasy previews

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The NFC West always seems to look as if it's going to be a dogfight amongst the teams that are apart of it. Yet, the Seahawks have prevailed more often than not as the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers always seem to disappoint.

Lucky for you, a team's overall record doesn't matter in fantasy football and because of it, the 49ers and Rams have a number of guys that will have their names called on draft day.

Here's a breakdown of both teams, side by side:

Rams: Marc Bulger
49ers: Um, J.T. O'Sullivan? Maybe Alex Smith? How about Shaun Hill?
Stats: Bulger, O'Sullivan, Smith, Hill

I'm going to need a little bit more time breaking down the 49ers logjam at quarterback so we'll start with Rams QB Marc Bulger.

Bulger has long been regarded as a top ten fantasy football quarterback because of a strong, accurate arm and solid wide receivers surrounding him. However, Bulger has fallen from fantasy grace after the Rams as a whole turned from gold to garbage in only a few seasons.

The demise of the Rams once vaulted offensive line has resulted in Bulger transforming into a practice dummy and case for modern medicine to study the effects of concussions and shoulder injuries.

With the questions about the Rams offensive line, wide receivers, and Bulger's durability, he's not as strong of a fantasy option as in years past. Sure, he's still in the top fifteen at the position, but I'd prefer to have him on my team as a solid backup than to trust him with the starting duties.

And now we'll move onto the 49ers.

How much time ya got?

All jokes aside, the quarterback situation in the Bay looks and feels a lot like the Chicago Bears and their futile attempts to find the right man to line up under center.

First, you've got J.T. O'Sullivan who seems to have come from nowhere to take the lead in this mediocre quarterback derby. Coach Mike Nolan has named O'Sullivan the starter for the team's third preseason game, which is typically regarded as the 'dress rehearsal' for the regular season.

He's kind of a question mark as to what kind of signal caller he can be for this team, but there is a wild card that factors into this equation in the form of offensive coordinator Mike Martz.

With a pass happy offense directed by a kid that knows the system from his time with Martz in Detroit, O'Sullivan may surprise some people.

Then again, the 49ers did waste the number one overall pick on Alex Smith in 2005 and he hasn't really been presented with much of a chance to succeed.

But Shaun Hill looked impressive at the end of the 2007 season filling in for Smith.

For now, we're leaning toward O'Sullivan because he appears to have the inside track on the job. While I wouldn't waste a draft pick on him, it wouldn't hurt to monitor the 49ers the first couple weeks because he could just be a perfect bye week replacement or pickup if your starter goes down.

Running Backs
Rams: Steven Jackson
49ers: Frank Gore
2007 stats: Jackson, Gore

Now we're getting to the heart and soul of these two teams and the two players you need to pay most attention to at the draft because they'll be gone in the first two rounds.

We'll switch gears and start with Frank Gore this time.

Some of you may have cringed when you heard that Mike Martz was going to be running the offense in San Francisco this year because he loves to throw the ball. What you need to keep in mind is that this will actually help Gore find more holes to run through this season because opposing defenses won't be able to stack the box against him.

Gore is also very capable of catching the ball out of the backfield and will be a favorite target in Martz' offense just like Marshall Faulk used to be.

He's a top eight back and will not be drafted any later than the first few picks of the second round.

I might be one of the only people in the country who is really down on Steven Jackson this season. It's not that I don't think he's a freakishly talented running back that is destined for great things or anything like that.

What has me scared to death is that S-Jax has yet to report to camp and is threatening to sit out the ENTIRE season if the Rams don't give him a new contract. People underestimate the importance of training camp and the preseason because you constantly hear players gripe about how long and inconsequential it is in the grand scheme of things.

But you don't have to look any further than Larry Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs last season to understand my point here. LJ sat out most of training camp, barely played in the preseason and struggled throughout the year until a foot injury ended his season. He never looked in rhythm and seemed out of sync except for only a handful of games.

I'm very worried that the same is ahead for S-Jax and if he doesn't get into camp soon, he might not even be the starter on opening day.

This is not what you want from your first overall pick.

Please don't think that I'm saying you should avoid Jackson altogether. You just need to understand that if he does play this year, he won't get into prime shape until at least week three or four of the season at the earliest.

Buyer beware is all I can say.

Wide Receivers
Rams: Torry Holt, Drew Bennett
49ers: Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson
Stats: Holt, Bennett, Bruce, Johnson

Both of these teams are looking for help at this position in a very bad way.

Just to give you an idea, the Rams have 11 currently on their roster. The 49ers have eight.

Anyway, the biggest name of the bunch is St. Louis' Torry 'Big Game' Holt, one of the game's most respected at his position.

No matter how good or bad the Rams have done over the years, Holt has always found a way to produce and is one of the most dependable wide receivers in fantasy football. He's not going to put up Terrell Owens or Randy Moss type numbers, but he will end up with over 1,000 yards receiving and somewhere in the neighborhood of eight TDs by season's end. He's a respectable number one, ridiculously good number two wide receiver in the fantasy world.

After spending the beginning of his career with the Titans, Drew Bennett now finds himself trying to replace Rams legend Isaac Bruce opposite Holt. Bennett made a name for himself in the fantasy world with some jaw dropping performances with the Titans when Billy Volek was at the helm.

But he hasn't shown the same type of ability to produce in fantasy terms and is a backup wide receiver for your team at best.

Back to the aforementioned Isaac Bruce, now donning the red and gold after his many years spent in St. Louis. He's going to be depended upon to become the number one wide receiver for this team and I just don't think he's got it in him.

He's not a bad option in the later rounds only because he is the number one WR on the team and will definitely have plenty of chances to make big plays. But he's a backup and not an every week starter.

Bryant Johnson is an intriguing prospect because of the flashes of talent he displayed during his years with the Arizona Cardinals. He was a hot commodity in the offseason and the 49ers made quick work of signing him.

He's extremely fast and is definitely the home run threat this team needs. Whether or not they take advantage of it remains to be seen. If anything, take a late, late round flier on him if you already have the WR position set.

Tight End
Rams: Randy McMichael
49ers: Vernon Davis
Stats: McMichael, Davis

For the past two years I've been suckered into drafting Vernon Davis. And for the past two years I've dropped him by week six of the season.

We've been expecting him to jump to the elite levels of fantasy TEs only to see him disappoint more often than succeed. This may be the year he puts it together, or it could be another steeped in mediocrity.

I have him ranked as either the tenth or eleventh tight end in fantasy football. Do what you will.

And then there's Randy McMichael.

I had high hopes for him coming into 2007, thinking he would be a perfect fit in St. Louis.

I was way off.

This season probably won't be much different and he'll finish in that average range of tight ends that doesn't win or lose you games.


Let's make this simple shall we?

Do not draft either the 49ers defense or the Rams defense.

That's all you need to know.

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Matt Wood is a web editor for and editor of He is also a contributor for satirical sports publication The Heckler. Have a fantasy question? E-mail him.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Olsen published on August 20, 2008 1:30 PM.

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