In-Depth Fantasy Analysis of the NFC West

Cardinals at Redskins 12/17/17

By Jeff Pratt (@HotlineFantasy)

Jeff Pratt
Head of NFL/Podcast Host

“You wanna know which ring is my favorite? The next one.” - Tom Brady

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This is the second installment of my newest series, where I provide an in-depth fantasy analysis of every division in the NFL. Check out the previous installment to see my analysis of the NFC South. Now, let’s get into the NFC West!

San Francisco 49ers

Quarterback

The 49ers made a run to the Super Bowl last year, but it’s pretty clear Jimmy Garoppolo was not the main reason they got there. Jimmy G posted acceptable stats for the Niners in 2019, throwing for just under 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. He was mediocre from a fantasy standpoint, finishing as QB14. I’m expecting similar production for Garoppolo this year, as we’ve pretty much seen his ceiling in this 49ers offense. There are much better options out there for your fantasy roster, only pick him up in much deeper leagues or as a plug-and-play option.

Running Backs

News broke last week that Raheem Mostert was requesting a trade, citing the 49ers refusal to increase his salary as the origin of his disgruntlement. Assuming Mostert is actually dealt before the season starts, that leaves Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon as the two main backs in what will likely be a similar committee to last year. Personally, I love drafting Coleman at his current ADP in the 8th/9th round considering his apparent upside. McKinnon — who’s currently going undrafted at his current ADP — also has considerable fantasy upside. Assuming he truly is healthy after two years of ACL rehab, McKinnon could make a real impact this year for San Francisco. I recommend taking a chance on both of these guys at their current ADP; they’re both low-risk, high-reward options.

Wide Receivers

There isn’t much to love about San Francisco’s receiving corps from a fantasy standpoint heading into the season. Deebo Samuel is a promising young talent, but it’s unclear if he will be fully healthy at the beginning of the year after breaking his foot earlier this offseason. Assuming Deebo is fully healthy, he has solid upside as the 49ers #1 receiver at his current ADP in Round 5 or 6. Other than Samuel, the only other receiver on San Francisco’s roster with fantasy upside is rookie Brandon Aiyuk, who the 49ers selected in the first round of this year’s draft. Aiyuk has a lot of raw talent but needs some work when it comes to route-running. He’s certainly worth taking a chance on with a late-round pick, but don’t expect an enormous breakout campaign.

Tight Ends

George Kittle has established himself as one of the top-2 fantasy tight ends in the league, and he should play a similar role in San Francisco’s offense this year as the 49ers failed to add any major receiving threats. Kittle’s about as safe of an option as you can get while drafting a tight end. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of taking tight ends early this year as there is a ton of depth at the position. However, if you want to take a tight end in the first three rounds of your draft, Kittle’s a very solid option.

Seattle Seahawks

Quarterback

Russell Wilson has been one of the most dependable fantasy quarterbacks in the league since he entered the NFL, and that’s not changing this year. If healthy, Wilson is a lock for a top-7 fantasy finish. Seattle’s offense runs through him, and Wilson will continue to produce elite fantasy numbers for a few more years.

Running Backs

This is where things get interesting for Seattle’s offense. Chris Carson suffered a serious hip injury at the end of last year. While he’s made good progress, only time will tell if he’s able to return to the workhorse role he held last year. Rashaad Penny has shown flashes but was also bitten by the injury bug at the end of last year, suffering a torn ACL in Week 15 against the Rams. His status is uncertain for the beginning of the year, which is why Seattle brought in Carlos Hyde to join Penny and Carson in their backfield. Hyde put up his first 1,000+ yard season for Houston last year, and is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery himself. Taking the health of all three running back into account, I feel comfortable drafting Carson as my RB2 — although he has RB1 upside — at his current ADP in the third round and picking up Hyde as a handcuff. Stay away from Penny though, he likely won’t find many touches as the third back on Seattle’s depth chart once he fully recovers.

Wide Receivers

The Seahawks boast two relevant fantasy receivers heading into this season: Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. Lockett finished 2019 as WR13 (PPR) while Metcalf posted fantastic numbers as a rookie, racking up 900 yards and seven touchdowns. This season, their ADP’s are pretty close despite the gap between their levels of production last year. There are a few reasons for that. Firstly, many believe that Metcalf’s ceiling is higher than Lockett’s, and that he will develop into a much more dependable receiver. This is fair, as one of the biggest knocks on Lockett is his inconsistency. Secondly, Seattle is expanding Metcalf’s route tree this year. He’ll have many more opportunities to get involved and should see a noticeable bump in production as a result. From a fantasy standpoint, I wouldn’t mind drafting either Lockett or Metcalf at their current ADP’s. Both could provide considerable value as your WR2/flex.

Tight Ends

From a pure football standpoint, the Seahawks have put together a fantastic tight end core this offseason. It consists of Greg Olsen, Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister. Before suffering a torn achilles in Week 6 of last season, Dissly was a top-10 fantasy tight end. This time around, the position is just too crowded for any of them to produce at a high rate. If one of the three gets injured, it could end up being a different story, but for now stay away from Seattle’s tight ends.

Arizona Cardinals

Quarterback

If you listen to my podcast, The Rollout, you know Kyler Murray is actually my MVP pick this year (which would continue the recent trend of sophomore quarterbacks winning the award). From a fantasy standpoint, Murray is in a tremendous position to succeed. He scored 24 total touchdowns in a somewhat lackluster Cardinals offense last season, but now he has a truly elite weapon to work with in DeAndre Hopkins. Murray is the second-best rushing quarterback in the league, which translated into huge production last year and was one of the main reasons he finished as QB7. Many analysts are ranking him as QB3 heading into the year. With Murray’s skillset and DeAndre Hopkins at his disposal, it’s certainly hard to overlook his potential.

Running Backs

Kenyan Drake exploded after arriving in Arizona midway through last season, rushing for 110+ yards three times. Many seem to believe that Drake will be able to continue this level of production for the Cardinals this year, as shown by his ADP (first round). I am not one of those people. While I do think highly of Drake, it is important to point out that he failed to rush for over 70 yards five times in Arizona last year. People love to point out the big games, but his inconsistency worries me enough to stay away from him in the first two rounds of drafts. Kliff Kingsbury is going to run a high-octane, passing-oriented offense in Arizona this year. That benefits Kyler Murray and Arizona’s receivers, but it will probably leave Drake to play third fiddle on multiple occasions.

Wide Receivers

Arizona made the move of the offseason, trading David Johnson and two draft picks to the Texans for DeAndre Hopkins. From a fantasy perspective, this is a match made in heaven. Murray and Hopkins’ previous quarterback, Deshaun Watson, have similar run and gun playstyles. As Murray and Hopkins build chemistry, they could eventually become the most dangerous dynamic duo in the NFL. Hopkins has a legitimate shot at the WR1 spot this year and is absolutely worth taking with a late first-round pick. As for Arizona’s other receivers, their fantasy values obviously take a hit. Christian Kirk was a popular breakout candidate before the Hopkins trade, but he has now been relegated to the #2 receiver role. He doesn’t become completely irrelevant though, and is a solid pickup at his ADP in the 8th round of drafts. As for the Cardinals’ #3 receiver Larry Fitzgerald, his fantasy value remains the same. Fitz is still a lock for around 70 catches and 750 yards in that offense, and is a valuable plug-and-play option week in and week out.

Tight Ends

None of Arizona’s tight ends possess fantasy relevancy heading into the year. You have no reason to look this way when addressing your tight end roster spot.

Los Angeles Rams

Quarterback

Much like Jimmy Garoppolo, Jared Goff appears to be stuck in fantasy mediocrity. Goff finished as QB13 in 2019, and isn’t primed for a particularly great season. Goff is a solid option in deeper leagues or as a waiver wire pickup, but has no business starting on teams in 10-14 team leagues.

Running Backs

Los Angeles released Todd Gurley earlier this offseason and drafted Florida State running back Cam Akers in the second round to compete with Darrell Henderson for the starting job. Personally, this seems like Akers’ job to lose as Henderson has failed to show any type of potential so far. At his ADP in the 8th round of drafts, Akers has solid value with obvious upside if he fills the workhorse role for LA.

Wide Receivers

Cooper Kupp (WR4) and Robert Woods (WR14) both had great fantasy seasons in 2019, and I’m expecting more of the same for them this year. They’re both really solid options at their respective ADP’s in the fourth and fifth round. If you must choose between them, Woods has a higher ceiling this year as the lone true wideout after Brandin Cooks’ departure. This Rams team will go as far as Kupp and Woods can carry them, so expect a ton of targets and production for them both this season.

Tight Ends

Tyler Higbee showed flashes of major potential at the end of last year, racking up 100+ yards in four out of his five last games. Assuming he and Goff can continue to build chemistry, Higbee could see a large chunk of targets this season to make up for the loss of Brandin Cooks. He has enormous upside at his ADP (9th round) and could easily push for a top-5 fantasy finish.