NFC West Preview
Looking at offseason changes
This is the final divisional preview. I saved the best for last as the NFC’s western teams are all strong operations on the rise. Seriously, the divisional contests out west for the next few seasons are going to be epic. The rivalries are already heated up. It’s not just Frisco and Seattle. This whole division is well coached from top to bottom and the talent is very good too.
As I’ve said in boilerplate fashion in the other previews, camps are opening and we are finishing our rookie rankings. We thought this was a good time to roll out our team reports, which have been released by division. Old Rotobahn readers know the drill, but for you newbies, the goal here is to get you back up to fantasy speed. If you’ve been eating, breathing and sleeping baseball, we’re here for you. Let’s play a little catch-up. The key things on the docket are coaching changes, rookies and key free agent moves.
No coaching changes to report at the coordinator level. The Harbaugh system enters year three and things just keep getting better. Michael Crabtree will heal by the postseason, but is not a guy to draft in redraft formats unless you are in an insanely deep league. Speaking of deep, the team that plays by the Pacific had an insanely deep draft. Check out this offensive haul.
- Vance McDonald, TE, Rice
- Quinton “The General” Patton, WR, La Tech
- Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
- B.J. Daniels, QB, South Florida
That’s just the skill talent. They actually drafted for defense on the whole, with their first two selections were used for S Eric Reid and DE Cornellius “Tank” Carradine. You have to love a draft with a General and a Tank.
There are a couple additions worth noting. Anquan Boldin and Colt McCoy arrived via trades and both are key players. McCoy gives them a very sound backup option. He can win regular season games against average-to-good opponents with this team. Boldin will be the key to replacing Crabtree because he adds a trustworthy veteran presence.
The ‘Hawks have a new coordinator in DC Dan Quinn. Quinn takes over for the departing Gus Bradley, who, as we’ve already covered, is the new HC in Jacksonville. Quinn will take over a very productive fantasy defense and we expect the good times to continue. HC Pete Carroll is a defensive guy, so he can always take more of the defensive reins if need be. The Seattle personnel is very good, obviously.
On the offensive side of the ball, the big name addition is also the big recent headline. Percy Harvin was brought in an effort to take the Seattle offense over the top. And, he will, if and when he can play.
Booger Presley once said, ‘you Moos sure can party.” Well, these Seahawks sure can scout. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but this team keeps taking our players. Last year it was Russell Wilson, our steal of the draft, and RB Robert Turbin. This year, they take our guy Christine Michael. Yeah, Michael’s suddenly a household name, but who was talking about this guy in March? Yes, us, but the hits don’t end with Michael. Chris Harper is one of our favorite players in the 2013 class. He’ll have a learning curve as a converted quarterback, but his potential is huge and he is a near perfect fit for how Seattle wants to play. There’s more. Seattle made eleven picks on the day, restocking both sides of the ball, and they added a few more nice talents at the skill positions by nabbing underrated LSU power back Spencer Ware, who they intend to play at FB. They also added a project tight end with very nice upside potential in Luke Wilson from Rice. Wilson was stuck behind Vance McDonald at Rice, but he could be a dangerous option in time. His receiving skills are ahead of his all-around game.
That’s about it for Seattle, who, with the Harvin hip injury, are trending down right now. I’m even seeing Russell Wilson slipping in drafts. I got him in round eight yesterday which is a joke. Seattle will be fine without Percy if it plays out that way. This team is loaded.
New DC Tim Walton is a first time coordinator, but he coached for HC Jeff Fisher’s buddy Jim Schwartz in Detroit and that is likely the reason he landed in St. Louis where there was no DC last season. Fisher ran the show when he was not comfortable with any of his available options.
The Rams, not hurting in the play-maker department in 2012, decided to take things over the top by bringing in not just Tavon Austin, but Stedman Bailey as well. That’s two more very good young receivers in a group that was already pretty young and deep. They also signed big TE Jared Cook away from Fisher’s old team, the Titans. They did lose one major piece in the passing game when Danny Amendola signed with New England.
In the backfield, Rams legend Steven Jackson has left for Atlanta and Zac Stacy, a Rotobahn favorite, was selected in the 5th round. That makes the 2013 Rams backfield a very complex cocktail for fantasy GMs. Right now, our advice is to not reach for a Rams back, but to play the value game and take the last one remaining. That could change depending on how things shake out in camp. That about covers the comings and goings in St. Louis.
All is new in the land of the red birds. Bruce Arians is the new HC and will be fully in charge of the offense. He will not have Andrew Luck at QB or Ben Roethlisberger as he did in Pittsburgh, but newly acquired QB Carson Palmer is a sizable upgrade to everything they’ve tried at QB since Kurt Warner’s retirement. They also added a quality backup in Drew Stanton, who knows Arians’ scheme well from his season in Indy.
There are new coordinators on both sides of the ball. Harold Goodwin on the offensive side and Todd Bowles will handle the defense. Obviously, Goodwin will be working directly under Arians and it’ll be the Arians’ offense.
In addition to the new QBs, we like the addition at tailback, especially in the draft, where they got great value with both Stepfan Taylor (round 5, Stanford) and Andre Ellington (round 6, Clemson.) They also landed Rashard Mendenhall, who ran for Arians back in Pittsburgh.
We are huge fans of the Cards’ other sixth round choice, Ryan Swope, but, sadly, Swope may be forced to retire due to recurring concussion problems that he exacerbated in OTAs. We’re also big fans of UDFA Tyler Shaw out of Northwest Missouri State.
The last big thing to cover for the Cards are the improvements on the offensive line, because they were needed badly. In the draft they added big stud OG Jonathan Cooper and in free agency they landed Eric Winston at RT. This gives Arizona a legit shot at level-jumping with their line play. The new QB and the improved line are huge for Larry Fitzgerald’s return to prominence, which we think is going to happen.
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