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The Resurrected 49ers Are Filling Fantasy Needs


Last year, the San Francisco 49ers offense didn’t offer us much in terms of fantasy production. Jimmy Garoppolo and Jerick McKinnon, projected to be the team’s most relevant players, had their seasons ruined by injuries. Marquise Goodwin was a disappointment who ended up on the free-agent list.

But this season’s 49ers are a different team wearing the same gold helmets. They have won each of their first two games, and rank seventh in the NFL in offense, averaging 410.5 yards per game. They are also fourth in rushing with 178.5 yards per game, with a three-pronged RB attack that has fantasy owners wanting a piece of all three of their top runners.

Have you lost a starting QB? Do you need an RB replacement for Week 3? Looking for some quality WR depth? These 49ers have stepped forward to fill your fantasy football gaps.

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Early Season Gold Rush

The rejuvenated Niners, with a healthy Garoppolo, are doing flips over their early success.

San Francisco is coming off a 41-point road romp at Cincinnati in which Garoppolo threw for 296 yards and three TD passes. The top three RBs rushed for 238 yards and a pair of scores and added another 79 receiving yards and a TD. In Brian Baldinger’s Week 2 breakdown of the Niners offense below, he notes they came up with eight “chunk plays”, or big gainers, against Cincinnati. Six were via the passing game.

As you can see on Baldinger’s film, the 49ers completely outplayed and outcoached the Bengals. Garoppolo thrived off play action, misdirections and unique offensive calls. Top RB Matt Breida demonstrated good vision, patience and ankle-breaking moves. Raheem Mostert zipped through a confused defense, and Jeff Wilson Jr. finished off two scoring drives with authoritative TD runs.

Many fantasy owners sought out 49ers on the waiver wire this week in reaction to the San Francisco offensive outbreak. Garoppolo, a must add with all the notable QB injuries, saw his ownership rise to 73 percent in FleaFlicker leagues as the fourth-most added QB. Savvy owners likely made Garoppolo their top waiver priority if they needed a replacement passer.

Mostert was the second-most added overall, behind only Demarcus Robinson. Wilson was the third-most added RB. Marquise Goodwin was recommended as a prime waiver add right here on RotoBaller, and rookie Deebo Samuel, who had seven catches for 86 yards and a TD, saw his ownership rise to 41 percent. You should grab him as a possible WR3 type if he is still available. He was the seventh-most added WR this week.

Even the defense, which already has seven sacks and four interceptions, was in on the strong San Francisco waiver run. They were the most added unit in FleaFlicker leagues as they ready to meet the Mason Rudolph-led Steelers in their home opener.

 

Key Cogs in the 2-0 Start

Garoppolo has thrown for 462 yards and four TDs in his first two games, and it was clear from his performance at Cincinnati that while he was on the sidelines for much of last season, he was becoming very comfortable with his mental grasp of Kyle Shanahan’s offense. As long as he stays healthy, he should remain in the back-end QB1/high-end QB2 range in fantasy football. If you lost Drew Brees or must replace Cam Newton this week, Garoppolo is looking like an ideal fill-in.

Samuel displayed his impressive yardage after the catch abilities against Cincinnati, and could actually emerge as the team’s most dependable WR. Goodwin caught three passes for 77 yards vs. the Bengals, including a 38-yard TD reception where Garoppolo completely fooled the defense on a play-action fake. As noted in the RotoBaller waiver wire feature, Goodwin caught 24 balls for 319 yards in three games with Garoppolo late in the 2017 season. Goodwin has a reputation as a boom or bust WR, but at least he has the “boom” element again now that he is back working with Garoppolo.

After a mostly quiet opener, Breida rushed for 121 yards against the Bengals. He is the definite No. 1 49ers RB right now with Tevin Coleman out for an uncertain amount of time with a high ankle sprain. Breida has led the team with 27 rushing attempts so far, and as you can see in the highlights below, he is a determined and tenacious runner with the aforementioned excellent vision and some real nifty moves.

Breida led the team in rushing last season, but often battled injuries, so keep that in mind if you plan to continue to utilize him as a starter. His tendency to get banged up is why he shares carries with Mostert, who has 22 attempts and could be a reason why Wilson is being installed as the goal-line specialist. Those factors make him more of an ideal flex play, but injuries to other fantasy RBs will cause many of his current owners to start him as an RB2.

Mostert already has 191 yards from scrimmage, including a 39-yard catch-and-run TD vs. the Bengals. He is a speed demon who can score from anywhere on the field, and is a recommended flex play until Coleman returns. Wilson can be more than a goal-line runner if needed, as evidenced by his 151 rushing yards in Weeks 13 and 14 last season. For now, he has to be rostered for fantasy depth.

You can never doubt any RB who gets an opportunity to play for the 49ers. Breida and Wilson were signed as undrafted free agents by San Francisco in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Mostert was a practice squad signee who originally went undrafted by the Eagles. Once Coleman returns, it could be mostly a timeshare between him and Breida. But all of these San Francisco RBs are very capable of producing quality fantasy numbers when pressed into action.

 

Forgotten Niners and the Future

How impressive have these “new look” Niners been? We haven’t even discussed George Kittle yet, as he has led the team with 11 catches for 108 yards. There are surely better performances to come, but he has given us no real reason to start worrying.

We have also not mentioned Dante Pettis, who was the third highest-drafted 49er in fantasy football this year, but has landed on the free-agent list in many leagues after a frustrating preseason and a one-catch start to the regular season. He was supposed to be a breakout candidate this year, but already looks like a bust.

But why focus on the negative? These 49ers are inspiring a lot of confidence in fantasy players and their fans early in the season. At the same time, though, we cannot overreact to just two games. The QB should be steady for fantasy purposes and the RBs will be flex options going forward. The best wideouts have WR3 ceilings. Still, though, it is refreshing to say the 49ers are no longer a fantasy afterthought.

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