Friday, August 2, 2013

Paper Pigskin Point Potential NFC West

This is a series on my 2013 outlook of players you would want to have on your Paper Pigskin team (fantasy football). I'll be organizing them by division.  What you'll find here are my views based on years of playing experience and countless hours of geeking out researching stats, trends, and articles. I'll advise where to reach and whose hype not to believe.

San Francisco 49ers  206 passing ypg  156 rushing ypg  (posted August 23, 2013)

QB:  Colin Kaepernick has all the tools to produce Paper Pigskin greatness from the quarterback position; running speed, throws lasers, and rarely turns the ball over.  The only question that's needs to be answered before he can be considered a no brain top five pick is if Coach Harbaugh will choose to unleash him with the read option and air it out or will he pound defenses with the pure power running game and short passing.  If the playoffs type aggressiveness is the decision, expect a top three year from Kaep.  If Harbaugh decides to be conservative, you'll still get solid low QB1 contribution.  A late 4th/early 5th round selection is merited.

RB:  Every season it seems there are several pundits speaking of the 49ers putting Frank Gore out to pasture. Gore works tirelessly in the off season to maintain pristine condition and continues to produce plus 1,000 yard seasons for whoever he "falls" to in drafts.  The Niners intent to run the ball is no secret around the league, now with Kaepernick a legitimate threat to run on any play, Gore will see fewer 8-man fronts.  He's a safe bet to tally 250 touches, behind his offensive line those touches will equate to solid RB2 status.  There's a lot of talent backing up Gore, but due to this offense's neglect to throw passes out of the backfield, the only value is finding out who's next in line in case old Frank has to miss time.  LaMichael James has been playing that role the entire off season, Kendall Hunter normally occupies that position but was only recently cleared for contact, Marcus Lattimore at some point and Anthony Dixon will be in the mix for carries.  Flip a coin between Hunter and James if you want a handcuff for Gore.

WR:  Before Michael Crabtree reached 1,000 yards in 2012, the last 49er wideout to do so was Terrell Owens in 2003.  It doesn't appear that it will happen this season either, it doesn't have anything to do with lack of talent, it has everything to do with the offensive philosophy resulting in the 2nd fewest passing attempts in the league.  Anquan Boldin is tough and will move the chains, he's a low end WR3.  Marlon Moore is line to start but not much else to discuss here.  Austin Collie can be a PPR factor if Boldin gets hurt. Jon Baldwin is a talented player that Harbaugh will try to polish. Quinton Patton is a promising rookie.

TE:  Vernon Davis is like a box of chocolates, an imposing athletic specimen that most linebackers or safeties can't cover yet at times goes completely ignored by those calling the plays or throwing the ball; that is until, the playoffs come and he defies all logic and goes berzerk on defenses.  All signs point a fabulous season for Davis but you can never be too sure.  Davis is between the 2nd and 5th TE drafted depending on how much you trust the press clippings.

Defense:  Busting players in their grill is what this unit does.  A no-frills defense that's simply very good at completing an assignment.  The secondary is the weak point but the D-line gets to the quarterback fast to help mask that.  They'll be a top 5 unit when the fog clears up.

Seattle Seahawks  189 passing ypg  161 rushing ypg  (posted August 18, 2013)

QB:  The Seahawks attempted the fewest passes in the NFL last season yet they finished 8th in touchdown passes. The passes were less and touchdowns were more in the 2nd half of the season when offensive philosophy shifted more towards the zone read.  Wilson accounted for almost 500 yards and four TDs on the ground.  His draft stock has taken a plunge because Percy Harvin is lost for most of the season but the team returns ALL of their leading receivers from last season.  Russell is only going to get better; there's increasing evidence that he'll throw more now that he's a trusted passer and less of a game manager.  Draft as a QB1 with confidence.

RB:  No team ran the ball more times than they did in Seattle. They'll feature the deepest group of running backs;  Robert Turbin, Christine Michael, Michael Robinson and Spencer Ware will get enough combined touches to keep "Beast Mode" fresh.  Since this offense doesn't throw to running backs much, none of the backups are fantasy relevant unless Marshawn Lynch is injured.  Lynch will get his and your team money.  With his type of workload, he's a safe early pick.

WR:  Golden Tate is a play maker that is on many Paper Pigskin "breakout" lists.  Sidney Rice is the #1 however, he'll get most of the down field targets if healthy. That said, Tate has the most upside due to his ability to do more after the catch.  If Wilson's passing rate increases, both of these guys present value to their owners as neither of them are currently drafted before the 10th round.  Keep an eye on Jermaine Kearse, even though Doug Baldwin is ahead on the depth chart, Kearse is more dynamic and should be drafted in deeper leagues that reward points for return yardage.

TE:  Zach Miller was used primarily as a blocker last season.  If it's true that the team will pass more, look no further than the "what have you done for me lately?" stat line from the last playoff game  ~~> 8 catches for 142 yards and 1 TD.  Put him on your watch list.

Defense:  It's been written before on this blog to not waste any of your first 10 draft picks on a defense, even if it is "The Legion of Boom".  The stingiest scoring defense in real life, a long and physical secondary.  They just flat out make plays.  They're a good unit to have on your side and if you have a choice, a good unit to avoid on your players' schedule.

St. Louis Rams 222 passing ypg  107 rushing ypg  (posted August 10, 2013)

QB:  Sam Bradford would be worshiped by all Paper Pigskin players if he can somehow channel the moxie he played with from when he was the Heisman trophy winner.   He certainly has the opportunity if the young receivers the Rams have stockpiled develop.  Lack of chemistry with his pass catchers have been his main downfall due to their injuries.  Bradford will surprise many people this season, he's being drafted in the 20-25 range.

RB:  The Rams wanted Steven Jackson to take on less of a role, in large part to the promise that Daryl Richardson showed in the early part of last season.  Now that Jackson is gone, Richardson has the opportunity to be the lead guy.  Isaiah Pead and rookie Zac Stacy are also in the mix.  This looks like it will be a full on platoon.  Richardson seems to be in line for the larger slice of the pie, if he can take advantage of Pead's early season suspension, he's explosive enough to not share much.  He's not being given the respect he deserves by the fantasy.  Get a leg up on your league and draft Richardson as a RB2, his upside is tremendous. There's a reason Jackson is no longer in town.

WR:  This group here is why Bradford will be a hot waiver wire pickup.  Everybody is talking about Tavon Austin because of his speed and elusiveness with the ball, drawing comparison with Percy Harvin and Randall Cobb.  He's being selected in rounds 5/6 but remember, rookie receivers rarely make an impact.  The player that should be getting all the press is Chris Givens.  Givens holds the NFL rookie record of five straight games with a 50 yard reception.  He'll be more than a one trick pony this season.  Givens is going four rounds after Austin in most drafts, look for him in 9th at the latest.  You won't be disappointed.

TE:  Jared Cook is an absolute monster, he was under utilized in Tennessee last season.  He has the potential to be the target that Jermaine Gresham was for Sam Bradford in college.  Cook has good size, is athletic, and has a large catch radius.  A career year is coming for Jared Cook.  After the top five goes off the board, feel comfortable snatching him up.

Defense:  This was a top ten fantasy defense last season that only forced four fumble.

Kicker:  When they start giving out nicknames to kickers... I'm making it a point to mention guys that have Domes for their home stadium.

Arizona Cardinals  188 passing ypg  75 rushing ypg  updated August 31, 2013

QB:  Carson Palmer is surely an upgrade from Kevin Kolb.  This teams passing attack was brutal on so many levels last season with only 11 tds through the air and 21 interceptions.  New head coach Bruce Arians is offensive minded, his reputation is of a man that likes the vertical game; last season's Coach Of the Year called more 10-plus and 20-plus-yard throws than any other coordinator in NFL.  This style suits Palmer, who throws a pretty long ball, very well.  I don't see Cardinals having much of a ground game, I expect Carson to air it out while playing from behind and flirting with status as a paper pigskin status.  Snag him late round and stash him.  Don't be afraid to start him in week 2&3 shootouts with Detroit and New Orleans.

RB:  Worse rushing team last year.  Not much to see here.  Rashard Mendenhall is the starter, so he should be drafted.  I won't, not at the 7th round price. Ryan Williams has game breaker potential but too injury prone, then again so is Mendy. Take a late round flyer Williams if you're a gambler.

WR:  Don't even look at last season's stats when evaluating Fitzgerald.  Guys named Skelton and Lindley as well as Kolb completed less than half of passes to Fitz; most of them not in reach. He's being treated in drafts like he's not a top 8 wr and picked in the 3rd round, I see him as top 3 potential in this system. This system usually provides value for a speedster that stretches the field, summon Micheal Floyd as a late sleeper pick.

TE:  Rob Housler was the TE leader in receptions in a division that Vernon Davis plays in. Inhale that.

Defense:  Quiet as kept, this unit was one of the best in the NFL last year, playing their best in the red zone and on 3rd down. Their offense put them in too many bad positions. If you play in IDP leagues, note that Patrick Peterson will get plays in on offense too.

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