You might as well call it the NFC Mess. Aside from St. Louis, this division is riddled with questions.
Sam Bradford set the rookie completion record and truly delivered as the first overall pick. Bradford still has a ways to go before he can be considered a QB1, but he certainly has the makings of one. He only had six multiple touchdown games and just one 300-yard effort. Amazingly he did it without many weapons. The Rams added  tight end Lance Kendricks and receivers Austin Pettis and Gregory Salas in the NFL Draft.
Matt Hasselbeck would probably be the second best quarterback in the league, if he returns to Seattle. That has become a major question mark. Charlie Whitehurst didn’t quite cut it. We’ll have to wait and see who wins the starting gig next year we can say if their quarterback has fantasy value next year.
Alex Smith is expected to be back with the 49ers, but Colin Kaepernick is expected to be the future. Smith can be a decent spot starter if he wins the job, but he may not respond well to looking over his shoulder. Seems like a situation to avoid.
Then you have Arizona, who is in dire need of an upgrade at the position. They are rumored to be the front runners in the Kevin Kolb sweepstakes. If he does land in the desert, he would instantly become the second best quarterback in the division. Other than St. Louis, this really is a wait-and-see division.

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Not that it should affect your NFL Playoffs fantasy team, but Matt Hasselbeck will get the nod over Charlie Whitehurst in the Seahawks’ playoff matchup with the Saints.
Apparently Pete Carroll thinks that Hasselbeck’s experience better equips the team for their upset bid. I wouldn’t recommend either quarterback for fantasy teams, but I do think this gives Big Mike Williams a slight bump in value. It should also make things a little easier for Marshawn Lynch.

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I expect Pete Carroll to be successful with the Seahawks…eventually. They just don’t have the pieces in place for it to happen right away.


Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:   Difficult
The Seahawks take on the Niners in San Francisco in Week 14. Then they play the Falcons at home. They have a nice match-up against Tampa Bay in Week 16, but it’s on the road. Plus, how many Seahawks are you going to rely on in the fantasy championship.


Five Star Fantasy Options


Four Star Fantasy Options
John Carlson – Somebody has to catch the ball. Carlson has been effective despite the Seahawks struggles, averaging 53 catches for 600 yards and 6 TDs the past two seasons.


Three Star Fantasy Options


Two Star Fantasy Options
Justin Forsett – For now, Forsett is probably the best option. If Leon Washington is healthy or Marshawn Lynch is acquired, you can all but write Forsett off. Until then, he’s the best option they have in the running game. He’s also a good receiver out of the backfield. Very quick and elusive.


T.J. Houshmandzadeh – Housh had a choice between the Seahawks and the Vikings last year. I wonder if he’d still go for the money if he could do it over again. He has good hands and size so he’ll have some moments. He’s just not in a good situation. He is playing with either an old or an inexperienced QB. There isn’t much of a running game to keep defenses honest. There aren’t a lot of other receivers to keep defenses from keying in on him.


Golden Tate – As long as he isn’t too tempted by late night snack runs, Tate should have some moments along the way, but consistency will be an issue.


Seahawks Defense/Special Teams – If Washington returns to form, the Seahawks will have a strong return game. Their defense should improve with rookie Earl Thomas’ arrival.


One Star Fantasy Options
Matt Hasselbeck – He’s old. He can’t stay healthy. He has very few options in the passing game. If you’re taking Hasselbeck as your QB2, you may be drafting the name.


Charlie Whitehurst – He’s going to get his snaps so Carroll can see what he has. It’s hard to gauge a QB that has never taken a snap at this level. When you have a bad line, non-existent running game, and limited options at WR, you can’t get too excited over his prospects.


Julius Jones & Leon Washington – Jones bores me to tears while Washington must prove his back from a horrific leg injury. Jones will have a few solid games if he gets 15-20 carries, but they will be few and far between. Forsett’s skill set is similar to Washington, which could limit his fantasy impact.


Deon Butler – Butler has good speed, but will likely be fighting for crumbs after Carlson, Housh, and Tate have been fed.


Half Star Fantasy Options
Louis Rankin & Quinton Ganther – Since the Seahawks’ RB situation is so cloudy, this duo should at least be mentioned. They could get meaningful carries at some point of the season. That said, You surely don’t need to draft them unless they ascend up the depth charts (unlikely) during Training Camp.


Deion Branch – Branch has had too many injuries to be a factor any more.


Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Time for another Fourth & 1 Roundtable Debate.  Junkyard Jake came up with this week’s topic.  Click here to see the full article.

Every year there are Wide Receivers that get off to quick starts. The key is sniffing out if they are contenders or pretenders.  The obvious choices early on are the Giants duo of Mario Manningham and Steve Smith and St. Louis’ Laurent Robinson.  I would endorse those three, especially the Giants duo first and foremost, but I decided to dig a little deeper.

A name that comes to mind is Seattle’s Nate Burleson.  He started the season with a bang with 7 catches for 74 yards and a TD in a win over St. Louis. He followed that up with 4 catches for 46 yards in a loss to San Francisco. Aside from the production, the encouraging aspect was the number of targets.  He led the Seahawks in targets both games, with 11 and 10 respectively.

The key for his continued success is his health.  Though Matt Hasselbeck is questionable with a fractured rib, Seneca Wallace is a capable replacement. With T.J. Houshmandzadeh and John Carlson receiving most of the defensive focus, Burleson makes a solid fill-in player during the bye weeks.

Junkyard Jake of www.junkyardjake.com
Ryan Lester of www.lesterslegends.com
Paul Greco of www.fantasypros911.com
Bryce McRae of www.kffl.com
Kurt Turner of www.top-fantasy-football.com
Eric Stashin of www.rotoprofessor.com
Lee of www.footballjabber.com
Smitty of www.fantasyfootballxtreme.com

Mike Bell (sprained knee) is not serious.  There is a chance that he plays this week against Buffalo.  Look for Pierre Thomas to get more work.  It seems like the trio will get theirs every week.  It’s just a matter of who can stay healthy.  With their passing attack, they could probably drag Deuce McAllister off his couch and he’d be productive.

Troy Williamson (shoulder) is done for the year.  He’ll always have his preseason.

It appears that DeSean Jackson’s groin pull was a mild one and he should be good to go against Kansas City this weekend.  His role could be limited, and with the risk of aggravating his injury, it may be best to look for a replacement.

Marion Barber also looks to be fine after straining his quad.  With Felix Jones and Tashard Choice as options, Barber could have a limited workload against Carolina.

It appears that Matt Hasselbeck has a fractured rib and will miss their tilt with Chicago this week.  Seneca Wallace is an option in two QB leagues, but I wouldn’t consider in standard leagues.  When Wallace replaced Hasselbeck last year, he looked to Deion Branch.  T.J. Houshmandzadeh could see more targets.  I’d downgrade Nate Burleson and John Carlson if Hasslebeck can’t go.

Brian Westbrook (ankle) and DeSean Jackson (groin) were banged up in Philadelphia’s loss to the Saints.  Both will likely miss some practice time this week so you’ll have to monitor their availability.  New Orleans’ Mike Bell hurt his knee, which could open the door for Pierre Thomas.  Lance Moore (hamstring) was knocked out of the Saints.  He seems like a forgotten man.

Frank Gore shredded Seattle’s Defense, but injured his ankle along the way.  Fortunately for Gore owners, it doesn’t appear to be serious.

Matt Hasselbeck (ribs) left today’s game.  Hopefully, you have good options in case he’s out for an extended period.  Trent Edwards, David Garrard, Kyle Orton, or Byron Leftwich may be available in your league if need be.

Seattle’s Rookie Tackle Jason Smith
injured his knee.  If he’s out, Steven Jackson and Marc Bulger and company could continue to struggle.

I’m going to look at the matchups each week and pick five fantasy starters that could be in for a tough week.  Here’s a look at players who could struggle this week.

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks – Matt had his way against the Rams last week, but I think that’s going to be a familiar tune in St. Louis.  He faces the 49ers next week, and while they aren’t going to confuse anyone for Pittsburgh, Mike Singletary has his team believing and they are going to get after it on Defense.  Kurt Warner didn’t look particularly well against the Niners last week, and even without two of his top three wides, he still has more weapons than Hasselbeck.  Bonus:  Don’t count on Julius Jones to repeat.

Steve Slaton, Houston Texans – Albert Haynesworth may not be in Tennessee anymore, but that Titan Defense is still very tough.  A trendy pick to earn a Wildcard spot, Houston is in danger of falling to 0-2.  Tennessee is also in danger of falling to 0-2.  They are going to do their best to shut down the rushing attack and put pressure on Matt Schaub.  Bonus:  Don’t rely on Schaub this week.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears - Forte faced a tough Packer defense to open the season and things get worse.  He takes on Pittsburgh at home.  He was limited to 55 yards on 25 carries (2.2 ypc) in the opener, and, perhaps even more concerning, he did not catch a pass after leading all RBs in that category last week.  One bright spot is not having to face Troy Polamalu, but the forecast is still not sunny for Forte.  Bonus:  Avoid Jay Cutler as well.

Roy Williams, Dallas Cowboys - Roy started the season off on the right foot with 3 catches for 86 yards and a score last week against Tampa Bay, but the Giants are going a much more difficult challenge for the Boys.  The G-Men are going to get after Romo, and I see him relying more on Witten and his Backs this week.

Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati Bengals - Ocho had a nice game with 5 catches for 89 yards against Denver.  They are going to find out the Packers’ defense is much stiffer than the Broncos’.  To me this could be one of those ugly games where they muster only 150-180 passing yards or so, which would make Ocho a risky play.  Bonus:  Avoid all Bengals this week.

Here are some Quarterbacks putting up serious preseason numbers.  Let’s take a look and see if they have a chance to translate some of that preseason production into fantasy worth in regular season play. 

Matt Hasselbeck throwing
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks
- Through two games, Hasselbeck leads all QBs with a 111.9 passer rating.  He has completed 67.9% of his passes (19 of 28) for 198 yards and 2 TDs.  The key to his success is staying healthy.  Now that two of his starting offensive lineman have been injured, I would move Hasselbeck down from a low-end QB1 to a high-end QB2 as he’s likely to take more hits with his make-shift line.  It’s nice to see him getting into a rhythm though.

Tarvaris Jackson, Minnesota Vikings - T-Jack responded to the challenge of Brett Favre’s arrival with a perfect 158.3 passer rating, completing 80% of his passes (12 of 15) for 202 yards and 2 TDs.  Unfortunately for Jackson, the Vikings are likely showcasing him so they can try to trade him.  With Favre, T-Jack, Sage Rosenfels, and John David Booty on the roster, something has to give.  The Vikes won’t carry four QBs this year.  Depending on where he ends up, he could have some fantasy value, but I wouldn’t waste a roster spot with him.

A.J. Feeley, Philadelphia Eagles - Feeley leads all QBs with 347 preseason passing yards.  He has completed 34 of 44 passes (77.3%) with 1 TD and a 106.9 passer rating.  The showing is nice, but he is unlikely to unseat Kevin Kolb for the backup role.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills - Fitzpatrick has been unconscious completing 72.1% of his passes (31 of 43) for 316 yards.  He’s sixth in the preseason standings with a 90.8 passer rating.  He had a good preseason last year as well, and we saw what he did when Carson Palmer went down…little.  He has a little better weapons with the Bills, but don’t expect much from him if Trent Edwards gets hurt.

Brodie Croyle, Kansas City Chiefs - It’s unlikely Croyle can unseat newcomer Matt Cassel.  That would almost be an admission that the old regime was right.  Still, if Croyle continues to push Cassel with his 60.7 completion percentage (17 of 28) and 80.4 passer rating (8th best), fans could start calling for Cassel’s head if he struggles out of the gate.

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For those of you doing your fantasy drafts in the upcoming days, you may want to lower T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Matt Hasselbeck, John Carlson, and Julius Jones a few notches down.  Their Offensive Line, already without All-Pro Left Tackle Walter Jones, suffered another blow when starting Center Chris Spencer in the Seahawks preseason win against Denver. 

John Carlson could lose the most value if he has to increase his blocking duties, thus limiting his targets.  Julius Jones already has limited value because of TD vulture T.J. Duckett.  With inferior blocking, he could have a hard time finding running lanes.  Matt Hasselbeck takes a step back as he likely won’t have as much time to run all of his reads.  Housh could go either way.  They could lean on him more since they won’t have as much time to work the outside.  On the flip side, he could also fall prey to the additional QB pressure Hasselbeck could face.  Don’t avoid these players all together, but if you have are debating between a Seahawk and another player on the same tier, you may want to go with the alternative.

Seahawks Houshmandzadeh Football

Housh has a new home in Seattle.  He downgraded in QB from Carson Palmer to Matt Hasselbeck, but he’s still in a pretty good situation.  Hasselbeck has never had a reliable receiver like Housh so expect him to be targeted early and often.  Housh isn’t going to burn you deep, but he knows how to get open and pick up yards at around 11 yards per catch.  He will pick up a ton of first downs.  The key is whether or not he’ll be able to get in the end zone.  Housh had four TDs last year after averaging 9.3 he previous three years.  Of course Carson Palmer missed the bulk of last season so it’s not surprising he took a hit in that department.  Seattle had a miserable year as well, but in 2007 Hasselbeck threw for nearly 4000 yards and 28 TDs.  If he can stay healthy, there will be TDs to be had.
Housh is a decent WR2 in standard leagues, and an excellent WR2 in PPR leagues.  Housh is going in the late third/early fourth round in fantasy drafts.  He isn’t really a risky play because he showed last year he can still perform with marginal QB play.  Though Hasselbeck is a bigger injury risk than Palmer, I think Seneca Wallace is a more adequate backup than he worked with last year.  I expect another 90 reception season with 1000 yards and 6 TDs.

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