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Fantasy Football: The Best and Worst NFC West Options

Justin highlights the biggest Fantasy Football trends in the NFC West.

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 25: Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers passes during the first half of a preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi's Stadium on August 25, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks 

The recent news of Jaxon Smith-Njigba having surgery after fracturing his wrist puts a bit of a dark cloud on his fantasy prospects for his rookie season. Terrible news after just watching him rip off a 48-yard catch and run in Week 2 of the Preseason. He could miss up to six weeks and may not get up to speed for several weeks into the season. There’s also a chance the Seahawks play it extra cautiously and bring him back after their Week 5 bye week. Geno Smith takes a bit of a hit too.

WR Tyler Lockett was already a target of mine and now even more so with the JSN injury news. Lockett has been as good statistically as DK Metcalf over the past several seasons and his advanced metrics from last year show no signs of age negatively impacting his on-the-field production. I have Lockett as my WR24 which is four spots higher than the consensus at and he may move up higher with more opportunities coming his way.

Rookie RB Zach Charbonnet returned quickly from his shoulder injury and continues to look great, especially in the receiving game. A physical runner with piston-pumping knees, Charbonnet’s talent will cannibalize Kenneth Walker’s fantasy production and vice versa. Expect Walker to have some stand-out games, he flashed his big play ability as a rookie last season, but also expect a few single-digit busts along the way. I don’t mind grabbing shares of Charbs in the double-digit rounds, as he could be a nice weekly flex or would pay off massively if Walker were to miss time.

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San Francisco 49ers 

Christian McCaffrey has looked great in training camp and is ready to be the focal point of this 49ers offense in his first full season with San Francisco. Kyle Shanahan has never had a player with the talent of McCaffrey. Don’t be concerned about any of the narratives out there for CMC that the 49ers will be incorporating some form of workload management or that they will be up in so many of their games and winning by such a margin they’ll have the luxury of resting him. Add to it a favorable strength of schedule with some soft matchups vs. projected weaker run defenses like the LAR, NYG, ARI (2), SEA (2) and TB.

Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle – I’m not actively targeting any of these three, but they’re all fine. They are good picks at cost or if you can get them at a value. Both SF WRs had above-average advanced stats including separation yards and catch percentage, but were low in the air yards department, which is further proof that the 49ers were not getting the ball downfield enough. Deebo does add the rushing floor which helps his bottom line some weeks. He was #1 amongst all WRs in broken tackles forced per reception per @FantasyPtsData. Kittle had a solid year last year playing 15 games and scoring 11 TDs, but I prefer Darren Waller if I’m going TE at that point of the draft. Aiyuk caught 78 balls for 1,015 yards with eight TDs in his best season as a pro in 2022, so he’s not a bad WR3/4.

A preseason battle to monitor is between Tyrion Davis-Price and Jordan Mason for 3rd string on the depth behind CMC and Elijah Mitchell. I know you’re probably asking why we care about a battle for the third string. Well, Mitchell is hurt once again, he has battled injuries his entire career and can’t ever seem to stay healthy. If he can’t get back to health or has another setback then either Davis-Price or Mason would be the handcuff to CMC. Right now looks like the undrafted Mason has the leg up over the former third-round pick, Davis-Price.

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LA Rams

He’s back! Cooper Kupp was spotted back at practice after being away since suffering a hamstring injury early in camp. Being on track to play Week 1, I have no issue taking him as the 4th WR off the board after Jefferson, Chase or Hill are off the board. We’ve not seen a team run their offense through a WR like the Rams do with Kupp. In games he played last season, he was still elite averaging 20.8 fantasy pts/game. Kupp does have a few things not in his favor aside from his health, as there’s also his QB’s health and he has one of the more difficult strength of schedules for WRs facing tough matchups that includes PHI, SF, PIT and BAL amongst others.

This is more for deeper leagues but I don’t mind taking some late shots in drafts on WR Van Jefferson, but I’m not buying the rookie fever for Puka Nakua. Jefferson, a true pros pro (son of Panthers WR Coach Shawn Jefferson), is now in line to be the Rams WR2 all by himself. As a precision route runner, VJ has paid his dues and has waited for his turn behind vets like Robert Woods and Allen Robinson. Jefferson is in a contract year so he’s definitely motivated to perform.

Arizona Cardinals 

The only player I want anything to do with on this Cardinals team from a fantasy perspective would be getting James Conner as a viable RB3. He’s a workhorse back and a good pass catcher. Unfortunately, there is a good chance the Cardinals turn into a dumpster fire and start tanking for the top QB prospects like Caleb Williams(USC) or Drake Maye(UNC). Conner is perfect to fill the void early in the fantasy season if you draft Breece Hall or Javonte Williams who are working their way back from their knee injuries or even Alvin Kamara who is suspended for three games.

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The Cardinals just acquired QB Joshua Dobbs from the Browns, which is more evidence that Kyler Murray is not ready to play, and there’s a chance he won’t play at all this year if the Cardinals find themselves at the bottom of the standings. An offense led by Colt McCoy, Clayton Tune,or Joshua Dobbs does not make me feel any better about any of the other skill players for fantasy on this team.