08 Aug NFC West: Wins Total Futures
The football season is less than two months away. This means fantasy drafts are starting, and it is time to make some money!
This series will look at each division to see what teams we should, and should not bet, on based on the Las Vegas numbers for Over/Under Futures. You will also notice there is not a ton of talk about numbers from last season. This is for good reason. Not only was last season an anomaly, but we also turn the page on a new chapter of NFL football in 2021. One which sees us with a 17-game schedule. We will be using the numbers from FanDuel Sportsbook for this exercise, and as we know, these numbers can change depending on what happens before the season.
Last Season NFC West O/U Futures Record: 2-2
NFC West: Wins Total Futures
Arizona Cardinals | Over/Under 8 Wins
Said it last season, and I will say it again this year. The Arizona Cardinals might be the best 4th place team of all-time. With all the injuries suffered by the San Francisco 49ers, it did not turn out to come true in 2020. With the Niners again healthy, it might turn out to be the case in 2021.
Kyler Murray is one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. He has a dominant wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and with Chase Edmonds and James Conner in the back field, the run game will be enough to keep defenses honest.
Christian Kirk has yet to breakout, and he will be battling with Rondell Moore for snaps in the slot receiver position. If either one of them, or both can have an impact, this may be the deepest receiver group in the division and one of the deepest in the NFL. While Larry Fitzgerald is an All-Time great, entering his age 38 season, he will be a part-time player at most. If, in fact he opts to come back at all. Something which he has not yet been made official.
Needing another veteran presence, the Cardinals have brought in A.J. Green. Although battling injuries for most of the past three years, his talent and locker room benefits outweigh his price, and he will be a key factor to the improvement of the young wide receivers.
With Edmonds never having been given the lead role, it was imperative for Arizona to bring in a secondary back to spell him. In three full seasons in the NFL, Edmonds has only had more than eight rushes in a game three times. Connor, while oft-injured, can be the thunder to the Edmonds lightning in the backfield. This duo will allow Murray to not have to rely on his legs as much this season. This is something both he and Cliff Kingsbury have said they want to happen. It will keep him healthy, and we saw at the end of 2020 what the team looks like when he is not able to remain on the field. It was not pretty.
On defense, Patrick Peterson is now in Minnesota and Arizona brought in J.J. Watt from Houston. While Peterson was not the same in 2020, he will still be a loss in the secondary. With the entrance of Watt, this created a bad taste in the mouth of Chandler Jones. The Cardinals will need to get this figured out if they want harmony as they try to prove Kingsbury is the right man for the job. Will he, and in turn the Cardinals, be able to get over the hump? Hate to say it, but no.
The Rams, even without Cam Akers are a good team. The 49ers, as discussed, will be far better and the Seahawks are the Seahawks. This leaves little room for the Cardinals to make a move up in the division. Said it earlier, and I reiterate it again, this could be the best 4th place team of all-time. And the 4th-place finish will come with a losing record. Take the under.
Los Angeles Rams | Over/Under 10.5 Wins
The Los Angeles Rams got a massive upgrade when they were able to flip Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford. They paid a huge price to do so, but it immediately fixed their biggest and most glaring weakness. Quarterback. For as massive an upgrade as it was, they took just as much of a hit to the offense with the season-ending Achilles tear to starting running back Cam Akers.
Darrell Henderson and second-year RB Xavier Jones will be counted on to keep the run game moving. Something Stafford has never had and was hoping to have when coming west. If Henderson and Jones can provide the needed threat, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Tyler Higbee can provide stellar weapons in the passing game.
Stafford still has one of the strongest arms in the NFL. Robert Woods and his field stretching ability will allow both Kupp and Higbee to manage the underneath routes. Add DeSean Jackson to the arsenal and the wide receiver group is what Bucky Brooks likes to call, a basketball team. They have the big guy, the slot and the down field threats all covered. This offense will be simply fine.
The defense, coming off a season in which they were the best in the NFL, will again be elite. Jalen Ramsey, and more importantly, Aaron Donald are still in town and will shut down a lot of opposing offenses both inside the division and outside. Add to this the determination of the Rams wanting to be the official host of the Super Bowl in their own stadium and this team is set to perform well in 2021. Even without Akers.
Had Akers not gotten hurt, this would have been a sure-fire lock of a pick. With his injury, it is less so. Although the number may get to eleven wins now instead of 12 or 13. This team has a solid-to-good offense and an elite defense. Take the over.
San Francisco 49ers | Over/Under 10.5 Wins
The San Francisco 49ers were the unluckiest team in the NFL in 2020. Injuries to George Kittle, Joey Bosa and even Jimmy Garoppolo devastated the chances for them to make it back to the Super Bowl. After finishing with a division worst 5-11 record, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch knew they needed to swing big.
To accomplish this, they mortgaged their future in draft picks to move from twelve to three and draft talented but unproven Trey Lance from North Dakota State. He brings a much different skill set than Jimmy G. And if ready, an entirely new dimension to the team. Not just with his elite arm strength but his ability to run. With Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk joining Kittle in the receiving game, the offense looks to be safe. Whether it be Lance or Garoppolo who inevitably wins the job, 2021 will be much better than 2020 was.
One thing we know about the 49ers is their run game will be key to their success. Rushing more than any other team in the NFL outside of Baltimore, Raheem Mostert, and incoming rookie Trey Sermon look to be the main backs for this season. Mostert has not been able to remain healthy for a full year so bringing in the Ohio State back in the draft was a smart move. If Sermon can remain healthy, he can take over the back field by the end of the season. This would benefit San Francisco as this will not force them to re-sign Mostert after this season.
The defense will lose Richard Sherman to free agency. On the other side of the coin, they get to welcome back Joey Bosa who tore his ACL against the Giants early last season after a good rookie year in 2019. His return will be key to a defense which saw coordinator Robert Saleh leave to become head coach with the Jets. If the defense can remain near the top of the league, the 49ers have a chance to be extremely good and a Super Bowl contender.
Trey Lance was my favorite quarterback in this draft class. He was great at North Dakota State and their pro style offense translates to the NFL. He also has massive upside over Jimmy G, and this could turn out to be a great move up in the draft for San Francisco. But we do not know when the team will officially turn over the reigns to him. And being a rookie, there are still nerves associated with how he will perform early in his tenure. For these reasons, the 10.5 seems just a touch high. If this number were 10, I would think about taking the over as a push would be likely. With the number being pushed to 10.5 it is a different story. 10-7 seems more likely than 11-6. Therefore, give me the under.
Seattle Seahawks | Over/Under 10 Wins
2021 could be a make-or-break season for the Seattle Seahawks. While most campaign posters tout both members of a ticket, the sign in Seattle could very well-read Russell or Pete in 2022. We saw the disgruntled nature of Russell Wilson early in the off season when he complained about not having enough say in the scheme. Pete Carroll, being the oldest head coach in the NFL is not long for the coaching ranks. It may come after this season if he cannot get things figured out.
D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are legitimately great wide receivers. While Metcalf is getting love, Lockett is still continuously underrated. The run game, as usual, is important to the success of any Pete Carroll offense. Chris Carson is a monster of a man at the running back position. He runs with reckless abandon and this, unfortunately, causes him to get dinged up. But when he is right, he is right. Rashaad Penny has yet to do anything since entering the league. After being over-drafted by a minimum of two rounds in 2018, he has disappointed for the Seahawks. He is on his last leg in this offense, and he will have to prove himself this season.
On defense, the team is no longer the Legion of Boom. In recent years, the boom has turned into a small firecracker. Bobby Wagner is still a top-2 linebacker in the NFL. Jamal Adams is one of the best safeties in the NFL. But they cannot do it all by themselves. And this is where the factual issues come in. The defense.
With offenses like Arizona, Los Angeles and to a lesser extent San Francisco in the division, the Seahawks have six tough matchups for their defense every year. If the defense plays like it did at the start of 2020, this could end up being the first losing team of the Russell Wilson era. If they play the way they did at the end of the season, they could win the division. I am expecting somewhere in the middle. I do not expect Wilson to have a losing record just yet. As with the 49ers, I feel like 10-7 is more likely than 11-6. But unlike the 49ers, that would allow me to push this number. So, with this in mind, I will remain positive and take the over.
Dominick is a lifelong resident of the Philadelphia area. Playing fantasy football for more than 20 years and writing for more than five, he has a vast knowledge of both the NFL and fantasy football. Despite his being blind, Dominick is a consistent ranker amongst FantasyPros experts, and always strives to be better than last season. Follow him on Twitter @EnvisionFF and read his weekly Best Bets articles during the season.