2012 Rookie Fantasy Preview: Isaiah Pead

Contributed by: Cory Gallagher
Last Updated: Jul 20, 2012 12:57 AM

Let's now be too tough on Steven Jackson, now.

The man is the definition of prototypical athlete, never mind running back. Possessing breakaway speed, lightning-quick cutting ability and freak, Bruce Wayne strength, he is the ideal back for the St. Louis Rams. But, hey, he ain't perfect. And he sure isn't young.

Jackson, 29, is entering his 9th season in the NFL after getting drafted 24th overall by the Rams. As modern day running back careers go, S-Jax is certainly in the twilight phase. Age, however, is the least of Jackson's worries. Injuries have truncated seven of his nine season of service, and with more than 2,100 rush attempts, his tire treads may have begun to bald.

St. Louis took this into consideration, and used their 2nd round pick in the 2012 draft to pick up running back, Isaiah "Sss" Pead. The 5'10'' speedster out of Cincinnati raised eyebrows at the combine, sprinting a 4.47 40-yard dash and a 1.5 second 10-yard split. He also dazzled at the Senior Bowl, earning MVP honors after two impressive punt returns that led to points.  His agility compliments the smash-mouth running style of Steven Jackson, and Pead may steal some looks in the third-down role.

Steven Jackson is ranked 13th among running backs on ESPN projections, an appropriate positioning, sandwiched between Darren McFadden and Fred Jackson. This star grouping presents the whole problem; a very real opportunity to do damage this year, but inherent injury risks bring down their ceiling. Last year, you'd be a fool to draft Run DMC without handcuffing Michael Bush, and CJ Spiller became a huge factor when Fred Jackson went down for the season.

This is Isaiah Pead's predicament, fantasy-wise. Steven Jackson will be the work-horse back, meaning most to all the carries. Do you foresee the Rams using the 189-pound Pead as a goal line option? There are 51-pounds answering "no" to that. But, Pead can be an ingenious match-up plug and play, and prove to be an invaluable handcuff. NFL Film's Greg Cosell likened Pead to Jamaal Charles when he came out of the University of Texas, and Charles cemented himself as one of the premiere big-play running backs in 2010.

The Rams would be smart to give Pead a substantial opportunity to flourish in Brian Schottenheimer's new offense. Rookie running backs tend to have a learning curve when transitioning to the pro-style game, but with Steven Jackson having the lion's share or carries and pressure, Pead will shine in some games, but disappear in most.

Think Dexter McCluster, Jacquizz Rodgers or Danny Woodhead. You'll see sub-10 carries a week, low YPC, yet helpful in PPR leagues. His value will certainly go up if Jackson goes down with injury, but his frame and youth will not allow him to shoulder the load alone.

Fantasy Outlook: A few scarce TDs will display flashes of brilliance, but too sporadic to interest serious fantasy football managers.

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