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Week 6 Start/Sit: Monday Night Football Matchup Analysis

The San Francisco 49ers (1-4) have faced the Green Bay Packers (2-2-1) a total of 15 times over the past 20 seasons... They're 5-10 over those 15 games. Of those 15 matchups, eight were played at Lambeau Field... San Fran is 2-6 over those eight. Now I get it, this Monday Night Football matchup will be the first game played between these two foes in over three full calendar years; the reminiscence is futile. But, it does highlight the big brother/little brother component which has existed in recent years between two of the league's more fabled franchises - the 49ers are 30-35-1 against the Packers all-time (5-12 at Lambeau). That's not likely to change here.

The loss of Jerick McKinnon and Jimmy Garoppolo (both to ACL tears) were huge blows to this young, promising 49ers team and while they have just one W to their name thus far, they've remained competitive despite the loss of (arguably) their two most dangerous offensive weapons. Making matters worse though, their incumbent at running back -- Matt Breida -- is listed as doubtful after suffering an ankle sprain in Week 5 while wide receivers Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, and Pierre Garcon all carry the dreaded "Q" designation at the time of this writing.

The good news for San Francisco? They're getting healthy on the defensive side of the ball. And, more importantly, the Packers haven't exactly been the model of health this season either. Now, rarely is it wise to bet against Aaron Rodgers at home, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should start all of the Packers players in your fantasy leagues. Nor does it mean we should be avoiding the Niners like the plague. Let's take a deeper dive into the matchups...

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San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers

Date and Start Time: Monday, October 15th at 8:15 p.m. EST
Game Spread: GB -10
Over/Under: 46.5
Notable Injuries and Status:

  • Matt Breida (RB, SF) - Ankle - Doubtful
  • Marquise Goodwin (WR, SF) - Quad - Questionable
  • Pierre Garcon (WR, SF) - Shoulder - Questionable
  • Trent Taylor (WR, SF) - Back - Questionable
  • George Kittle (TE, SF) - Knee - Questionable
  • Randall Cobb (WR, GB) - Hamstring - Questionable
  • Geronimo Allison (WR, GB) - Hamstring - Questionable

Offensive and Defensive Rankings (per game stats through Week 5):

49ers Packers
Passing Yards 22nd 10th
Rushing Yards 4th 19th
Pass Defense 15th 2nd
Run Defense 7th T-15th


Must Starts

Top Players That You Should Have In Your Lineup

Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)

In Week 5, Josh Rosen became the first QB to not put up at least 20 fantasy points on this 49ers defense in 2018. Aaron Rodgers is not Josh Rosen. The other four (Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, Patrick Mahomes, and Philip Rivers)? Yeah, they combined to average 23 fantasy points against San Fran and only Rivers (13th) failed to put up a Top-10 fantasy day. At 20.92 fantasy points per game, Rodgers is currently 11th among QBs; despite playing on one leg for a large portion of the season.

... This one falls under the proverbial, "no-brainer".

Davante Adams (WR, GB)

Davante Adams entered Week 5 questionable to play, but left Week 5 as fantasy's WR5 after putting up 140 yards and a TD on nine receptions (20 fantasy points/29 PPR). Adams' 25.6% target share ranks 12th among receivers and his 13.3 fantasy points per game are good for 11th (20.7 PPR - 6th). San Francisco has been middle of the pack against the WR position, and while the return of Richard Sherman (and possibly Jimmie Ward) help in that regard, Adams has entered the realm of the matchup proof (as long as Rodgers is on the field).

George Kittle (TE, SF)

I thought the loss of Jimmy G was a death sentence for Kittle after seeing him perform the magic disappearing act with C.J. Beathard under center a season ago. I was wrong. Through two games, Kittle is averaging 104 receiving yards per game with Beathard throwing him the rock and has been a Top-10 fantasy TE both weeks - finishing as TE2 and TE6. More on Beathard and the WRs in a minute, but Kittle's 15 targets over the last two weeks are second on the team and the Packers have allowed 4.8 receptions and 61.6 receiving yards per game to opposing TEs this season (including the zero catches for zero yards Detroit's TEs put up in Week 5).

Jimmy Graham (TE, GB)

San Francisco has allowed an average of just 3.8 receptions per game to opposing tight ends (tied for the sixth-fewest) and 45.6 yards per game (ninth-fewest), but they've allowed a TE to find the end zone in four of their five games. Graham's four red zone targets are good for second on the Packers and leave him tied for 10th among TEs. Oh, and three of the Niners five opponents (Chargers, Cardinals, Lions) rank in the Bottom-10 in terms of receiving yards per game from the TE position which is likely skewing their defensive numbers against the position overall.


Must Sits

Players To Avoid Putting In Your Lineup

Matt Breida (RB, SF)

Green Bay has allowed 4.43 yards per carry, 88.6 rushing yards per game, and four rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs in 2018. Not the toughest of matchups. However, it's best to avoid Breida in this one as he currently carries the doubtful tag, and if he doesn't play, you'll be left to drop him for Kyle Juszczyk, Raheem Mostert, or just rocking with the zero.

Raheem Mostert (RB, SF)

Speaking of, I wouldn't buy into Mostert just yet. Yes, he's likely to see around 10 touches, but he's averaged just 2.13 yards per touch (six carries for 11 yards and two catches for six)... I'll let you do the math.

Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams (RB, GB)

The Packers backs have combined to average 4.42 yards per carry - good for the eighth-highest clip. Problem is, Green Bay's RBs have also combined to average fewer rushing attempts per game than all but eight teams. They've also managed a total of just one rushing TD on the season - which would be the worst in the league if not for the goose egg put up by the Vikings and Buccaneers RBs. Then, there's the fact that it's been a revolving door behind Rodgers since Jones returned in Week 3 - he's averaged eight carries per game with Williams seeing 7.3 and Ty Montgomery getting 4.3. Rationing an already sparse number of carries isn't ideal (unless you're in a reverse-scoring league and you're seeking touches without yardage) and the Packers have yet to see one of their backs put up more than 82 yards from scrimmage in a single game... All of this is independent of the 3.83 yards per carry San Fran has limited opposing backs to (11th-fewest).

*Note: there's a good chance the game script leads to more carries this week, but you're probably looking at a 60-80 yard ceiling even with the potential for more carries. The two have combined for just six red zone rushing attempts (Philip Rivers has eight) so roll the dice on the TD at your own risk. If you hit, they're in the RB2 conversation.

Every Wide Receiver Who Plays for the San Francisco 49ers (WR, SF)

What this is not, is a knock on C.J. Beathard. He's actually been solid. In fact, he's averaging more fantasy points over his two starts than Jimmy Garoppolo did over his three. What this is, is an admission that the 49ers WRs have not been good. At all. Trent Taylor's 61 yards in Week 5 tied Dante Pettis for the team-high on the season and his seven receptions marked just the second time a Niners receiver caught at least five passes in a single game; 34 WRs (who've played more than one game) average at least 61 yards per game and 32 individual WRs average at least five receptions per game this season. Add in that the Packers have allowed just 139 receiving yards per game to opposing WRs (second-fewest), then combine that with the fact that Taylor, Marquise Goodwin, and Pierre Garcon all find themselves on the injury report, and you get a boisterous "No thanks!" (GB has allowed eight receiving TDs to the position, however - tied for the fifth-most. One of them seems likely to score.)

Randall Cobb (WR - GB)

Having suffered through a nagging hamstring injury, I can tell you that they're not fun and can pop up on you at any given moment. Without notice. Cobb returned to the practice field Thursday, which is a positive, but he really hasn't done much this season - with exception of his 75-yard TD boosted, 142 yard day in Week 1. Even if he plays, re-injury is a concern, as are the 26.5 yards he averaged in his two, non-Week 1 games. I'd rather take the chance of him balling out on the bench, than the alternative... Unless you're in one of those reverse-scoring leagues.


Solid Options/Sleepers

Which Players Will Have Solid Games and Which Could Surprise?

Solid Option - Alfred Morris (RB, SF)

If Breida doesn't go (which is looking pretty likely) Morris is in line to see another 20+ touches as he did in Week 5 where he finished as fantasy's RB23/RB27 PPR. The Packers have allowed 4.43 yards per carry and 88.6 rushing yards per game to opposing backs, which is somewhat inviting. However, Green Bay's offense is far superior to that of the Cardinals which the 49ers faced a week ago and there's a good chance we'll see the Niners fall behind in this one; potentially limiting Morris' work on the ground and dropping him among the flex options this week. (He also hasn't been very good.)

Solid Option - Geronimo Allison (WR, GB)

Like Cobb, Allison is dealing with a hamstring injury and playing him carries the inherent risk. Unlike Cobb, he's actually been playing well on a consistent basis. The injury concern drops him to the WR3 range, but if he plays, he should be in your lineups.

Sleeper – C.J. Beathard (QB, SF)

As mentioned, Beathard has actually been better than Jimmy G statistically to this point (strictly from the fantasy perspective) and he's completed 62.6% of his passes while averaging 323.5 passing yards per game. His 1:1 TD/INT ratio is far from impressive, but even with the turnovers, he's managed to average 19.24 fantasy points per game. Green Bay has been pretty stingy towards opposing QBs, yes, and a trip to Lambeau often results in headache. But, I wouldn't be surprised to see Beathard toss a couple TD passes and finish the night around 15 fantasy points. However, he's nothing more than a deep, 2-QB league play or a dart throw in a GPP dfs contest (even if he does give us the garbage time heroics).

PPR Sleeper - Kyle Juszczyk (RB, SF)

Green Bay has done a decent job at containing backs through the air, but Juszczyk is putting up 8.2 fantasy points per game (PPR) and has seen more targets this season than every 49er not named George Kittle. Again, there's a chance San Fran falls behind in this one, and with Breida doubtful, Juszczyk seems like the most likely candidate to benefit from the increase in snaps should that happen.

PPR Sleeper - Ty Montgomery (RB, GB)

Montgomery's work in the passing game is what separates him from his RB mates this week. His 18 targets put him 20th among RBs while his 31.4 receiving yards per game are tied for 17th. In the grand scheme of things, he's 51st in PPG among RBs in PPR leagues, but San Francisco has been letting opposing RBs kill them through the air (allowing the ninth-most receiving yards per game to the position at 57) and if Cobb or Allison can't go, Montgomery is likely to be in line for a few more looks.

Sleeper - Marquez Valdes-ScantlingEquanimeous St. Brown (WR, GB)

Both guys make solid pivots should we learn that either Cobb or Allison aren't playing. However, their value is directly related to the health of those two.

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