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NFC West 2021 Fantasy Football Profile

NFC West Fantasy Football Profile

Hello and welcome to the Team Rise or Fall 2021 NFC West Division profile. The NFC West is considered to be one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. Each team has a fair shot to claim the NFC West title. Last season three of the four teams finished above .500, with the team not finishing up to snuff was the San Francisco 49ers and their injury riddled roster. So, as we dive in, I encourage you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the breakdown of each NFC West team.

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NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals finished the 2020 season with an 8-8 record, good for third in the NFC West. It could have looked a bit different as they dropped four games by less than one score. It seems the team is finally becoming acclimated to Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid, Spread style offense. The Cardinals offense will have lost two key pieces this offense, Kenyan Drake and the ageless Larry Fitzgerald. This should allow for competition between Chase Edmonds and newly added James Conner. At the wide receiver position, they took a committee approach adding veteran A.J. Green and drafting college standout Rondale Moore.

Kyler Murray

  • Murray finished as QB3 in 2020, 4 points behind Aaron Rodgers for 2nd and 16 points behind Josh Allen for 1st
  • His QB3 finish was aided greatly by his 11 rushing TDs and 819 rushing yards
  • Murray was responsible for 28.24% of the Cardinals rushing attempts on the season, that number could conceivably increase with the departure of Kenyan Drake and his 54% carry market share
  • Murray was on pace to be the first QB ever to pass for over 4,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 but was derailed by nagging shoulder and ankle injuries over the course of the second half of the season
  • There is always the inherent injury risk with mobile quarterbacks, go into your season with a backup plan if Murray is going to be your main QB

Chase Edmonds

  • Edmonds finished as RB30 in standard leagues and RB25 in PPR leagues despite being a part-time player
  • Edmonds saw the 8th most targets by a running back in the entire NFL
  • The departure of Kenyan Drake will leave behind open 239 carries and 31 targets that will go to Edmonds or James Conner
  • Edmonds is one of the Team Rise or Fall Draft Kit’s late-round Targets

James Conner

  • Newly signed free agent Conner should battle for the spot as RB1
  • Conner offers style that differs from previous running back Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds, I can see him primarily being used as the goalline battering ram a la LeGarrette Blount
  • Kenyan Drake was second in the NFL in carries inside the 5 (21) trailing only Dalvin Cook and Zeke Elliot (22), he converted 9 of those carries into touchdowns

DeAndre Hopkins

  • Hopkins finished as WR10 in standard leagues and WR4 in PPR leagues
  • In his first season with the Cardinals, Nuk found an immediate rapport with Kyler Murray and was targeted 160 times, good for 4th best in the NFL
  • Hopkins averaged 10 targets per game, responsible for 29.41% of the Cardinals target market share
  • Hopkins was tied for the 6th most red-zone targets inside the 10
  • He’ll continue to be Murray’s safety valve as we saw all of last season

A.J. Green

  • Aging veteran A.J. Green was brought in with the assumption Larry Fitzgerald would not be returning
  • Fitzgerald leaves behind 72 targets but there should be fierce competition between Green, Christian Kirk, and rookie Rondale Moore
  • In Green’s 10-year career he’s only played complete seasons in 5 of them
  • Last year in Cincinnati he was out-targeted by both Tyler Boyd and rookie Tee Higgins

Christian Kirk

  • Kirk finished as WR51 in standard leagues and WR51 in PPR leagues
  • Kirk didn’t have a receiving touchdown after week 4 of last season
  • Kirk had only one game of double-digit targets
  • Barring an injury to DeAndre Hopkins, every other receiver will cannibalize fantasy production

Rondale Moore

  • The Cardinals used important draft capital to draft the undersized receiver in the second round
  • Moore was electric in college, in 20 collegiate games, he brought in 178 receptions for 1915 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also contributed on special teams as a kick and punt returner
  • I don’t see Moore as anything more than a late-round flyer with the competition in place for targets

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams finished the 2020 season with a 10-6 record, second in the NFC West, and were rewarded with a playoff appearance. They eventually fell in the divisional round to the Green Bay Packers. Head coach Sean McVay is known for being an offensive genius. The thing that held them back the most was their quarterback play. The team moved on from Jared Goff and traded for veteran Matthew Stafford. The Rams’ moves this offseason were about quality, not quantity as they’ve kept their positional players relatively the same. The other addition that stands out fantasy-wise was the signing of speedster DeSean Jackson.

Matthew Stafford

  • Stafford finished as QB15 in Detroit’s run-first offense, while former Rams starter Jared Goff finished as QB19
  • As far as talent is concerned Stafford is a more complete QB than Goff. Stafford can make all the throws and will far more weapons at his disposal in this Rams offense than he ever had in Detroit (Yes, I realize Calvin Johnson was one of his targets)
  • The Rams offense was tied for the third-most plays run per game (66 per game), with a 55/45 pass to run ratio
  • Stafford is one of the Team Rise or Fall Draft Kit’s Mid-Round targets

Cam Akers

  • Last season the Rams utilized an RBBC backfield with Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson, and Cam Akers. Brown is now a member of the Miami Dolphins which now frees up 101 carries and 35 targets
  • As of week 13 and into the playoffs (Akers missed week 16 due to an injury) Akers had no less than 15 carries a game and at least one target
  • In an interview with Rams,’ HC Sean McVay was quoted on Akers as saying, “I think he’s an every-down back, I think he’s a very special player.”

Darrell Henderson Jr

  • Henderson was second on the team in carries (138) and targets (24)
  • Henderson led the team in carries inside the 5-yard line with 9, converting 4 of them into touchdowns
  • If the end of last season is any indication of McVay’s preference at the running back position, Henderson will be nothing more than a handcuff barring an injury to Cam Akers

Robert Woods

  • Woods finished as WR13 in standard leagues and PPR leagues
  • Woods was targeted 148 times last season, good for 7th most of any WR, averaging 9.25 targets a game
  • Of wide receivers with a minimum of 100 targets, only Cooper Kupp and JuJu Smith-Schuster had a lower ADOT (Average Depth of Target) than Woods
  • Woods may or may not be on the list of “Dynasty Sells” in the RoF Draft Kit

Cooper Kupp

  • Kupp finished as WR34 in standard leagues and WR26 in PPR leagues
  • Kupp was on the receiving end of 134 targets, 15th most of any WR, good for just under 9 targets per game – 8.93 to be exact
  • Only JuJu Smith-Schuster had a lower ADOT than Kupp (minimum of 100 targets)
  • Kupp along with Stafford and other Rams pass catcher are on the RoF Draft Kit’s “Best Ball Stacks” list

DeSean Jackson

  • The speedster is entering his 14th season in the NFL and the Rams will be his 4th team
  • The oft-injured receiver has only played a full season twice in his career
  • Jackson has seen 100+ target in only 5 of his 13 seasons with the most recent coming back in 2016
  • Jackson is a late-round flier at best for me as his best days are behind him, I’d much rather take a chance on second-year receiver Van Jefferson or even the younger version of Jackson – Tutu Atwell

Tyler Higbee

  • Higbee will be the de facto TE1 in the Rams offense with the departure of Gerald Everett
  • The departure of Everett leaves behind 63 targets to be absorbed by the other Rams pass catchers
  • Higbee finished as TE16 in standard league and TE17 in PPR leagues
  • Higbee shows up as one of the Team Rise or Fall Draft Kit’s Sleeper tight ends

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Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks finished 2020 as the NFC West division champions with a 10-6 record. The season ended with a disappointing loss in the Wildcard round to division foe Los Angeles Rams. The biggest story of the Seahawks offseason wasn’t any addition or loss, but the murmurs of star quarterback Russell Wilson had requested a trade. Now that free agency and the draft have passed it safe to assume that he’ll be the starting quarterback coming into the 2021 season. The Hawks also brought back oft-injured Chris Carson who will most likely remain the starting running back – if he can stay healthy. They also retain their top pass catchers in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Seattle was able to swing a trade for guard Gabe Jackson, who as we know won’t accrue many, if any, fantasy statistics but will allow Russell Wilson to stay upright which will lead to many, many fantasy points.

Russell Wilson

  • If it wasn’t for Aaron Rodgers, Wilson could have easily been named as the NFL MVP. Wilson finished as QB6 last season, throwing for over 4,200 yards and 40 touchdowns. He also ran for an additional 513 yards
  • He’ll come into the season with an “improved” offensive line, Wilson was sacked most in the NFL – 52 times. The addition of Gabe Jackson, while not sexy, should help in keeping Wilson upright
  • Wilson was effective inside the red zone (inside the opponent’s 20-yard line) tossing 29 touchdowns, trailing only league MVP Aaron Rodgers (35 TDs)

Chris Carson

  • The Seahawks brought back Chris Carson to lead the backfield again this season
  • In terms of durability, in Carson’s four years in the league, he has never played a full 16 game season. He missed four games due to injury last season
  • The departure of Carlos Hyde should pull the onus of Carson to be RB1 for the Seattle offense again this year
  • Look for the Seahawks to do more in the run game with the addition of Gabe Jackson

Rashaad Penny

  • Penny hasn’t been quite paid off his cost of a 1st round draft pick
  • In three NFL seasons, he’s rushed for over 100 yards twice
  • He missed all but 3 games in 2020 due to an ACL tear in 2019
  • The running back you’ll want is whichever one is healthy up in Seattle, however, with how often they’ve been injured you’ll be rolling the dice with whichever you draft

DK Metcalf

  • Metcalf was an absolute monster in 2020 finishing WR5 in standard leagues and WR7 in PPR leagues
  • Metcalf was on the receiving end of 140 targets, 12th most of any WR, hauling in 83 of them for over 1300 yards and 10 touchdowns
  • Of wide receivers with over 100 targets, Metcalf has the 2nd highest ADOT (13.70) trailing only Calvin Ridley (14.30)
  • As hard as this is to say (as a 49er fan) I love the idea of a Seattle stack in best ball drafts with Wilson and Metcalf

Tyler Lockett

  • Lockett finished as WR11 in standard leagues and WR8 in PPR leagues
  • Lockett was just 4 targets shy of DK Metcalf – 136 to 140, yet had 17 more catches, 100 to 83
  • Lockett and Metcalf both ended the season with 10 receiving touchdowns
  • Lockett and Metcalf were both targeted 16 times inside the opponents 20-yard line, Lockett converted 5 of those chances for touchdowns while Metcalf scored on 8 of them

Gerald Everett

  • Everett sign a 1 year 6 million dollar deal this offseason after spending the last four years with the Rams
  • He’ll follow former Rams passing game coordinator, new Seattle offensive coordinator Shane Waldron to the Pacific Northwest which should give him familiarity with the scheme
  • The only other tight end on Seattle’s roster is holdover Will Dissly
  • Temper your expectation for Everett as he’s never caught more than 7 balls in a game and has only gone over the 100-yard mark just once in his four-year career
  • On the plus side, playing with a quarterback like Russell Wilson will automatically make you a better fantasy option

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San Francisco 49ers

The 2020 season was a disappointing one for the 49ers. They were hit by the injury bug hard, placing an NFL-high 18 players on season-ending IR (injured reserve). They finished 6-10, last place in the NFC West. They traded up for the #3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and selected North Dakota State’s, Trey Lance. The 49ers didn’t make any position player additions, rather it’s what they were able to keep on the roster that will make them formidable. They resigned Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and some players on the defensive side of the ball which doesn’t have much bearing on the fantasy side of things. One key addition that may go overlooked with the signing of center Alex Mack. Mack should help solidify an offensive line that was without a true starting center last year, as 2019 starter Weston Richburg missed the entire season with an injury that is forcing him to retire at age 29.

Jimmy Garoppolo

  • Over the past three seasons, Garoppolo has played in only 23 of a possible 48 regular-season games, the best ability is availability and Garoppolo has struggled in that area
  • When healthy, Garoppolo has shown to be a sufficient game manager who could display a better ability protecting the football – he has a thrown 39 touchdowns to 21 interceptions
  • Head Coach Kyle Shanahan has publicly stated the job is Garoppolo’s to lose
  • I’m not going out of my way to roster Garoppolo other than in 2 QB leagues

Trey Lance

  • I know my raving review of Jimmy G makes you think Trey has a chance at usurping him as QB1 and to that I say – no chance. Lance will have to have an amazing training camp combined with a Jimmy G injury to be considered the team’s starter
  • In Dynasty leagues I’m all over Trey, I truly believe he gets the opportunity to sit behind Jimmy this year to master the Shanahan offense and learn what it takes to be a quarterback at the highest level then takes over as the starter in 2022

Raheem Mostert

  • Mostert will be part of the RBBC that Shanahan has used since his tenure as the San Francisco head coach
  • Jeff Wilson suffered a torn meniscus and is anticipated to start the year on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list which means there’s a good possibility he can miss the first six weeks of the season, the team also allowed Jerrick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman to walk in free agency
  • The removal of the 3 above-mentioned running backs frees up 235 carries and 79 targets
  • Temper expectations as Mostert has dealt with numerous injuries since receiving a larger opportunity, he was put on injured reserve twice last season, missing eight games

Trey Sermon

  • The rookie should see ample opportunities this season, but nothing more than to make him a low end RB2
  • In 2019, the year the 49ers made their Super Bowl run, the RBBC was a three-headed monster (Breida, Coleman, and Mostert) and none received no more than 137 carries, Coleman and Mostert tied, with Brieda not too far behind with 123
  • I can see that same tactic being applied once Jeff Wilson Jr is fully healthy from his knee injury

Deebo Samuel

  • Deebo Samuel broke his foot prior to the beginning of the 2020 season which caused him to miss the first three weeks of the season, he also missed an additional 6 games for varying reasons
  • In the seven games Samuel played he averaged a bit over 6 targets per game (6.29)
  • Deebo had an ADOT of 2.20 yards
  • With the injuries to starter Jimmy Garoppolo and backup Nick Mullens, the team had to find creative ways to get the ball into their Samuel’s hands through passes behind the line of scrimmage and allowing to get YAC (yards after catch)

Brandon Aiyuk

  • The rookie led the 49ers in targets (97), receptions (60), yards (748), and touchdowns (5)
  • He was the 49ers leading pass-catchers while missing 4 games due to injury
  • All 5 of his receiving touchdowns were from catches inside the 10-yard line
  • He is one of six “Risers” in the Rise or Fall Draft Kit

George Kittle

  • The People’s Tight End missed half the season due to an MCL sprain and a broken bone in his foot
  • If we were to extrapolate his numbers, he would have caught 96 balls for 1,268 yards and four touchdowns
  • That extrapolation would put him on par with the numbers he posted in 2018 when he set the record for the most yards in a season by a tight end
  • Kittle is an “Early Round Target” in the Rise or Fall Draft Kit

For even more fantasy football content, be sure to check out our Team Rise or Fall Fantasy Football Draft Kit!

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