NFC West Fantasy Outlook

by Tim Heaney on October 18, 2007 @ 15:35:37 PDT

 


Do Not Bench List - All Positions

  • Running Back Shaun Alexander, Seattle Seahawks: The stud back has not instilled much confidence in his fantasy owners for the past three weeks, as Alexander has gained just 138 yards on 50 carries over that span. He isn't making up for his lack of yards either, as he hasn't crossed the goal line since Week 2. Running back Leonard Weaver had three carries for 40 yards, and though he's not expected to steal many carries from Alexander, it's cutting into his production. To pile on the non-encouraging news, there have been reports that his fractured left wrist is still causing him discomfort. Enter the St. Louis Rams, a potential Week 7 cure for his troubles. Allowing 124.8 yards and 1.25 touchdowns per game to running backs over the past four weeks, fantasy owners should be optimistic for a breakthrough this week. Alexander is a strong play as a No. 2 back.
  • Running Back Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers: This division hosts another struggling stud. Gore returns from a Bye week hoping to get back into triple digits on the ground. He hasn't eclipsed the century mark all season and has not hit the end zone since Week 2. He has still put up valuable receiving numbers out of the backfield, averaging 2.5 receptions and 25.2 yards per game. He squares off against the New York Giants this week. Excluding a 67-yard touchdown run by Atlanta Falcons running back Jerious Norwood, they surrendered just 36 yards the rest of the game in Week 6. The Giants allow just 82 yards against running backs on average through the last four contests, and they will probably key on Gore to make the Niners' pass offense test them. Don't expect outstanding numbers from Gore this week, but he's still a steady play as a No. 2 or No. 3 back.
  • Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals: The absence of fellow wideout Anquan Boldin (hip) has not halted Fitzgerald's production. He remains the Cardinals' top target and has been utilized 46 times over the last four weeks for 19.25 percent of Arizona's total offensive plays. He is averaging 7.75 receptions with 110.2 yards per game over his last four outings. The Washington Redskins pass defense presents a tough matchup in the coming week, as they have only allowed one touchdown to wide receivers all season. Fitzgerald could struggle against the Redskins' strong secondary, so he should be considered a weak play as a No. 1 or No. 2 wideout.
  • Wide Receiver Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals: Boldin (hip) is reportedly returning to action in Week 7 after missing the past three games. Before he was injured, he had 83 yards in Week 2, and 14 catches with 181 yards and two touchdowns in Week 3. With the insertion of new starting quarterback Tim Rattay, Boldin should step up to present himself as an option. Check the updates over the weekend, as he may come down to a game-time decision. 
  • Wide Receiver Torry Holt, St. Louis Rams: Holt comes off a slow Week 6 in which he only caught four passes for 33 yards against the Baltimore Ravens. In the three contests before that, he amassed five catches in each game. The Seahawks have allowed 155.0 yards per game to wide receivers over the last four contests and made the New Orleans Saints look like their 2006 selves last Sunday, so Holt could get a boost this week. He's a steady play as a No. 2 receiver.

Quarterbacks

Player
Team
Gm
Pass Yds/G
Pass TD/G
INT/G
Rush Yards/G
Rush TD/G
Tim Rattay Arizona Cardinals
1
159.0
0.00
3.00
5.0
0.00
Marc Bulger St. Louis Rams
2
115.0
0.00
2.00
-1.0
0.00
Alex D. Smith San Francisco 49ers
2
104.5
0.50
0.50
16.0
0.00
Matt Hasselbeck Seattle Seahawks
4
251.8
1.75
1.25
2.2
0.00

Rattay - The Cardinals' quarterback wheel kept spinning after quarterback Kurt Warner (elbow) injured his elbow last week, and his status for Sunday's game is reportedly unknown. An MRI revealed that Warner won't need surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left elbow, and he might even return to practice this week if deemed possible. However, the expectation is that Warner will miss at least a week, which means Rattay is lined up to start. Against Washington's stout defense though, his first start of the season does not look promising. Keep him on your bench if you went ahead and picked him up.

Bulger - After missing two weeks, Bulger (ribs) looks to be set to return to action in Week 7, ending the brief tenure of replacement quarterback Gus Frerotte. Reports indicate that Bulger is coming back despite the fact that his two broken ribs will take several months to fully heal, but he is receiving clearance from head coach Scott Linehan to face the Seahawks. Bulger is usually a more trustworthy option than Frerotte, but before you cue the heroic chorus, this is not necessarily an uplifting development for Bulger, the Rams offense, or your fantasy team. Anytime a player is rushed back - or in this case rushes himself back - from injury, you can't be comfortable inserting him in your lineup. He's a weak play, and should remain on your bench unless you're desperate for a Bye week replacement.

Smith - Smith (shoulder) is questionable for Week 7 after missing Week 5. Even when he was healthy, he wasn't all that productive, totaling just one touchdown and one interception, and his 209 passing yards in Week 3 were his season high. If he can go this Sunday he is set to run into a taught Giants defense that has barreled through four straight wins. Backup quarterback Trent Dilfer could still get the nod this week, but regardless of who gets the start you should avoid both Smith and his understudy this week.

Hasselbeck - At first glance Hasselbeck's Week 7 line of a season-high 362 yards with two touchdowns, indicates a step up in production. Even though the stats were inflated because the Seahawks needed to come back against the lowly Saints, he could have similar success against the pushover Rams. He's utilizing four different receivers on a regular basis, which might be too much for the Rams to handle. Hasselbeck is a strong play as a No. 1 quarterback. 

Running Backs

Player
Team
Gm
Util (%)/G
RZ (%) Plays/G
Rush Yds/G
Rush TD/G
Rec/G
Rec Yards/G
Rec TD/G
Edgerrin James Arizona Cardinals
 4
22.00 (36.82)
2.50 (41.53)
75.5
0.50
0.75
6.5
0.00
Brian Leonard St. Louis Rams
 4
15.75 (25.15)
2.50 (34.45)
49.8
0.00
2.50
15.8
0.00

James - Despite finding the end zone along with 80 yards rushing last week, James has declined in the receiving aspect of his game that made him so dominant in past years. He went without a catch for the first time all season, as the Cardinals don't seem to be utilizing their backfield in the passing game. This cuts James' production in points-per-reception leagues. He has rushed for 80 yards in his last two games, but he has averaged just 3.55 yards per carry over his last three games. The Cardinals would probably like to keep feeding him the ball with Rattay likely at quarterback, but the Redskins may anticipate that and try to make Rattay move the ball. James is a weak play as a No. 1 back but provide greater value if he's in your No. 2 slot.

Leonard - After compiling 102 yards in Week 5 against the Cardinals, Leonard was brought back to Earth while he was held to 18 ground yards against the Ravens last week. Sore ribs were reportedly affecting his game, but he was able to play through the injury. One upside for him is that he has eight receptions for 56 yards over his last two contests, so he's contributing in some fashion. In his fourth week replacing injured running back Steven Jackson (groin), Leonard should be called upon this week to take some pressure off the banged-up Bulger. Fellow running back Travis Minor has been stealing some of his carries with eight touches last week, but against the Seahawks Leonard could see more than the 15.3 carries he's averaged since becoming a starter. He is a strong play as a No. 3 running back.

Wide Receivers

Player
Team
Gm
Util (%)/G
RZ (%) Plays/G
Rec/G
Rec Yards/G
Rec TD/G
Nate Burleson Seattle Seahawks
 4
8.00 (12.26)
0.75 (11.44)
3.75
39.0
0.50
Bobby Engram Seattle Seahawks
 4
7.25 (11.11)
0.75 (11.44)
5.00
65.0
0.50
Isaac Bruce St. Louis Rams
 2
3.00 (2.40)
0.00 (0.00)
2.00
19.0
0.00
Drew Bennett St. Louis Rams
 4
5.00 (7.99)
1.25 (17.23)
1.25
13.0
0.25

Burleson - Leading the Seahawks with 13 looks last week, Burleson pulled in six receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown. Despite receiving more looks than counterpart Engram, Burleson still played second fiddle during the absence of wideouts Deion Branch (foot) and D.J. Hackett (ankle). The Rams have allowed 174.5 yards per game to receivers over the past four games. He's a weaker No. 2 or solid No. 3 wideout, but he is a strong play.

Engram - Although an overhead camera from the NBC network almost fell on him, Engram's fantasy stock jumped in Week 6 as he contributed nine receptions and 120 yards. He received 11 looks in Week 6, providing a successful conversion rate. Against the woeful Rams, Engram should once again put up some respectable numbers, making the most of his window of opportunity created by the injury bug. His rapport with Hasselbeck is an asset, and he's a strong play as a No. 2 receiver in Week 7.

Bruce - Coach Linehan is optimistic that Bruce (hamstring) will return for Week 7 after missing the previous two games due to injury. The veteran would be returning just in time to shore up a depleted Rams receiving corps, but he would also be trying to catch passes from the injured Bulger under center. All in all, Bruce would be an iffy play even if healthy.

Bennett - Bruce might have been keeping Bennett's (hamstring) seat warm on the sidelines as Bennett's status for Sunday's game is uncertain, though he would unlikely contribute a mentionable game if he plays. He didn't have any catches when he exited last Sunday's game in the second quarter. A suitable replacement could be wide receiver Marques Hagans, who picked up five receptions for 74 yards in Week 6. At this point the safe play is clearly to leave Bennett on the bench this week.

Tight Ends

Player
Team
Gm
Util (%)/G
RZ (%) Plays/G
Rec/G
Rec Yards/G
Rec TD/G
Leonard Pope Arizona Cardinals
 4
1.50 (2.51)
0.00 (0.00)
0.50
2.0
0.00
Marcus Pollard Seattle Seahawks
 4
2.00 (3.07)
0.25 (3.81)
1.75
20.0
0.25
Vernon Davis San Francisco 49ers
 1
8.00 (4.91)
2.00 (33.41)
4.00
 56.0
0.00
Randy McMichael St. Louis Rams
 4
4.75 (7.59)
0.75 (10.34)
2.50
27.8
0.25

Pope - For the second straight week, Pope only registered one reception. He has a total of eight receiving yards in two games, and 60 yards for the entire season. His primary role as a blocker means his probability for production barely exists. You should take heed and avoid him until he produces.

Pollard - After hauling in two receptions for the third straight game, Pollard (knee) felt soreness in his knee on Monday. He is reportedly questionable for play in Week 7. If healthy, he hopes to build on an underachieving stretch over which he has averaged 25.3 yards. His situation in Seattle does not present many plays coming his way. Pollard is a weak play and should remain on your bench even if he is able to play.

Davis - This Bye week eliminates a pair of elite tight ends from the picture. The absence of San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates and Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow has garnered buzz for a possible waiver wire pickup of the Niners' most talented receiving threat. Davis (knee) participated in drills Monday, and he is reportedly close to returning for Week 7. He had four catches in his last action in Week 3. However, you shouldn't rely heavily on Davis until he has a game under his belt. He's a weak play as a starting tight end, but if you don't feel like waiting for him to settle in, you might be able to sneak in a few points with him as a shaky No. 1 or Bye week replacement.

McMichael - Over his last four games, McMichael is averaging 2.50 receptions. If Bulger struggles in his comeback, the chances for McMichael to become involved in the offense would decrease. He's drolly consistent, hauling in either two or three catches in every game this year. He could get by as a lower-tier No. 1 play, or could give you a few catches as a Bye week replacement.

Place Kickers

Player
Team
Gm
XPA/G
XP/G
FGA/G
FG/G
Kick Pnts/G
Neil Rackers Arizona Cardinals
 4
2.50
2.50
2.25
1.50
7.0
Josh Brown Seattle Seahawks
 4
1.75
1.75
1.50
1.25
5.5
Joe Nedney San Francisco 49ers
 3
0.67
0.67
1.67
1.33
4.7
Jeff Wilkins St. Louis Rams
 4
0.75
0.75
2.00
1.25
4.5

Rackers - This is a case of quality trumping quantity. In Week 6, Rackers booted a lone 50-yard field goal in the Cardinals' 25-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers. He might once again be waiting impatiently on the sidelines, as the Redskins should present the Cardinals with fewer scoring opportunities. Both the Redskins' effective defense and Rattay's first start of the year might keep Rackers from being productive. He's one of the better kickers in the game, but if you don't have the opportunities, you can't put up sufficient statistics. He's a lower-tier play as a starting kicker, and would make a competent Bye week replacement.

Brown - Brown was not responsible for his one for two field goal line in Week 6. His 44-yard attempt was blocked in the second quarter. He would respond by punctuating a 52-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half. Despite his recent success from long-range, Brown has only had one game with double-digit points. He should only be in your lineup if you need a Bye week replacement.

Nedney - Nedney has made seven of his eight field goal attempts on the season, but he has only earned four points in his last two games. The Niners' tattered offense rolls in to face a hot Giants team, and Nedney might not have much of a chance to help your team. He should remain on your bench.

Wilkins - Wilkins was the entire offense in Week 6 while making one of two field goals. He missed a 35-yarder before making a 32-yarder. The state of the Rams offense should speak volumes for what your confidence in Wilkins should be. He's bench material.

Defensive Teams

Team
Gm
Off Pnts Allw/G
INT/G
Sacks/G
FR/G
DEF/ST TD/G
Arizona Cardinals
4
22.5
1.25
3.0
0.25
0.7
Seattle Seahawks
4
16.2
1.00
2.8
1.00
0.0
San Francisco 49ers
3
19.0
0.33
1.3
0.33
0.0
St. Louis Rams
4
25.8
1.00
1.2
0.50
0.2

Cardinals - The Redskins present a challenge to the Cardinals with emerging quarterback Jason Campbell, and on the road against Washington, Arizona may struggle. They have averaged 3.0 sacks per game over the last four contests, but Campbell is the most mobile quarterback they've faced this season. He could give the Cardinals problems, and Arizona should be left on your fantasy bench. 

Seahawks - This is a good week for Seattle fantasy units. With the Rams questioning the health and sanity of the returning Bulger, Seattle should be able to pressure him with their aggressive front seven. Bulger was never overly calm under pressure and is prone to interceptions when frazzled. The Seahawks have compiled an average of 2.8 sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery per game over the last four games, so they should feast on the Rams this week. They're a strong play as a No. 1 unit for this week.

49ers - The 49ers line up against the Giants in Week 6, and will need to concentrate on stopping their resurgent offense. San Francisco's secondary keeps it afloat in most games, but the Giants can rely on a trio of running backs in Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Reuben Droughns who decimated the Falcons last week. This week consider the 49ers a...

Rams - The Rams were overwhelmed by the suspect Ravens offense in Week 6, which is never a good sign. They've allowed an average of 25.8 points per game over their last four contests, and they are a weak play against a Seahawk squad eager to open up their passing game. The Rams have no discernable figment of a respectable air defense, so leave them on your bench.

Facebook Twitter Google +

About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

Don't miss these great reports....


What do you think? Sound off!



Recent KFFL releases