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Rams still lacking in fantasy projections

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- It's been quite some time since the St. Louis Rams had multiple players holding prominent spots on preseason lists of the expected top performers in fantasy football.

Sure, running back Steven Jackson was a regular pick in the top three rounds for much of his time in St. Louis, but other than that not many Rams names would pop up early in your draft unless you played with a devout fan making homer picks.

On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN senior fantasy analyst Matthew Berry released his offseason fantasy football rankings. If you're looking for a strong Rams presence among his top 200 players, well, you better just repeatedly look at the No. 19 spot on the list.

That's where Rams running back Zac Stacy, who is also 10th among running backs, resides. That's a really solid ranking for the second-year back, who narrowly missed a 1,000-yard season despite barely playing the first four weeks.

Seeing Stacy so high on the list should come as no surprise given his production after taking over the job and the team's clear commitment to a run-first approach. Adding mauling offensive lineman Greg Robinson with the second overall pick should also bolster Stacy's production.

But Stacy should also come with a buyer beware tag. He was quite good when healthy and playing teams with lesser run defenses in 2013 but he struggled with repeated injuries -- though most were little ones that cost him a quarter here or a half there and no full games -- and elite defenses, namely the ones in the NFC West, save for a big game at home against Seattle.

Adding a little more intrigue to Stacy's spot is the addition of third-round back Tre Mason, who appears at No. 124 on the list. Should Stacy battle some of those aforementioned bumps and bruises, Mason could take over and never look back. As the fantasy experts would say, you'd be wise to handcuff Mason to Stacy should you choose him early.

Aside from Stacy and Mason, it's hard to find much Rams presence on the rest of the list. Receiver Tavon Austin checks in at No. 117 and 51st among receivers. The Rams defense is No. 185 on the list and No. 9 among defenses.

Should Austin meet his potential and provide the big plays many believe he can on a consistent basis, he could turn out to be a good value but it's understandable why none of the Rams receivers, quarterbacks or tight ends crack the list aside from Austin. Perhaps someone will emerge during the season; the Rams are certainly hoping that a young wideout or two develops into that type of threat.

The defense might prove the best value of all, especially if your league puts an emphasis on sacks.