Welcome to week 4 of the dynasty divisional breakdowns! We’re halfway through which means the season is finally starting to come into view. In week 4 we will be taking a look at the NFC West, which is a division in transition. The Seahawks are on the decline, the Rams and 49ers are on the rise, and the Cardinals just picked a new franchise QB to lead them. That makes for a lot of roster upheaval and roster upheaval means fantasy opportunity.
All four of these teams have a 2nd-year player or two at the key fantasy positions who seem to be forgotten about thanks to a quiet first year. While not big names, these are the exact kinds of players I love to churn through on the bottom of my roster. They’re cheap and will have plenty of opportunities to break out. And if they don’t you can easily cut bait and find the next cheap pickup.
Undervalued – David Johnson, RB
In the 2016 season, David Johnson scored 403 PPR fantasy points – over 25 per game. Last year he broke his wrist in week 1 and never returned. Yet oddly, it feels like there is limited hype for Johnson’s return. This is a back who has proven to be as productive as LeVeon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott. A wrist injury is unlikely to have taken any athletic ability away from him and Johnson returns to a team with a new franchise QB in town and limited wear on his tires. I’ve seen rookie Saquon Barkley ranked above Johnson frequently. As a huge Barkley fan – that’s insane. Johnson is a near lock to dominate again this season and is still just 26 years old.
Overvalued – Larry Fitzgerald, WR
This one hurts a little to say because I love Fitzgerald. And he has been great, including a WR4 overall finish in PPR last season. But I’ve seen some talk about how he’s a lock for WR1 status again this year and that seems bold. Fitzgerald will be 35 this season and no matter how dominant a career you have, at some point, the wheels fall off. Even if you think it’s likely that Fitzgerald has his 4th straight 100 catch season at age 35, it’s important to keep in mind the downside.
Deep Sleeper – Chad Williams, WR
Williams was a 3rd round pick a year ago for the Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald is still in town and the Cardinals added Christian Kirk in the draft so Williams will have to fight for playing time but he is still young, and has good size and speed for a receiver. Williams is exactly the sort of cheap flyer to target in your deeper leagues. Hold him if you have roster space, and if he doesn’t flash in the first half of the season take a chance on another flyer off the waiver wire.
Los Angeles Rams
Undervalued – Gerald Everett, TE
Everett fits the bill as the kind of high upside TE flyer I like. He was the first pick of the Sean McVay era (pick #44 overall) and has been talked about as a Jordan Reed like player for McVay in LA. Tight ends are often slow to develop so his 244 yard rookie season is no cause for concern, especially considering he flashed his athleticism with several big plays throughout the year. The Rams offense is a bit crowded but Sammy Watkins 8 touchdowns are gone so Everett could see an increased red-zone role.
Overvalued – Brandin Cooks, WR
Cooks is 24 years old coming off 3 straight 1000 yard receiving seasons. Many people don’t consider him a true number 1 receiver but that level of production at such a young age is hard to come by. And the Rams are clearly excited to have him as they sent the Patriots a 1st round pick for his services. My concern, however, is that his role will be similar to Sammy Watkins’ from a year ago when Watkins finished with 593 yards. Both are talented downfield receivers who the Rams acquired in trades and Cooks will likely serve as the deep threat on the outside to open up the offense underneath for Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Cooks may be a great football addition for the Rams, but his fantasy production may be hit or miss.
Admittedly, there is more in Cooks’ favor then there was for Watkins, however. Cooks will have the entire offseason to fit in, has more proven consistent production, and like Watkins was, is set to be a free agent next offseason. This offers a way out of a potentially bad fantasy situation for Cooks but would also mean he’d be playing for his 4th team in 4 years which is less than encouraging.
Deep Sleeper – Josh Reynolds, WR
Reynolds was a 4th round pick for the Rams a year ago. Prior to the draft, he was one of my favorite receivers on film for his downfield receiving ability. His thin frame has been the main knock against him, however. Reynolds unfortunately won’t produce much yet again this year, but with both Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods potentially finding new homes for next season, Reynolds is somebody to keep an eye on, especially considering the Rams offensive turnaround.
San Francisco 49ers
Undervalued – Matt Breida, RB
Joe Williams stole the hype train last summer as the next breakout Shanahan running back. Ultimately, Carlos Hyde largely held his job, Williams ended up on IR all season, and undrafted Matt Breida was the rookie back flashing his game-breaking speed. Breida is small, but he has great athleticism and is a solid pass catcher. Obviously, Jerrick McKinnon should get most of the work but McKinnon has no history of being a workhorse back and Shanahan has split backfield work in the past. Breida should be more involved than most expect.
Overvalued – Jimmy Garoppolo, QB
Garoppolo looked like a future star QB last season for the 49ers. However, he only started 5 games and threw just 7 touchdowns total. I expect a higher touchdown rate this season but his value is sky-high at the moment. According to Dynasty League Football’s most recent ADP, both Andrew Luck and Cam Newton are valued below Garoppolo. Newton and Luck are proven fantasy stars – Garoppolo is just a hopeful (even if likely) one.
Deep Sleeper – Richie James, WR
James is a little known 7th round pick from Middle Tennessee St. with enough size and athleticism to catch on in the NFL. Reportedly, he’s been a standout at 49ers offseason activities and has a strong chance to make the roster. The 49ers wide receiver depth chart also isn’t impenetrable so opportunities should be available to James if he has the necessary talent.
Undervalued – Doug Baldwin, WR
Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson have both left town for 2018 which leaves behind 176 targets from last season. On top of that, the Seahawks defense suffered several key departures which will likely mean it isn’t the force it used to be. The most obvious benefactor is Baldwin. He’s the top target on the offense by far and Russell Wilson’s go-to receiver. Baldwin could return to the 125 target level he saw in 2016 when he hauled in 94 passes 1128 yards. On top of that, Baldwin has always been an excellent touchdown scorer, and the absence of Jimmy Graham next season should offer more red zone work for Baldwin.
Overvalued – Nick Vannett, TE
Weirdly, I don’t feel I have a good answer for an overvalued player on the Seahawks roster now in dynasty. I love Wilson and Baldwin, and Rashaad Penny should be a workhorse back. The tight end position should be barren however. While Jimmy Graham left behind plenty of opportunity I don’t expect those left to take advantage. Even Graham had up and down results in Seattle and was often bailed out by his red zone dominance. Vannett and Luke Wilson don’t have much value anyway, but I would stay away unless you’re extremely desperate at TE.
Deep Sleeper – Amara Darboh, WR
Baldwin is the obvious beneficiary of lost targets from a season ago, and Tyler Lockett seems to be the hot pick for a breakout in Seattle, but Amara Darboh has the potential to see a serious increase in value and target share. Darboh was a 3rd round pick last year who barely saw the field as a rookie. He has a good size and speed profile though and was always a tough reliable receiver at Michigan. Like Williams in Arizona, there are more obvious breakout candidates and better receivers on the roster, but it’s totally conceivable to see Darboh work his way into the lineup by the end of the year.