Home > Uncategorized > NFC West Fantasy Preview: Bargains in Seattle; Cardinals Overrated

NFC West Fantasy Preview: Bargains in Seattle; Cardinals Overrated

Seattle Seahawks: Seattle had one of the league’s worst offenses last year, but that’s what happens when basically every skill player misses seemingly half of the season. Jim Mora is the new head coach in Seattle. Greg Knapp is the new offensive coordinator. Those two held those positions with Atlanta from 2004-06 and during those seasons, the Falcons led the NFL in rushing yards per game.

That’s why I am kind of fan of Julius Jones this year. Yeah, he has run for 1,000 yards only once in his six-year career and isn’t an accomplished pass-catcher, but you’re not drafting him to carry your team. To get an unquestioned starting running back in the eighth or ninth round on average, that’s some mighty fine value. Just expect Edgerrin James to steal those valuable goal-line carries.

Worse than Eli Manning? Child, please

Worse than Eli Manning? Child, please

Maybe the most valuable Seahawk is quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. He is certainly no longer a fantasy starter, but he is just one year removed from a near-4,000-yard season. Hasselbeck just needs to stay healthy. Back injuries did him in last year, but he is full strength and has had a tremendous preseason. I can’t believe he is being drafted behind the likes of Eli Manning in a lot of leagues. You should be happy to take Hasselbeck as your second quarterback in the ninth round.

Hasselbeck is helped out by a bunch of dependable, if not explosive, targets. T.J. Houshmandzadeh was the team’s big offseason acquisition, but he fits with the likes of Deion Branch (who w) as a possession receiver. That’s why I shake my head when I see people drafting Housh as their No. 1 wideout. He’s more fit as a second WR in both fantasy and reality.

Nate Burleson was supposed to have a breakout season in 2008, but tore his ACL in the opening game. He’s the team’s best speed receiver, but that major injury may have taken away some of that speed. I’m staying away.

Only four tight ends had more than 600 yards receiving and at least five touchdowns last year: Gonzalez, Gates, Clark and John Carlson. Yet, Carlson can still be had in the second half of all drafts. He is the real deal and another reason, like the Raiders’ Zach Miller, why you must wait on tight ends in a draft.

I am very optimistic on the Seahawks’ fantasy prospects this year if these players can stay healthy. But one big injury note that could wreck all of this is that future-Hall-of-Fame tackle Walter Jones is already hurt and may not be 100 percent all season. That will keep lanes from opening for Jones and keep Hasslbeck from getting the time he needs to find Houshmandzadeh and Carlson.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers want to run the ball this season. They want to run A LOT! That’s great news for running back Frank Gore, who has never come close to repeating his fantastic 2006 season, but he can get you about 1,600 total yards and 10 touchdowns if he stays healthy. He is a stud back, but don’t forget to handcuff him with rookie Glen Coffee. The Alabama product has had a very productive preseason and rumor has it that he may steal 7-10 carries per game right out of the gate. That shouldn’t effect Gore’s value too much because he is a good receiver.

Other than that, who do you want off of the Niners? Quarterback Shaun Hill has some good legs on him, but he panics too often and makes a lot of mistakes. But hey, at least he’s better than Alex Smith.

Issac Bruce is 36. He can still be a decent fantasy player as a reserve — he did have 835 yards and seven TDs last year — but the end has to be coming soon. I’m not waiting for Vernon Davis to finally get the book to match with his cover. First-round pick Michael Crabtree may hold out the entire season and Arnaz Battle is nothing significant

That last piece makes this item so curious. If you must own a 49ers wide receiver (what bet did you lose?), make it Josh Morgan. He’s a guy that you can get in the final rounds of your draft and should enter the season as the team’s No. 1 WR. All that noise about Battle must be to motivate Morgan because he is easily the better receiver.

Arizona Cardinals: And this IS NOT the San Francisco 49ers. This is all about pass, pass, pass.

Or is it?

Well, yeah.

But maybe just not as much. First-round pick Beanie Wells will give more balance to an offense that ran the ball fewer than any other team in the NFL last season. He has good speed for a big guy (he can run faster than the 4.59-40 he posted at the combine). But he’s also injury-prone. He battle injuries at Ohio State and he missed most of training camp with an ankle ailment. Once he made it back, he turned in some very impressive performances in preseason play. Tim Hightower will most likely be the Cardinals’ starting back in week one, but drafters aren’t biting on that fact. Instead, they should probably keep listening for more slips from head coach Ken Whisenhunt.

You're not getting enough value with Larry Fitzgerald in the middle of round one

You're not getting enough value with Larry Fitzgerald in the middle of round one

Believe it or not, I am not as optimistic about the Cardinals’ passing game. It’s not that I wouldn’t draft them; I just think that some players have been overrated from last season. Kurt Warner is a fine QB, but he’s never made it through two full seasons healthy. And it looks like he is starting the year off with a bad omen, no matter what John Clayton says.

Is Larry Fitzgerald the best fantasy wide receiver this year? Yes. Is he worth a sixth or seventh overall pick? Only if you are in a point-per-reception league. Fitzgerald is great, but if I had a mid-round pick in the first, I’d much rather go with a running back and then grab a WR such as Calvin Johnson or Randy Moss in the second. The difference between Fitzgerald and one of those guys is less than the difference between first-round running backs LaDainian Tomlinson or DeAngelo Williams and second-round choices such as Clinton Portis or Marion Barber.

Anquan Boldin is very good as well, but he has missed four games in each of the past two seasons and his dedication to this season may have lessened over his unhappiness with his contract. Steve Breaston is probably the best No. 3 WR in fantasy, but he had his best games last season when Boldin was injured. Too many people are taking him while No. 1 wideouts such as Devin Hester and Donnie Avery are still available.

The Cardinals’ offense may be fine this year and I wouldn’t mind having any of these players (I just drafted Breaston on my team three days ago). But again, it’s all about value. A lot of drafters are reacting too strongly to what this team did last year.

St. Louis Rams: It’s going to be another tough campaign in under the dome in St. Louis. New head coach Steve Spagnuolo has a long way to go to get the defense back to respectable levels. On offense, Marc Bulger was once a fantasy stud QB, but the 228 sacks he has taken over the past six years have all but ruined him. His arm isn’t as strong as it used to be and he’s more brittle than uncooked pasta.

Lonely, but undaunted

Lonely, but undaunted

It doesn’t help that Bulger lacks many dependable options. Donnie Avery is the team’s best wide receiver. He is coming off a very solid rookie campaign with 674 yards on 53 catches. But even an aged Torry Holt was better than who Avery has beside him now. Laurent Robinson? No thanks. Keenan Burton? Ha! Randy McMichael? The last time he was good, the Rams were in the playoffs.

So Avery better use that burning speed of his to outrun two or three defensive backs on every play.

But at the beginning, middle and end in St. Louis, there is always Steven Jackson. He has been banged up the past two years, but he’s gained at least 1,200 total yards since he became the feature back in 2005, and now he has No. 2 pick Jason Smith to help open some more lanes for him. Jackson has all the tools to be the league’s best runner, no matter who is surrounding him. And yet, I’ve seen him plummet into the second round of some drafts. Ridiculous! He really shouldn’t fall past pick No. 8.

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