PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 24: Steven Jackson #39 of St. Louis Rams is tripped up while running with the ball by William Gay #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the Christmas Eve game on December 24, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
The St. Louis Rams have made life slightly more difficult for fantasy football rankings experts by getting Steven Jackson some help.
In 2012, for the first time, fantasy football rankings watchers have something other than Steven Jackson's health to worry about, as far as the St. Louis Rams' Hall of Fame running back goes. In the 2012 NFL Draft the Rams finally drafted Jackson a complementary back (and possible successor), grabbing Isaiah Pead, who's inevitably and consistently described as Shifty. Pead is very important to the Rams' future, but in the present, for fantasy football owners, the question is just how much complementing he'll be doing.
That question went unanswered in the Rams' 38-3 loss to the Colts, but we did get a chance to see Steven Jackson, and early press is positive: He's Not Dead Yet. He looked slimmed down and fast, and he was effective in his limited carries. Bernie Miklasz is justifiably worried about teams keying in on the run, but that, I guess, is where Pead comes in; he's the Shifty Guy keeping Steven Jackson from killing himself by carrying the ball too much and other teams from knowing that Steven Jackson is going to carry the ball too much.
Last year Jackson benefited from carrying the ball less than he had back in 2010; if Pead can carve out a real role Jackson's per-carry numbers should get the same bump in 2012. The other good news: If the offense isn't the black hole it was in 2011, he might actually score some touchdowns.