Fantasy Football 2023: NFC West Player Projections

Geno Smith

An NFL projections model offers valuable insights, helping fantasy football enthusiasts analyze team outcomes based on data-driven analysis. You can think of these projections as a guide. Yes, Cooper Kupp is my WR8, but why? If you think Kupp is primed for a massive bounceback with 1,400 yards, he’s likely in WR1 territory for you. If you think James Conner is old and can’t top 800 rushing yards, he’s likely not worth the RB2 price tag for you.

These projections look to provide a median output for all players without considering an entire range of outcomes. For example, what if Clayton Tune leads the Arizona Cardinals to a surprisingly prolific start to the season? Suddenly, we’d think of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Zach Ertz as elite mid-round targets. It’s certainly in the world of possibilities, but not captured by this model.

Note on methodology: The above projections are built using machine learning (ML) algorithms in Python. Using historical player, team, and league stats/tendencies, an ML model can predict likely outcomes for NFL players. 

It’s nearly impossible to model with 100 percent accuracy. Injuries, breakouts, and surprises happen in many shapes and forms every season. Each player is modeled as if the team stays healthy for 17 straight games. Of course, this is a pipedream. 

All scoring below is in .5 PPR

NFC West Projections

Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles Rams Cooper Kupp

Matthew Stafford, 263 Fantasy Points (15.4 PPG, QB18)

587 attempts, 396 completions, 4,292 yards, 26.3 TDs

48 rushes, 33 yards, 1.0 TDs

Long gone are the days of Matthew Stafford being a late-round quarterback option. His injury concerns and efficiency drop-off make this Los Angeles Rams offense a boom-or-bust option. 

Cooper Kupp, 240 Fantasy Points (14.1 PPG, WR8)

155 targets, 103 receptions, 1,137 yards, 12.3 TDs

Kupp was originally projected as the WR4 with 274 fantasy points. His hamstring injury and Week 1 status dropped him a bit, but he still has a top-10 upside. If you’re worried about re-injury risk, Kupp is likely not worth his WR4 ADP. He might not even be taken within the top 10  wide receivers in some leagues. Kupp’s value stays afloat because of his TD percentage.

Van Jefferson, 131 Fantasy Points (7.7 PPG, WR42)

103 targets, 69 receptions, 763 yards, 3.8 TDs

Van Jefferson could take over as WR1 if Kupp misses time. Still, Jefferson is a better football player than he is a fantasy football player. His upside is limited.

Cam Akers, 169 Fantasy Points (10.0 PPG, RB28)

184 rushes, 767 yards, 7.1 TDs

39 targets, 31 receptions, 258 yards, 1.8 TDs

Cam Akers projects for 40 percent of the Rams’ rushing work. With limited receiving upside and touchdowns allocated elsewhere (mostly to Kupp), Akers’ 2023 season looks to be an average one.

Tyler Higbee, 124 Fantasy Points (7.3 PPG, TE9)

99 targets, 68 receptions, 739 yards, 2.4 TDs

Tyler Higbee’s availability and previous connection with Stafford make him a sneaky top-12 option at tight end. Should Kupp miss significant time, Higbee becomes even more enticing.

Puka Nacua, 52 Fantasy Points (3.1 PPG WR95):

44 targets, 28 receptions, 317 yards, 1.4 TDs

Kyren Williams, 78 Fantasy Points (4.6 PPG, RB55):

102 rushes, 405 yards, 0.9 TDs

30 targets, 22 receptions, 189 yards, 0.7 TDs

There would be a lot more optimism surrounding the Rams with a healthy Kupp. He is just a season removed from his Offensive Player of the Year award. With his re-occurring hamstring issues at age 30, it’s possible Kupp won’t return to that All-Pro caliber form. The offense itself projects to be average with 39 touchdowns, meaning it’ll be hard to find value outside of risking it on Kupp.

San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers Deebo Samuel Brandon Aiyuk

Brock Purdy, 251 Fantasy Points (14.8 PPG, QB23)

513 attempts, 349 completions, 3,935 yards, 24.6 TDs

31 rushes, 44 yards, 2.2 TDs

There’s not enough data to know whether Brock Purdy will be a solid quarterback in 2023. He’s a high-upside QB2 but should remain undrafted elsewhere.

Christian McCaffrey, 275 Fantasy Points (14.8 PPG, RB1)

239 rushes, 1,115 yards, 8.5 TDs

87 targets, 67 receptions, 545 yards, 4.5 TDs

The RB1. His red zone usage and receiving upside make him a no-brainer to project this high. Even if reports of Christian McCaffrey seeing less work in 2023 are accurate, there are so few bell cow backs that a healthy 2023 season is a sure-fire top-three season.

Deebo Samuel, 165 Fantasy Points (9.7 PPG, WR30)

33 rushes, 181 yards, 2.2 TDs

101 targets, 63 receptions, 726 yards, 5.1 TDs

Deebo Samuel is the only wide receiver whose rushing projections are included. It’s not as much as it once was, but his rushing work is meaningful. Though my model likes Samuel to be the team WR1, Brandon Aiyuk projects to have more receiving touchdowns given his connection with Purdy to end the season.

Brandon Aiyuk, 151 Fantasy Points (8.9 PPG, WR37)

89 targets, 55 receptions, 729 yards, 7.2 TDs

Aiyuk has true WR1 upside if Purdy is legit. Still, my model is unsure. These projections feel a bit low likely due to the San Francisco 49ers‘ tendencies to spread the ball around.

George Kittle, 142 Fantasy Points (8.4 PPG, TE7)

87 targets, 66 receptions, 852 yards, 4.3 TDs

The tight end position is thin. George Kittle is a locked-in top-10 tight end but could struggle to produce if he’s not the top target earner in the offense. He projects to be fourth in the pecking order.

This offense hinges on Purdy. Given what we’ve seen from coach Kyle Shanahan’s system, Purdy should be good enough for the skill players to produce. Still, Samuel’s best fantasy season was when 20 percent of his fantasy points came from rushing plays.

After trading for McCaffrey, I don’t see the San Francisco 49ers using Samuel as they once did. This team is projected to finish with 46 touchdowns (ranked 10th). There is appeal to the wide receiver group, but McCaffrey is the only guy I’m banging the table for in my drafts.

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks Geno Smith DK Metcalf Tyler Lockett

Geno Smith, 302 Fantasy Points (17.8 PPG, QB12)

590 attempts, 388 completions, 4,281 yards, 27.4 TDs

70 rushes, 375 yards, 1.7 TDs

Geno Smith was the QB5 last season and added the best pass-catcher in the NFL draft. QB12 feels too low. He’s my favorite quarterback to target at the end of fantasy drafts.

DK Metcalf, 215 Fantasy Points (12.6 PPG, WR13)

143 targets, 92 receptions, 1,218 yards, 8.5 TDs

DK Metcalf was largely a disappointment in 2022, finishing as his team’s WR2 in fantasy points. That should change in 2023.

Tyler Lockett, 175 Fantasy Points (10.3 PPG, WR24)

123 targets, 78 receptions, 940 yards, 7.7 TDs

Tyler Lockett is a great wide receiver to target at the end of drafts. If he continues to be Smith’s favorite target, WR2 is just a floor for him.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, 123 Fantasy Points (7.3 PPG, WR48)

97 targets, 60 receptions, 731 yards, 4.0 TDs

Jaxon Smith-Njigba is a steal in keeper and dynasty formats. He’ll take over as the team’s WR2 eventually, but for now, he’s not much more than a boom-or-bust flex.

Kenneth Walker, 186 Fantasy Points (10.9 PPG, RB18)

199 rushes, 826 yards, 11.4 TDs

38 targets, 29 receptions, 246 yards, 0.4 TDs

Kenneth Walker was stellar in his rookie season and has top-12 upside. Zach Charbonnet is projected to eat into Walker’s workload a bit, but not enough to scare me away from his RB16 ADP.

Noah Fant, 90 Fantasy Points (5.3 PPG, TE22)

75 Targets, 50 Receptions, 475 Yards, 3.7 RecTDs

Smith doesn’t need to write back. If he plays like he did in 2022, the Seattle Seahawks offense is primed for another fun season. Nearly every piece of this offense is valuable at ADP given these projections, which feel fairly conservative. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the three starting wide receivers for Seattle finish in the top 36.

Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray Hollywood Brown vs. Eagles


Note: Cardinals players are projected with nine games from Clayton Tune and eight games from Kyler Murray.

Clayton Tune, 87 Fantasy Points (9.7 PPG, QB32):

476 attempts, 312 completions, 3,617 yards, 23.2 TDs

33 rushes, 95 yards, 2.2 TDs

Tune would project to be my model’s QB32 in a full season. We don’t even know if he is starting; Jonathan Gannon might not know either.

Kyler Murray, 136 Fantasy Points (16.6 PPG):

476 attempts, 312 completions, 3,617 yards, 23.2 TDs

68 rushes, 441 yards, 2.1 TDs

Murray would project as the QB13 over a full season. That said, if Murray is back for eight games, I can’t imagine he will be competitive enough to rush the ball 68 times. Murray is a fun option to stash on injured reserve, but he shouldn’t be drafted in shallow leagues.

James Conner, 186 Fantasy Points (10.9PPG, RB19)

207 rushes, 851 yards, 5.6 TDs

78 targets, 55 receptions, 342 yards, 2.0 TDs

Conner is a good value at his RB23 ADP, but this offense is going to be the worst in the NFL. Conner’s path to a top-12 RB season will be tough.

Marquise Brown, 156 Fantasy Points (9.2 PPG, WR32)

132 targets, 74 receptions, 937 yards, 4.8 TDs

Brown is likely to be peppered with targets like he was in 2022. Still, it won’t be enough for much more than a weekly flex option. I see a path for Brown to have a top-24 season, so I do like his price at WR35.

Zach Ertz, 68 Fantasy Points (4.0 PPG, TE28)

62 targets, 33 receptions, 424 yards, 1.9 TDs

Ertz should be ready to play by Week 1 after knee surgery late last season, but in this offense, he’s one of the worst tight end picks you could make.

Rondale Moore, 76 Fantasy Points (4.5  PPG, WR75)

70 targets, 37 receptions, 435 yards, 1.5 TDs

There’s not much to say about this offense. It’s a mess to project. No one knows who the starting quarterback will be, no one knows when or if Murray will return and no one knows if this team even wants to win after trading away Isaiah Simmons.

This offense is projected for a measly 29 touchdowns, the fewest in the NFL (New England is projected for 30). Conner is the only player worth rostering on this team, and even then, buyer beware.

Other Projections

AFC: South | East | West | North

NFC: North | East | South

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