Written By: Cory Stace | @corystace
Member of Ball State Sports Link
Sunday is finally here ladies and gentleman! Twenty-six more teams in action today means that there is even more fun than Thursday Night’s season opener. Expect the unexpected in fantasy as always because there will at least be that one guy who goes off that hasn’t even gotten a mention by “fantasy experts”.
Tonight should be fun when Dez Bryant tries to prove that he is the best talent on the field with Odell Beckham Jr. on the other side. That’s definitely a matchup I will be looking forward to.
Enough said, it’s time for my final fantasy football team-by-team season preview with the NFC South and NFC West.
Atlanta Falcons- It’s simple, Julio Jones is the man. Jones played in 15 of 16 games last season sitting out one game with a hip injury to the Steelers after the Falcons were out of the hunt. Regardless, he had 7 games of more than 100 yards. With elite speed while continuing to polish his route running, he can arguably be in the top 5 receiver conversation.
Matt Ryan is a solid fantasy player but not flashy. Does he have elite talent? Possibly not, but he has the weapons with Jones and Roddy White to make for a good year along with a possibly improved run game with Devonta Freeman and the rookie Tevin Coleman.
The area of weakness for the Falcons fantasy wise is the run game (at least to start the season). I said it was improved, not polished. To start the season expect it to be a committee with the rookie breaking away to end the year in my opinion.
Carolina Panthers- Superman, right? Cam Newton? Wrong. The only guy I am trusting on this team is Greg Olsen. A consistent top tight end every year when he is healthy and he continues to go undervalued because of freaks like Jimmy Graham and Gronk. Cam Newton is a low end QB in a 12-man league.
I’m not on the Jonathan Stewart train yet, he has to show me that he can last half a season as a #1 back while staying healthy. As far as wide receivers go, I loved Benjamin this year for a breakout guy, but that’s over, no other wide receiver is worth your while.
Defenses are week to week in my mind, but Carolina may be an exception with that front 7.
New Orleans Saints- I absolutely love Brandin Cooks this season. I had to come out and say it right off the bat. I think he is capable of top 10 wide receiver numbers this season. The situation around him is weak with no Jimmy Graham, and Drew Brees loves throwing to him.
Drew Brees is who he is, a QB4-QB8 total scoring, but he won’t surprise you with any ability that he hasn’t shown already.
Mark Ingram inserts as a RB1 for me this season. There is a reason why the Saints traded Jimmy Graham away right? They bring in Max Unger at center to establish the run game, and C.J. Spiller will be a nice change of pace to keep defenses guessing.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Yes, the one-handed Odell Beckham Jr. catch was possibly the best I’ve seen with exception to the situation (David Tyree), but did anyone even notice that Mike Evans had 12 touchdowns last season in 15 games?
That was tied with Odell Beckham Jr. for the most by a rookie last season not to mention Evans chipped in over 1,000 yards receiving. Safe to say I like Evans again this season as a top 10 receiver, AGAIN.
The Muscle Hamster Doug Martin is a mystery for all fantasy owners. Likely a late 1st round early 2nd round pick last year goes unnoticed. Expect a bounce back year from last year but not by much.
I’m not counting on Winston as a QB1 or even QB2 on a team, he is a waiver wire guy. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the 38th pick in the 2014 draft, is a tight end to look into. History shows that rookie quarterbacks like their tight ends.
Arizona Cardinals- Avoid the running game! I’m not buying it. Andre Ellington only had 660 yards rushing last season with a 3.3 yards per carry average. Yes, he can catch out of the backfield, but that duty goes to Chris Johnson and David Johnson this season. It’s a committee situation. Ellington is a flex guy in my mind, and you better hope he stays healthy with that 5’9 199 frame.
Without injury, I like Carson Palmer as a top 10 QB in a downfield throwing offense with Bruce Arians. Who is the best wide receiver on this team though? Larry Fitzgerald? Michael Floyd? Nope. I say John Brown has the best fantasy season of all three.
San Francisco 49ers- Beware of Colin Kaepernick. He only had one game last season where he threw for more than 2 touchdowns. That is not going to get it done as a starting QB in fantasy unless he returns to 2013 form where he ran for 5 touchdowns as well during the regular season.
Carlos Hyde is the guy now. He doesn’t have to look over his shoulder at when he is getting taken out by Frank Gore. It’s his team to carry and he knows that. Look for Hyde to be in the mix as a top 10 running back this season.
The receiver situation is mucky. I like the aging vet Anquan Boldin more than Torrey Smith in this system, but don’t expect Boldin to give you starting wide receiver numbers.
Seattle Seahawks- We all know what Marshawn Lynch can bring. He is going to be a top 5 fantasy running back, and he will score you a lot of touchdowns down at the goal line. If only the Seahawks knew that in the Super Bowl.
Russell Wilson finished 3rd in total points among QBs last season, but don’t be confused because he is far away from Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck’s levels. Expect more than 20 touchdowns passing like last season with Jimmy Graham as a red zone target.
Graham is the #2 tight end this season next to Gronk, but I think he could compete and come back into his 2013 form where he went over 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The wide receiver situation is the same as always. Avoid Seattle Wide outs because Wilson simply does not throw enough touchdowns in a season and all of those touchdowns this season will be going to Graham.
St. Louis Rams- The Rams are a rare team in fantasy where I can’t find anyone I LOVE. Now, having said that, I do like, not love, Todd Gurley once he returns from injury, but who knows when exactly that will be. Tre Mason will be a plug-in for Todd Gurley until he returns.
Nick Foles is a waiver wire guy along with many of their wide receivers. Brain Quick is a dark horse this year as he could turn into their #1 wide receiver and with a 6’3 220 frame. He just needs to stay away from injury, but he is a fantasy bench guy.
As always, be on the lookout for more post by a week to week basis with 5 guys on the rise and 5 guys to stay away from. My fantasy football week-by-week previews will be released Thursdays before the Thursday Night Football game. I hope you have enjoyed all of the fantasy football team preview. Now, it’s time for football!