Fantasy Football Overlooked Offense
By: Ben Cameron
Many people in the fantasy industry look for outliers each season, because that is what will win you a fantasy league. This can apply to both individual teams and entire offenses. Last year, Tyler Boyd and James Conner blew away preseason expectations, while the entire Chiefs offense got to a level no one could have expected. So, every year fantasy players and analysts spend more than enough time talking about players in new roles or on new teams, and the new play callers that are going to take their offense to new levels. In my opinion, these are prudent and potentially league changing topics. However, correctly drafting or fading a player (or entire offense) based on an injury is just as valuable and not covered as well.
An offense finished last season 13th in rushing yards, but tied for last in rushing touchdowns despite losing their top back prior to the season and having 3 different RBs carry the ball at least 50 times.That same offense managed to end the season 15th in passing yards, and tied for 17th in passing touchdowns, even though their 3rd string QB started their last 8 games. Prior to last season their top players at each position were being drafted as QB10, RB19, WR23, and TE13.
The team above is the San Francisco 49ers, and the only player being drafted as anything more than a flex starter this season is George Kittle as the 3rd tight end off the board. Jimmy Garoppolo has an ADP of QB20 and can probably be had with your last pick, or grabbed off the waiver wire if you’ve drafted already. Jimmy G has a very deep receiving corps this season and has already been successful in his short career. He has an adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) of 8.1 since coming to San Francisco, which would’ve tied him with Aaron Rodgers for 9th best last season.
San Francisco enters 2019 with 4 of 5 starters returning on the offensive line, and a multitude of playmakers at the skill positions. Matt Breida returns after averaging 5.3 yards per carry on 153 carries last year and has a current ADP of RB47, which is criminal now that Jerick McKinnon is on the PUP list and he only has to battle Tevin Coleman for running back touches. Coleman was signed in free agency from Atlanta, where Shanahan previously coached him. However, Shanahan had no problem using both Coleman and Devonta Freeman in Atlanta; Shanahan’s willingness to use a committee and Coleman’s injury history makes me prefer Breida because of the RB47 price tag. If either back can solidify a role as the lead back they have league winning upside, but Breida has the easiest path to paying off his late round price.
The pass catchers are a little more tricky. San Francisco spent 2nd and 3rd round picks on receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, but they also retained Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, and Trent Taylor. Goodwin has been reported as the only receiver with a solidified starting spot, and he’s currently being drafted as WR65. Someone explain that to me. I’ll wait.
Outside of drafting Goodwin, I think the safest approach is to avoid Dante Pettis, at his 7th round price, and take a flyer on one of the rookie receivers near the end of your draft. Pettis got extended playing time in the preseason compared to the other solidified starters and I think that’s a sign the 49ers are open to the possibility of the rookies taking his spot or at the very least rotating in situationally.