From The Gut: NFC - Footballguys

A collection of observations and gut feelings about every team in the NFC

NFC East

Dallas

The loss of Travis Frederick for an indefinite period is huge for the Cowboys offense. Zach Martin already has an injured knee. This isn’t the 2016 Cowboys line and I can’t decide how much to ding Ezekiel Elliott for it. He’ll remain at RB4 for the time being, but the case for passing on him in the mid first is strong. Part of that case is the underwhelming Cowboys pass offense. The Cowboys don’t have a true WR1 and they don’t have two consistent durable proven starting quality receivers on the roster. They’ve resorted to playing Cole Beasley outside. Michael Gallup has had a promising rookie summer, but expecting consistent value from a rookie with a refined but limited skillset out of this passing offense is a stretch. I won’t knock any pick in the second half of the draft, but I’ll take my shots at wide receiver elsewhere. Five wide receivers will play roles in the offense this year in what will likely be an inefficient passing game in a run-first offense. In a Jacksonville, that’s a good thing for the offense as a whole, but given the track record of the receivers in Dallas, it’s a bad thing for the Cowboys and the fantasy value of their skill players across the board. We saw how fragile the Cowboys offense was when Elliott went out last year. It is less equipped to handle shocks and change than it was last year. Nothing is certain, but the bust range of outcomes for this offense is glowing red right now.

Schedule Note: At Carolina, the Giants, at Seattle, and Detroit isn’t a particularly negative start, although the Giants and Seattle can be tough to run on and might get this offense out of its comfort zone. Philadelphia, at the Colts, and Tampa give the offense three indoor games, but I don’t know if we can trust them to convert on the potential.

New York Giants

We haven’t really gotten to see a glimpse of what this offense could be with Engram, Barkley, Shepard, and Beckham and a functional offensive line. Much like Cincinnati, this team’s offense collapsed last year and they made big moves on the offensive line to try to turn the tide, in addition to sacking the coaching staff and bringing in Pat Shurmur, originally of the Andy Reid tree that is bearing fruit right now. Much like Cincinnati, the collection of talents on offense and potential for a bounce-back year draws you in, but the wide range of outcomes can also make you hesitant at the moment of truth. Barkley and Beckham will cost first round picks. I can’t take Barkley over Fournette, Gordon, and Cook, especially with Barkley already nursing a hamstring injury. If the Shurmurula offense can come together, Barkley could deliver that mid-first ADP, but he’s being drafted at his ceiling. Wayne Gallman has had a great summer and looks like the back to roster over Jonathan Stewart if Barkley misses time. Beckham is a good pick to pair with Gordon or Fournette near the turn, although I’m not sure his ceiling is significantly higher than the next three wide receivers off of the board. It appeared he had a very severe ankle injury (the word shattered had been used), but there haven’t been any reports that indicate worry about his ability to return to previous god-like form. Evan Engram seemed a potential odd man out when looking at distorted 2017 target shares without Beckham and projecting a role this year, but the Giants have reportedly been playing him at outside receiver at times and appeared committed to keeping him central in the offense. He could still be a hit, assuming decent play from Eli Manning. Shepard has all kinds of injury upside, as we saw him create big peak games, but two of the three came when Beckham was out. I prefer Graham to Engram and lots of names to Shepard, but they aren’t bad picks at ADP. Manning is the elephant in the room here. His decline might not be as steep as big brother’s, but his play hasn’t exactly inspired confidence in recent years. On the other hand, the Giants pass offense actually looked fine when Beckham was healthy for a blink of an eye last year. While the changes could create an updraft of fantasy value growth, Manning is still the pilot who has to navigate the voyage - one that he has the potential to steer into the mountain. That’s probably part of why I can’t get behind stumping vigorously for any Giant this year.

Schedule Note: Jacksonville in Week 1 means that the gloom and doom scenario could look very real. A trip to Dallas Week 2 is encouraging, but Week 3 at Houston and Week 4 vs. New Orleans aren’t pushovers and will test this offense.

Philadelphia

With all of the talk of regression to the mean in the air this time of year, should we be worried that the Eagles offense seemed to function at an extremely high level last year? The offense produced passing touchdowns in bunches, which helped it transcend a fantasy value-killing approach that often included as many as 8-10 players touching the ball regularly. The offensive line is still a huge strength, and perhaps we will learn this year that it’s the true foundation of the Eagles offense. Elsewhere, there’s uncertainty at quarterback - at least early in the season. When will Carson Wentz start? When will he be physically comfortable? How will his injury affect his method of attack on defenses? How much of his success last year depended on his mobility? Wentz not returning to 2017 play levels this year is very much within the range of outcomes. Nick Foles will keep the offense more than functional, but he doesn’t add nearly as much as a healthy Wentz did. At running back, there’s the riddle of Jay Ajayi. We know he can make history if a team feeds him, and LeGarrette Blount being gone means Ajayi’s role is sure to grow. But how much? Will he consistently get his number called at the goal line? Will he consistently get 15+ carries? He’s a borderline RB1 if his usage is heavy and predictable. He’s a matchup flex if it is not. That’s a lot of downside for a fourth-round pick, but I understand the allure and won’t talk someone out of taking Ajayi at ADP. There probably isn’t a scenario where Corey Clement or Darren Sproles are consistent plays, although they will produce useful best ball spikes. They’re not part of my end game list. At wide receiver, we can’t say when Alshon Jeffery will take the field, which opens the door to conditioning hiccups and rust in his first few games back. It isn’t like Jeffery had a high weekly ceiling in this offense anyway. The prospect of seeing him healthier than 2017, when he played with the torn rotator cuff that is delaying his return, was exciting, but now it appears we might not truly get to see that until 2019. His ADP hasn’t fallen far enough for me to take him. While Jeffery’s absence creates an opening for Nelson Agholor to get off to a hot start, he’s already dinged and was inconsistent last year with this offense at its peak, so he should level off to a matchup WR3/Flex at best once Jeffery is up to speed. He’s still undervalued because of the potential for Jeffery to have a lost year and Agholor is still on the upslope of his career. Mike Wallace can still play and could be a waiver wire subject if Jeffery is slow to return. At tight end, Zach Ertz’s ADP feels the most out of whack of any tight end this year. His touchdown spike is reliant on the Eagles offense remaining at the top of its game, and he was joined by a tight end whose specialty appears to be catching touchdowns. Taking him within a round of Gronkowski or Kelce seems too optimistic when Ertz has already shown that his ceiling isn’t within shouting distance of theirs. Goedert, on the other hand, is very enticing as a late round streamer, and he could get out of the gate fast if Jeffery misses time which could get Goedert’s number called more often in the red zone.

Schedule Note: The Eagles open on a Thursday vs. Atlanta, and then go to Tampa and face Indianapolis at home and Tennessee on the road. There are lots of secondary deficiencies to exploit in those last three matchups. A trip to face the Rams in Week 15 will be a test, and Week 16 at Houston could be anything from a shootout to a defensive struggle with the players on both sides of the ball.

Washington

This offense could be very good with Alex Smith. I see him as a better fit with Jay Gruden than he was with Andy Reid, hopefully being on the move more often among other things. Kirk Cousins was a low QB1 in this offense, there’s no reason Smith can’t be after being a Top 5 fantasy quarterback last year. The offensive line was a sinkhole last year and that should be factored in when calculating the baseline for the offense and Smith this year. Adding Derrius Guice could have taken this offense into the Top 10 and helped grow the size of the pie, but that won’t happen this year. The running game did produce some fantasy relevance between Rob Kelley and Matt Jones this year, Adrian Peterson could do that this year. I’m feeling tempted to throw a late pick at him. Chris Thompson could be at the high end of his opportunity range with Guice out, but he won’t be 100% to begin the season by his admission and that doesn’t seem the opening chapter in a triumphant season story. Jamison Crowder has the best fit with Smith by far and could be in store for a career year if he can stay healthy. He wasn’t for the first half of the year and his numbers suffered, but he was producing over an 80-1000 pace from Week 8 on. Paul Richardson Jr and Josh Doctson are probably going to be limited to supporting roles, although they will provide best-ball, big-play, and touchdown spikes. I have cooled on both as the summer has gone on, although if Jordan Reed can’t stay healthy and Doctson can, he has double-digit touchdown potential. Remember the name Maurice Harris if Richardson goes down. Reed’s ADP is down three or four rounds from last year, he’s healthier than last year, and he has a quarterback who fits well with his game. I’m getting drawn in at times when I don’t get Gronkowski in the second.

Schedule Note: Washington gets to open with the new look Arizona defense on the road, then has the Packers and Colts come to them in what could create a lot of offensive momentum going into their Week 4 bye. A road game with Jacksonville lurks in Week 15, but home games against the Giants and Tennessee in Weeks 14 and 16 are manageable.

NFC North

Chicago

The Bears offense joins the Titans in having the potential to post something like a 2017 Rams turnaround on offense. While the magnitude of the spike might not be as high because Mitchell Trubisky might not mesh with his new teammates and offense as well and as quickly as Jared Goff did, we could learn that the offense was being held back in Jeff Fisher proportions by John Fox and Dowell Loggains. Trubisky can add fantasy value as a runner/scrambler, but the potential for a bumpy early ramp-up time for the second year quarterback makes him a less essential late streamer pick, but he’s still worthy of a pick. He has clicked with Trey Burton, who will likely not have to share with Adam Shaheen for Week 1 and potentially longer. Burton is trending up toward the 7th-8th and might still be one of the best answers at tight end at that price. It becomes more and more apparent that Jordan Howard is going to be treated like a feature back in this offense. He’s worth a second, especially if Antonio Brown is your first round pick. Tarik Cohen can still be a success at his ADP while Howard gets over 300 touches. If Cohen is used in a better way and more frequently in the passing game, that alone could create a Chris Thompson-sized role and big-play potential. I’m getting a 2017 Sammy Watkins vibe from Allen Robinson. Let him cancel out Xavier Rhodes and Darius Slay and win with better matchups elsewhere on the field. He doesn’t stand out as one of the preferred targets in the fourth. If I’m going fishing in the Bears wide receiver depth chart, it’s for Anthony Miller. He stole the show in camp and should be the primary slot receiver right away. If Robinson is 2017 Watkins, Miller could be 2018 Kupp. Taylor Gabriel is a good tactical piece for the offense who probably can’t sustain fantasy relevance like he did for a short stretch two years ago, but he’ll still help Trubisky and the offense as a whole. Kevin White is still around and can add another element to this passing game if he is gaining confidence, but there are few scenarios where he ends up mattering in fantasy leagues this year. Optimism pervades this offense and there is room for large growth everywhere if Trubisky plays well.

Schedule Note: Opening at Lambeau will set the bar high for Trubisky (and be a preview for a Week 15 rematch), and then he’ll face Seattle in Chicago and go to Arizona. A road game against the 49ers is on the slate for Week 16.

Detroit

Matthew Stafford was in top form last year. The offensive line could be coming together, bringing a renewed focus on the running game and hope for a better offense across the board. Stafford is likely to outperform his QB10 ADP, but I’m not sure if he has Top 5 upside with LeGarrette Blount on the roster now to finish drives and games and Kerryon Johnson’s ability to get in a groove. Johnson could show that he’s destined to be the true lead back for this team this year while still yielding enough snaps and touches to Blount and Theo Riddick to have a muted fantasy impact. I’ll take Lynch over him in the sixth every time, but I’m excited to see him. I’m excited to see Kenny Golladay, who will probably get an outsized leap in target share with the departure of Eric Ebron and no suitable replacement at tight end on the roster. Golladay will get a lot of deep targets and red zone targets. I believe the team is open to Golladay making this into a 1A/1B/1C passing game, and Marvin Jones Jr is probably going to draw the better opposing outside corner most weeks. One of Tate or Jones is going to take a step back if Golladay takes a step forward. Jones would have to maintain outstanding efficiency to deliver on his ADP if Golladay cuts into his targets. Tate was inconsistent once Golladay was healthy last year, coming in at 6.3 PPR points or fewer in Weeks 11, 12, 15, and 16. If I’m taking a Lions receiver at ADP, it’s going to be Golladay. Michael Roberts hasn’t had the look of a player ready to make a splash this year. The tight end being a non-factor could support a Golladay jump in value while sustaining Jones and Tate at 2017 levels, which what their ADP assumes right now.

Schedule Note: The Jets, San Francisco, and New England to open could make the Lions one of the hottest offenses in the league after three weeks.

Green Bay

When an offense is piloted by a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, you don’t ask whether to invest in players from that unit, you increase your focus to zero in on the players most likely to return a profit. At running back, Ty Montgomery is banged up and Aaron Jones already had a multi-week hamstring injury while Jamaal Williams has only cemented his hold on the starting job, joining players like Carlos Hyde, Marshawn Lynch, Peyton Barber, and Chris Carson as starting running backs available outside of the top 50-60 picks. Montgomery and Jones are looking less attractive by the minute. At wide receiver, Davante Adams has a chance to return first-round value on a second-round pick as long as he avoids a worrisome concussion with his history, and Randall Cobb should at least deliver on his modest ADP - IF he can stay healthy. Geronimo Allison appears to be the clear #3 going into the season, and he has Adams and Cobb injury history. For all the coverage the Packers rookie trio of receivers got, it was former Bengals practice squad project Jake Kumerow who had the best camp and preseason of the non-starters, and he has a good chance to be the #4 and a name to file away. Jimmy Graham is tempting in the fifth because Aaron Rodgers is saying all of the right things and the quarterback should maximize translating whatever Graham has left to fantasy value. Jordy Nelson had 12 red zone touchdowns in 2016, so that’s well within Graham’s range of outcomes this year. Rodgers isn’t worth his ADP because of the depth and quality of quarterbacks, but that doesn’t mean you are disqualified from winning the title if you take. He’ll return more value than some of the players picked around him.

Schedule Note: Chicago and Minnesota present tough run matchups to start, which could push Aaron Rodgers attempts up. The Jets defense in Week 16 could make folks who advance to their title games with Rodgers very happy.

Minnesota

This offense should be better with Kirk Cousins, but we also could learn that Case Keenum was better than his reputation led us to believe by creating success in Denver, and Alex Smith could show us Cousins production was more a result of Washington’s offensive personnel and coaches than Cousins adding a lot of value himself. They have an excellent wide receiver duo and Dalvin Cook, but the offensive line has lost a mauler at left guard in Nick Easton, and their center and right guard are coming into the season likely not at 100%. As much as I liked Cook coming into the offseason based on how productive the Vikings backfield was without him and assuming that he would make more out that role than McKinnon/Murray did, I have moved him down to his ADP range and out of first-round consideration, although I think he’s a fine pick to pair with a first round wide receiver. Cook is really good at football, but the team will use Latavius Murray more than they did early last season and the offensive line worry is real. Murray is a fine late round pick depending on bench size and league size, but I don’t think a handcuff is absolutely necessary. There seems to be a widely-held perception is that Diggs is going to surpass Thielen, and as long as he stays healthy, he should. Staying healthy hasn’t been something has been able to do so far, but he can return first round value on a late second/early third if he does. He and Cousins seem to have excellent chemistry already. Thielen is a boring, safe, third-round wide receiver, unlikely to deliver significantly more or less than you’d expect, even while accommodating a Diggs breakout season. I’ve heard the idea floated that Kyle Rudolph could be a bigger part of the offense with the coordinator change to John DeFilippo because of what Gary Barnidge and Zach Ertz has done while he’s been on the coaching staff, but he’s still a player who is at best plateauing and swinging for a single at tight end. He’s not someone I’m drafting, I’d rather go for elite production early or adequate production later. This team should still have a decent fantasy offense because of the quality at RB1, WR1, and WR2, but they could underachieve despite the addition of Cousins.

Schedule Note: After opening with the 49ers at home and a short trip to Lambeau, the Vikings have to face Buffalo and travel to the Rams house in games that will give us a good idea where this offense is compared to last year, especially the line.

NFC South

Atlanta

The Falcons have had probably the most boring summer of any team from a fantasy perspective. The big question here is whether the offense will work its way back from the 2017 bottoming out under first-year coordinator Steve Sarkisian. We didn’t really get to see any evidence of that in preseason games, although we did see that Calvin Ridley is ready to make an impact as the third receiver. Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman will provide modest profit if the offense bounces back. Matt Ryan will be one of the right answers at quarterback if that happens. Tevin Coleman will provide more RB2/Flex worthy weeks in addition to Freeman injury upside if Sarkisian creates an identity for this offense and they finish more drives with touchdowns this year. Mohamed Sanu could take a small step back in consistency if Ridley demands targets, and Ridley could leave him in the dust in terms of fantasy value. Austin Hooper had a chance last year and didn’t convert on it, with Ridley in town, chances are he remains off of the list of rosterable fantasy tight ends.

Schedule Note: After a Thursday night opener at Philadelphia, the Falcons come home to face the Panthers, Saints, and Bengals. We’ll have a much better idea where this offense is after those tests.

Carolina

In what should have been the reveal of a multi-faceted offense with a deep set of targets, instead, we got the unveiling of the Christian McCaffrey show. While that has touched off of a McCaffrey fever that has pushed him into the first round of drafts in the most extreme cases, we haven’t gotten much guidance on which Panthers to target otherwise (or whether to target them). The Panthers line is in shambles, complicating matters. Devin Funchess looks like the #1 receiver, but Torrey Smith, DJ Moore, and Curtis Samuel appear to be poised to play significant roles, and Greg Olsen might lead the team in targets. There’s also the matter of where McCaffrey’s targets will come from. There’s not a player in this offense I am excited to draft at ADP right now. I don’t think McCaffrey is a better inside runner or pass blocker than C.J. Anderson, and believe if rational coaching is in effect, Anderson will still get 30-50% of the carries. Newton could end up in the top three quarterbacks if the line is passable and Norv Turner puts the offense in a position to succeed, but that stubborn reliance on McCaffrey is making me wonder about that, too. I waver between confusion and having a feeling that this offense is going to underachieve.

Schedule Note: The Cowboys, Falcons, and Bengals are not a kind opening trio, but not a murderer’s row, either. A Week 4 bye could give the team an early opportunity to adjust the currently in-flux offense.

  • Willing to Reach: None
  • Target at ADP: None
  • ADP Accurate But Pass: Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, C.J. Anderson, Devin Funchess, Greg Olsen
  • Overdrafted: DJ Moore
  • Endgame Target: None
  • Waiver Wire Speed Dial: None
  • Waiver Wire Watch List: None
  • Team Ten Foot Pole: None

New Orleans

We have loved the Brees/Payton Saints offense for a long time because it tends to magnify the value of any functional player and turn quality players into fantasy studs. Last year, it was the backfield duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II both becoming RB1s, but the passing game shrunk considerably and only supported one consistent fantasy option - Michael Thomas. Even Brees became a pedestrian QB1. The big question is whether this offense re-balances itself to 30 passing scores and leaves Ingram and/or Kamara underperforming their 2017 production levels. If so, a second option in the passing game like rookie Tre’Quan Smith or the ageless tight end Ben Watson. Brees could also be a value going outside of the Top five tight ends. Cameron Meredith generated some excitement as a great candidate to reprise the Marques Colston big slot role in the offense, but his summer hasn’t created any expectations of early success and we know how important chemistry with Brees is in this offense. If the return of Ingram marks a return to the 2017 blueprint, Brees will disappoint slightly, and Michael Thomas might not have room for much growth with a much better supporting cast this year. This could be an offense that gives us one picture through four weeks, then changes upon Ingram’s activation. The #2 running back job while Ingram is out has potential, but right now there isn’t a clear winner. Jonathan Williams and rookie Boston Scott could split the role.

Schedule Note: The Saints D/ST is a great pick to lead off the season with a home opener against Ryan Fitzpatrick and then Cleveland coming to the Big Easy in Week 2. A Week 16 home game against the Steelers could decide fantasy championships.

Tampa Bay

When Jameis Winston’s suspension was announced, passing on him in drafts felt like the right answer, but now I’m not so sure. The embarrassment of riches in the passing game was apparent in the preseason, and Winston looked good. He has six viable targets and his deep ball to DeSean Jackson looked much better than last year. He’s going to be in fantasy lineups once he’s back, although you can’t afford to tie up that spot for him in short bench leagues. There’s no clear #2 option in this passing game, and you have to wonder how high Mike Evans weekly and season-long ceiling is with such a deep group of pass catchers. Evans is behind Hill, Hilton, and Diggs on my board. Jackson, Chris Godwin, Adam Humphries, OJ Howard, and Cameron Brate are all good players who would have fantasy relevance in a less crowded pass offense. All of them will have startable fantasy weeks at some point this year, but it will be very difficult to predict and probably a situation to stay away from in drafts and only use for desperation depth during the season unless injuries clarify it. Peyton Barber has held off Ronald Jones, who never really threatened him for the starting job. It’s not obvious that Barber will be an every-week starter with the Bucs not exactly a strong running team and two other backs playing roles, but he is among the cheapest starting running backs in fantasy drafts. Jones probably isn’t worth a stash at his ADP, although if he gets to show off his speed, he might change this to closer to a 50/50 committee. He’s unlikely to become a clear lead back this year in any event. There’s a chance that Dirk Koetter is one of the first head coaches fired, leaving this offense in the lurch during the season, although they’d be in better hands if Todd Monken was making the play calls.

Schedule Note: Three of the most combustible fantasy games on the schedule are up for Fitzpatrick’s three starts - at New Orleans, Philadelphia at home, and Pittsburgh at home. That also takes the oomph out of targeting players in this offense.

NFC West

Arizona

AQ Shipley was far from a household name at center, but the Cardinals already have a big hole at right tackle, so incorporating a new center isn’t ideal. Sam Bradford and/or Josh Rosen will keep Larry Fitzgerald fed to the tune of 100+ catches, but it’s fair to wonder if any other part of the Cardinals passing game will be fantasy relevant - that is other than David Johnson. Johnson is my pick at #2, I won’t be surprised if he catches 100 passes and in an environment-independent way stakes a claim to being the best running back in the league. Otherwise, we are looking at 2017 third-round pick Chad Williams and 2018 second-rounder Christian Kirk battling to be second in the wide receiver pecking order and Ricky Seals-Jones trying to earn enough targets to be trustworthy at the low fantasy bar position of tight end. Fourth-round pick Chase Edmonds had an outstanding summer and is the clear backup to Johnson - file that away. Like John Kelly on the Rams roster, we might have to wait a long time for Edmonds to get his opportunity, but his talent and ability are obvious.

Schedule Note: Washington’s front seven is underrated to open the season. The complexion of the Week 2 Rams matchup will hinge on Aaron Donald’s availability, and Chicago is coming to town in Week 3. Another underrated defense in Atlanta and the Rams loom in Weeks 15 and 16.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams, like the Falcons, have a lot of continuity, so we didn’t have many questions about them heading into the summer. They did lose Matt LaFleur to the Titans, but Sean McVay is the real captain of the offensive crew. We didn’t even get to see Jared Goff in the preseason, but he could certainly be more effective in year two under McVay. The biggest variable is the change from Sammy Watkins to Brandin Cooks. Cooks offers more after the catch than Watkins and his deep speed is at a higher level. The team should make more efforts to keep Cooks central in the passing game, which might preserve his boom/bust WR1 value from the last two years even though he’s being drafted as a WR2. What would that do to Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods? I see Kupp as more stable in the slot and Woods as the likely biggest loser if Cooks is given a significantly larger share than Watkins got last year. Todd Gurley is still the undisputed #1 pick, nothing has changed in his situation. John Kelly gives the team a quality back behind him (no disrespect to Malcolm Brown) and he’d be the target if Gurley goes down. I’ve always had a Tyler Higbee fascination and Gerald Everett’s shoulder injury just might give him the opening to establish himself.

Schedule Note: Higbee could start hot against the Raiders. Cooks could have tests in Weeks 2-4 against Patrick Peterson, Casey Hayward (watch that hamstring injury), and Xavier Rhodes.

San Francisco

The story of December has faded a little with 32 teams worth of news and optimism to sort through. Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t stoked the hype fires with his play, but he isn’t coming in below raised expectations, either. Still, Patrick Mahomes looks like the better what the heck upside play to be this year’s Carson Wentz. That doesn’t mean Garoppolo can’t support players delivering a profit on ADP in the passing game. Marquise Goodwin is in the crosshairs here as the clear #1 receiver by all accounts. Even Pierre Garcon’s big play in Week 3 of the preseason was intended for Goodwin. Goodwin’s ADP has risen above Garcon’s but there’s still a lot of room for him to outperform it. Garcon is probably going to end up being depth on the Mohamed Sanu level, with Trent Taylor playing a solid role in the slot and Dante Pettis ready to contribute right away. George Kittle is a little banged up, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be the primary receiving tight end, which could be enough to make him a low TE1 and worth his ADP - I’m still going in another direction at tight end. The backfield is a mess after the big signing of Jerick McKinnon seemed to clarify it in the offseason. McKinnon has a calf strain, Matt Breida has a sprained shoulder, and Alfred Morris gives the team a powerful look and experienced outside zone runner that should turn this into a three-headed RBBC. Morris is the one to take if you are opting for a 49ers back.

Schedule Note: At Minnesota isn’t a great place to start a season, but Detroit and Kansas City in Weeks 2 and 3 have the potential to restore optimism quickly.

Seattle

Russell Wilson will give this offense a puncher’s chance every week, and he can create fantasy value out of thin air. Even with the loss of Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson Jr, a recommitment to the run, Brian Schottenheimer lacking inspiration, and continuing offensive line questions, Wilson can probably deliver on his lofty ADP because of his all or nothing style and the Seattle defense being in a transition phase that could create a lot of come from behind game scripts. I prefer targeting Tyler Lockett over Doug Baldwin in this passing game, but both can be hits at ADP. If Baldwin was healthy, he would probably be in the second round by now. He’s instead going in the late third/early fourth, but at least he’s on track to play Week 1. His level of play and availability will still be a question mark with his knee issue. Lockett is much healthier than last year and Wilson is showing a penchant for going deep. If Lockett can’t stay healthy. Jaron Brown and maybe even 2017 seventh-rounder David Moore should be on our radar. Brandon Marshall is likely going to stick on this team and could even play a big red zone role with his 50/50 ball-winning ability still intact. All of the wide receivers become more interesting because #1 tight end Ed Dickson is still rounding into shape after missing his first camp and preseason, and 2016 third-round pick Nick Vannett has done nothing to show that he’s more than just a guy. Blocking tight end Will Dissly will further muddy the tight end picture. Everyone has finally accepted that Chris Carson is actually good, he’s actually going to start, and there’s a very low chance Rashaad Penny changes that any time soon. As long as CJ Prosise can play, he’ll turn this already poor situation into a three-headed backfield. There’s some chance this offense could crater if Baldwin isn’t right and the defense forces Wilson to pull a rabbit out of his hat every week.

Schedule Note: At Denver and at Chicago to open could increase the doomsday scenario, but Dallas coming to town Week 3 could calm that down before a trip to Arizona in Week 4. All of the trials and tribulations with Seahawks fantasy commodities could pay off if you make it to the title game in Week 16 when they face the Chiefs in what could be a track meet.