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NFC West Preview for 2024 Fantasy Football

After previewing the AFC West, home of the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, it makes sense to jump to the NFC West, home to the runner-up San Francisco 49ers. There is plenty of fantasy football firepower in this division. That includes multiple top-10 quarterbacks and tight ends. For the most part, there is a lot of the same faces in the same places, but how to draft and manage them for the 2024 season is key.

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Previewing the NFC West for 2024 Fantasy Football

San Francisco 49ers


Brock Purdy has a 24-7 record over most of two seasons as the starting quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers. Despite the absolutely wild success, he’s still in the back-half of most 2024 fantasy quarterback rankings. That’s in part due to the success the 49ers have running the ball, especially in the red zone, but also Purdy’s own lack of rushing. He’s punched in a handful of touchdowns, but has just 255 total rushing yards over 82 total attempts including the playoffs.

Still, Purdy has an incredible arsenal of weapons around him that can assist in yielding strong QB1 numbers. That’s evident by his QB8 finish last season. Purdy’s 5.5 air yards per attempt ranks first amongst all quarterbacks who played just seven games or more. He also leads the position in 20+ yard (72), 30+ yard (31), and 40+ yard (14) from last season. Purdy’s situation heading into 2024 is essentially unchanged, though he’s still just barely inside the top-12 of rankings, if at all. If you’re waiting for a quarterback this season, Purdy is a strong option to pick up later on.

Running Back

Christian McCaffrey is one of the greatest fantasy football running backs of all time. He has not one, but two overall RB1 finishes, with 390.0+ total points, in his career. That’s one each on the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers. The fantasy heroic seasons are even five years apart. We’re lucky to get five average seasons from some fantasy relevant backs.

McCaffrey is nothing short of a god since the trade to San Francisco. He has 40 total touchdowns with the team in just 22 games. That’s 26 rushing, 13 receiving, and even one passing touchdown. Touchdowns are an extremely volatile stat, but with McCaffrey, it feels automatic. Regardless, his 21 regular season touchdowns in 2023 account for just 32% of his total fantasy points. He logged over 100 total yards in 12 of 16 games played last season.

So, you should definitely draft Christian McCaffrey in 2024, right? I have my reservations.

All good things must come to an end. Luckily for McCaffrey, his competition for touches out of the backfield remain much of the same in Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, and now rookie Isaac Guerendo. This group isn’t a legitimate threat to McCaffrey’s workload.

The real threat is possible wear and tear. McCaffrey will enter the season as a 28-year old with 417 total touches from the 2023 season, including playoffs. Factoring in the 381 touches from the season prior, with Carolina and San Francisco, that’s 798 total since September 2022. The last, and only other time McCaffrey logged 400+ touches in a single season was 2019. In 2020, he averaged 30.1 fantasy points per game, but played in just three as he battled ankle, hamstring and shoulder injuries all season. I’m obviously still more than willing to ride with McCaffrey in 2024 because of his expected role in Kyle Shanahan’s system, but I would be much happier to have a mid-round first round pick and have him fall to me than take him first or second overall after such a long, strenuous 2023 season.

Wide Receiver

Not only are Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel still on the 49ers’ roster, after trade rumors, but they added a first round rookie receiver in Ricky Pearsall as well as fourth round pick Jacob Cowing. They’re also keeping Jauan Jennings in-house through 2025 after signing him to a two-year, $15.4 million deal with $10.5 million in guaratees.

Now, Deebo Samuel’s situation could change as soon as…this weekend. Trading Deebo at any point beyond June 1st saves $21.9 million towards the salary cap with just a $6.6 million dead cap hit in 2024 and $15.1 million hit in 2025. That said, it’s possible Deebo is on the move before this season, however, letting him go with a Super Bowl window still very much wide open doesn’t make a ton of sense.

For the 2024 fantasy football season, I prefer Aiyuk to Deebo, though with Deebo’s rushing upside, it’s closer than some may think. The two were just 0.8 PPR points apart per game last season in favor of Deebo. Beyond them, it’s hard to imagine trusting anyone else especially with Christian McCaffrey and George Kittle very much involved in the passing game. I do love me some Ricky Pearsall, for the dynasty drafters out there, just not so much for 2024. If Deebo were to get traded, or hurt, during the season, I would expect Pearsall to see an expanded role.

Tight End

George Kittle is the only tight end worth considering on the 49ers for fantasy football. While he may have a challenger for the Best Tight End in the NFC West, he’s still an elite option. We now know Kittle played about 10 games at the back half of the 2023 season with a sports hernia. You would never know from his 1,020 receiving yards. Each season, it feels like Kittle gets a little cheaper and cheaper in drafts. That’s especially true for 2024 with younger studs seemingly on the rise at the tight end position. If you’re not one to use a top pick on a tight end, you can probably get Kittle at a very fair price in 2024 when flex-level running backs and wide receivers are coming off of the board.

Los Angeles Rams


Half of the NFC West quarterbacks are likely to finish inside the top-12 for fantasy football and half of the NFC West quarterbacks are not. I’m sure you can guess where Matthew Stafford ends up. Stafford is 36-years old entering his 16th NFL season. He still has some juice, but not enough to trust as anything more than a QB2 in Superflex leagues or a weekly streamer in 1QB leagues. Stafford did finish inside the top-12 in five of his last six games last year, but they were the only time he finished as such for the 2023 season. With Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp still catching passes for the Rams, Stafford should have another small handful of such games in 2024, as well. I just expect this team to lean on the run a bit more this season.

Running Back

Just as fantasy football fans were ready to draft Kyren Williams with a top pick in 2024 drafts, the L.A. Rams went and drafted Blake Corum in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft. That’s National Champion MVP running back Blake Corum who handled 505 total carries in 27 games over his final two seasons at Michigan. Corum profiles similarly to Kyren Williams, but has a body of work at the collegiate level that’s a bit more impressive with the draft capital to justify it.

I’m not staying away from Kyren Williams for the 2024 season, I’m just staying aware that Corum is there and presents much more of a threat for carries than anyone the Rams have had in the mix with Williams last season. Williams also has an injury history. We already know he’s missed time during OTAs with a “foot issue.” That’s cause for concern after Williams missed a significant amount of time as a rookie in 2022 after breaking his foot during training camp then battling an ankle sprain all season.

Any injury is going to sour a player’s value. We will obviously keep tabs on Williams’ this summer. It’s hard to ignore the fact that he led the league with 95 yards per game last season, but Corum will surely spoil the upside this season. Between the two, I’m willing to pass by Kyren Williams as a first or second round pick in favor of picking Corum much later as of now.

Wide Receiver

Puka Nacua is going to be a first round pick in almost every format of every fantasy football league this summer. He should be! If you think his historic 2023 season is a fluke, then you probably didn’t have him on your roster and are just jealous. I see no other explanation. All jokes aside, it’s hard to expect Nacua to return in 2024 and match his 1,486 receiving yards, but he could very well eclipse his 105 receptions and just six receiving touchdowns from his rookie season.

Nacua’s biggest competition for targets is Cooper Kupp who will enter the season as a 31-year old receiver whose played just 21 of a possible 34 regular season games over the last two seasons. Kupp, if healthy, may actually be the better value of the two by season’s end, but Nacua has a much higher floor at this point. If Kupp misses more time in 2024, then Puka Nacua will be ready for takeoff yet again. He’s an an extremely safe first round receiver with the upside to be a pillar for your team.

Behind these two, Demarcus Robinson is the only other name to keep in your back pocket. Robinson scored a touchdown in four straight weeks in December last season from Weeks 13 through 16. He was the WR10 during that stretch even behind the WR4 Puka Nacua and WR6 Cooper Kupp. I don’t think their 2024 offense can sustain three fantasy relevant wide receivers over a full season, though. Kyren Williams and Blake Corum should get plenty of run to keep Matthew Stafford healthy. Demarcus Robinson will come into play as a waiver wire pickup if Kupp or Nacua miss time.

Tight End

Tyler Higbee is entering the 2023 season after tearing his ACL and MCL in the Wild Card Round of the 2023-24 playoffs back in January. Higbee’s knee surgery didn’t take place until late-February. That said, with September just six months removed from surgery, I doubt we see much of Higbee this season, if at all. Colby Parkinson is the name to watch here. He’s just 25-years old and is joining the Rams on a three-year free agency deal. I think Parkinson will have his stream-worthy weeks for fantasy football, but that’s about it. His presence could be better felt as a blocker, boosting the value of the run game. If he’s out there in dynasty leagues with deep benches, tight end premium scoring, or both, now would be a great time to stash him!

Seattle Seahawks


Geno Smith and his 15.4 fantasy points per game in 2023 is a sobering drop from his 18.7 in 2022. I know it isn’t too drastic, but that’s the different of finishing as the QB8 in 2022 compared to QB24 in 2023. After drafting wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the first round of 2023, it’s almost hard to believe the result.

It’s not like Geno Smith’s 2022 was so spectacular that fantasy managers should run back to draft him in 2024 to win their leagues. It was just spectacular compared to the body of work in his career and especially in the wake of starting for Seattle following the Russell Wilson trade to the Denver Broncos.

Now, it’s important to note the coaching changes. Mike Macdonald, the former defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, is the new head coach. More importantly, for fantasy football purposes, Ryan Grubb, the former offensive coordinator of the University of Washington, is now the offensive coordinator. Grubb’s offense ranked first in passing yards per game (369.3) in 2022 and second (343.7) in 2023 across college football. So, the coaching change could change our entire outlook on Geno Smith for the 2024 fantasy football season. The weapons and coaching are there for Geno to succeed, at the very least, as a strong streaming option.

Running Back

A new coaching regime means a clean slate for just about everyone on the roster. That includes both Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet at the running back position. Walker should see most of the opportunities, especially in the run game, but Charbonnet is Seattle’s 2023 2nd round pick. He isn’t just a handcuff to Walker for fantasy football. Charbonnet should be on fantasy rosters in every format as a potential flex with massive upside if Walker isn’t available for any reason.

In one more game than Walker last season, Charbonnet logged 109 less carries, but three more targets. The key here, though, is Walker’s 38 red zone rush attempts to Charbonnet’s 22. Walker ranks 12th in the league in that regard and should maintain that role in 2024.

As far as Average Draft Position goes, Walker is going multiple rounds higher than Charbonnet. Between the two backs, that’s not much of a shock or even an issue or me. However, if Charbonnet does see an expanded role in a new offense, then Walker may be going too high to be trusted as a potential RB1 for fantasy football this season.

Wide Receiver

As mentioned before, Ryan Grubb taking over as the offensive coordinator should have a strong influence on the Seahawks’ passing game. DK Metcalf is the obvious top target of the trio that will all get drafted. The others are Tyler Lockett and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. As talented as Metcalf is, he does not have a season of more than 15.0 points per game or higher than WR20 in any of the last three seasons. The good news is, he hasn’t averaged less than 13.3 points per game or ranked any lower than WR26 during that same span, either. Metcalf should be taken in this range with the hope a coaching change results in more volume, especially in the red zone.

So, what do we do with Tyler Lockett and Jaxon Smith Njigba? Lockett’s 2023 season is his first with fewer than 1,000 yards since 2018, however his 122 targets are the second-most of his career. Meanwhile, Smith-Njigba failed to log more than 60% of the offensive snaps until after the Seahawks’ Week 5 bye at which time he did so in every game thereafter.

Lockett will be 32 in September, but did just sign a two-year contract extension with $13 million in guarantees. The contract is a good tactic to spread his money out for a likely release next off-season that carries just a $4 million dead cap hit. That said, this is likely Lockett’s last season in Seattle. I’m willing to draft him a bit later, but don’t expect him to start on any fantasy playoff rosters. Smith-Njigba is the better pick, likely in the same range, with more upside and youth on his side.

Tight End

Noah Fant is returning to the Seattle Seahawks for the 2024 season on a two-year deal. He, like many other tight ends we wish had more opportunity, has a lot of competition for targets on his respective offense. It’s hard to imagine Fant as a consistent presence in any fantasy lineup knowing the Seahawks have a strong run game then DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba likely ahead of him in the pecking order. Fant remains a limited, matchup-based streamer for the 2024 fantasy football season.

Arizona Cardinals


Kyler Murray has 33 games to his name over the last three seasons. That includes just eight last season, but expectedly so off of a return from a December 2022 season-ending ACL tear. He averaged 224.8 passing yards per game upon his return. More importantly, what we all wanted to ensure, was that he didn’t lose his confidence as a runner. Murray’s high-upside fantasy value relies on his rushing ability. He averaged 5.5 rush attempts per game with a rushing touchdown in each of his first three games back.

The absolute best quarterbacks for fantasy football are those who can run, with very few exceptions. Kyler Murray can run. He has a career average of just over 37 rush yards per game and 0.4 rushing touchdowns per game. In most leagues where rushing touchdowns are worth six points each, that’s approximately 6.0 points per game from Kyler in the run game alone. Even with the upside, Murray’s group of weapons and value of his peers may make him a value for this upcoming season. There are at least seven quarterbacks that I believe could, and probably should, go ahead of Kyler Murray. Drafting him as the QB8 or later feels like a steal considering he has been a top-10 quarterback in three seasons that didn’t have games effected by his ACL tear or recovery.

Running Back

James Conner is a great target for the 2024 fantasy football season because he isn’t going to cost you much. Conner could yield a big return, especially early on, though. He’s a solid RB2 that has weekly RB1 upside. Believe it or not, 2023 is Conner’s first 1,000+ rushing yard season. His 208 rush attempts are his second most in a season and his 235 touches are his third most. The big knock against Conner is that he played just in just 13 games, which is his average number of games played over seven NFL seasons. His career-high is 15 games played in a season which he’s done just once.

Since signing with the Arizona Cardinals in 2021, Conner has three top-20 RB fantasy football campaigns on a points per game basis. We have to expect Conner to miss some time, as he always does, which makes rookie Trey Benson relevant in his first season. The Cardinals’ third-round pick could even be a league winner depending on the circumstances in the back half of the fantasy football season. He has serious burst than can punish defenses, especially in November and December, with the ability to handle a lead back workload.

Wide Receiver

I don’t put too much stock in vacated targets from the season prior because there are a ton of variables to consider. However, while the other NFC West teams have extremely established wide receiver rooms, the Cardinals are doing a complete overhaul. Just five wide receivers drew a target on Arizona’s offense in 2023. The top two, Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore, will be playing elsewhere in 2024. They account for 58.8% of the Cardinals’ wide receiver targets from last season. In Kyler Murray’s last (almost) full season in 2022, nine different wide receivers drew a target. That includes Marquise Brown (107) and DeAndre Hopkins (96) with two others drawing more than 50 of their own.

We now look ahead to 2024 with fourth-overall pick Marvin Harrison Jr., Michael Wilson, Greg Dortch, and Zay Jones as the top names of the group. Before we discuss Harrison Jr., the other three are all expected to go undrafted. In 12-team or larger leagues, throwing a dart at one at the end of your drafts isn’t a bad call especially if you expect the Cardinals to be operating in negative game-script. Dortch probably presents the safest floor of the three in PPR leagues with Wilson having the better ceiling as a downfield threat.

We’ve seen plenty of rookie wide receivers succeed immediately out of the gate. There always tends to be a little bit of skepticism, though. Remember when Ja’Marr Chase said catching in the NFL would be harder without white stripes on the ball? Don’t overthink Marvin Harrison Jr. and the hype around him. I don’t have any skepticism about Harrison Jr.’s ability to finish as a fantasy WR1 in his first season. He’s a proven alpha receiver with little-to-no competition for targets and a proven quarterback. It’s as simple as that.

Tight End

If not the entire conference, is Trey McBride the best tight end in the NFC West? Those who had him on their roster during his 2023 late-season breakout would probably say so. McBride is a tremendous athlete who came into the NFL with 4.5 [40-yard dash] speed at 6’4″ and 250 pounds. Following Zach Ertz’ Week 7 injury, in his last game as an Arizona Cardinal, McBride made quick work of his opportunity as the team’s TE1. From Week 8 onward, he averaged 8.5 targets, 6.6 receptions, and 65.5 yards per game with just three total touchdowns.

Even with Marvin Harrison Jr. getting in on the passing game, McBride still has an excellent chance to finish second in targets ahead of other Cardinals wide receivers. That, in addition to a full expected season from Kyler Murray, could skyrocket McBride to the top of the tight end rankings by the end of the 2024 season.

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