Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
Week 9 starts us off with a game projected to be awfully one-sided (what is with these island games this year?), with the 49ers traveling to Arizona to take on the Cardinals as 10 point road favorites. Arizona is projected to score just 16.5 points, and as the 49ers have only allowed an opponent to reach this lofty total twice in seven games, even this might be aggressive.
The 49ers are taking establishing the run to a new level as they’re rushing on an NFL-high 57.5% of their offensive plays. For context, the next highest here is the Vikings at 53.3%, and last year’s Seahawks squad “only” ran the ball at a 52.4% pace. The frustration here for us as DFS players is the backfield is still (and will likely always be) a timeshare. Tevin Coleman stole the show last week with four touchdowns and 105 rushing yards, but he did it on only 13 total touches. Matt Breida saw 12 touches of his own despite leaving early in the second half with an ankle injury, while Raheem Mostert salted the game away with nine touches. Now, where this gets interesting is that Breida and Mostert both missed practice on Tuesday. Watch the practice reports on Wednesday (I’m writing this article earlier in the day); if Breida plays, expect the normal timeshare. If Breida sits but Mostert plays, the latter should slide into Breida’s role at a modest discount, but Mostert also lacks the big play ability of Breida. If they both miss, though, Jeff Wilson becomes awfully interesting as a value play at just $2,000. Finally, it’s worth noting that despite their relatively close counts of overall touches, Coleman has crushed Breida in red zone usage with 16 red zone touches versus just three for Breida. Breida is used between the 20s and likely needs big plays in order to smash, though he is very capable of hitting them, especially in this matchup. As long as the game stays close, Coleman will dominate the workload here (he’s seen 20 touches in two games this year and is averaging over 17 since returning from injury in Week 5), but if the game gets out of the hand the 49ers seem to have no trouble handing the ball to their other backs and saving Coleman for later. (Note: as of Wednesday evening, we have no further clarity here. Breida and Mostert are both questionable, and we likely won’t get word on their statuses until Thursday afternoon.)
The 49ers passing attack is a low volume affair with a rotational wideout corps that has not really given us any tremendous receiver scores for the entire season. Jimmy Garoppolo is averaging just 27 passes per game and has only nine touchdown passes on the season. The Cardinals defense has been the gift that keeps on giving to opposing quarterbacks, but without volume, even a great matchup is more likely to result in a solid score than a must have one. The 49ers pass game basically starts and ends with George Kittle, who is the only receiver seeing consistent volume (though “consistent” here is still only averaging seven targets per game, which is lower than we would like to see for a player in his price range) and is in the best possible matchup against a Cardinals defense that has given it up to tight ends all year long. Kittle should be the most popular receiver play in this game and deservedly so. Behind Kittle, Emmanuel Sanders saw five targets in his first game with his new team, and ran most of his routes out of the slot and should thus mostly avoid Patrick Peterson’s coverage. He’s an overpriced play, albeit one with some ceiling. The Dante Pettis experiment seems to have come to a crashing halt in Week 8 as his snaps plunged from 92% to 30% and he has failed to take a step forward in his second season. He’s a hope and a prayer play. If you really want to dig deeper into the 49ers receivers, Deebo Samuel resumed his WR2 role last week with 70% of the snaps, though he runs on the perimeter and will see a lot of Peterson in a very challenging matchup. Kendrick Bourne and Richie James are rotational guys who will get a couple of targets and need a touchdown, making them not very attractive even as MME darts. Finally, Marquise Goodwin didn’t play last week, which could cause him to go overlooked here. He may also draw Peterson, but Goodwin is an Olympian-level sprinter who can dust anybody, and speed wins GPPs; he’ll likely only see a couple of targets, just like Bourne and James, but unlike those two he has a much stronger chance of scoring a long touchdown which could make him very relevant on just a single catch.
The Cardinals are in a brutal spot against one of the top defenses in the NFL and looking like they are going to be without their top two running backs. New trade acquisition Kenyan Drake looks positioned to lead the backfield in touches here, but the matchup is horrendous against a 49ers defense that has only allowed 300 total yards of offense once on the season. Drake is also unlikely to see a true lead back workload as he’s only been with the team since Monday. Zach Zenner is expected to back up Drake, but when Chase Edmonds left last week’s game early, Zenner saw only two touches in what is likely to be a similar game script to this game with the Cards falling way behind early. This run game is barely playable and you’re just hoping for broken plays.
It doesn’t get much better in the Arizona pass game as the 49ers defense has only allowed one quarterback to score more than 12.5 Draftkings points. Kyler Murray always has explosive upside with his legs, but he’s going to be running for his life here against the San Francisco pass rush. The Arizona spread offense has basically come down to “throw it a ton to Christian Kirk, when he’s healthy,” with Kirk seeing 11 targets in his first game back, good for a 33% market share. Arizona’s problem is that while they play extremely fast and throw at a high rate, they can’t sustain drives, so their overall play volume has not been anywhere near what some optimists expected it to be before the season. Murray has only averaged 31 pass attempts over his last five games, which has not been enough to sustain multiple fantasy-relevant receivers, especially when most of the targets have been short. Kirk is a pure volume play and my favorite of the Arizona wideouts, while fellow slot receiver Larry Fitzgerald has predictably faded in effectiveness as the season has gone on (play old dudes early before they wear out!). The spread out, air raid-style offense works when the perimeter attack can reliably offer deep threats to complement the shorter slot routes, and that has been Arizona’s problem — Damiere Byrd is out there running longer routes and has tremendous speed, but has only caught one pass of over 20 yards all season. The 49ers haven’t given up many deep shots (or much of anything), but Byrd could of course nab one here, and for a guy playing 80% of the snaps he is frankly just too cheap despite his limited success so far. The rest of the Arizona receivers, including the tight ends, are all just MME dart throws.
The way this game is likeliest to play out is for the 49ers to dominate with their run game and defense, as per usual. George Kittle is the likeliest 49ers receiver to be relevant, though he’ll have to do his damage early in the game before it gets out of hand. Betting heavily on Arizona players is betting on outlier outcomes (which can certainly happen and which will come at relatively low ownership).
Some other ways the game could play out:
- The 49ers could still crush the Cards but the touchdowns could come predominantly through the air instead of on the ground. Touchdowns are the least predictable element of football and Jimmy G does have three multiple touchdown games.
- The Cards are highly unlikely to win this game (though you could certainly build that way as a contrarian play!), but it’s not entirely unreasonable to think that they score first, perhaps more than once. The Dolphins/Steelers game on Monday is an interesting example of how this could play out: the Steelers ended up winning handily, but before they did, the Dolphins had a two-score lead which led to Pittsburgh opening up their passing attack and producing two receiver scores that were required to win a tournament.
My favorite overall captain is Tevin Coleman, followed closely by George Kittle. I’m also interested in whoever the RB2 ends up being for San Francisco. I have little to no interest in captaining any Arizona players in a matchup like this, though if I end up entering 150 lineups in this one (which I normally do but may not on Thursday due to the holiday), I will probably have a little bit of captain exposure to Kirk and the Arizona running backs.
Some groups to consider:
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain QBs with at least 2 receivers
- I’m actually not sure we need to partner captain receivers with their QB in this one given the QB pricing and the likelihood of a low-scoring game in which a receiver could lead all scorers purely through volume and yardage and without a touchdown.
- At most 2 49ers running backs, possibly consider not using this rule in 5-1 onslaught builds.
- At most 1 Cardinals receiver not named Christian Kirk
— Xandamere’s Advanced Showdown Course is now available through OWS :: Marketplace! This is his tournament course for Showdowns; and given the tangible edge in this contest type, it should pay itself off pretty quickly(!).
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