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NFC West: Fantasy Preview

Arizona Cardinals

Key Additions: Alan Faneca, Kerry Rhodes, Joey Porter, Derek Anderson,
Key Departures: Karlos Dansby, Anquan Boldin, Kurt Warner

The Cardinals have really taken a step back on the offensive side of the football. The departure of Warner is tough because not only did he bond with Larry Fitzgerald, but his veteran leadership will truly be missed in the locker room. Boldin was key in

’s success the last few seasons. His Pro Bowl talent will also be missed for he opened up coverage on Fitzgerald and kept the defenses honest. Even though the Cardinals lost key players, they recovered well and brought some great veterans into the organization. Faneca is a Pro Bowl lineman with great experience, Porter and Rhodes are high-intensity, talented football players who will bring swag to the Cardinals’ defense. The only real question on the team is Matt Leinart. Will he be able to produce? If he succeeds and molds well with the receivers expect a good year. If not, things could get bad for the Cardinals.

Breakout: Early Doucet – most of the attention this year will revolve around Fitzgerald and stopping Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells. With Steve Breaston slotted as the number two reciever because of departed Boldin, Doucet will take on the role a lot similar to what Breaston did the past few seasons. He will line up in the slot, move around the line of scrimmage, and haul in some deep balls. Expect the Cardinals to look to him enough to post decent numbers in 2010

Bust: Wells – there is a jump in hype this year about what kind of numbers Wells will produce as he enters his sophomore year in the NFL. Although people have been drafting him pretty high in the mock drafts I have seen, I don’t think he will produce like expected this fall. First off, he is working with Leinart, a guy who defenses do not have much respect for. Therefore, defenses will stack the box until he proves that he can play with consistency. The second concern is that he still has to share carries with Tim Hightower and won’t see much work on third downs. Even though he is a talented runner, I’m not sold on his production this year. Expect average numbers this year and a handful of touchdowns

Defense Grade: B+
Offense Grade: B
Record Prediction:


San Francisco 49ers

Key Additions: Michael Iupati, Anthony Davis, Ted Ginn Jr., David Carr
Key Departures: Dre Bly, Walt Harris, Isaac Bruce

The 49ers put up respectable numbers last season and have really grown as a unit under Mike Singletary. The best offseason move the 49ers made was the drafting of their first-round draft picks (Iupati, Davis). Singletary beefed up his offensive line with the addition of these mean machines.

San Francisco
is going to run Frank Gore into the ground this year, and that was indicated by Singletary himself and the way they approached the 2010 draft. Ginn has not impressed in organized team activities and is supposedly slipping down the depth chart as we speak, and Carr seems to be the backup plan to Alex Smith. The offense should improve overall. On the other side of the ball, the defense lost key cover corners Bly and Harris. Even so, you cannot deny that this group of guys is full of talent, especially because they are anchored by the most feared defender in the league in Patrick Willis.

: Gore – In my last article, I raved about Gore and the possibility of him being a Top 5 back this year. The line got stronger and he’s getting more help around him with Michael Crabtree and
Vernon ‘baby boy’

. The passing game is improving, which should open up holes for him all year. He is going to carry the rock 20-plus times every game, and catch the ball out of the backfield, too. Expect a great year and possibly career best numbers. Consider drafting him with the No. 4 or No. 5 pick in all fantasy drafts.

Bust: It is tough to really tag a player with the word ‘bust’ on the 49ers, because most of their starters have a lot of upside this year. But If I had to name one, it would most likely be
Vernon Davis. I’m not saying he’s going to catch 30 balls this year, but I don’t think he is going to post career-high numbers like he did last year. Defenses now look at him as a huge threat and will likely look to shut him down. Expect consistent numbers that aren’t spectacular, but enough to get you a few wins in your league this fall.

Defense Grade: A-

Offense Grade
: B+

Record Prediction:


Seattle Seahawks

Key Additions: Leon Washington, Russell Okung, Golden Tate
Key Departures: Nate Burleson, Walter Jones

The Seahawks were less than impressive with a (5-11) season in 2009. They didn’t pick up any big names this offseason but they upgraded their team with smart draft picks. The first-rounder Okung is a sign that the Seahawks are looking to bolster their line after losing Pro Bowl veteran Jones, who has been plagued with injuries, especially in the last half of his career. The wideout from Notre Dame, Tate, will try to replace Burleson. Look for the team to try and get him the ball early, similar to what the Vikings did with Percy Harvin last season.

Breakout: T.J. Houshmandzadeh – I have a man crush; maybe its just because he looks good in a Seahawks uniform, but this guy has all the talent in the world. He runs routes over the middle, underneath … he can do it all. Recent news came out that he played most of the early season with banged up ribs, most likely broken. I really hope this slowed him up and is not just an excuse. Either way, this is his second year with Matt Hasselbeck and the playbook. I really feel this guy will catch on and use his weak season last year as a motivation. He is being drafted extremely late in mock drafts this summer (Rounds 7-9). I will take him every time because of his tremendous talent in a not-so hot defensive division.  He has so much upside. He will bounce back and post strong numbers, and return to the guy that used to duo up with Chad Johnson and rip apart secondaries.

Bust: Julius Jones – just don’t draft him! Justin Forsett is small, fast, can run outside, and run inside. Forsett is a playmaker and Jones just can’t run and cut like he used too. They may split carries at the beginning of the season but Forsett is bound to takeover the job as a starter and carry the rock most of the time for the Seahawks. It is tough to locate a bust on this team because not many guys have star status or are really good to examine. Jones is one guy to stay away from when drafting this summer, and looking to win this fall.

Offense Grade: C+

Defense Grade: B-

Record Prediction:

St. Louis


Key Additions: Sam Bradford, Fred Robbins, Na’il Diggs, Rodger Saffold
Key Departures: Alex Barron

The Rams went offensive in their draft. They took ‘Goldenboy’
Bradford, and then with the first pick in the second they took Saffold, who is a talented tackle. It is obvious the Rams are trying to build up the talent around Steven Jackson, the workhorse runningback. I think if Bradford starts and averages more than 200 yards a game, things will start to open up for the star-studded Jackson. I think a lot of guys in the NFL feel for

, as he is burning his prime years for a team that can barely buy a win (1-15), but if he starts to smell confidence in his gunslinger, he’s going to rack up 2,000 total yards easily. And yes, he can catch the ball extremely well out of the backfield. Onto to the defense: coach Steve Spagnuolo brought in ex-Giant Robbins, a guy he knows well. Robbins is a consistent player who leaves it all on the field. Robbins and the addition of veteran Diggs, will add depth to the Rams’ defensive front.

: Donnie Avery – Can I get a what, what? When Avery was drafted a couple years back I remember watching his college highlights and saying, ‘wow this guy is a playmaker!’ He showed brilliance as a rookie when he had a string of games where he put together Pro Bowl numbers (Example – 8 receptions, 160 yards, 1 TD at
New England). Now with
Bradford, Avery doesn’t have to worry about the pigskin finding him, it will!
Bradford has a strong arm and will throw the deep ball to Avery whenever the time calls. I drafted Avery in my mock past the 11th round. He is too good to not be drafted. Expect him to be in the middle of the pack with receivers like Jerricho Cotchery. That’s enough to rank him as a No. 4 receiver on your team, and a great bye week fill-in.

Bust: The funny thing is, I can’t find one! Even with the Rams! Because there is only two guys that have real fantasy value – Jackson and Avery.

is a stud demon in my mind and Avery is my breakout candidate. So, I do not have one for you guys. Expect everyone to improve this year compared to their measly numbers last year. Let’s Go Rams!

Offense Grade: C
Defense Grade: C
Record Prediction: SHOCK ALERT!

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