The NFC West is one of the most intriguing divisions in football this year, but from a fantasy football perspective, there's quite a bit of uncertainty. The Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers both have new QBs in Kyler Murray and Jimmy Garoppolo, while the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks both have question marks in their respective backfields.
With fantasy football draft season on the horizon, here's one bold prediction for each team in the NFC West.
4. Kyler Murray Finishes as a Top-5 QB
Running quarterbacks are something of a cheat code in fantasy football. Just look at Bills QB Josh Allen, who struggled as a pure passer in 2018. From Weeks 12-17, Allen was the No. 1 QB in fantasy football (24.2 points per game), and he accomplished that almost entirely with his legs. Even if Murray isn't a reliable passer right away, he should be able to contribute with his legs. Murray is an electric athlete, tallying 1,001 yards rushing and 12 TDs in 2018 at Oklahoma. With his rare combination of elite athleticism and Kliff Kingsbury's explosive, downfield passing offense, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner has a real shot to be a top-5 fantasy performer at the QB position in 2019.
3. Russell Wilson Finishes Outside the Top-10 QBs
The Seattle Seahawks ran the ball more than any team in the NFC last season (534 attempts). Despite this, Russell Wilson finished as QB9 in 2018, thanks to a career-high 35 TD passes. However, with such a heavy emphasis on the run game, Wilson's touchdown percentage (8.2 percent, No. 2 in the NFL) appears unsustainable and he looks likely to regress. For context, Andrew Luck (39 TDs) had a TD percentage of 6.1 percent in 2018. If Wilson's touchdown percentage normalizes, he likely won't get enough volume to finish inside the top 10 QBs again in 2019.
2. Todd Gurley Finishes as a Top-4 RB
Todd Gurley's knee injury remains a major concern; there's no way around it. But don't forget just how productive Gurley was last season. Despite missing two games, Gurley was the No. 1 RB in standard leagues, averaging 22.4 fantasy points per game. No other RB reached 19.0 per game. While Gurley will likely lose some work, he still would have finished as RB6 (one point behind Ezekiel Elliott) if we were to remove 20 percent of his production from last season. And that was in just 14 games. Currently being drafted as RB9, Gurley has RB1 upside, so he should be able to finish in the top four spots.
1. Jimmy Garoppolo and Dante Pettis Both Finish as Fantasy Starters (Top-10 QB, Top-24 WR)
This is a big year for Garoppolo. He's one of the highest-paid QBs in football, despite only playing nine games over the past two seasons for the San Francisco 49ers. Thankfully, he has an extremely talented group of pass-catchers to work with in 2019. Dante Pettis had some explosive moments as a rookie, averaging 84.5 yards and one TD per game from Weeks 13-16. If Garoppolo proves to be healthy, coming off a torn ACL, he and Pettis could put up monster numbers in Kyle Shanahan's system. Over the quarterback's final five games with the 49ers in 2017, he finished ranked as QB10. That was without both Pettis and star tight end George Kittle. A top-10 finish for Jimmy G and a top-24 finish for Pettis are both within reach.
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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.