For the final stop on tour around each division in the NFL, we will take a look at the new coaches in the NFC West. It’s gone fast but we have already looked in-depth at all other divisions over the last two months.
As is the custom we’ll be looking at rookies, free agents, comeback players, position battles, and coaches.
For our previous “so called” expert’s articles on these topics take a look at our football home page. There you will find a veritable treasure trove of information to help get you on your way with pre-draft research.
Ok, now time to dig into the NFC West in our quest to gather the best information out there. Here we will be talking about coaches and their Fantasy impact team by team.
Keep an eye out this week for additional NFC West articles as they come fresh off the press.
Head Coach: Bruce Arians, 3rd Year
Offensive Coordinator: Harold Goodwin, 3rd Year
Defensive Coordinator: James Bettcher, 1st Year
Arians will enter year three continuing with the plan he already has in place offensively. This is a coach that believes in the passing game and a vertical one at that. An Arians offense is a fun thing to watch when all cylinders are pumping but it needs skill players with some know how and relies on the quarterback to drive the bus.
Carson Palmer is a potential top 10 QB if he can stay healthy in this system. He’s a smart field general and can make all the throws necessary. The concern with Palmer is that as he tacks on the birthdays, the injury risk grows. He’s already in recovery mode after blowing out his knee midway through last season. Word is that he is on track after his ACL injury and should be good to go. I like him as a late grab, but have a back up plan in case he blows another tire.
The Cardinals need Michael Floyd to emerge in his fourth year. Larry Fitzgerald is getting up there in age and Floyd is in line for the WR1 job if he can handle it. With Arians leading this team, the ball is going to be thrown somewhere and I would imagine that Floyd is given every chance to take the lead here.
Fitzgerald is still in the picture, but he is becoming more of a possession receiver each year and will be more valuable in PPR leagues. When drafting I think of Floyd as a risky, but high upside guy while Fitz is more likely to put up some numbers, but with a lower ceiling. John Brown is getting some love during the offseason, but he’s a smallish third option with a boom-or-bust week-to-week future as far as I can tell. Keep in mind as well that this all relies on Palmer staying healthy, which is not a given. We’ve seen what happens in Arizona once their starting quarterback goes down and it ain’t pretty.
The running game is fed through a short passing game with Arians. Andre Ellington will look electric when healthy, but I question whether he can hold up during a full season. The Cardinals took David Johnson in the draft this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if both backs limit each other in a time share.
San Francisco 49ers
Head Coach: Jim Tomsula, 1st Year
Offensive Coordinator: Geep Chryst, 1st Year
Defensive Coordinator: Eric Mangini, 1st Year
Tomsula will be a little bit of a mystery going into the season. He brings almost a decade of history with the 49ers to the table including one game as interim head coach after Mike Singletary was fired in 2010. Since he spent his time as the defensive line coach before being promoted to head coach, how he will handle the offense is in question. If we turn to Geep Chryst for clues we can see that he is coming in from the Panthers, where he spent five seasons as the tight ends and quality control coach. I would guess that a ball control offense will be the direction the team heads in 2015.
Carlos Hyde is the likely beneficiary of this approach, but beware of him getting over drafted due to offseason hype. While he has shown some potential, he could struggle at times as the team finds their course, including some limited zone blocking which can be tricky for some backs. I don’t see Colin Kaepernick or 49ers receivers as anything to target unless they fall to you late with Anquan Boldin being the most reliable. I just don’t see this passing game going places unless Kaepernick takes steps and the new regime utilizes his skill set, including letting him run loose.
St. Louis Rams
Head Coach: Jeff Fisher, 4th Year
Offensive Coordinator: Frank Cignetti, 1st Year
Defensive Coordinator: Gregg Williams, 2nd Year
Jeff Fisher will tie his hopes to Nick Foles and a rookie running back in his fourth year with the team. The Rams defense is looking tough and even without bounties, Gregg Williams is Fantasy friendly.
It was rumored that Fisher took the Rams job because of Sam Bradford and his want for a franchise QB. Well Bradford never shook the injury bug so in comes Nick Foles. Fisher has always been a coach that wants to run the ball, but I still like Foles on this team from a pure football standpoint. If the defense dominates and the run game moves, I could see Foles as a competent game manager. This does not bode particularly well for his Fantasy stock though. He’s a QB2 in my view this year.
The big question I have for this time is when does Todd Gurley get on the field? Remember Fisher and Eddie George? This should be a similar relationship if all goes well. The Rams surprised everyone by taking him, which makes me think Fisher was salivating so badly that he couldn’t resist it. Once Gurley gets into this offense I expect him to be their feature offensive weapon. The risk lies in how many games you get him for. I would watch this pre-season and gauge your draft value according to when he is projecting to come back. If I can somehow snag him as a third running back I will be ecstatic as long as he is close to start the season. The receivers in St. Louis are a mess with a recovering Brian Quick at the lead of a bunch of question marks.
Head Coach: Pete Carroll, 6th Year
Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Bevell, 5th Year
Defensive Coordinator: Kris Richard, 1st Year
The only change this year for the Seahawks will be on the defensive side as they lost another defensive coordinator in Danny Quinn to a head coaching job.
Otherwise, the song remains the same. A heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch will be the main course with a little Russell Wilson improvising on the side. Seattle wideouts are probably not worth drafting, but Jimmy Graham is interesting as he makes the move from New Orleans. He won’t be first round worthy, but I would guess that he becomes a focus at times in the game plan and maintains some quality stat-generating ability.
That should cover it for the coaching changes this week. Keep an eye open for other Fantasy football insight this week regarding the NFC West!