This week as promised, I’m recapping the drafts by the NFC West teams. I like some of the moves made by the teams (Richardson by SEA), but also question some of the picks (Britt by the Seahawks). The division will battle the NFC South for toughest division this season. Defensively it is tougher, but offensively the NFC South will be better and more dominating. The division will be up for grabs between the Seahawks and the 49ers, but don’t sleep on the Rams as they are turning the boat around and look to be a powerhouse. Fantasy-wise I see a ton of sleepers in this division most notably on offense, and would take my chances on them in dynasty and re-draft leagues. Some other draft picks have high ceilings, but too much risk associated and those will be the easy ones to spot in this piece. Since this is a heated division I did my best to try to provoke a response from the West fanatics, but maybe they’ll be too shy to show their faces on reddit; we’ll see. Anyways, before those with a short attention span lose focus let’s visit the Draft!
Best PIck: Paul Richardson (WR)- It’s no secret that the Seahawks need a receiver to step up opposite Percy Harvin (and for Harvin to stay healthy) as the Seahwks relied heavily upon Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate (Lions) last season, and neither showed true WR1 potential. Riachardson out of Colorado could be the answer at WR2 this season, and merely has to beat out Jermaine Kearse to grab the starting WR2 gig which I bet he will. With a 4.40 40 and 38 inch vertical, Richardson could prove to be both a home run hitter and big play option for Russell Wilson and Co. This season. Keep tabs on him as he could make for a serviceable WR3 on your fantasy roster by midseason.
Worst Pick: Justin Britt (OT)- Britt was drafted in the 2nd round, but had anywhere between 5th and 7th round grades on him. In other words he was a HUGE reach. Yes, with the loss of Breno Giacomini (OT Jets) and Paul McQuistan (OG Browns) the Seahawks need more presence up front to protect Wilson, but with Morgan Moses (WASH) and Gabe Jackson (OAK) still available the Seahawks definitely had better options on the board than Britt. Some have Britt as a backup, and some think he could be a starter. Nonetheless, he’s better suited for a tackle position on the right side than a guard position but will need some seasoning as he doesn’t finish blocks, is a liability in pass protection, and stays too high out of a 2 point stance. Look for him to see limited time as a starter behind Michael Bowie this season.
Sleeper Fantasy Contributor: Cassius Marsh (DE)- Marsh is an interesting pick. First off, he is versatile enough to line up on the inside and the outside. Second, he has power on the edge. Lastly, he plays through the whistle. Marsh seems like an ideal fit in the Hawks LEO defense, which is a mix of a 4-3 and 3-4 defense with the defensive end (the LEO position) slightly wider than normal DE position trying to beat the tackle one on one. There are many variations, personnel-wise with a mixture of LBs, DEs, and DTs the Seahawks use to confuse their opponents where the pressure is coming from. Given that the Hawks like to rotate a bunch of defensive guys during games, look for Marsh to see some time at the LEO position behind Michael Bennett or K.J. Wright/Bruce Irvin, and if he impresses he could see more playing time as the season progresses. It may take him a while, but he could be a decent fantasy contributor this season in the Legion of Boom, he just needs to learn carroll’s style defense and adjust. He has the outside skills and motor to play outside or inside in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of Fieldgulls.com)
San Francisco 49ers
Best PIck: Carlos Hyde (RB)- San Francisco nabbed the most highly touted RB by many experts from this draft in Hyde, and he is the heir apparent to Frank Gore as he enters his age 31 season. Marcus Lattimore, drafted 2013, is coming off a devastating injury from his last season at South Carolina and spent all season in 2013 rehabbing. Enter Hyde in 2014, and the move makes it evident that the 49ers see Lattimore as a 3rd Down or goal line back to Hyde, to preserve his knees. Hyde is a must cuff for all Gore owners, and a name in dynasty leagues that should be higher on the board than Sankey, as Hyde has some of the highest upside of any RB in the Draft.
Worst PIck: Aaron Lynch (DE)- This isn’t a bad pick, considering he went right around where the experts had him landing, it’s a bad pick due to lack of motivation and an inability to create plays. If the 49ers wanted an edge rusher at defensive end, with the aging of Justin Smith, there were other options earlier in the Draft that they should have looked at. I just don’t see Lynch as more than a backup at best. Lynch gives up on plays, isn’t explosive, and just plain lacks passion for the game. We’ll see how long Jim Harbaugh puts up with him. (Photo courtesy of tampabay.com)
Sleeper Fantasy Contributor: Bruce Ellington (WR)- I might be in a small boat here, but I am one of the few very intrigued by this pick. I’m well aware that he’s buried behind Crabtree, Boldin, and Steve Johnson at receiver, but I see him contributing in the pass game, none the less, whenever one of the 3 names before him needs a rest. In addition, look for Ellington to contribute in the return game. He plays with incredible burst off the line, and is a danger to turn short passes into long passes, or scores, but can also be taken down easily as he is short, 5’9′ and not very physical. The 49ers drafted him for a reason, so look for the 49ers to get him the ball anyway they can so he can use his speed, and this starts with the return game. High risk/reward prospect this season, but worth the gamble.
St. Louis Rams
Best PIck: Greg Robinson (OT)- I wanted my Dirty Birds to get Robinson, but I’ll settle for Matthews. Robinson is one of the most versatile tackles to come along in years, and has the highest upside of any offensive lineman in this Draft. While Matthews might be the most NFL ready tackle, Robinson has the potential to surpass him talent-wise. Sam Bradford finally has the protection he has needed which should enable him to stay upright to complete passes, and will help the running game be more efficient. Bradford has a true WR1 in Austin, but will need someone else to step up opposite him. Robinson definitely helps an offensive unit that ranked 30th last season in total offense, and he will open up more gaps for Stacy and draftee Mason, but the offense needs another receiver to step up. (Photo courtesy of blogs.atlantafalcons.com)
Worst Pick: Maurice Alexander (S)- ‘Mo’ will definitely bring ‘Mo’ punch to the Rams secondary, but he lacks adequate cover skills and can be exposed by good route runners and bigger receivers. The Rams will use him in special packages in the secondary, as well as in run support, given the fact that he runs people over like a freight train when he hits. However, he must be careful not to smack someone too hard so as to avoid penalties. The Rams will work with him on aggression issues as his aggression can sometimes lead to off-field issues. Is he a future everyday starter? Not likely due to his poor coverage skills, but he should still get a few opportunities to make plays. I’m just not too high on him as a safety until I see better coverage skills and some maturity off the field. If you like risky players, Mo is your guy given his hard-hitting manner and the fact he’ll likely be used in the return game as a return man.
Sleeper Fantasy Contributor: Tre Mason- I see the Rams plan at running back right now, and I like it. Stacy will be the bellow and be used between the 20s and then they will turn to Mason and use his speed around the goal line and whenever Stacy needs a breather. This sets up a dynamic 1-2 punch for the Rams running game which will milk defenses of their legs and see some breakaway plays. The Rams are committed to the run and an up tempo offense to get the ball out of Bradford’s hands quickly, and Mason will be a big part of the offense whether they use him as a receiver out of the backfield or as a runner to split gaps. Mason’s upside could be McCoy-like, but we’ll see how he fares in the NFL out of the backfield first seeing as he went to run-and-gun Auburn University for college ball. Put Mason down for 500 rushing yards and 3 scores, conservatively.
Best PIck: Deone Bucanon- He looks like Yeremiah Bell when he hits. Good run anticipator, gets downhill quickly, and finishes plays. Finished his career at Washington State with 15 pick, and had 114 tackles last season. He’ll join Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson in a ballhawk secondary, and will get his share of picks. The downside here is that he isn’t quick enough to catch receivers from behind and has a tendency to jump routes too early, leading to bad angles.
Worst PIck: Logan Thomas- I have issues with this pick. Not because I don’t think he can’t be a good quarterback, but because he’s in the wrong offense to succeed. The Cardinals starter Carson Palmer is on his last leg, and should anything happen, Thomas would be counted upon to play (no, Ryan Lindley and Drew Stanton are not better options at QB than Thomas), but may not be ready. Yes, he is a good runner, and a tall QB, but he needs to improve in his route reading ability, field-awareness, and downfield accuracy. He has a huge cannon for an arm, and is tough to bring down, but also extremely turnover prone with 39 interceptions, 23 fumbles as starter at Virginia Tech. He needs to be coached for a season or two, and needs receivers around him to be good, and if Palmer goes down this season, Thomas will be mincemeat for defenses to pick on (Yes, I see palmer getting injured this season again). If the Cardinals wanted a franchise QB, they should have grabbed Carr (OAK), Garoppolo (N.E.), Murray(K.C.), Mettenberger (TEN), or Tajh Boyd (NYJ), with the last name being the biggest wildcard, but also most mobile QB. We’ll see Cards fans, we’ll see…
Sleeper Fantasy Contributor: Troy Niklas- At least the Cardinals now officially have their future tight end who can contribute in the pass game, as well as a blocker in the run game. Niklas will be the starter for the Cards at tight end Week 1 as John Carlson just isn’t anything to write home about. Niklas is actually a deep sleeper at tight end, given that the Cardinals will have a lot of short passes, rely on the run, and have their offensive success depend upon the production from Palmer as well as Fitzgerald, and the continued maturation from Michael Floyd (sleeper). Look for Niklas to be utilized in both the run game as a blocker, and as a receiver in Arizona this season with a majority of his looks coming in the red zone given his 6’6″ 270 lb frame. I’ll buy in here, but don’t trust the running game. The Cardinals have good receivers, a good tight end, but they just have major issues at quarterback and running back. They should have spent an earlier pick on a QB than their 4th round pick on Logan. Hey, at least their secondary is scary. (Photo courtesy of rantsports.com)
Overall the Rams had the best draft in this division. They improved the most both on offense, and defense. While the Cardinals…well…at least there’s next season for the offense, right? (They have a good defense though) The Seahawks strategy of trade down, trade down, trade down looks good for depth purposes, but still need offensive line help with the loss of 2 starters from last season. The 49ers had a good draft overall, but took a Vegas sized gamble on Aaron Lynch. I’m not a fan of any particular team in this division, but if I had to go with one team to win the division I’d go with the Seahawks. The fact that the 49ers Bowman (torn ACL and MCL) will miss about half the season, and they have questions at defensive end position other than Justin Smith, but still have the 49ers making the playoffs again. Anyway, I’m an NFC South fan so I’ll just enjoy the trash talking on reddit amongst the Seahawks and 49ers fans. Cardinals, don’t worry the NFL still views you as a team although your offense is atrocious.
Major League Fantasy Sports Radio starts on Monday June 16th from 1pm-2pm EST.
Corey D Roberts the owner of MLFS will be on Sports Palooza radio on Thursday June 5th at 2:20pm.