By Pasha Hashemzadeh
Here we provide you with a fantasy outlook for each NFC West team:
The Cardinals feature what looks to be a promising offensive unit entering the new season. Led by veteran QB Carson Palmer, the Cards have Super Bowl aspirations and have the personnel to get there. WRs Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and Michael Floyd form what is arguably the best trio of receivers in the league. Brown has the most upside given his ability to play both inside and out, while Fitz figures to man the slot and Floyd the outside. The Cardinals run a lot of three receiver sets so the trio should be on the field at the same time much of the time. Given they are stacked at the receiver position, all three currently serve as WR3s, with Floyd more of a low-end TD-dependent WR3. Second year RB David Johnson took the league by storm during the second half of last season when Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington went down with injuries. He figures to be the main back in AZ, though Chris will see his share of carries while Ellington will spell David on third downs. David Johnson is worth a top five fantasy pick given his talent and situation, while Chris is a late round flier/handcuff to David, and Ellington can be left undrafted. There are no tight ends on the roster worth drafting in fantasy. The Cardinals bolster a strong defensive unit that should be drafted in all leagues.
Los Angeles Rams:
New city, new QB. The Rams are in rebuild mode, and hope the addition of number one overall pick QB Jared Goff ignites the passing game, an area where the team has struggled in recent years. The Rams roster arguably the most talented runner in the league in Todd Gurley, a surefire top five fantasy pick despite the questionable passing game and offensive line. The man can run through almost anything, though lacks a bit in the passing game. HC Jeff Fisher recently stated that WR Tavon Austin could catch 100 balls this year. This is hyperbole at its best. Tavon is merely a gadget player playing with a rookie QB. He is a WR4 with upside. TE Jared Cook left town and Lance Kendricks simply isn’t worthy of a draft pick. Steer clear of Rams’ TEs. The defense should be drafted as one of the top units and they look to keep the Rams in games, as they are the main feature and strength of this team.
San Francisco 49ers:
The 49ers will struggle mightily on both sides of the ball this coming year. They simply do not have the right personnel to succeed, as subpar QBs Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick will be duking it out this offseason for the right to become the starting signal caller. Neither are worth drafting. Carlos Hyde is the most intriguing player on the 49ers offense, as he has all the talent to succeed in Chip Kelly’s system, though poor QB play could lead to stacked boxes, which in turn would lead to lack of production for Hyde. Nonetheless, with his talent and Kelly’s scheme, Hyde is a low-end RB2 entering the year. His 2015 season was derailed by injury and poor overall offensive play. The starting wideouts figure to be Torrey Smith and Bruce Ellington. Smith is nothing but a home run hit, something he proved last year, while Ellington will serve as a gadget player that could see some run in the backfield. Steer clear of Smith, as the QB play will be shaky, though monitor Ellington during camp and preseason as he is a Tavon Austin-like talent that could surprise this year. TE Vance McDonald has impressed during OTAs and is a big target for whoever the QB will be. He looks to establish himself as a redzone target this year and is worth a late round flier. The 49ers lost a lot on the defensive end a year ago and have not recovered. This, along with the fact that they play in one of the toughest divisions in football, makes them not worthy of drafting this year.
The 2016 Seahawks offense is a tricky one to predict. All-Pro TE Jimmy Graham is recovering from a torn patellar tendon, a severe injury, and is very questionable for the start of the regular season. Stud RB Marshawn Lynch retired, leading to Seattle drafting three RBs this year, headlined by C.J. Prosise out of Notre Dame. Thomas Rawls is also suffering from injury and is shaky for the start of the season. Rawls, Christine Michael, and C.J. Prosise will likely form a RBBC this year, unless one truly breaks out and establishes themselves as the featured back. The receiver on the ‘Hawks worth rostering is Doug Baldwin, who exploded during the second half of last year. He will be high-end QB1 Russell Wilson’s go to man, and is a solid WR2/3. The Seattle defense is locked and loaded and could arguably be the first defense off the board come draft time.