From The Gut - Offseason: NFC

Sigmund Bloom's takes on offseason developments for each of the 16 NFC teams

NFC East

Dallas

The Cowboys shouldn’t be any less inclined to take Ezekiel Elliott at #4 with no long-term running back answer on the roster and a team built to maximize an elite running back talent, but the retention of Lance Dunbar and addition of Alfred Morris at running back could make them content enough to look elsewhere in the first. They’ll still take a running back at some point, and we’ll target that back in dynasty drafts… Darren McFadden is still the starter according to Jerry Jones, and the team did seem inclined to primarily use only one early down back last year. McFadden ran as well as he has in years, but Morris could regain his early career form behind this group of maulers. Dunbar also showed massive weekly upside as a receiver in PPR leagues, but he might not be ready for the beginning of the season. The Cowboys backfield offers lots of fantasy intrigue, but little in the way of predictability…

New York Giants

The Giants will have a chance to land an impact player on offense at #10. Ezekiel Elliott is an elite running back prospect who could immediately take over this piecemeal backfield and Laquon Treadwell could be the one-on-one threat that can take advantage of the attention defenses pay to Odell Beckham… Victor Cruz took a 6.6 million dollar pay cut from a 7.9 million dollar base salary to stay with the Giants. He is far from a sure thing to make the final roster, but he could be the #2 receiver if he can sustain a recovery from his patellar tendon and subsequent calf injuries… Head coach Ben McAdoo said the depth chart at running back “looks a lot like it did at the end of last year”, which should mean Rashad Jennings as more of a feature back, with Andre Williams on the bench and Shane Vereen in a very specific passing down role. Jennings will be a value in 2016 drafts if the Giants don’t take an early running back that they want to groom as a starter...

Philadelphia

That the Eagles got anything for Byron Maxwell, DeMarco Murray, and Kiko Alonso is stunning enough, but landing the leap from 13 to 8 could bring Ezekiel Elliott to the city of brotherly love. Ryan Mathews is the starter for now, but Darren Sproles will play a role and the team will certainly add another back in the draft, even if it isn’t Elliott. GM Howie Roseman has expressed a view counter to the devaluation of the running back position, so we’ll all sit up a bit when the Eagles are on the clock if Elliott is still on the board… Rueben Randle got a very modest deal, but if the Eagles use a lot of three wide receiver sets, he could get plenty of snaps and reverse the negative momentum so far in his career. Nelson Agholor and Jordan Matthews should start with Zach Ertz figuring big in the passing game, but the pecking order could be in flux in a new offense… Sam Bradford coming back was a move the Eagles almost had to make, but Chase Daniel is not a mere backup and he could push Bradford. New head coach Doug Pederson knows Daniel’s game well from their time together in Kansas City…

Washington

The team seems a bit overconfident in Matt Jones abilities, but if this offense functions like it did in the second half of 2015, he could be a borderline RB1 on the back of consistent opportunity. Perhaps a hip injury held him back in a poor second half, but Washington could also be a candidate to take a running back on the second day of the the draft… If Jones isn’t up to the task, Chris Thompson has already showed explosiveness and terrific hands out of the backfield, he’s a PPR sleeper to watch in camp, that is if Thompson’s shoulder injury isn’t still an issue by then… Washington didn’t jettison Pierre Garcon or DeSean Jackson, so the stacked passing offense will have fluctuations week-to-week from every player except possibly Jordan Reed. Jamison Crowder will get better in his second year, and Niles Paul, who had overtaken Reed when he went down last year, will also be there to steal looks from the starters....

NFC North


Chicago

Jay Cutler played some of the better football of his career in 2015, and the return of a “100 percent” Kevin White combined with the hope for better health from franchise tagee Alshon Jeffery spells a much higher season-long and weekly ceiling despite the conservative leanings of the offense and loss of Adam Gase to Miami… Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey will take over the backfield with Matt Forte gone, but the team could dip into the draft class, making this situation ripe for the taking. Langford will be a boom/bust volume play, but it could work out if the team emphasizes him as a receiving target and gives him the goal line work… Martellus Bennett was dealt to New England for the meager price a jump from the 6th to 4th round, but Zach Miller is back at tight end and he showed fantasy potential in 2015, albeit when the wide receiver corps was decimated. As of this moment, he could be joined by Josh Hill, who is also a receiving specialist. If New Orleans doesn’t match the do-able 7.5 million dollar, three year deal (3.25M guaranteed), Miller’s upside will take a hit…

Detroit

Matthew Stafford’s value isn’t taking nearly as much of a hit from the loss of Calvin Johnson as some might assume. He was a solid QB1 under new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter in the second half last year with a subpar Johnson. The addition of Marvin and hopeful progress from players like Eric Ebron and Ameer Abdullah could also help. Stafford is underrated in fantasy circles… The Lions backfield looks like a three-headed committee with Abdullah, Theo Riddick, and Zach Zenner. Zenner and Riddick have necessarily limited roles, and Abdullah has admitted to being a bit overwhelmed in his rookie year. His talent could carve out a larger role, but he won’t be a better receiver than Riddick or inside runner than Zenner. This backfield could be productive on the whole, but muddled from week-to-week… Jones is going to have a rougher go of it than he had in Cincinnati matchup-wise, but his quarterback is better. He isn’t going to be a no brainer everyweek starter, but he’s more likely to be fantasy relevant than his former teammate Mohamed Sanu in Atlanta. He’s still probably no higher than third in the pecking order for targets with the emergence of Theo Riddick...

Green Bay

Eddie Lacy is reportedly dropping weight and his value is on the slow rebound in early drafts. A “safe” first rounder in 2015 is now going in the late third or even fourth round. Lacy’s dynasty value is greatly discounted right now if you believe in him… If you don’t, James Starks is back, and Starks looked about as good as he has in his entire career last year. Starks had pulled even with Lacy in value, if not ahead, by the end of the season. It could easily happen again in 2016… James Jones won’t be brought back, which insures that Jeff Janis will get more looks even if Davante Adams somehow finds his game in year three. Ty Montgomery was very good last year as a rookie and he should be in the mix if his ankle injury doesn’t keep him from being ready for training camp…

Minnesota

The Vikings brought Matt Asiata back, so Jerick McKinnon owners don’t have a shoo-in stud if Adrian Peterson goes down despite McKinnon’s strong finish in 2015… Mike Wallace is gone and the Vikings don’t have a clear replacement on the roster, unless Charles Johnson is about to turn it around after he fell off the map in 2015. The Vikings are a strong candidate to take a wide receiver at #23… Kyle Rudolph could do a little more as a receiver with the offensive line taking on Andre Smith and Alex Boone, but he wasn’t very exciting on his targets last year and will have trouble sustaining production in this dud of a pass offense...

NFC South

Atlanta

Tevin Coleman will get a shot to play a larger role in 2015, making Devonta Freeman a bit risky at top 15-20 price. Coleman might not hit enough to support his own value, but the Falcons offense isn’t dynamic enough to make Freeman a fantasy RB1 with a running mate taking 8-12 touches a game… Mohamed Sanu is being paid and used like a #2 receiver, but he will have trouble producing to a level of fantasy relevance. The Falcons are clearly projecting a leap in his game that is not apparent on tape from Cincinnati… Justin Hardy will have a chance to be the #3 receiver this year, and if his slot skills are in order like they were at East Carolina, he could outproduce Sanu…

Carolina

Cam Newton reigned over the fantasy quarterback ranks, and there’s no reason to think that he won’t again in 2016 with Kelvin Benjamin returning and Devin Funchess progressing… It is fair to ask whether Greg Olsen can be a top flight fantasy tight end again if the wide receivers become mainstays in the passing game. Olsen is going around the same place as boom/bust options like Jordan Reed and Tyler Eifert in early drafts… The Panthers brought back Mike Tolbert, but Jonathan Stewart still represents decent value as a lead back going as late as the fifth round. He did get hurt by the end of the 2015 campaign, but overall Stewart held up and performed about as well anyone could have expected. The presence of Tolbert and Newton will still deny Stewart the goal line opportunities to be more than a muted RB2…

New Orleans

The team expressed some belief that they’d see the real C.J. Spiller in 2016, and their lack of moves at running back or release of Spiller indicates they are telling the truth. If we agree with them, the price for Spiller in fantasy leagues of all types is very cheap right now… Coby Fleener got a big contract and the Saints will give him a huge fantasy opportunity in Ben Watson and Jimmy Graham’s old role. I still have misgivings about Fleener’s ability to consistently execute, but he doesn’t have to be that good be a TE1 in this offense… Brandon Coleman flashed the ball skills that he so sorely lacked early in the season. His size/speed combination fit perfectly in Marques Colston’s old role if Coleman has a good offseason...

Tampa Bay

Mike Evans still hasn’t put together a full strong season, and new head coach Dirk Koetter thinks he needs more consistent preparation and work habits. Evans has been a fantasy WR2 while developing and fighting through injuries. His true ceiling is still unknown… Doug Martin and Charles Sims should be a true backfield duo, with Martin getting the lion’s share of the carries, but Sims getting more passing down work and just as many touchdown opportunities. Sims is the better play at ADP in PPR leagues, with massive Martin injury upside… GM Jason Licht named Cameron Brate as a potential breakout player in 2016, which should make it clear that Austin Seferian-Jenkins needs to have a healthy and productive season or Brate has a real shot to overtake him. Don’t forget Brate in deep dynasty and TE premium leagues…

NFC West

Arizona

I don’t like the Chris Johnson re-signing one bit for David Johnson. Bruce Arians has shown a penchant for sticking a boring, dependable veteran in the backfield over more dynamic younger options. Taking David Johnson in the top 20 of early drafts seems ill-advised now that Chris Johnson is back. Andre Ellington’s fantasy value in Arizona is on life support… Chandler Jones came at the very modest cost of a late second and 2013 draft bust (is that redundant?) Jonathan Cooper. Jones had a recent synthetic marijuana incident that might have made the Patriots unwilling to invest in him long term with a contract year coming up. Jones is a top notch defensive end when healthy and the Cardinals seem willing to commit to him. This could be a coup that helps the team in the delicate power balance of the NFC… The signing of Evan Mathis to strengthen the interior line and retaining of backup quarterback Drew Stanton in free agency are two more “win now” moves that show the mentality of a team that is not letting the NFC title game debacle slow their momentum…

Los Angeles

Case Keenum is this team’s answer at quarterback at the moment, although the introduction of Josh McCown to the trade market might change their tune. The team has a terrific running game in the form of Todd Gurley, but their passing game has been a novelty at best. McCown or Ryan Fitzpatrick would be a shot in the arm compared to recent options… The team brought back Brian Quick to give them another big option outside along with Kenny Britt, but this passing game is nowhere to look for fantasy value in the current quarterback situation, which also keeps a lid any way Lance Kendricks could matter in deep leagues now that Jared Cook is gone…

San Francisco

The Colin Kaepernick situation will come to a head soon, but the team may end up stuck with 11.9 million dollar bill for his services, which they probably don’t even want. Chip Kelly’s system is probably a bad fit for the slow-thinking passer in Kaepernick, while his big play running upside would be accentuated. Blaine Gabbert might actually be the better quarterback in an open camp competition, and a top 10 pick at quarterback could complicate things. This is likely going to be a rough year for the 49ers passing game… Anquan Boldin won’t return, giving Bruce Ellington (Chip Kelly is intrigued) and DeAndre Smelter (the 49ers are reportedly “excited” about the latest Georgia Tech size/speed WR, coming off of an ACL tear and redshirt rookie year) a chance to capture a #2 role and Torrey Smith a chance to get #1 targets, albeit in a weak passing offense. Vance McDonald, Blake Bell, and newly re-signed Garrett Celek will keep two and even three tight end sets prominent in the offense, making this a mess that probably won’t yield fantasy upside or consistency… Carlos Hyde is getting reshaped a la LeVeon Bell and Marshawn Lynch to be a workhorse in Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense. He couldn’t overcome negative game scripts last year, but Kelly’s style may dictate a Hyde-friendly script no matter the score...

Seattle

Christine Michael was brought back and he is not that far below Thomas Rawls as a talent, if at all. Rawls proved a lot in his rookie year, but Michael will keep him from getting as huge a workload as he was getting in his early starts… Jimmy Graham’s Week 1 status is in doubt, he might not be close to the old Graham when he does return (or ever), and he wasn’t that hot for fantasy as a Seahawk to begin with. Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett should continue to be viable weekly options… The offensive line lost Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy, but neither was a top or consistent performer and the offense gelled after a nightmarish start to the season by the offensive line. Tom Cable continues to be a most valuable coach for Seattle...