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Stop That Hype Train! Jimmy Garoppolo


Is there a quarterback not named Deshaun Watson that fantasy football players are in love with more leading into the 2018 NFL season than Jimmy Garoppolo?

What’s not to love?  The guy learned from Tom Brady for several seasons in New England, then was traded to San Francisco during the middle of last year and averaged 300 passing yards per game over his five starts. He has NFL size, arm strength and mobility in the pocket, and he has as big of an upside as a professional chair tester has of a backside.

This is why fantasy owners are frothing over the thought of taking Garoppolo in the middle rounds of their drafts this week and watching him go from fantasy sleeper to fantasy stalwart this season. But before you join Jimmy G’s fan club and pencil him in for 4,500 yards and 40 touchdown tosses, slam the brakes on that hype train! Here are three reasons why Garoppolo is an overhyped sleeper for 2018:

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Three Sticking Points

The 49ers Receiving Corps

In a nutshell, Jerry Rice and John Taylor are not lining up out wide for Jimmy G. He has seasoned veteran Pierre Garcon on one side and 2017 breakout star Marquise Goodwin on the other. Garoppolo also has promising second-year tight end George Kittle, who had the best weeks of his rookie campaign while Garoppolo was running the offense.

But Garcon is a 32-year-old veteran coming off a major neck injury, and Goodwin came out of nowhere last year after four subpar seasons in Buffalo, so the jury is out on whether he is the real deal or a one-year wonder. The receiving depth behind those two is thinner than a pencil point (slot receiver Trent Taylor and rookie Dante Pettis). Kittle was a fifth-round draft pick that was not thought of as the next Rob Gronkowski coming out of college, so his ceiling is probably not as high as other young tight ends like Cleveland’s David Njoku and New York’s Evan Engram. The bottom line is Garoppolo’s pass-catching group is no sure thing to be better than average-at-best, and he could be stuck with one of the worst sets of receivers in the league if things go awry.

The 49ers Running Back Corps

It would be wonderful if Garoppolo was gifted a backfield that could take the pressure off of him during his first full season as a starter by keeping defenses honest with a decent rushing attack. San Francisco spent multi-millions on multi-dimensional Jerick McKinnon in the hopes that he could be the top back and form a terrific tandem with Matt Breida. Unfortunately, that plan worked as well as the New York Giants’ plan to bench Eli Manning last season.

McKinnon, who was already dealing with a calf injury during the preseason, tore his ACL this past weekend and is out for the season. Breida, who has been hampered by a shoulder situation, now will share the rushing load with veteran plodder Alfred Morris. A McKinnon-Breida combo would have been exciting and given Garoppolo two backs who could run and receive. The Breida-Morris one-two punch has the knockout power of a flyweight boxer and could cause defenses to key all its resources on Garoppolo and his receivers.

Garoppolo’s Overrated Rèsumè?

Before you get too wrapped up in what Garoppolo did during his fantastic five-game stretch last season, consider these factors when reaching a final conclusion on the numbers he racked up:

While Garoppolo threw for 1,542 passing yards over his five starts, his touchdown-to-interception ratio in those games was only 6-to-5. He may have led the 49ers to five straight victories, but his lack of touchdowns probably did not lead his fantasy owners to five straight wins.

Garoppolo was no Michael Vick. He had a grand total of seven rushing yards in those five contests. Garoppolo is known for having quick feet and the ability to move around inside the pocket, but he is not someone who is going to have a resounding effect in games (and fantasy) with his legs.  

Garoppolo has started seven games in his career (five with San Fran, two with New England). Robert Griffin III looked pretty good in his first seven starts, too. Now he is the third-string quarterback in Baltimore. While there are several reasons why Garoppolo’s story will go differently than Griffin’s, the bottom line is fantasy owners would feel a whole lot better and safer drafting him if he had a full season of starting under his belt and helmet.

Garoppolo is a wonder of the world. The guy has good looks, a set of superb skills, and the opportunity to join Joe Montana and Steve Young in the San Francisco 49ers lexicon of amazing quarterbacks if he plays well over the next decade. All I’m saying is to think he will be on par, stats-wise, with Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and other upper-echelon fantasy quarterbacks this season is somewhat foolish. Do not let this hype train derail your fantasy title hopes in 2018!

 

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