Many a Fantasy owner may find themselves in dismay after learning the unfortunate news involving quarterback Sam Bradford. During the Rams’ third preseason game, Bradford re-tore the ACL in his left knee, a career-threatening injury indeed.
Now, chances are that many Fantasy Football team owners didn’t spend any early picks on the receiving options in St. Louis, but many certainly did so on running back Zac Stacy, whose ADP stands at 28.6 on CBSsports.com. In a 12-team league, that roughly puts him in the third round, meaning there is quite an investment there for many Fantasy team owners.
So the question remains, what are the Fantasy Football implications of Sam Bradford’s injury?
People can make what they want of it, but I will try and dissect quarterback Shaun Hill, who will step in and grab this starting job by the horns (get it . . . Rams?). Hill immediately affects Fantasy Football, whether he likes it or not. Dare I say, Hill being handed the starting job may actually HELP Fantasy Football this season.
He is a big pocket QB, standing at 6’5”, who actually has a plethora of knowledge and intangibles in the NFL. While most backups don’t have much experience as a starting QB, Hill has made 26 career starts, going 13-13 in those games. What’s even more impressive, besides the fact that he actually knows what it takes to win games, is that his QB rating in those starts stands at 87.1. Mind you, that is roughly eight points higher than the 79.3 career QB rating Sam Bradford has posted. Hill’s QB rating would rank him higher than Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, and Carson Palmer last season. If that isn’t enough for you, Hill has a TD:INT ratio of 41:23 (1.78) whereas Bradford’s is 59:38 (1.55), so the upper hand goes to Hill on decision-making.
Hill made his 26 career starts between 2007 and 2011 with the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions. Those Fantasy owners who have played for a few years now might remember that once Matthew Stafford got hurt in 2010, Hill was actually a serviceable replacement for Fantasy purposes. Not only did he become a viable starter for teams, but he helped maintain Calvin Johnson’s production as well. Megatron still managed to post 1,120 receiving yards with 12 touchdowns. Hill also made good use of Vernon Davis during his time in San Francisco, helping the (then) young tight end reach a career mark of 13 touchdowns. Its obvious Hill knows how to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers.
While the St. Louis Rams do not have a Calvin Johnson or Vernon Davis, they do have a few playmakers in this offense. In my opinion, the players that will benefit most are big receivers Kenny Britt and Brian Quick, and tight end Jared Cook. I know Britt and Cook have burned a lot of Fantasy owners before, but the risk of drafting them (nearly nothing) is worth it for the potential that one of them becomes a favorite target for Hill. While Tavon Austin still remains a supremely talented athlete, how offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will utilize him remains unknown. Obviously, he failed to make that experiment work last season.
As for Zac Stacy, this move really does not affect him much unless Hill struggles mightily. Stacy is a volume running back, who hits his stride when he touches the ball in bunches over the course of a game. He proved his worth last season, when he put together an impressive campaign with Kellen Clemens at the helm. No offense to Clemens, but I think Hill has more versatility. Upon further inspection of Hill’s 26 career starts, he often found ways to get his running backs involved in the passing game. Both Frank Gore and Jahvid Best put up some nice receiving numbers with Hill at the helm. Stacy had 26 receptions in his rookie season after only having 40 career receptions over four years at Vanderbilt, but I expect that number to increase this season. I believe he has the talent to haul in 40 receptions, assuming Hill is his QB for the entirety of this season, enhancing his value in PPR formats.
This situation reminds me a lot of one that might still be fresh in the minds of Fantasy owners: Josh McCown from last season. Much like Hill, McCown was a journeyman who got his chance to start last year with the Bears . . . And he took off with it. Not only was he a viable starting QB for Fantasy purposes, but he also made all the players around him better. McCown, age 35, and Hill, age 34, share a lot of similarities in that regard.
THE VERDICT: Fantasy owners should not be panicking if they have already drafted Zac Stacy, and he should continue to be drafted at his current ADP. Hill is a viable QB in two-quarterback leagues and may even become a serviceable backup in standard leagues. Don’t be surprised if Hill enhances the value of later round draft picks Britt, Quick, and Cook.