Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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49ers Fantasy Preview

Monday, July 16, 2018


49ers Offensive Profile Under Kyle Shanahan

2017 Pass Attempts Rank: 2nd
2017 Rush Attempts Rank: 22nd
2017 Play Volume Rank: 6th
2017 Yards Per Play Rank: 16th
Unaccounted for Air Yards from 2017 (Rank): 363 (28th)
Unaccounted for Carries from 2017 (Rank): 245 (6th)

Projected Starting Lineup

QB: Jimmy Garoppolo
RB: Jerick McKinnon
WR: Pierre Garcon
WR: Marquise Goodwin
WR: Trent Taylor
TE: George Kittle
LT: Joe Staley
LG: Laken Tomlinson
C: Weston Richburg
RG: Josh Garnett
RT: Mike McGlinchey

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Passing Game Outlook

Jimmy Garoppolo instantly changed the 49ers’ late-season fortunes despite having just over a month to learn Kyle Shanahan’s offense following his October 30 trade from New England, engineering a 5-0 record with a sterling 67.4 completion rate and 8.8 yards-per-attempt average. “Jimmy G” was the fantasy QB6 during his Weeks 13-17 starting run, even with banged-up Marquise Goodwin (back, concussion), fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and day-three rookies Trent Taylor and George Kittle serving as his four most-targeted weapons. Most impressively, Garoppolo quarterbacked a 44-33 shootout upset of the Jaguars in Week 16, finishing as the fantasy QB4 that week. Garoppolo’s immediate success was especially remarkable in the context of Matt Ryan’s first-year struggles under Shanahan before Ryan’s 2016 NFL MVP explosion. Garoppolo will enter 2018 with a full offseason to learn the playbook and No. 1 receiver Pierre Garcon returning, Kittle and Taylor in their second years, and improved line play with the additions of five-year, $47.5 million C Weston Richburg and No. 9 overall pick RT Mike McGlinchey. There is much to like about Garoppolo’s 2018 fantasy outlook, with the exception of his aggressive ADP. He typically goes in the QB7-10 range in drafts, ahead of Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Pat Mahomes, and Ben Roethlisberger. Savvy fantasy leaguers are more patient when drafting quarterbacks.

Pierre Garcon was on a prolific 144-target pace through seven games before suffering a year-ending neck injury last Week 8 on a painfully fluky sideline collision with Eagles assistant Ken Flajole. Expected to make a full recovery, Garcon practiced at OTAs and even went skydiving before training camp. Garcon turns 32 in August and has no established rapport with Garoppolo, and his ceiling is theoretically limited as an 11th-year player who has never exceeded six touchdowns in a season. But Garcon has the most-secure role in San Francisco’s wideout corps and a lofty target projection with vastly improved quarterback play in an offense that last year ranked second in the NFL in pass attempts and sixth in plays per game. Albeit never a burner, Garcon’s Game Speed showed up as improved from 2016 to 2017. I think Garcon is one of the easiest picks in all of fantasy football at his ninth-round ADP.

Marquise Goodwin landed a three-year, $20.3 million extension from the Niners after setting career highs across the board (56/962/2) in his first season outside of Buffalo, averaging 17.2 yards per catch and finishing tenth in the league in Air Yards (1,547) as Shanahan’s handpicked vertical threat. Excluding the Week 8 game Garcon left early, Goodwin did average a vastly superior 4.5/76.6/0.25 receiving line with Garcon out of the lineup versus 2.9/49.9/0.0 with Garcon fully in. Goodwin drew 43 targets from Garoppolo, by far most on the team. A former Olympic-level long jumper and sprinter, Goodwin’s biggest obstacle in pro football has long been health. He has suffered six known concussions – including two last year – and never reached 450 yards in a season before 2017. Nevertheless, Goodwin’s big-play ability, locked-in usage after the 49ers’ monetary commitment, and improved quarterback make him an attractive best-ball pick in the middle rounds. Goodwin is less likely to offer reliability in re-draft leagues.

 

2017 fifth-round pick Trent Taylor will try to hold off 2018 second-rounder Dante Pettis for the 49ers’ third receiver job after operating as San Francisco’s primary slot weapon as a rookie. Taylor ran 76% of his routes inside and led all Niners non-fullbacks in catch rate (71.7%), although he cleared 50 yards in just 1-of-15 games. Taylor is questionable for training camp after back surgery, however, and the 49ers traded up for Pettis at No. 44 overall before lining him up mostly at Taylor’s slot position at OTAs. Pettis runs 4.47 and scored an NCAA-record nine punt-return TDs for the Washington Huskies, including four last year. Pettis is an especially intriguing Dynasty prospect tied to Shanahan and Garoppolo long term. It’s not crazy to think Pettis could become Garcon’s heir apparent at X receiver.

Second-year TE George Kittle is the likeliest candidate to capitalize on Garoppolo’s forthcoming positive-touchdown regression; Jimmy G’s 3.9% TD rate ranked 22nd in the league, and Kittle is by far the 49ers’ highest-ceiling red-zone threat. Garcon has never been a high-volume touchdown scorer, while 183-pound track athlete Goodwin has a distinct, non-scoring-position set of skills. 6-foot-4, 247-pound Kittle scored touchdowns on an otherworldly 23.8% of his receptions over his final two seasons at Iowa, then led the 49ers in red-zone targets (16) as a rookie. Also a superlative athlete, Kittle’s 97th-percentile SPARQ score was superior to fellow 2017 draft picks David Njoku (96.9th), Evan Engram (93rd), and O.J. Howard (84th). Kittle is one of my favorite tight end picks near the ninth- to tenth-round turn.

 

Editor's Note: The 2018 Rotoworld Draft Guide provides more than 500 extensive player profiles, tiers, projections, Evan Silva’s Sleepers and Busts and much more. Get the NFL Draft Guide now.

 
Running Game Outlook

Jerick McKinnon became the NFL’s fourth-highest-paid running back when the Niners landed him on a four-year, $30 million deal, prying McKinnon away from the Vikings after he established career highs in total yards (991), catches (51), and yards per reception (8.3) for last year’s NFC North champs. 49ers beat writers expect McKinnon to fill the “Devonta Freeman Role,” usage that netted Freeman just under 20.0 touches per game in two years with Shanahan calling plays in Atlanta. McKinnon has logged 20-plus touches only seven times in his 58-game career, however, and requires an aggressive leap of faith to draft at his second-/third-round ADP. The 49ers’ upward-trending offense and Shanahan’s run-game track record do instill confidence; Alfred Morris (1,690), Steve Slaton (1,659), Freeman (1,634), Carlos Hyde (1,288), Roy Helu (1,019), Tevin Coleman (941), and Ryan Torain (867) have all set career highs in all-purpose yards on Shanahan’s offensive-coordinating or head-coaching watch. With minimal backfield competition, durability is the biggest obstacle to McKinnon’s chances of paying off his ADP.

McKinnon’s limited resume increases the intrigue of the backs behind him, including Matt Breida, Joe Williams, Kyle Juszczyk, and Jeremy McNichols. 2017 UDFA Breida is the favorite for Shanahan’s “Tevin Coleman Role” after logging ten-plus touches in five of San Francisco’s final seven games and finishing 16th among 47 qualified backs in Football Outsiders’ rushing Success Rate (47%), superior to both 2017 starter Carlos Hyde (44%) and 2018 projected starter McKinnon’s (43%) marks. Breida stands 5-foot-9, 195 and has struggled in the passing game since Georgia Southern, however. Hyped 2017 fourth-round pick Williams failed to show reliable ball security and health during a rookie season spent on I.R. with a phantom ankle injury. He’ll compete for a roster spot. McNichols was drafted by the Bucs in last year’s fifth round, didn’t make the team, and landed on San Francisco’s practice squad. Juszczyk logged just 40 touches after the 49ers made him the NFL’s highest-paid fullback and isn’t a realistic fantasy producer.

2018 Vegas Win Total

The 49ers’ Win Total opened at 9.0 with -120 odds toward the under, presumably set so aggressively by sportsbooks in an attempt to prey on the public’s affinity for recency bias. Last year’s Niners finished 5-0 with Garoppolo under center. San Francisco hasn’t won nine games since 2013, however, and Warren Sharp rated their Weeks 1-7 schedule third toughest in the NFL. The Niners’ slate does soften thereafter, setting up for another hot finish. Both guard positions are worrisome on offense, and DC Robert Saleh’s pass defense remains a work in progress, particularly in terms of pass rush and cornerback play. The 49ers look to be on an upward trajectory, but the under on nine wins looks like the smarter play here.



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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