This is the first episode in a brand-new, eight-week series where I break down all of the relevant fantasy assets in each NFL division. The eight-week schedule puts the last edition of this series in mid-August – just in time for draft season! As always, the information in this article is subject to change (mainly the players’ ADP) as the offseason goes on, but it will serve as a good opportunity to drop nuggets of knowledge on each player.
Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff – Quarterback – ADP: 8.05
Goff’s ADP has him as the 10th quarterback off the board. I think you could get a good value on Goff if you subscribe to the “wait on a quarterback” mantra and get him any time after his current ADP. His first full season as starter was a good one, completing 296 passes for 3,804 yards and 28 touchdowns. It helps having a beast like Todd Gurley on your offense, but if Goff can maintain that level of success I think he makes a good quarterback to play matchups with at the very least.
Todd Gurley – Running Back – ADP: 1.02
In standard scoring, Todd Gurley finished as the number-one running back and second-highest scorer (outscored only by a certain quarterback I’ll talk about later). Sean McVay and his staff tapped into Gurley’s pass-catching potential and unlocked a top-tier fantasy back and the 2017 AP Offensive Player of the Year.
Brandin Cooks – Wide Receiver – ADP: 4.06
Brandin Cooks finished as the WR #7 in standard scoring last season. The projected depth chart puts Cooks as the Rams’ slot receiver, but he should still find the success found in recent years. It would be hard to imagine Los Angeles not using Cooks, as they sent first- and sixth-round picks to New England for him. Couple that with the facts that Brandin Cooks has caught over 1,000 yards and seven or more touchdowns in each of his last three seasons and you get WR1 upside.
Robert Woods – Wide Receiver – ADP: 9.02
Robert Woods had a big season as the Rams’ theoretical No. 2 receiver behind Sammy Watkins. Woods has a relatively low ADP as of right now and can be drafted with value. Even though Woods only played in 12 games, he set a career high in yards (781) and tied his career high touchdowns (five).
Cooper Kupp – Wide Receiver – ADP: 9.09
Cooper Kupp had a great rookie campaign. He led all rookie wide receivers in receptions (62) and was bested only by JuJu Smith-Schuster in yards (917 vs 869) and touchdowns (five vs seven). Given that their ADPs are the same, I would rather have Robert Woods, but Cooper Kupp is a great candidate for a flier if you can snag him after his current ADP.
Russell Wilson – Quarterback – ADP: 5.10
Russell Wilson is a top-tier quarterback because of his rushing value. Last season, Wilson rushed for 586 yards, a career high. He also tied his career highs in touchdowns (34) and interceptions (11) in 2017. Russell Wilson finished as the top quarterback in standard scoring and has high potential to return yet again to that top tier in 2018. Concerns can be found in the loss of his redzone to-go Jimmy Graham, but the addition of Rashaad Penny and the bolstering of the running game may help to take pressure off the former Badger.
Rashaad Penny – Running Back – ADP: 4.04
Being a rookie, there aren’t any previous NFL stats or game film to analyze. Talk out of camp indicates that Penny will get a heavy workload, however, and head coach Pete Carroll has said that Penny has improved his pass-blocking abilities – an important quality for getting time on the field.
Chris Carson – Running Back – ADP: 12.05
There’s a good chance Rashaad Penny gets the starting gig in Seattle’s backfield. Therefore, Chris Carson looks to serve more as a handcuff than anything. At this point in the offseason, I can understand why fantasy owners would take a flier on Carson, but odds are good that Penny gets the majority of work in Seattle.
Doug Baldwin – Wide Receiver – ADP: 3.05
Doug Baldwin fell just nine yards short of a third consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2017. In standard scoring, Baldwin finished as the WR #13. Davante Adams outscored him by 0.2 points and Adam Thielen outscored him by 0.4 points. Baldwin is a great candidate for being a fantasy owner’s WR2 or even WR1.
Tyler Lockett – Wide Receiver – ADP: 13.06
Now that Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson are out of Seattle, there are targets to go around. Although Lockett played all 16 games last season, he was never 100 percent healthy. If I had to guess, I would predict that Lockett will take over the No. 2 receiver role for the Seahawks and would have no problem taking him at his 13th-round ADP.
Brandon Marshall – Wide Receiver – ADP: 14.03
I have to mention Brandon Marshall because of his name. He only played in five games last year, but he was on pace to have a season almost as disappointing as the one before (59 receptions, 788 yards, three touchdowns), especially considering the numbers he was coming off from 2015 (109 receptions, 1,502 yards, 14 touchdowns). I don’t see much value coming from Marshall, but he’s been hot-and-cold most of his career and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a good season. Either way, I see enough risk to keep him off my personal draftboard and his 14th-round ADP reflects that.
San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo – Quarterback – ADP: 7.08
Jimmy-G is another quarterback to consider in the later rounds. In just six games, he completed 120 passes for 1,560 yards and seven touchdowns – he also threw five interceptions. He did all that while posting a 67.42 completion percentage. If you take his numbers over six games and stretch them out over a 16-game season, he would end up with 320 completions, 4,160 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.
Jerick McKinnon – Running Back – ADP: 3.01
Jerick McKinnon signed a four-year/$30 million contract with the 49ers this offseason. He also received a two-million-dollar signing bonus on top of the contract that included $15.7 million guaranteed. Follow the money. McKinnon will get the opportunity to thrive in San Francisco and his pass-catching abilities give him RB2 upside.
Pierre Garcon – Wide Receiver – ADP: 8.03
Before missing the second half of the 2017 season with a neck injury, Pierre Garcon was on pace for a 1,000-yard season. I would love Pierre Garcon at his current eighth-round ADP. He didn’t get any reps with Jimmy Garoppolo during the 2017 season, but his talent and production with other, less-talented quarterbacks gives him good upside.
Marquise Goodwin – Wide Receiver – ADP: 8.11
Marquise Goodwin essentially became San Francisco’s No. 1 receiver after Garcon was placed on injured reserve. Goodwin played in all 16 games last season and caught 56 passes for 962 yards and two touchdowns. The more important statistic is how his numbers were in the last six games of the season – the ones where Jimmy-G was quarterback. In those games, Goodwin caught 33 passes for 462 yards and just one touchdown. He also left the final game against the Rams with a concussion.
George Kittle – Tight End – ADP: 13.03
It would be hard for me to recommend that someone draft George Kittle to be their weekly start at the tight end position. I do, however, mostly agree with the notion of drafting Kittle as a flier and after locking down the tight end position, as he has upside in San Francisco’s new passing game. Kittle had the second-most receptions amongst rookie tight ends (43) and ended the 2017 season on a good note by netting 100 receiving yards.
Sam Bradford/Josh Rosen – Quarterbacks – ADP: Undrafted
Neither of these quarterbacks’ ADP has them even going in fantasy drafts. Simply put, there are more than a dozen better options at the quarterback position in fantasy. It isn’t even completely clear who will get the start under center in Week 1. On one hand, the Cardinals signed Sam Bradford to a two-year/$40 million contract with $15 million guaranteed. On the other, the Cardinals gave up their first-round (15th overall), third-round, and fifth-round picks in the previous draft to move up five spots to draft Josh Rosen.
David Johnson – Running Back – ADP: 1.04
There isn’t much to say about David Johnson. He’s well-worth the first-round pick and knows how to put Arizona’s offense on his back. Johnson got 373 touches in 2016 and used it to net 2,118 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns.
Larry Fitzgerald – Wide Receiver – ADP: 5.04
2017 was the third straight season in which Larry Fitz caught over 100 passes for over 1,000 yards. Larry Fitzgerald is more than fitting of a WR2 role at the absolute least and has time and time again proved that he has WR1 upside. Fitzgerald is an absolute steal at his fifth-round ADP.
Cardinals’ No. 2 Receiver?
It was difficult to pin down a clearly defined No. 2 receiver for Arizona. My money would be on rookie Christian Kirk as he has gotten first-team reps in minicamp, according to Rotoworld, but he has to compete with Chad Williams, J.J. Nelson, and newly-acquired Brice Butler.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus