Season-Long Fantasy Football Outlook - NFC West

Check out this post for a breakdown of my philosophy on each position

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Vegas has the Cardinals making a serious improvement this year with their regular season win total set at 5.5. Other than Vegas, there’s no great way to try to predict what’s going to happen with this team, so I’m just going to say they’ll be better than awful but still below average.

Quarterback: Kyler Murray is actually kind of intriguing this year for me. He’s ranked as the number 12 fantasy quarterback which is close to the range where I start thinking about taking one of these guys. If he’s there when I’m picking I’ll take a shot on him and then probably drop him week 3 to stream some horrible QB against an even worse defense.

Running Back: I have no interest in taking David Johnson in round 1 and even less interest in trying to handcuff him with Chase Edmonds. That was easy.

Wide Receiver: I can say two things about this offense with relatively high certainty: (1) – They’re going to be playing from behind in a large portion of their games, and (2) – They’re going to air it out with Kyler Murray. I think there’s inherent value in this receiving corps, I just don’t know for sure where it is.

We’ll start with Larry Fitzgerald. He’s celebrating his 36th birthday this Saturday and at this point in his career has lost a step or two. The question becomes whether or not he can make due with what he has left. I think he can do it if he’s not the focal point of this offense. If opposing defenses are trying to take him away, I think they’ll succeed. If they’re treating him as a number 2 wide receiver, I think he can do some damage. He’s being drafted in the 8th round in the middle of a group of young receivers with a bunch of upside. I think you can take a shot on him if he falls, but I think there are better options in this range.

The next guy to look at is 2nd year receiver Christian Kirk. They seem to like this guy in Arizona and naturally they’re going to want to try to build his chemistry with Murray throughout this season. I think they’ll try to force him the ball this year, the only question is whether or not it will work. He should have some raw potential as a former 2nd round pick, but is he worth taking in the 7th round of your fantasy draft? I think he is. I expect him to have a solid year this year and I think he’s a viable option if he falls in your lap in the 7th or 8th round. I’m not going out of my way to get him, but I won’t turn him down either.

After that it’s Michael Crabtree and that’s just gonna be a no for me dawg.

Tight End: The Cardinals went out and got Charles Clay this offseason which is just tough for me to wrap my head around. I’m so used to this guy being a weirdly consistent yet inconsistent tight end in the AFC East that seeing him play in the NFC West is just downright uncomfortable. Either way, he’s a big target who could serve as a security blanket for Kyler Murray in his rookie season. He probably won’t get drafted, but I’ll be keeping an eye on his targets week one.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams represented the NFC in the Super Bowl last season despite a plethora of injuries and they figure to be one of the top teams in the conference again this year, with a projected regular season win total of 10 games.

Quarterback: If Jared Goff is my fantasy quarterback I’ll be perfectly fine with that.

Running Back: God damnit. I don’t want to try to give analysis on this situation. But here’s my simple take: Todd Gurley is fantastic and was the best fantasy running back in the league at certain parts of last season. He has tremendous upside if the usage is there but I don’t expect it to be there this season for a few reasons.

For one, Sean McVay is smart. He knows that his team only scored 3 points in the Super Bowl last season and he knows that Gurley being hobbled was a big reason for that. This team has higher goals than just getting to the playoffs this year, and if they want to make another deep run they need their best players healthy. I expect McVay to take a page out of Bill Belichick’s playbook and run a pure running back by committee this season.

Another piece of evidence supporting a more balanced timeshare in this backfield was drafting Darrell Henderson in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. This team has already has Gurley and Malcolm Brown, yet they still used a 3rd round pick on a running back. I think McVay is shifting his strategy this year and as a result I don’t think any of these running backs are too appealing from a fantasy point of view.

Wide Receiver: This group is a very different story. Three guys who all have great upside. All three coexisted last season and all three really excelled in their roles. Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Brandin Cooks are all very talented and are all part of an explosive passing game in LA. We as fantasy players have decided the best bet is to just lump them all together as 4th round picks, and I think it’s completely fair.

None of these guys have really separated them as the elite receiver of this group and for that reason they’re all in play. I personally will be sitting back and letting this part of the draft come to me. If one of them falls far enough I’ll snatch him up, but I won’t be reaching on any of them. I am just choosing not to give a strong opinion here. All three will consistently score anywhere between 8 and 20 points all season long. That’s it. That’s the breakdown.

Tight End: Meh. I tried to play this Rams tight ends game last season and I’m just not interested in playing anymore. Zero interest in any of these guys.

San Francisco 49ers

This team is expected to see a huge jump this year, likely due to the return of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Their 2019 regular season win total is set at 8.5 despite only winning 4 games in 2018.

Quarterback: Jimmy Garoppolo is an awesome yet unproven quarterback who I have a ton of faith in. If I wind up with Jimmy G I’ll be perfectly happy with that.

Running Back: Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I was trying to decide how many m’s would get my point across and I decided that ~30 would do the trick. What the hell do we do with this 49ers backfield? Last offseason, it was supposed to belong to Jerick McKinnon, with some rumblings about Matt Breida stealing the starting job. McKinnon got hurt early in the year and we were left with a messy combination of Breida and some other randos.

The 49ers went out and got Tevin Coleman this offseason and as of now he is projected to be the top guy in this backfield. He’ll compete with both Breida and McKinnon for touches and I just don’t see him having too much upside. So I guess I just talked myself into the solution to this backfield: Don’t touch it. I’m going to operate under the assumption that all three of these guys are going to get a 33% share of this workload and that none of them will be valuable fantasy assets unless somebody gets hurt. That was easier than I expected.

Wide Receiver: I just laughed out loud when I looked at this group, but maybe I shouldn’t. This team’s win total is really set at 8.5 when their top three receivers are Dante Pettis, Deebo Samuel, and Marquise Goodwin? Excuse me? Are these guys about to be good??

I’m going with a firm maybe. We already know that George Kittle is a huge part of this offense so that already steals a considerable chunk of the targets away from these receivers. The remnants will be shared by these other three guys. Let’s celebrate the fact that we live in 2019 by doing a simple Google search on each of these guys:

My search for Dante Pettis gives me a shit ton of optimism. The first article I saw on this guy contains a quote from head coach Kyle Shanahan saying “He can be our best player on this team.” Ok. That’s some pretty freaking high praise for the 2018 second round pick out of Washington. We knew this guy was supposed to be good coming out of college, but I haven’t heard much from him since. The verdict: I like him. I’ll draft him if he’s healthy

The 49ers selected Deebo Samuel with the 36th overall pick in the 2019 draft out of the University of South Carolina. My Google search for Deebo told me 2 things: (1) Garoppolo likes him, and (2) I made a mistake by leaving Jalen Hurd off my list of 49ers receivers. Apparently Garoppolo recently spoke very highly of both of these guys and believes they are both locks for roster spots. The verdict: I’ll take a chance on Deebo Samuel in the 12th or 13th round and I have my eye on Jalen Hurd as a potential waiver pickup

I already know plenty about Marquise Goodwin from previous years, but I don’t know where he fits in this mix of guys. Googling him didn’t give me much, which means people aren’t talking about him too much. Hm. We know he’s fast. We know he knows the offense. But is he worth a fantasy draft pick? The verdict: I’m leaving Goodwin off my draft board but I’ll be keeping an eye on his target share in Week 1

Tight End: I’ve already written glowing things about both Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz, which brings us to the third tight end in the top tier, George Kittle. Kittle was fantastic last season, securing 88 of his 136 targets for 1,377 yards and 5 TD’s. My question with Mr. Kittle is whether he belongs in the upper tier with Ertz and Kelce or if he’s in a tier of his own just below these guys.

The targets were somewhat close last season, as Ertz had 156 and Kelce had 150, so he only trailed by about a target per game. The production itself is more encouraging, as Kittle actually led this group in receiving yards despite playing the entire season with backup QB’s. That is actually startling. His 10.1 yards per target is much higher than both Kelce (8.9) and Ertz (7.5). We might be onto something here.

Something magical just happened. I spent the last few weeks thinking Zach Ertz was some sort of incredible value in the third round, which I still believe he is. But I didn’t realize that George Kittle was sitting right there with him as an even better value. If Kittle was able to produce the way he did last season with the likes of Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard throwing him the ball, what will he do this year with Jimmy G at the helm?

I think people, myself included, have been overlooking George Kittle as one of the most valuable fantasy assets for the upcoming season. I will make sure to come away from the 3rd round with either Zach Ertz or George Kittle on my team.

Seattle Seahawks

The last team I will break down for the 2019 NFL season is the Seattle Seahawks. This team won 10 games in 2018 and Vegas set their win total at 8.5 for 2019. I expect another solid offensive year from this squad.

Quarterback: Russell Wilson is fantastic but he’ll be selected long before I consider taking a QB this year.

Running Back: You know what? Fuck Chris Carson. Why the hell do people love this guy so much? He could be the nicest guy ever, and that’s fine, but what on Earth am I missing? People wanna hug and kiss Chris Carson like he’s their long lost lover they haven’t seen in years. Everybody relax! I just really don’t understand why anybody thinks Chris Carson is such an excellent football player, so I will not be drafting him.

Rashaad Penny is probably equally as good as Chris Carson and I think he’ll take on just as much of the responsibility in this backfield. After that there’s J.D. McKissic who they love using on passing downs and that just about does it for this Seattle backfield. I’m not drafting any of these guys. I hope Chris Carson just goes out and proves me wrong and runs for 2,000 yards, but I just don’t see it.

Wide Receiver: I’ll keep this sweet and simple: I think Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf both have tremendous upside this year. I think Lockett is being just slightly overdrafted and you can take a shot on him if he falls a little bit. Metcalf is a different story. He’s projected to go in the 11th round this year and at that point he’s absolutely worth taking a shot on. He’s somewhat overly hyped up because of how he looks with a shirt off, but that doesn’t mean he’s not talented.

After that it’s David Moore, Jaron Brown, and Gary Jenning Jr. I’m not drafting any of those three guys but I’ll be closely following the target shares in the first few weeks of the season to see if anybody is separating themselves from the pack.

Tight End: Will Dissly is like sneakily kind of intriguing here. He’s ranked as the 26th overall tight end but I could kind of see him being alright. Tight ends don’t usually thrive in Seattle, but this is another guy to keep an eye on. If he steals a decent chunk of the targets to start the year I might be interested in scooping him up.

About the Author

  • Matt Shanahan (mshanahan)

  • Matt Shanahan is an engineer by trade and firmly believes in data-driven analytics. He grew up in Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. His betting strategy is to develop theories, create models to test those theories, and then collect data to see what works and what doesn’t.

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