Team-By-Team Dynasty Roundup: NFC West (2021 Fantasy Football)
Is the NFC West the best division in football? You can certainly make an argument for it, as every team in this division has made big moves this offseason to improve their squad. Whether it be spending multiple first-round picks to acquire a new quarterback, adding new weapons to an already high-octane offense, or whatever Seattle is doing, each NFC West team projects to produce multiple fantasy contributors in 2021.
So, let’s run through each squad and take stock of how their fantasy assets are looking on your dynasty roster!
Dynasty Stock Watch
QB Kyler Murray: 2020 QB1 | Stock: Up
How does the stock rise on the QB1 from Weeks 1-16? Simple, I don’t believe that he has reached his ceiling. When Murray hurt his shoulder in Week 11, Arizona’s play-calling shifted away from relying on his rushing ability. From Weeks 1-10, Murray averaged over nine rush attempts, 67 rush yards, and a rushing touchdown per game. However, after suffering his shoulder injury, he only ran fifteen times for 61 yards over the next three weeks. Murray became the fantasy QB1 on the season not only because of his improvement as a pocket passer, but also due to his willingness to gain yards on the ground. I expect he’ll return to form next season when fully healthy.
Arizona also improved their receiving corps by adding A.J. Green and Rondale Moore, giving Murray a greater variety of weapons. Despite entering just his third season and finishing as fantasy football’s best quarterback last season, Murray is still being ranked below the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. While regression is inevitable, Murray finishing outside of the top-three quarterbacks next season would be a shock.
RB James Conner: 2020 RB27 | Stock: Up
Honestly, it was hard for James Conner’s stock to go down after getting out of Pittsburgh. The Steelers had one of the worst rushing units in the league last season, and while most of that can be blamed on poor offensive line play, Conner wasn’t without fault. Still, he’ll likely take over for Kenyan Drake in what should be a better offense than he previously had last season. He’ll be the early-down running back and featured at the goal-line; he also has pass-catching capability, so I don’t think he’ll always be removed on passing downs.
Conner was already on a downward trajectory following the end of the 2021 season, but there weren’t many places for him to land that would raise his value. Arizona was the one spot where he could return to form as a low-RB2. Conner is at the age where you might want to consider selling him, but I’d wait to see how he performs to begin the season, as I think the narrative will change for the better once he’s on the field.
RB Chase Edmonds: 2020 RB23 | Stock: Neutral
Remember those two weeks during the offseason where “Edmonds SZN” had finally taken off? Me neither. Edmonds is, and always will be, a change-of-pace scatback who has FLEX-appeal in PPR leagues. He’ll never have the bulk of the workload outside of injury, and Arizona has shown on several occasions that they are unwilling to give him more than several touches a game.
Unless you bought him during that two-week window, your expectations for Edmonds should have stayed the same throughout the offseason. If you need a running back during your bye weeks or simply depth at the position, Edmonds is your guy.
WR DeAndre Hopkins: 2020 WR4 | Stock: Neutral
DeAndre Hopkins proved last season that he is unarguably a top-five wide receiver in the NFL. His target totals remained steady after transitioning from Houston, garnering 160 looks and converting his opportunity into 115 catches for 1,407 yards and six touchdowns. His production dipped after Murray suffered a shoulder injury, but that shouldn’t take away from his amazing start to the year.
Given Hopkins’ age, you will likely never receive enough in a trade offer to outweigh keeping his production on your team. He’ll be the next Julio Jones for dynasty, as his production will always outweigh his trade value during any offseason. Despite being another year older, Hopkins has not shown any signs of slowing down and is primed to have another elite fantasy season in 2021.
WR A.J. Green: 2020 WR67 | Stock: Down
Green’s stock isn’t down because of his landing spot. On the contrary, landing in Arizona as the WR2 opposite DeAndre Hopkins was probably his best-case scenario this offseason. However, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll manage a top-24 finish or any resemblance of consistent fantasy output. Green has been oft-injured, but even when he was on the field last season, he only converted his 104 targets into 523 yards and two touchdowns.
I don’t want to say Green doesn’t have the skills anymore to be a productive NFL wide receiver, but his days of being a viable dynasty asset are over. If you could sell him for a late rookie draft pick, I’d consider that a success at this point. Green may end up being a Hall-of-Fame wideout, but it won’t be for anything he does in Glendale, Arizona.
WR Rondale Moore: 2020 N/A | Stock: Up
Rondale Moore needed a great landing spot to have fantasy success, and the 5-foot-7 wideout couldn’t have asked for a better destination than Arizona. For a team that uses a spread offense and more 4WR sets than anyone else in the NFL, Moore should thrive as the quick, shifty receiver who can create yards after the catch over the middle of the field. There will be plenty of room to operate as Hopkins and Green should command heavy coverage on the outside.
I don’t see Moore ever becoming a WR1 given his skillset, but finishing as a yearly WR2 is not out of the range of possibilities for the rookie. He will be targeted often, making him a nightmare to face in PPR leagues. He’s currently going in the early second-round of rookie drafts, and I think he should easily pay dividends on that draft capital.
TE Maxx Williams: TE67 Stock: Not on the Exchange
The Arizona Cardinals barely use their tight ends, and after letting go of Dan Arnold, it’s likely that Maxx Williams and Darrell Daniels will seldom see the field outside of goal-line packages. I could’ve put Christian Kirk here as the WR4 and explained his fantasy value, but I don’t think he has any. The slot position will be filled by Rondale Moore, leaving Kirk to be the occasional vertical threat in this offense. Unfortunately, players in this offense we had once had hope for, like Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella, are no longer relevant.
Bold 2021 Dynasty Prediction: Rondale Moore finishes as a WR2 in PPR.
Dynasty Stock Watch
QB Matthew Stafford: 2020 QB16 | Stock: Up
How can Stafford not be considered the biggest winner of the offseason? He’s going from an inept coaching staff and mediocre weapons to one of the brightest young minds in football and a host of great pass-catchers. While Stafford may no longer benefit from the massive amount of “garbage yards” he amassed when down several scores in Detroit, he should see a spike in efficiency and scoring with a better cast and crew.
If Stafford can remain healthy, which has been a big “if” throughout his career, I think finishing as a top-twelve quarterback should be his floor. It may take a few games for Stafford to get accustomed to Sean McVay’s system, but I have no doubt that he will be a vast improvement over Jared Goff.
RB Cam Akers: 2020 RB50 | Stock: Up
Akers already showed towards the end of the 2020 season that he could be a bell-cow running back for Los Angeles, and his stock is set to soar in 2021. Not only did he firmly establish himself as the top-dog in this backfield, but Matthew Stafford’s ability to stretch the field should lighten the box and allow Akers to thrive. Darrell Henderson will still get playing time, but I expect we see a lot more of Akers than we do Henderson.
Akers has a legitimate chance to finish as an RB1 next year, and he is only entering his second season. The Los Angeles offensive line is still suspect, but Akers’ biggest strength has always been creating yards after contact; producing behind a subpar offensive line is nothing new to the Rams’ sophomore runner. Akers is a top-10 dynasty running back, in my opinion, and that should become more apparent as the season progresses.
RB Darrell Henderson: 2020 RB33 | Stock: Down
Henderson was actually the most productive running back to start the 2020 season for Los Angeles. However, after being selected with a Day 2 pick in 2019, it seems that Henderson will never become the featured runner for the Rams. He will have stretches where he puts up RB2 numbers while playing in relief for Akers; however, he’s nothing more than an RB3 for fantasy and an afterthought as a dynasty asset.
Henderson will fall in line with those other secondary running backs like Chase Edmonds, Nyheim Hines, and Gus Edwards — he’ll be the complementary option to his backfield and at times have FLEX-appeal depending on the matchup. Still, Henderson won’t likely net you anything more than a late third-round rookie pick, so it’s best to keep him as a handcuff and hope he gets an opportunity to revitalize his career.
WR Robert Woods: 2020 WR12 | Stock: Neutral
I absolutely love Robert Woods, as he is consistently underrated and out-produces his average draft position. Still, there’s not much more the addition of Matthew Stafford does for him. In fact, I considered marking Woods as a “Stock Down” player, considering that his volume should decline following the new additions in the wide receiver room. He won’t be as heavily targeted as he was last season, as Jared Goff locked in on Woods at times as his short-area safety net. Woods is already 29 years old, and he has approximately two years left as a starting wide receiver in the league.
Woods will likely be a top-18 wide receiver in 2021 and should provide you a consistent fantasy floor. He’s done that during his entire career with Los Angeles, and I don’t expect that to change as the offense improves. His scoring output should offset the loss of targets, so overall, Woods’ stock remains the same in my mind. If you are a contender, you can probably grab Woods for cheap from a dynasty manager worried about his age.
WR Cooper Kupp: 2020 WR19 | Stock: Up
Cooper Kupp was always a top-12 wide receiver in my mind, but Jared Goff had a tough time utilizing him. Kupp is an incredible route runner and red-zone weapon, but Goff struggled to get him the ball in tight windows. That time has come to an end, however, as Stafford is about to unleash Cooper Kupp’s potential. Instead of needing to rely on 12 personnel to minimize Jared Goff’s faults as a passer, Sean McVay can open up the playbook with his 11 personnel and put Kupp in a position to dominate.
I think Kupp belongs in the conversation of the top-12 wide receivers for 2021, and he remains a consistently undervalued dynasty asset. At age 27, many are selling Kupp for younger, unproven assets. Still, Kupp has done nothing but impress during his time with Los Angeles, and he will be under contract with the Rams for the foreseeable future. I would be trying to acquire him in all of my dynasty leagues, as his potential ceiling drastically outweighs the price you would need to pay to get him on your roster.
WR Tutu Atwell: 2020 N/A | Stock: Down
To be fair, Tutu Atwell just got on the stock market, and his value was already low. The rookie wideout has been consistently going in the late third or early fourth-round of rookie drafts, as his athletic profile does not align with historically successful wide receivers. Atwell is 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, but he was one of the fastest players in his draft class. It’s clear that his role will be limited to that of a field stretcher and decoy on vertical routes.
The Rams’ WR3 position is a jumbled mess, as Tutu Atwell, 2020 second-round pick Van Jefferson, and veteran DeSean Jackson will all compete for playing time. All three are merely dart throws, with Atwell probably having the most value at the position since the Rams just spent a second-round pick on him. Still, we said the same thing about Van Jefferson one year ago. Overall, I’d be staying far away from Rams’ wideouts not named “Robert Woods” or “Cooper Kupp.”
TE Tyler Higbee: 2020 TE17 | Stock: Up
Higbee’s stock is on the rise, not so much because of Stafford’s addition, but more due to the fact that his main competition at the tight end position is playing for a division rival. Gerald Everett had always been a thorn in Tyler Higbee’s side, as they split playing time relatively evenly, and neither could assert himself as the team’s alpha tight end. Higbee gave fantasy managers hope that he could be an elite option at the end of the 2019 season, but outside of one or two games in 2020, Higbee was mediocre at best.
Higbee should be playing an overwhelming majority of the snaps at tight end this season, as he only has to fend off 2020 fourth-round pick Brycen Hopkins and blocking tight end Johnny Mundt for playing time. He’ll have more scoring opportunities as the offense takes off under Stafford, so it’s probable that Higbee sneaks his way into the top-10 at his position based on touchdowns alone. Higbee’s stock has risen this offseason, but you are probably stuck holding him until we see this translate into production on the field.
Bold 2021 Dynasty Prediction: Cooper Kupp finishes as a top-10 wide receiver in 2021 (PPR scoring).
Dynasty Stock Watch
QB Trey Lance: 2020 N/A | Stock: Up
This was the best-case scenario for Trey Lance. The rookie was considered a project by many draft evaluators, so landing with the right organization and a creative offensive coach was crucial for his development. Fortunately, he will be tied to offensive guru Kyle Shanahan, who was able to get the best out of the likes of Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, and Jimmy Garoppolo. Lance may not start the season right away, but he has established himself as a top-five pick in rookie drafts (SuperFlex) and as a top-12 dynasty quarterback.
With his incredible rushing ability and the supporting cast around him, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lance finish as a top-five quarterback on a points-per-game basis in 2021. Getting Lance in your rookie drafts or start-ups may be the only possible time to acquire him, as no one will trade, barring a massive downturn on his part.
RB Raheem Mostert: 2020 RB46 | Stock: Down
The 49ers’ running back room has always been a minefield under Kyle Shanahan, but it’s only gotten messier this offseason. San Francisco added rookie Trey Sermon with a Day 2 pick, signed Wayne Gallman away from the Giants, and retained Jeff Wilson. It’s easy to say whoever becomes the lead ball carrier in the 49ers’ backfield will be successful, but that’s the only reasonable assessment one can make. Picking a San Francisco in fantasy is a roll of the dice, and Shanahan likes to gamble.
RB Jeff Wilson: 2020 RB39 | Stock: Neutral
Jeff Wilson’s stock remains neutral solely because I foresee the goal-line opportunities remaining with him. Wilson had some incredible games to end the year, but it’s hard to see him cracking double-digit touches with all of the competition in the backfield. Wilson’s fantasy appeal is similar to that of Baltimore’s Gus Edwards; both will be, at best, the third-leading ball carriers on their respective teams; still, they are a threat to score in any given game.
RB Trey Sermon: 2020 N/A | Stock: Up
Just like fellow rookie Trey Lance, Trey Sermon’s landing spot couldn’t have been much better. Sure, he will be sharing a backfield with a host of other running backs, but I’d rather him have a shot at beating out the other veterans on the most productive rushing team in football than have the lead role on a bad offense. Sermon’s Day 2 capital makes it seem as though he’ll see preferential treatment in this backfield, but I wouldn’t bet on it. He’ll have FLEX-worthy games like the rest of this running back crew, with the added potential of winning a bell-cow role outright from veterans who haven’t been able to do so in their time with the team.
WR Brandon Aiyuk: 2020 WR31 | Stock: Up
If the 2020 rookie wide receiver class hadn’t been stacked to the brim with stars, we would be extolling 49ers wideout Brandon Aiyuk for having an incredible season. Despite playing with three different quarterbacks and having to become the No. 1 target on the team due to injuries, Aiyuk stepped up by catching 60 balls for nearly 750 yards and five touchdowns while also adding two scores on the ground. This offseason, things have only gotten better for Aiyuk.
Trey Lance should be considered an immediate upgrade at the quarterback position for San Francisco, which should allow Aiyuk to thrive more as a vertical threat. He will also have a full offseason to adapt to Kyle Shanahan’s system, which was an opportunity he was not afforded in his rookie year. Aiyuk is a locked-and-loaded WR2 with low-WR1 upside. Outside of CeeDee Lamb and Justin Jefferson, he’s my preferred sophomore wideout.
WR Deebo Samuel: 2020 WR90 | Stock: Neutral
Deebo Samuel’s stock has stayed relatively static this offseason, as he is the biggest unknown in this 49ers offense. We all saw the potential for Samuel to have a breakout sophomore season after an impressive rookie campaign, but a slew of injuries prevented Samuel from making much of an impact in 2020. In the few games that he did play last season, Samuel was used more as an extension of the run game, gaining yards after the catch on tap passes and screens.
It’s unknown how much Shanahan’s offensive scheme will change now that he finally has a mobile quarterback under center, but I think that the move to Lance could hurt Samuel’s ceiling a bit. Lance is a strong-armed passer who will make more throws downfield, and when things aren’t open, he’ll use his legs. There will likely be less of a reliance on Samuel as a safety net with Lance going forward. I believe Samuel could still be very productive in San Francisco, but he’s likely the third receiving option in a run-centric scheme.
TE George Kittle: 2020 TE20 | Stock: Up
I compare what George Kittle is going through now to what Travis Kelce went through several years ago. When the Chiefs transitioned from Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes, Kelce’s usage didn’t change much; he was still one of the most targeted and fantasy-viable tight ends with both passers under center. However, Kelce’s upside skyrocketed under Mahomes, given the propensity of that Chiefs offense for big plays and scores. This is exactly what I foresee for George Kittle.
Now, I am not saying Lance will be the next Mahomes. However, this offense is bound to be much more electric with Lance than it had been in previous iterations, and I see a lot of those big plays going Kittle’s way. The argument can be made that Kittle is the dynasty TE1 ahead of Kelce, Waller, and Pitts; regardless, Kittle’s ceiling just received a massive bump this offseason.
Bold 2021 Dynasty Prediction: Trey Lance leads the 49ers in rushing touchdowns.
Dynasty Stock Watch
QB Russell Wilson: 2020 QB5 | Stock: Down
Russell Wilson was phenomenal in 2020, but he has been on a downward trajectory since the middle of last season. Following a disastrous showing against the Buffalo Bills, Wilson averaged fewer than 210 passing yards per game and just 1.5 passing touchdowns per contest. He was the QB12 over the latter half of the season.
In 2021, Wilson’s kitchen will be closed for inspection, as Pete Carroll has been adamant about returning to their ground-and-pound style of play. This means Wilson will not get as many passing attempts and need to cash in on rushing yardage and touchdowns to finish in the top five. Wilson is also going to turn 33 years old during the season, meaning he won’t have many elite years left. He is a great quarterback, but he is no longer a premier dynasty asset.
RB Chris Carson: 2020 RB17 | Stock: Up
Wilson’s loss will be Carson’s gain, as Seattle’s bruising running back is back with the Seahawks on a two-year, $10.5 million deal. That level of financial commitment from a cap-strapped franchise, combined with their failure to bring in any other notable talent to the running back room, means that Carson has at least two years remaining of being a bell-cow runner for the Seahawks.
At age 26, this is likely Carson’s swan song as a fringe RB1. He has a lot of wear-and-tear on the tires and will likely no longer be a starter when his contract expires. Running backs have short dynasty shelf lives, so while his stock may be up right now, it’s inevitable that it will be lower next offseason. If you are competing for a title, I would certainly ride him for the next two years and enjoy his high RB2 production. If you are rebuilding or need to get younger, selling him at the beginning of the season after several RB1 performances would be prudent.
RB Rashaad Penny: 2020 RB144 | Stock: Down
Despite his first-round pedigree and two great games during the 2019 season, Rashaad Penny has been a major bust. The Seahawks declined his fifth-year option, elected to spend their limited capital to bring back Chris Carson, and look poised to move on from Penny after the 2021 season. Penny may be talented, but he’s been oft-injured and will struggle to even get a job as part of a backfield committee, let alone as a starter.
You’d be lucky to get a future third-round rookie pick for Penny today, so it’s probably best to hold him throughout the season in the hopes he makes the most of his limited opportunity. If you get any sort of reasonable compensation now, I would move him. Nonetheless, Penny is all but done as a dynasty asset.
WR D.K. Metcalf: 2020 WR6 | Stock: Neutral
D.K. Metcalf set the fantasy world on fire last year, shooting up the ranks of many in the community and establishing himself as a top-10 dynasty wide receiver. However, as Russell Wilson started to falter towards the end of the season, so did D.K. Metcalf. In the same span in which Wilson finished as the fantasy QB12 (Weeks 9-16), Metcalf finished as the WR12 with only three games over 65 receiving yards and two games with a receiving touchdown.
Regardless, Metcalf is the bonafide No. 1 wide receiver in Seattle, has an elite quarterback throwing him the ball, and is entering just his third NFL season. Even with the passing offense expected to take a step back, Metcalf can still thrive. We’ve seen plenty of run-heavy teams like Tennessee and Chicago support WR1s despite their limited passing volume, so I expect nothing less from Seattle. Metcalf’s stock may have remained unchanged throughout the offseason, but he’s still an elite dynasty asset with room to grow.
WR Tyler Lockett: 2020 WR13 | Stock: Down
Don’t let last year’s finish fool you. Tyler Lockett didn’t help you win your fantasy football championship. The sixth-year wide receiver had just three great games during the fantasy season, while the rest were mediocre at best. While his 15-catch, 200-yard, and three-touchdown performance in Week 8 may have had you bragging to your friends for the next few days, you were gravely disappointed that he couldn’t even come close to that total during Weeks 14-16 combined (going for 12-130-0 in that span).
Now, he’ll see even fewer targets than he had last season. He will also turn 29 years old in October. In dynasty leagues, that may as well be retired for the non-elite at their position. Lockett may finish next season as a WR2, but the lack of consistency he provides will make you curse putting him in your lineup each week.
WR D’Wayne Eskridge: 2020 N/A | Stock: Neutral
There could have been worse landing spots for D’Wayne Eskridge, but being Russell Wilson’s WR3 and having Day 2 capital under your belt isn’t too shabby. I wouldn’t expect Eskridge to provide much fantasy value in his first season, especially as we expect to see low passing volume from Seattle as it is. Still, he is a burner and could catch several deep shots from Wilson this season.
A further issue concerning Eskridge is that he is already 24 years old, which is pretty old for a rookie. By his third season, people will already be trying to sell Eskridge for a younger prospect. He’ll be productive in Seattle, but you will quickly see diminishing returns on this rookie following the 2021 season.
TE Gerald Everett: 2020 TE24 | Stock: Up
Gerald Everett was stuck as the TE1b behind Tyler Higbee for too long in Los Angeles. We’ve already seen the tremendous athleticism Everett possesses and how he can be a viable streaming tight end for fantasy. Now, he goes to an offense that heavily utilizes tight ends. To be clear, he won’t be a fantasy darling. Still, he’ll be a serviceable tight end for those who don’t have one of the few elite players at the position on their roster.
If you are in a tight end premium league, Everett will offer some FLEX-appeal and could be a viable option. His target share is bound to increase, and he’ll have plenty of opportunities to score, as Seattle likes to run jumbo formations at the goal-line. This is a solid landing spot for Everett, and he should be a mid-TE2 in 2021.
Bold 2021 Dynasty Prediction: Russell Wilson finishes outside of the top-12 at quarterback.
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Dan Ambrosino is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Dan, check out his archive and follow him @AmbrosinoNFL.