With the Summer Sleeper series at its conclusion and the preseason underway, it’s time to review what we’ve learned since the beginning of camp and take a closer look at position battles, emerging players or roster surprises. With that in mind, we’re going to fire up the DLF RV and go division-by-division with some news and notes. While we won’t mention every single player (we have our player news feed for important news), we’ll take some time to run down some important dynasty information for each team. If you missed a previous one, just click on it below.
We continue today with the NFC West.
Russell Wilson will be an elite QB1 if his offensive line doesn’t keep having him be treated like a crash test dummy. I love deep sleepers and position battles but I really don’t care about the Austin Davis vs. Alex McGough backup battle, do you?
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At this point, this is THE position battle of NFL training camps and it features Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson. Penny is, well, the shiny new penny. Carson is the late round draft pick who simply won’t stop competing. At this point, Carson is winning the battle and the preseason in Seattle is going to be very, very intriguing as dynasty owners who have stock in Penny simply didn’t expect anything close to this when they drafted him. Coach Carroll loves competition and isn’t afraid to start a player who he’s deemed as earned the spot. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit to see Carson win this battle and make this a backfield that’s an absolute headache to own a piece of for at least this season. For more on this, read our Seattle Summer Sleeper article.
We know what to expect from Doug Baldwin, who may be as underrated a receiver as there is in dynasty leagues. Outside of Baldwin, the Seattle depth chart consists of Tyler Lockett, Brandon Marshall, Amara Darboh, Marcus Johnson, Keenan Reynolds, Tanner McEvoy and Jaron Brown. Outside of Baldwin, Lockett likely has the most potential for dynasty appeal within the group but he has to keep himself healthy to do so. Most beat writers believe the Seahawks will keep six receivers and those six will likely be Baldwin, Lockett, Marshall, Darboh, Brown and Johnson. Darboh has had a strong enough camp to likely keep himself off the cut line and Marshall will need to show well coming back from injury to secure a roster spot – don’t be fooled by previous production as he hasn’t looked like himself for quite some time. The sleeper of the group could be Jaron Brown, who Seattle has seemingly become smitten with in short order. We’re most likely going to see Baldwin post his usual numbers and the others be pretty inconsistent in terms of fantasy production.
The Jimmy Graham era in Seattle was a total buzzkill as injuries and inconsistency ruined the partnership between Graham and the Seahawks. Seattle addressed the position (kind of) by adding Ed Dickson and still have Nick Vannett and the young rookie Will Dissly. Dickson seems to be the best bet for fantasy stats, but this looks like a pretty uninspiring group in terms of fantasy production. After all, if the Seahawks couldn’t get Graham the ball, can they really get it to someone less talented?
All eyes are on Josh Rosen, who is looking to unseat Sam Bradford as the future of the Cardinals. The day is coming, we just don’t know exactly when. What we’ve seen so far at camp has been what you would expect – Rosen has made some spectacular plays Bradford just can’t make at this point in his career and has also made rookie mistakes the veteran simply wouldn’t make, either. Unless the preseason reveals something different, the prevailing thought is Bradford will start the season under center since he gives them the safest option and best chance to compete. When the Cardinals start to struggle or see some distance being placed between them and playoff contending teams, expect to see Rosen take over in an attempt to spark the team. Rosen remains our top rated rookie quarterback this year and while others may give you production sooner, his long-term future looks to be the best.
A year without David Johnson is simply no fun. The dynamic runner will return this year and dynasty owners are eager to see if he’s back to his pre-injury form. All indications are he should be. However, he’s now joined by a very intriguing young player in Chase Edmonds. The fourth round pick is quickly establishing himself as an every-down handcuff and could even be vying to take some snaps away from Johnson to give him a breather. A highly productive college back (he posted 5,862 rushing yards in his career and scored a whopping 74 touchdowns), Edmonds has shown to be very capable in camp practices. While not a threat to Johnson’s elite status, there’s a lot to like here and you have to consider him no later than the late third round of rookie drafts – there’s a chance he rises even a little bit more with a solid preseason.
With the Hall of Fame bound Larry Fitzgerald back for another season, the Cardinals have at least one ultra-reliable weapon coming back in the receiving corps. Dynasty owners have high hopes for Christian Kirk and so far, the hype has been warranted. Kirk has the look of an early contributor in dynasty leagues and while he may not have the upside of some other receivers in the class (and that’s even arguable), his short-term outlook is good. One player dynasty owners may be sleeping on is Brice Butler, who will get a real chance to win the starting job opposite Fitzgerald. The preseason will be telling for players like Butler and JJ Nelson, who also has a chance for more meaningful time. The rest of the depth chart has a long way to go, though Greg Little is actually making a case for a spot on the roster, which is borderline remarkable. Remember him? I’m not running anywhere to grab him but this looks like more than a stunt.
The player most exciting in this group is Ricky Seals-Jones, but an arrest for assault, disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing has thrown a little cold water on his value. While the charges sound more serious than the incident (at least initial reports indicate as much), it’s still a bit of a red flag. The Cardinals haven’t been a great place for tight end production but Seals-Jones has a real chance for production. He’s one of my favorite “breakout” players at the position, regardless of the arrest.
Los Angeles Rams
At this time last year, Jared Goff was a quarterback who looked like a franchise changing bust. Fast forward twelve months and it’s clear the Rams have their quarterback of the present and future after Goff posted a season with 3,800 passing yards and 28 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. Unlike last season, there’s really no drama in Los Angeles here.
Speaking of bounce back seasons, Todd Gurley emerged as one of the best assets in dynasty leagues after a dominant performance in 2017. As with all running backs, injuries are always a concern. Still, this is a player to build around in fantasy and reality. Beyond Gurley, Malcolm Brown and rookie John Kelly hold the most value, though both would need an injury to Gurley to be truly relevant. Kelly’s value dropped more than anyone’s post-NFL Draft. In fact, he’s behind Justin Davis on the initial Rams’ initial preseason depth chart, which is obviously not a great sign.
The Force is strong with the Rams here as they currently boast Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks as their top three wideouts. It’s going to be very interesting to see just what Cooks is going to do in Los Angeles as he suits up for his third team in as many seasons. My guess is his production is going to be inconsistent and disappoint, even after signing a six-year, $88 million extension. To me, the more interesting news with this group is centered around Josh Reynolds. It seems Sean McVay is going out of his way to talk him up and wants him to produce this season. I’m just not sure how it’s all going to come together as Woods, Kupp and Cooks are all under contract long-term. Still, I’m watching.
The Rams are hoping for a second year leap from Gerald Everett but a shoulder injury has set him back in his battle against Tyler Higbee for the starting role. Everett still looks good in the long-term but it’s hard to get too excited about either of these two since there are only so many targets to go around on a team built around an elite running back.
San Francisco 49ers
I get the allure with Jimmy Garoppolo, I really do. However, there really isn’t a ton of value with him at the moment as he’s being traded and drafted as a QB1 already. The window to buy on him has clearly closed in dynasty leagues and now he’s going to need to live up to what’s starting to look like some really lofty expectations. I don’t expect a Matt Cassel-like drop-off here but I also believe some owners may end up a little frustrated with his numbers at the end of the year. If they’re not, they likely simply paid market value and that’s no fun.
With Carlos Hyde gone, the 49ers are putting a lot of faith in Jerick McKinnon. While they reportedly love what he brings to the table, this is also a player who has never carried the ball more than 160 times in a given season. His arrow is pointing straight up but I also think owners should exhibit a bit of caution. Regardless, big ups to a couple of our writers who really felt strongly about McKinnon back in 2016 and again last year, as they pounded the table to buy low on him. To me, the fascinating player on this section of the San Francisco depth chart is Matt Breida, who continues to be a standout performer in camp. I have Breida down as one of my best off-season targets at the moment. Everyone is assuming McKinnon is going to be a bellcow (and they gave him a nice contract to do just that), but Breida is clearly making a case for carries. If McKinnon is injured or doesn’t perform as expected, Breida is a player who could emerge quickly in dynasty leagues. Meanwhile, it’s getting harder and harder to hold on to Joe Williams.
The maturation of Marquise Goodwin continues and he’s holding some real value in dynasty leagues at this point. At this point, he’s established himself as the go-to option in the offense. We know what we’ll get from Pierre Garcon as well. The real mystery lies with what Dante Pettis is going to give the 49ers. At this point, he’s reportedly exceeding expectations and that’s really good news for dynasty owners who likely burned a second or third round pick on him. He’s pushing Trent Taylor for snaps already. Richie James is also a name to watch as camp continues, though it seems quiet on that front.
After posting a 43/515/2 season, expectations are high for George Kittle and it seems this is the one player every San Francisco beat writer seems to be impressed with so far in camp. Like Seals-Jones, Kittle has a chance to really emerge this season and it looks like he’ll have every opportunity to do so. I like him a little more than most and believe his ADP of 120 and tight end ranking of 15 will prove to be a smidge low. Plus, I really want to write a column named, “Kittles and Bits,” so there’s that.
We’ll continue our tour later this week.