Thursday, July 10, 2008

Breakout Player: WR Drew Bennett (Rams)

In March 2007, the St Louis Rams signed free agent WR Drew Bennett to 6-year $30 million contract with at least $10 million in guarantees. The 6'5 206 pound ex-UCLA college quarterback had played the previous 6 seasons as an undrafted wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans.

Last season, Bennett had only 33 catches for 375 yards and 3TD's; starting only one game out of the fourteen he played. Granted, the Ram's offense struggled for most of the season with injuries to QB Marc Bulger, RB Steven Jackson and LT Orlando Pace. While St Louis paid starter money for Bennett, they did not see the same production on the field, lacking the presence in fill in for former third WR Kevin Curtis (Eagles) and competing with starters WR Torry Holt and Issac Bruce. In 2004, starting with the Titans, Bennett amassed 80 catches, 1,247 yards receiving and 11 TD's.

What are some of the factors that can lead Drew Bennett to a breakout year in 2008?

1) Starter With Issac Bruce heading for San Francisco, the door is wide open for Bennett to step into the #2 starting spot opposite Holt. He now has had a whole year of working in this offense and will only have to ward off fellow WR Reche Caldwell and rookie WR Donnie Avery for the role. Expect Bennett to be exclusively used in Red Zone opportunities, utilizing his excellent hands and ball skills with his his 6'5 height and frame. If Holt goes down with his lingering knee problems, Bennett will be the #1 target for QB Bulger.

2) Rams Offense Everyone is finally healthy. Look for an improved running game, offensive line blocking, and a healthy QB to take advantage of Scott Linehan's aerial attack. A veteran TE Randy McMichael will help open up the field for additional passing lanes for the receivers. While I don't expect the Rams to be the greatest show on turf this season, expect a much improved team offensively from a year ago.

3) NFC West Looked at by the rest of the league as a mediocre division, there have been plenty of top wide receivers showcased against a weaker set of cornerbacks. Playing the 49ers, Cardinals, and Seahawks each twice should open up some opportunities for Bennett to put up some numbers.

Fantasy Outlook: Early in the season expect Bennett to be a late round draft choice and option as a 3rd/4th receiver. He will be inconsistent in his numbers but could field some big payoffs, especially in TD's if the Rams get going. Keep an eye on him and he will be a good option to have on your bench if one of your starting wide receivers go down mid season.

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