Fantasy Football Outlook: NFC West Pre-Draft

It is never too early to start game planning for the next fantasy football season. That being said, the NFL Draft is less than 2 months away, so now is the perfect time to start analyzing the fantasy-relevant needs of teams across the NFL. We will continue with the NFC West. 

Arizona Cardinals

2023 Draft Picks- 1.03, 2.34, 3.66, 4.105, 5.169, 6.180, and 6.213

    The Cardinals have plenty of needs on both sides of the ball, but it is unclear what the future has in store for them at this moment. The QB situation is secure because of the massive contract they gave Kyler Murray last season. That doesn’t give the team any confidence though as Kyler is coming off of a torn ACL injury and underwent surgery on January 1st. Kyler should be ready by the start of the upcoming season and should be the clear-cut starter for the team once he is healthy enough to return. Therefore the Cardinals will not be in the market for a high-end QB free agent/ draft pick. I could see them adding a better backup for Kyler but that is about it. Kyler should still be in the low to mid-range QB1 conversation once he comes back. The RB position is not a major need for the Cardinals, as they have James Conner under contract through the 2024 season. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t add someone to replace him but it is not a top need for the team. Darrel Williams is an unrestricted free agent. If they chose to not re-sign him I could see them adding an RB in FA or the later rounds of the draft to back up Conner. Conner should be a low-end RB2 with upside heading into 2023 as long as the Cardinals don’t use a high-end draft pick or acquire a top-tier FA. The WR position is probably the biggest need for the Cardinals but I don’t think it will be addressed this offseason. Most have assumed that the Cardinals are going to trade away DeAndre Hopkins this offseason, which would mean that the remaining WRs would be Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore as the top two options. The free agent market for WRs does not have any top-of-the-line talent, so I am not really worried about the Cardinals adding anyone that would take away the opportunity of Brown being the WR1 for the team if Hopkins did leave. I also am not afraid of the Cardinals taking a WR early in the draft as I would expect them to take a DE/CB/OT with their first pick as those are the glaring needs for the team. If Hopkins is still on the team come September, he is still a high-end WR3 for fantasy. If he is gone, then Brown would be a high-end WR3 with upside and Moore would be a flex option with upside in PPR leagues. The TE position is not a need for the Cardinals as they still have an injured Zach Ertz under contract and Trey McBride going into his 2nd year. Ertz’s injury was serious and he has also seen better days, I would assume that his TE1 days are behind him. Now Trey McBride on the other hand has all the attributes needed to succeed at the TE position in the NFL. If Kyler is back and McBride is utilized correctly, I could see him having a breakout season in 2023. McBride is a high-end TE2 with an upside this season. 

Los Angeles Rams

2023 Draft Picks- 2.36, 3.69, 6.182, 6.189, 6.191, 6.211, and 7.237

    Another draft and another year that the Rams do not have a 1st round pick. The Rams were definitely not the type of team that we had thought they would be heading into 2022. The Rams QB situation is currently filled by Matthew Stafford. Stafford did have a spinal cord injury in 2022 which did keep him out for a majority of the games. There is some speculation that Stafford could retire instead of returning and playing for the Rams. Until that happens, I am going to pretend that he is the starting QB for the Rams this season. The Rams are not really in the market for a top-tier QB anyways, as they certainly don’t have the draft capital to get one early enough and have other much larger holes in their roster. They are in need of a backup QB though as Baker Mayfield, John Wolford, and Bryce Perkins are all potentially leaving the team through free agency. Stafford is no longer a top-tier QB in fantasy, I value him as more of a mid-tier QB2 with limited upside unless things drastically change for the Rams offense in 2023. The RB position for the Rams is decently secure after we have seen the emergence of Cam Akers this past season. I know that we have seen the same type of situation the previous season as well, but I am betting that the Rams aren’t going to underutilize their RB1 two years in a row. The Rams may add a late-round RB as they could possibly lose Malcolm Brown in free agency, but that doesn’t really matter as Akers will be the guy you want in this backfield regardless. Akers is a low-end RB2 with an upside heading into 2023. The WR position is a definite need for the Rams, but I have a hard time seeing them using a 2nd or 3rd round pick on a WR this year. They could certainly sign a free agent ( such as Robert Woods) this offseason but I would not expect that player to have a huge fantasy impact. The main WR that we will continue to want to roster from the Rams is Cooper Kupp. Kupp will be returning from an ankle injury that caused him to have surgery, but he should have plenty of time to recover and should be ready for training camp. If Kupp has Stafford passing him the ball this season, he will continue to be a top-tier WR1 in 2023. The Ram’s TE position is filled by Tyler Higbee, who has played well at times throughout his career. I don’t expect the Rams to take a TE early as they need more help at their OL, DB, and Edge positions. Higbee could very well be the 2nd-3rd passing option if the Rams do not make any major roster moves on the offensive side of the ball. Higbee is a mid-tier TE2 with an upside heading into 2023. 

San Francisco 49ers

2023 Draft Picks- 3.99, 3.100, 3.101, 5.157, 5.156, 5.166, 5.173, 6.216, 7.224, 7.249, and 7.255 

    The 49ers have an interesting situation at the QB position and I am sure they are asking the same question as we are. Do they or do they not have the QB of the future on their roster? I would say that they do and although Purdy looked really good at the end of this past season, he is not who I am talking about. Trey Lance is who I believe will be the starting QB for the Niners this year and I believe he will keep the job. He has all the characteristics that you want in a starting QB. Give him a full season under his belt and I believe he will change the mind of all of those who don’t believe in him. The Niners offense is set up to succeed and it should make it easy for Lance to produce as well. Lance is a high-end QB2 with an upside heading into the 2023 season. The RB position doesn’t really need to be talked about for the Niners. CMC is the RB1 in both real life and fantasy. He will continue to be utilized heavily in the run-and-pass game for the foreseeable future. The WR and TE positions do not need to be discussed heavily either. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk will continue to be the WR1 and WR2 for the Niners in 2023. Deebo can be looked at as a high-end WR2 and Aiyuk will continue to be a high-end WR3/flex. George Kittle has a stranglehold on the TE position for the NIners and that will not change in 2023. Kittle should continue to be a top-tier TE1 due to his ability to produce at a high level. 

Seattle Seahawks

 2023 Draft Picks- 1.05, 1.20, 2.37, 2.52, 3.83, 4.123, 5.153, 5.156, and 6.198 

    A couple of days ago, I was concerned about what was going to happen with Geno Smith and the Seahawks. All of that concern disappeared after the Seahawks gave Smith a 3-year contract worth up to 75 Million dollars. Smith is the Seahawks guy at the QB position and after last year’s production, he deserves it. There is speculation that the Seahawks may still draft a QB early, but I have a hard time seeing that happen unless the one that they want falls to them at the 1.05. That seems unlikely with how this draft season is turning out though. The Seahawks RB position is set up nicely for the future with Kenneth Walker III. He was a beautiful surprise last season and should continue to improve as his career goes on. Walker is a high-end RB1 heading into next season. The Seahawks will be in the market for a backup running back as Rashaad Penny (Eagles) and Travis Homer (Bears) have left in free agency, but I wouldn’t be too worried that they will bring in someone that would take away anything from Walker. The Seahawks WR position is set up nicely with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett under contract. The Seahawks could very well use one of their top 5 picks on a WR. If they were to take one with their second 1st round pick, I could see that player producing in their first year. Otherwise, I would say that any WR they take after that would be the WR3 for the team and would therefore be more of a stash player for the time being. The TE position for the Seahawks has no clear star but decent depth. Noah Fant, Will Dissly, and Colby Parkinson are all under contract. Fant leads the way as the player who has the most fantasy upside, but that doesn’t add up to much at the end of the day. The Seahawks like to utilize all of their tight ends, so there is no clear option that can be relied upon on a weekly basis. I do not see the Seahawks adding a top-tier TE in the draft or free agency this year. Fant can be viewed as a boom/bust TE2 this season.

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