The NFC West isn’t the powerhouse division it used to be, but there are some teams on the rise that you need to keep an eye on for fantasy. Check out a few key things to watch during training camps and preseason.
Running Back Roulette
Eddie Lacy is RB29, C.J. Prosise is RB38, and Thomas Rawls is RB51.
Lacy has some folks wondering if the second coming of Beast Mode has arrived in Seattle. But injury concerns, an awful offensive line, and plenty of competition for touches is keeping his ADP fairly low. I liked Lacy in Green Bay, but can his ankle hold up?
C.J. Prosise converted from wide receiver to running back in college, and he showed brilliant, although limited, flashes in his rookie season. The rub with Prosise is that he couldn’t stay healthy in his rookie season (to be fair, I’m amazed anyone could stand back up after getting popped by unchecked middle linebacker). The Hawks drafted Prosise in the 3rd round last year, giving him the inside track as the long term solution.
Let’s not forget how quickly Thomas Rawls made us forget about Marshawn Lynch when Rawls filled in for the ailing Marshawn in 2015. Unfortunately, we also can’t forget how quickly Rawls ended up injured. He didn’t seem right all last year, and now the undrafted free-agent will have to win playing time to stay in the league. If Rawls can avoid the injury bug (notice the theme here) he’s got top 12 RB upside.
Doug Baldwin and Russell Wilson
People have finally caught on, Doug Baldwin is a fine wide receiver. He’s being drafted as the WR11, and while that is not a great value pick, he seems like a good bet to return value as a late 2nd round pick. Baldwin isn’t the most exciting pick, but there is something to be said for consistency.
Wilson is right where he should be at QB5. It's hard to pick a quarterback in the middle rounds with so much value late in drafts at quarterback, but if we see Russ fully recovered from an ankle injury that slowed him early last year, he has QB1, QB2 upside.
Palmer couldn’t match his 2015 performance in 2016, taking a step back in fantasy points scored and in how he looked on the field. He finished outside the top 12 (somewhere in the mid-teens depending on scoring rules) at QB, but outside of David Johnson, the Cardinals never really looked right last year.
I’ll pass on getting too excited over the offseason reports of Palmer feeling better than ever. What gets me excited about this Cardinal offense is John Brown’s recovery (more on Brown in a minute). If Brown returns to his 2015 form, defenses will have to choose to get killed on the ground by David Johnson, or give up the deep ball to Brown, or let Larry Fitzgerald catch 15-yard slants all day.
Palmer is an excellent late-round QB pick, coming off the board as QB20 in best-ball drafts.
Brown had a rough 2016, struggling through a sickle-cell condition, and playing with a cyst on his spine requiring surgery. At WR42, we’ve either forgotten how amazing Brown is when he’s healthy, or we’re betting he hasn’t put his injury woes behind him. Personally, I’m putting my nickel down on last year being the anomaly, making Brown one of my favorite late round receivers for 2017.
David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald
Don’t overthink it here. Johnson is either the 1.01 or 1.02, and should be. With Fitzgerald at WR26, he’s a classic ‘can’t go broke making a profit’ pick.
San Francisco 49ers
The rising tide…
The 49ers were better than their 2-14 record from last year, but they’re not much better. With new coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch, Niners fans have plenty to be excited about. Brian Hoyer is a serviceable QB (during the regular season), and I expect he’ll play well enough to give us more from the San Fran skill positions this year.
Hyde has been a bit of a victim of his collegiate success and a few injuries as a pro. There are some questions if Hyde will even be on the roster week 1 (see: Google), but I think we might be getting a little carried away with the rookie fever. The Shanahans are known for make shine out of shitola, so I’ve seen plenty from Hyde to take the plunge at his current 50-ADP price tag.
Some of us were burned by the “of course Torrey Smith will be a stud who else will catch passes in San Fran” logic, and that may give some pause if they’re staring at Garcon in the 6th round. The difference with Garcon is that he’s been successful with an underwhelming QB in a Kyle Shanahan offense before. I don’t think Garcon will end up with 130 catches, but he’s an outstanding WR2 candidate at a back-end WR3 price.
Los Angeles Rams
We have 2 simple questions with Gurley: do you think Gurley is good, and do you think former Washington offensive coordinator turned Rams head coach, Sean McVay is the answer to the Jeff Fisher problem?
McVay called the shots for a solid Washington offense last year, but was that more the talent on the field and Jay Gruden, or was McVay the master-mind?
I believe in Gurley’s talent, and I believe Jeff Fisher was kryptonite for the Rams offense. You will have to pay a pretty penny for Gurley at RB10, right around the round 2-3 turn. I’ve taken the plunge at that cost plenty in best-ball drafts and have no hesitation taking him in the same spot for season-long leagues.
We’ve been talking about the talent on the defensive side of the ball first in St. Louis and now in LA. Aaron Donald is a beast on the defensive front, and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has been the white-haired wizard with the talented Texans and then Denver defense. I expect the Rams will be in a lot of close games this year as their defense takes a big step forward.
Who will have a bounce back season in fantasy?
This poll is closed