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Best Ball Bust & League Winner Candidates: NFC West (2022 Fantasy Football)

Jul 30, 2022
Deebo Samuel

Several factors go into building a winning best ball team. One of those factors is identifying which players will let your team down and bust. Another is knowing which players have league-winning upside, especially in the later rounds. To help you build an elite best ball roster, I will identify the most likely bust candidate and potential league winner for every NFL team.

Today I breakdown the NFC West teams: the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.

The average draft position (ADP) used for this article comes from Underdog Fantasy.

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Potential Bust Candidates

James Conner (RB – ARI): ADP 33.1

Last year in his first season with the Cardinals, James Conner had arguably his best fantasy season ever. He was the RB5, averaging 15.9 fantasy points per game. However, 45.2% of his fantasy points came on his 18 touchdowns. Conner averaged 1.2 touchdowns per game last season, 16.7% higher than his previous career-high in 2018. While he averaged 15.9 fantasy points per game last year, Conner’s production dropped when Chase Edmonds played. He averaged only 11.7 fantasy points per game in the seven contests Edmonds played over 40% of the snaps, a 26.4% drop from his season average. While Edmonds left in free agency, the Cardinals signed Darrel Williams and drafted Keaontay Ingram. Connor will have touchdown regression this year and bust at his current ADP.

Allen Robinson (WR – LAR): ADP 47.7

The Rams don’t have a clear bust candidate. However, while the chances are slim, Allen Robinson is the one most likely to bust. After back-to-back WR1 finishes in 2019 and 2020, Robinson was the WR86 last season, averaging only 5.7 fantasy points per game. He averaged 9.5 targets per game in 2019 and 2020, but that number dropped to 5.5 last season. The drop in production isn’t a massive red flag given Chicago’s awful coaching staff last year. Yet, Robinson won’t see 9.5 targets per game in Los Angeles as long as Cooper Kupp is healthy. Robinson isn’t a bad pick as the WR22 off the board, but he lacks the upside of similar wide receivers in that range.

Deebo Samuel (WR – SF): ADP 19.3

After an injury-plagued 2020 season, Deebo Samuel broke out last year. However, after scoring 36.5 fantasy points on the ground in his first two years in the NFL combined, Samuel scored 84.5 fantasy points on the ground last season. Furthermore, 90.3% of those fantasy points came over his final eight games. During those final eight games, Samuel averaged only five targets per game and 1.96 fantasy points per target. Unlike the first half of the season, George Kittle was healthy, and Brandon Aiyuk wasn’t in the doghouse. With those two ready to contribute, Samuel’s targets per game dropped by 50.6%. Between his unusual role last season, ongoing trade request and injury history, I’m not spending a top-24 draft pick on Samuel.

Rashaad Penny (RB – SEA): ADP 93.3

Rashaad Penny is arguably the most polarizing running back in fantasy football. After scoring only 140.6 fantasy points in his first three years in the NFL, Penny scored 118.7 fantasy points in 10 games last season. However, 107.7 (90.7 percent) of his fantasy points from last season came over the final five weeks of the year. Furthermore, the Seahawks used a second-round pick on Kenneth Walker. While Penny will reportedly get most of the work on the ground, it’s only a matter of time till he suffers an injury and is on the sidelines. Don’t waste a top-100 pick on a player who has scored under seven fantasy points in 73% of his career games. Pass on Penny and grab Walker a full round later.

Potential League Winner

Zach Ertz (TE – ARI): ADP 108.2

After Zach Ertz got traded midseason to the Cardinals, his fantasy value took off. Once he joined the Cardinals, Ertz was the TE4 for the rest of the season, averaging 9.4 fantasy points per game. His 81 targets in 11 games with the Cardinals finished third on the team behind Christian Kirk and A.J. Green. Furthermore, the Cardinal prioritized re-signing Ertz to a three-year deal worth $31.7 million before the start of free agency. While his ADP has risen the past few months, Ertz shouldn’t have a higher ADP than T.J. Hockenson, Dallas Goedert, or Dawson Knox. If DeAndre Hopkins struggles once he returns from his suspension, Ertz could end the year as a top-three tight end.

Cam Akers (RB – LAR): ADP 43.2

Last year was a lost season for Cam Akers. While it’s impressive that he returned only six months after suffering a torn Achilles, Akers wasn’t 100% during the playoffs. However, fantasy players should be encouraged by how Akers ended his rookie season. He averaged 13.2 fantasy points per game over his final five games in 2020. Akers then had 46 rushing attempts for 221 yards and two touchdowns and averaged 4.8 yards per rushing attempt in the Rams’ two playoff games that year. With Sony Michel in Miami and Darrell Henderson‘s injury history, Akers has no threat to his feature role this season. As a mid-to-late fourth-round pick, Akers will be the steal of the draft and a top-15 pick next year.

Trey Lance (QB – SF): ADP 79.3

While he played sparingly last season, Trey Lance was productive when given a chance. He started two games last season for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo. Lance also played the entire second half of the Week 4 matchup after Garoppolo suffered an injury right before halftime. In those 2.5 games, Lance scored 54 fantasy points. Adjusting for playing only 10 quarters of football instead of 12, Lance averaged 21.6 fantasy points per game last season when he was the starter. His ADP has slowly climbed over the past month. Once Garoppolo gets traded, Lance’s ADP could jump into the top 60. Be sure to draft him on the cheap while you can.

DK Metcalf (WR – SEA): ADP 53.4

DK Metcalf’s situation has drastically changed from a year ago. Russell Wilson is in Denver, and Geno Smith is the favorite to replace him as Seattle’s starter. Metcalf averaged 14.9 fantasy points per game in the three games without Wilson last year. Furthermore, he averaged 2.48 fantasy points per target in those contests. While Metcalf needed a 16.7% touchdown rate to produce those averages, he needs only one downfield reception to score double-digit fantasy points. Some weeks he will struggle without Wilson. On other weeks Metcalf will have massive performances thanks to his big-play ability. While he won’t be the most consistent fantasy receiver, Metcalf’s upside is hard to pass up at his current ADP.

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Mike Fanelli is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @Mike_NFL2.

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