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NFC West Player Analysis
Ben Doughty,, Staff Writer

Arizona Cardinals (vs San Diego Chargers)

QB Carson Palmer: The biggest thing he needs is to have an effective running game. He has a fantastic trio of wide receivers but is most dangerous in a balanced offense. He's a serviceable fill in but you're playing with fire using him as a weekly starter. ( 274 yds pass with 2 TDs and 1 Int )

QB Drew Stanton: ( 18 yds pass )

QB Logan Thomas: ( 4 yds pass )

RB Andre Ellington: He's being drafted as an RB1 and he'll get his chance to prove it. Durability is a big question mark as to whether he can handle that many touches. The Cardinals need him to perform if they are going to challenge in the extremely competitive NFC West. ( 67 yds rush; 3 catches for 27 yds )

RB Jonathan Dwyer: If Arizona wants to keep Ellington around for 16 games they'll most likely use Dwyer for more than a quick spell. He may even become a TD vulture given his size advantage over his counterpart. ( 27 yds rush; 1 catch for 9 yds )

RB Stepfan Taylor: ( 6 yds rush; 1 catch for 3 yds )

WR Larry Fitzgerald: With realistic expectations he'll be a solid performer. He hasn't topped 90 receptions since 2010 but is still a great red zone threat. Double digit touchdowns are certainly a possibility again but that's probably best case scenario. ( 1 yd rush; 6 catches for 69 yds )

WR Michael Floyd: Both Floyd and Fitzgerald have ADP's in the 4th round. Floyd's upside is mucher higher and he should be the more desired player. He's entering the magical third season and another 1,000 yard year looks quite attainable. ( 5 catches for 76 yds )

WR John Brown: He's living up to the hype even if it's only preseason. He's worth a look in deeper leagues but until he shows it during the regular season he's best left on the watch list. ( 3 catches for 31 yds )

WR Jaron Brown: ( 1 catch for 8 yds )

WR Ted Ginn Jr.: ( 1 yd rush; 1 catch for 15 yds )

TE John Carlson: Tight end hasn't been a positon of emphasis in this offense. Now on his third team, Carlson brings athleticism to the Cardinals but will sturggle to see targets with so many other weapons around him. ( 2 catches for 16 yds )

TE Troy Niklas: ( 1 catch for 14 yds )

TE Robert Housler: ( 1 catch for 10 yds )

PK Chandler Catanzaro: The rookie has shown a strong leg and accuracy making him the reason the Cardinals let Feely go. Arizona will move the ball offensively and give him scoring chances. Expect a solid season somewhere in the top 15. ( 2 XPs, 3 FGs and 1 missed FG )

Def Arizona Cardinals: Preseason injuries have lowered some of the enthusiasm for this up and coming unit. They are a young and aggressive bunch with high expectations. A home matchup against an aging Charger team is just what the doctor ordered. ( 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 Fumble )

Saint Louis Rams (vs Minnesota Vikings)

QB Shaun Hill: The loss of Sam Bradford doesn't automatically doom the Rams. Jeff Fisher wants to run the ball and play great defense. Shaun Hill is a veteran backup with decent offensive weapons who is fully capable of being the dreaded game manager. ( 233 yds pass with 1 TD and 1 Int; 5 yds rush )

QB Austin Davis: ( 27 yds pass )

RB Zac Stacy: He finished strong last year (except at Seattle) and is expected to be the workhorse. There will be added pressure as teams load the box challenging the passing game to beat them. ( 77 yds rush and 1 TD; 3 catches for 14 yds )

RB Benny Cunningham: There will be no hesitation to give him more carries if he's getting the job done. For now it will be a handful of touches per game unless Stacy fails to perform. ( 21 yds rush; 1 catch for 11 yds )

RB Tre Mason: ( 12 yds rush; 1 catch for 5 yds )

WR Kenny Britt: He'll be the most impacted receiver with the loss of Bradford. Shaun Hill doesn't stretch the field as well so his value declines accordingly. Still a high upside if he stays healthy but that's a big if. ( 2 yds rush; 3 catches for 35 yds )

WR Brian Quick: The Rams passing game has been too inconsistent with poor quarterback and offensive line play. Until they prove they've turned the corner it's too risky to think he will have any significant impact. ( 1 yd rush; 3 catches for 34 yds )

WR Tavon Austin: He has so much talent and showed flashes of brilliance toward the end of the year. The Rams must find a way to get him the ball in space and let him put pressure on a defense. Without that proof,however, he's simply a late round flier pick at this point. ( 4 yds rush; 3 catches for 33 yds )

WR Chris Givens: ( 1 yd rush; 2 catches for 32 yds )

WR Austin Pettis: ( 2 catches for 25 yds )

TE Jared Cook: His value may be the biggest benefactor of the quarterback situation. HIll will be looking to limit mistakes and has enough experience to utilize the tight end in the passing game. He'll be on the waiver wire so keep an eye on him for a possible early addition. ( 3 catches for 39 yds )

TE Lance Kendricks: ( 2 catches for 20 yds )

PK Greg Zuerlein: After having a bounce back year for accuracy last year, he's struggled in the preseason. Unless your league rewards points for distance he's a risky start. The Rams may not be putting up many points. ( 2 XPs, 3 FGs )

Def St. Louis Rams: The defensive side of the ball isn't the Rams weakness. They will be keeping the team in a lot of ball games with relentess pass pressure and stout run defense. An opening week task of stopping Adrian Peterson will test them early. ( 1 TD, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 Fumble )

San Francisco 49ers (vs Dallas Cowboys)

QB Colin Kaepernick: Rumblings about the offensive struggles are starting to become louder. A week one matchup versus a porous Dallas defense will change that. This offense will go through Kaepernick and not the running game as many believe. It's his time to step up and get this team over the hump. ( 245 yds pass with 2 TDs and 1 Int; 29 yds rush )

QB Blaine Gabbert: ( 4 yds pass )

RB Frank Gore: Despite his age and workload, Gore remains a solid play on a weekly basis based upon Santa Clara's committment to the run. It's a similar situation to Seattle and Marshawn Lynch. He'll receive a few less carries but is still the goal line back making him a very reliable RB2. ( 85 yds rush and 1 TD; 2 catches for 13 yds )

RB Carlos Hyde: He's averaging nearly six yards per carry so far. Although it's only preseason, the 49ers are going to give him touches making him a must handcuff at this point. It's way too early to count on a changing of the guard just yet. Keep expectations in check. ( 34 yds rush; 2 catches for 11 yds )

RB LaMichael James: ( 12 yds rush; 1 catch for 4 yds )

RB Marcus Lattimore: ( 5 yds rush )

WR Michael Crabtree: Don't let the single catch so far be a deterrent. He's the real deal and Kaepernick is a different quarterback with him on the field. He's finally healthy and will put up the numbers people have been expecting. ( 1 yd rush; 5 catches for 73 yds )

WR Anquan Boldin: Even at age 33 he's still a productive player. Having Crabtree back on the field is a huge bonus for him to help draw coverage. He's a solid WR3 with the ability to put up big numbers any given day. ( 4 catches for 50 yds )

WR Stevie Johnson: It isn't certain he'll even make the team at this point. He hasn't separated himself nor has he established a connection with Kaepernick. He should remain on the waiver wire. ( 3 catches for 32 yds )

WR Quinton Patton: ( 2 catches for 20 yds )

WR Brandon Lloyd: ( 2 catches for 21 yds )

TE Vernon Davis: All positives coming out of camp for him this year. Reportedly looks fast and in shape despite his early holdout threats. He'll provide matchup problems as he always has and now has an offense willing to throw the ball downfield more often. ( 4 catches for 54 yds and 1 TD )

TE Vance McDonald: ( 1 catch for 7 yds )

PK Phil Dawson: He's averaged over 90% accuracy for the last two years. He no longer has to deal with the winds of San Fransico which only helps with that percentage. This offense will be good enough to give him opportunities making him a solid pick up in later rounds for those willing to wait. ( 3 XPs, 3 FGs )

Def San Francisco 49ers: The loss of Navarro Bowman certainly affects them but they're still a tough unit and will be fine. Dallas has a multitude of offense weapons so this is a difficult matchup out of the gates. Still a must start nonetheless. ( 3 sacks, 1 INT, 1 Fumble )

Seattle Seahawks (vs Green Bay Packers)

QB Russell Wilson: Starting his 3rd year it's obvious the reins are off when it comes to play calling. He has been extremely efficient and has his number one weapon in Percy Harvin. He isn't going to light up a fantasy scoreboard but he's good enough to plug in and count on. ( 218 yds pass with 2 TDs and 1 Int; 30 yds rush )

QB Tarvaris Jackson: ( 12 yds pass )

RB Marshawn Lynch: There were plenty of off field distractions that pushed Lynch down draft boards. He'll still be running hard and producing now that it counts. His carries may drop a bit to keep him fresh for the whole season but he's one of the few workhorses left so you start him regardless. ( 82 yds rush and 1 TD; 2 catches for 14 yds )

RB Robert Turbin: He's getting overlooked by many in favor of Christine Michael but he outplayed Michael. He's still the primary backup and should be the handcuff for Lynch owners. He's explosive and much better in the passing game but his touches will be limited. ( 28 yds rush; 1 catch for 7 yds )

RB Christine Michael: Many are expecting him to have an impact this year to lighten Lynch's workload. The Seahawks want him to be the backup but he hasn't earned it yet. ( 26 yds rush; 1 catch for 2 yds )

RB Spencer Ware: ( 2 yds rush )

WR Percy Harvin: The preseason has shown what a playmaker he is for this offense. The Broncos already knew that. Seattle will use him in multiple ways to create matchup problems all over the field. He's electric and fun to watch but won't produce the fantasy stats to justify his current ADP. ( 3 yds rush; 4 catches for 60 yds )

WR Doug Baldwin: He has Russell Wilson's trust and become an established receiver in this offense. The passing game will open up more this year giving his value a bump over last year. Expect consistent but not spectacular numbers. He would make for a decent WR3. ( 1 yd rush; 4 catches for 54 yds )

WR Jermaine Kearse: His role as the deep threat fits him. He has become a very good red zone target as well. He isn't the prototypical tall receiver but has a great ability to go up and get the ball. Hee's only going to catch a handful of balls per game but provides high upside potential for his TD ability. ( 2 catches for 33 yds )

WR Paul Richardson: ( 1 catch for 9 yds )

TE Zach Miller: Listed as number one on the depth chart, he is actually number two when it comes to passing game involvement. He is virtually non-existent for this offense in the passing game. His only value would be in TD only leagues as he makes brief appearances in the red zone. ( 2 catches for 24 yds )

TE Luke Willson: Seattle doesn't utilize the tight end position as much as other teams in the league. Willson is the tight end of choice between the twenties but Miller is the red zone threat. Neither are consistent enough to take a chance playing. ( 2 catches for 22 yds )

PK Steven Hauschka: One of the better values when it comes to kickers and draft selections. This offense is rolling and looks to give him plenty of scoring chances. He's already made a 59 yard field goal in preseason so distance scoring makes him even better. ( 3 XPs, 3 FGs )

Def Seattle Seahawks: Classic match up of great defense versus great offense this week. Early season advantage goes to the defense, and besides this unit is a must fantasy start no matter the opponent. ( 1 TD, 3 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 Fumble )

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