Last Word on Sports’ NFL department has begun a 2016 fantasy football all-division team preview. Having started with the AFC North, here we embark upon an All-NFC West Fantasy Football Team. Using standard scoring, these fantasy teams will consist of one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one flex, one kicker, and a defense/special teams. In one of the toughest divisions in football, with plenty of fantasy contributors, the All-NFC West Fantasy Football Team will be one filled with plenty of debate.
All-NFC West Fantasy Football Team
QB: Russell Wilson
As one of the best quarterbacks in football, it comes as no surprise that Russell Wilson is also one of the best fantasy quarterbacks as well. Although Carson Palmer was a very close second, Wilson edges him out because of his ability to run and gain those precious rushing yards. With rushing yards being worth significantly more than passing yards in fantasy, Wilson’s potential for points each week will always be higher than Palmer’s. The statistics are incredibly close between these two offensive leaders, but by averaging over 100 rushing attempts for an average of 647 rushing yards each of the last 3 seasons, Russell Wilson is not showing any signs of slowing down and will be a guaranteed top 6 fantasy quarterback in 2016.
RB: David Johnson
Having a tough time picking between David Johnson and Todd Gurley? Flip a coin and go with that. These two running backs will likely be in the top 5 at their position in any format in the 2016 fantasy season. The only reason David Johnson is getting the nod right now is because his team, and most importantly, his quarterback, are better. Coming onto the scene with a bang, David Johnson went straight to RB1 mode once he took over the starting role. Doing his best version of what Tom Brady did to Drew Bledsoe, David Johnson is now the “bell-cow” for the very good Cardinals offense. With ability to make big plays out of nothing, catch out of the backfield, and possibly (but unlikely) return kicks, David Johnson is a sure-fire 1st round fantasy pick.
RB: Todd Gurley
Breaking out as an every week starter in week 4, Todd Gurley became the workhorse in the then St. Louis Rams backfield after rushing for 146 yards against his division rival Arizona Cardinals. The newly formed Los Angeles Rams will be happy to say that Gurley will be able to start this season from week 1 and make a legitimate run at the rushing title. Showing no signs of previous injury concerns, what Gurley did show was a great combination of power, speed, patience and vision. What is concerning for Gurley fantasy owners is who the Rams quarterback will be. The times when Gurley’s fantasy numbers were worrisome in 2015 were when his team was down in games and his touches became severely limited. Through five consecutive losses in the middle of last season, Gurley managed 79 carries for only 260 yards. His talent is not being questioned, but the lack of his team’s talent will slightly effect his fantasy value. Take Gurley if you get the chance, but not before 15th overall.
WR: Doug Baldwin
Although it is extremely unlikely that Doug Baldwin will repeat his touchdown numbers from a year ago, there is no denying that he put up some serious, serious numbers in 2015. With 14 touchdowns, 78 receptions and over 1000 receiving yards, Doug Baldwin was a top 10 fantasy wide receiver in nearly every format. The retirement of Marshawn Lynch will open up nearly 280 touches for this offense this coming season. Many of the extra touches will go to Thomas Rawls, but it is highly likely that Russell Wilson will want to continue his relationship with his best receiver. Turning 28 years old, “Angry” Doug Baldwin is in the prime of his career and coming off of his best season ever, so there is no going wrong with Baldwin as a 3rd round pick for your fantasy team.
WR: Larry Fitzgerald
What a year it was for Larry Fitzgerald in 2015. Although his touchdowns weren’t overwhelming (9), the receptions (109) were a career best, while the yardage (1,215) was his highest since 2011. Even though he is turning 33 years old, Larry may have the absolute surest hands the NFL has ever seen with only 24 career drops, making Fitz a player that fantasy owners can count on if he is healthy. Carson Palmer gives every player on the Cardinals offense a chance to have a fantasy impact in 2016, especially his seemingly ageless number one receiver. As a late 3rd or early 4th round fantasy draft pick, you can be sure you will feel safe starting Larry Fitzgerald each and every week.
TE: Jimmy Graham
With not much competition, Jimmy Graham is still the most talented tight end in this division and has the highest potential to put up points on a weekly basis. Although terribly inconsistent as a Seahawk, Graham has the luxury of playing with one of the league’s best quarterbacks and as a part of one of the most high-powered offenses. With Jermaine Gresham, Vance McDonald, and Lance Kendricks making up the rest of the division, Graham is the no-brainer option at tight end in the NFC West, but let’s not snag him up any time before the 9th round.
FLEX: Thomas Rawls
The flex spot is always interesting and truly depends upon your league’s rules. Sticking to standard scoring, where touchdown potential is a separating factor at flex, Thomas Rawls is our guy. Michael Floyd has a knack for making downfield receptions, but only got into the endzone six times last season and with a depth chart loaded with young, talented, and explosive play-makers, Michael Floyd can sometimes get lost in the mix. The fact that Thomas Rawls has no competition at his position and proved to be a great fill-in for Beast Mode, we are going with him for our standard scoring flex. A good combination of skill and opportunity gives Rawls a great chance to have a breakout campaign in the run-first Seahawks offense. Although the flex option in this division, Rawls will be at least an RB2 in fantasy this coming season so go ahead and take him mid 4th or early 5th round.
K: Steven Haushka
Although close between Haushka and Chandler Catanzaro, the ultimate x-factor for fantasy kickers are field goals made at 40+ yards and at 50+ yards. While Catanzaro was a solid 6/9 in this department, Haushka was a masterful 13/16, even going 6/6 from 50+. Each season, even each week, fantasy kickers can be a total mystery, but with the Seahawks showing they have trust in Haushka from distance, he is always a threat to get 10+ points per week.
D/ST: Seattle Seahawks
Possibly the most difficult to predict, but the D/ST for this All-Division team has to be the Seahawks. With the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and Los Angeles Rams all having finished in the top 10 in fantasy D/ST the last 3 seasons, and each team expected to continue to have great defenses, this was no easy pick. As far as Special Teams goes, each team’s punt and kick return potential was a major factor when deciphering who will be the best in 2016. Although explosive, both Tavon Austin and Patrick Peterson only return punts, and David Johnson will likely pass off his kick return duties because he is now the Cardinals starting running back. Therefore, Tyler Lockett’s impressive return ability for both punts and kickoffs, puts the Seahawks ahead of the rest. Having had a punt return touchdown and a kick return touchdown this past season while also being in the top three in yardage returned for each, Tyler Lockett remains one of the most explosive threats in all of football which is why the Seahawks get the nod.