NFC West Divisional Dive

by Jason Allwine · NFL

The NFL Draft is over, most free agents have been signed, and trades have been made. Barring any more major trades, we now know what each team will be working with in 2022. Before we move completely onto the next year, it is important to remember what players and teams found success in 2021. After all, a player’s fantasy success is largely tied to their team’s success. This series will serve to function as a reminder of last year’s performances and also take a look at who may breakout in 2022. Each division will have its teams dissected and I will find a player who should be a more valuable asset in 2022 than they were in 2021. Every relevant player leaving, every relevant player coming, and every draft pick is here. So without further ado, let’s take the NFC West Divisional Dive.

Los Angeles Rams

2021 Record: 12-5

Offense: Points For – No. 7, Yards For – No. 9

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 15, Yards Allowed – No. 17

Top Fantasy Players

1. Cooper Kupp, WR – 439.5 points

2. Matthew Stafford, QB – 329.74 points

3. Van Jefferson, WR – 168.2 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Robert Woods, WR – Titans

2. Odell Beckham, WR* (still a free agent)

3. Sony Michel, RB* (still a free agent)

Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. Allen Robinson, WR

Draft Results

R3: Logan Bruss, G, Wisconsin

R4: Decobie Durant, CB, South Carolina State

R5: Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame

R6: Quentin Lake, S, UCLA / Derion Kendrick, CB, UGA

R7: Daniel Hardy, DE, Montana State / Russ Yeast, S, Kansas State / AJ Arcuri, OT, Michigan State

Potential Breakouts

Cam Akers, RB

Last year was supposed to be Cam Akers‘ year, but an Achilles injury in the preseason kept him out of action until the very end of the year. He is the workhorse RB for the Rams, and probably the only player on the offense who serves to have an upgrade in usage.

Akers is RB6 on dynasty rankings right now, which is fair considering he is the workhorse on one of the best offenses in the league. Darrell Henderson averaged 13.6 (No. 19 among qualified running backs) Fantasy Points Per Game last season in Akers absence, showing a high floor for Akers in 2022. Sony Michel is probably gone for good as well. Assuming Akers can stay healthy, he should have a solid bounce back season in 2022.

Arizona Cardinals

2021 Record: 11-6

Offense: Points For – No. 11, Yards For – No. 8

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 11, Yards Allowed – No. 11

Top Fantasy Players

1. Kyler Murray, QB – 300.48 points

2. James Conner, RB – 257.7 points

3. Christian Kirk, WR – 207.62 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Chase Edmonds, RB – Dolphins

2. Christian Kirk, WR – Jaguars

Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. Marquise Brown, WR

Draft Results

R2: Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State

R3: Cameron Thomas, DE, SDSU / Myjai Sanders, DE, Cincinnati

R6: Keaontay Ingram, RB, USC / Lecitus Smith, G, Virginia Tech

R7: Chris Matthew, CB, Valdosta State / Jesse Luketa, LB, Penn State / Marquis Hayes, OL, Oklahoma

Potential Breakouts

Marquise Brown, WR

After the premier WRs were selected before the Cardinals could use their first-round pick, they decided to shake things up by sending their No. 23 pick to the Ravens in exchange for Marquise Brown and a third-round pick. Brown and Kyler Murray played together in college at Oklahoma.

In 2018, Hollywood took 75 receptions for 1,318 yards and 10 TDs in only 12 games. With news of DeAndre Hopkins being suspended for six games in 2022 , Brown’s value has increased tremendously. He is now the WR1 on a potent Cardinals offense, and already has chemistry with Murray.

Rondale Moore, WR

Another WR set to benefit from DeAndre Hopkins‘ suspension is second-year gadget player Rondale Moore. He is incredible after the catch. Only 212 of his 435 receiving yards last year were Air Yards. He excels in short yardage situations and is frequently involved in the screen game. It’s easy to see why as well. He’s only 5-7, but extremely quick. If he takes a second-year leap, he will provide excellent value for those that take the chance. As it stands, he is likely the second or third target on the team depending on how the Cardinals use Zach Ertz next year.

San Francisco 49ers

2021 Record: 10-7

Offense: Points For – No. 13, Yards For – No. 7

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 9, Yards Allowed – No. 3

Top Fantasy Players

1. Deebo Samuel, WR – 338.96 points

2. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB – 227.5 points

3. George Kittle, TE – 198 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Raheem Mostert, RB – Dolphins

2. Travis Benjamin, WR* (still a free agent)

Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. Ray-Ray McCloud, WR

Draft Results

R2: Drake Jackson, DL, USC

R3: Tyrion Davis-Price, RB, LSU / Danny Gray, WR, SMU

R4: Spencer Burford, OL, UTSA

R5: Samuel Womack, CB, Toledo

R6: Nick Zakelj, OL, Fordham / Kalia Davis, DL, UCF / Tariq Castro-Fields, DB, Penn State

R7: Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State

Potential Breakouts

Elijah Mitchell, RB

Elijah Mitchell burst onto the scene last year after injuries again struck the 49ers backfield. Mitchell’s explosiveness set him apart from third-round pick Trey Sermon. He only played in 11 games, but had five with over 100 yards and scored six TDs. He averaged 15.0 (No. 14) Fantasy Points Per Game, and now looks to take full control of the 49ers backfield. Raheem Mostert is gone and Sermon seems to be in Shanahan’s dog house. They did draft a RB in the third, but that’s likely more of an insurance option. Mitchell did show injury concerns, but should be the workhorse on this offense if he stays healthy.

Trey Lance, QB

Last year’s No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance is widely expected to be the starting QB in 2022. At this point, Jimmy Garoppolo is still on the roster, leading some to question if he will just remain the starter. He did take the 49ers to the NFC Championship, so it’s not like he did anything to lose the job per se. Because of this current shakiness, Lance’s value has taken a small hit and you may be able to acquire him.

The 49ers traded up last draft for a reason. They believe in Lance and he should be the starter sooner rather than later. It’s an excellent system to be in. Shanahan was instrumental to Matt Ryan‘s MVP year, and we’ve often seen Garoppolo deep in the postseason, including a Super Bowl run. If Lance starts, he’ll be in one of the best QB systems in the league, with elite weapons in George Kittle and Deebo Samuel.

Seattle Seahawks

2021 Record: 7-10

Offense: Points For – No. 16, Yards For – No. 20

Defense: Points Allowed – No. 11, Yards Allowed – No. 28

Top Fantasy Players

1. D.K. Metcalf, WR – 244.3 points

2. Russell Wilson, QB – 242.82 points

3.Tyler Lockett, WR – 241.4 points

Fantasy Relevant Players Leaving

1. Russell Wilson, QB

2. Alex Collins, RB* (still a free agent)

3. Adrian Peterson, RB* (still  a free agent)

4. Gerald Everett, TE – Chargers

Fantasy Relevant Additions

1. Drew Lock, QB

2. Noah Fant, TE

Draft Results

R1: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

R2: Boye Mafe, LB, Minnesota / Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State

R3: Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State

R4: Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati

R5: Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA / Tyreke Smith, LB, Ohio State

R7: Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers

Potential Breakouts

Kenneth Walker, RB

While the 2021 Seahawks offense overall wasn’t too great, their rushing attack was pretty solid. The Seahawks finished the year No. 11 in rushing yards and No. 9 in rushing TDs. They did that with the 27th-most rushing attempts as well, highlighting the efficiency of the rushing attack. Now, they drafted one of the two best rookie RBs in this class in Kenneth Walker. This is more of a deep value, or just a dynasty play as Rashaad Penny will likely split carries with Walker. But in 2023, Penny’s contract will be over. Also, Penny hasn’t played an entire season once in his career.

Walker has landed on a solid team for RBs, and will have the chance to showcase his athletic profile often since their QB will either be Geno Smith or Drew Lock. The running game should be leaned on heavy, but also has the potential to be abandoned early if the Seahawks fall behind. But a RB who ran for 1,636 yards against Big Ten defenses in only 12 games should be efficient in that offense.