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Fantasy Football Bust & League Winner Candidates: NFC West (2023)

Fantasy Football Bust & League Winner Candidates: NFC West (2023)

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 break down 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.

Best Ball Busts & League Winners: NFC West

Potential Bust Candidates

Kyler Murray (QB – ARI): ADP 148.9 | QB19

Unfortunately, Murray tore his ACL late last season. However, the quarterback was a fantasy star before getting hurt, averaging 20 fantasy points per game in his 10 healthy contests. He would have been the QB5 over a 17-game pace with that fantasy points per game average. Despite some holding out hope, the star quarterback won’t be ready for Week 1. More importantly, the Cardinals have no reason to rush Murray back on the field. Meanwhile, Arizona has one proven wide receiver after releasing DeAndre Hopkins this offseason. There is no reason why he should have an ADP inside the top 25 quarterbacks.

Tyler Higbee (TE – LAR): ADP 144.4 | TE15

The only thing appealing with Higbee is the lack of proven wide receivers on the Rams’ roster. However, the veteran was only the TE18 on a points per game last season, averaging only 6.8 half-point PPR fantasy points per contest. Furthermore, he was the TE10 without Cooper Kupp on the field but the TE16 with the superstar wide receiver healthy. More importantly, Higbee lacks the upside needed for spike weeks. Last year he scored under 12.5 fantasy points in all but one matchup. Sam LaPorta and Juwan Johnson have a later ADP than Higbee. Yet, both are much better options for fantasy players.

Deebo Samuel (WR – SF): ADP 33.9 | WR18

Samuel had a career year in 2021, averaging 18.8 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. However, he has never been an elite fantasy receiver outside of that year. More importantly, the veteran has missed nearly 25% of the games in his career because of various injuries. Meanwhile, Samuel’s fantasy production fell off a cliff after the team added Christian McCaffrey. The veteran was the WR10, averaging 12.9 fantasy points per game before McCaffrey’s arrival. By comparison, he was the WR59, averaging only nine fantasy points per game once the team added the superstar back. It’s crazy to see Samuel have an ADP inside the top 60 picks, let alone the top 36.

DK Metcalf (WR – SEA): ADP 28.2 | WR15

While fantasy players like to think Metcalf is Seattle’s No. 1 wide receiver, Tyler Lockett has been the better fantasy asset. The veteran averaged 12.2 half-point PPR fantasy points per game in 2022 and 12.8 in 2021. By comparison, Metcalf averaged 10.7 fantasy points per game last season and 12.2 the year before. Meanwhile, the Seahawks used a first-round pick on Jaxon Smith-Njigba, impacting the star wide receiver’s fantasy upside. More importantly, Metcalf scored over 15 fantasy points in only four games last season. Instead of drafting the former Ole Miss star at his ADP, wait three rounds and select Lockett.

Potential League Winners

Marquise Brown (WR – ARI): ADP 60.1 | WR31

Arizona will likely be the worst team in the NFL this season. Yet, Brown is one of my favorite wide receivers to draft. The veteran averaged 14.7 half-point PPR fantasy points per game over the first six weeks last year with DeAndre Hopkins suspended. Furthermore, he averaged 9.6 targets and 12.3 fantasy points per game in the eight contests without Hopkins, averaging 1.64 yards per route run during those contests. More importantly, Brown was productive without Kyler Murray, averaging seven targets per game in the five contests without the franchise quarterback. The team will be in negative game script most of the year, creating plenty of opportunities for the star receiver.

Cam Akers (RB – LAR): ADP 65.7 | RB21

Some believe Akers is due for a breakout season. He struggled at the start of last year but ended the season on fire. The veteran was the RB2, averaging 18.3 half-point PPR fantasy points per game over the final four weeks. Furthermore, he forced a missed tackle on 22.7% of his rushing attempts in those games. More importantly, Akers set career highs in rushing yards and touchdowns despite all the issues in the first half of the season. Meanwhile, the Rams didn’t add any meaningful competition for touches in the offseason, giving Akers a chance to far and away outperform his ADP.

Brandon Aiyuk (WR – SF): ADP 51.3 | WR28

Last year Aiyuk was the WR15, averaging 11.1 half-point PPR fantasy points per game, outscoring Deebo Samuel on a points-per-game basis. Furthermore, he set a career-high in fantasy points per game, outscoring several big-name wide receivers. More importantly, the former Arizona State star was productive regardless of who played quarterback. Last season Aiyuk averaged 7.3 targets and 11.5 fantasy points per game with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. Meanwhile, he averaged 6.2 targets and 11.3 fantasy points per game in Brock Purdy‘s five starts. After having a career year in 2022, Aiyuk could become a league winner in 2023.

Geno Smith (QB – SEA): ADP 115.4 | QB15

Smith was the biggest fantasy surprise last season. Many expected him to lose his job to Drew Lock. Instead, the veteran had the best year of his career. Smith was the QB5 last season, averaging 17.9 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, he finished fourth in the NFL with 30 passing touchdowns, only behind Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow. Yet, Smith is getting drafted over 85 picks later than those three quarterbacks. More importantly, the Seahawks added Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Zach Charbonnet during the NFL Draft, giving the veteran arguably the best wide receiver and running back units in the league. Smith is one of my favorite quarterbacks to draft outside the top eight guys.

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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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