Kickoff Sunday, Oct 28th 4:25pm Eastern

49ers (
21.25) at

Cards (
18.75)

Over/Under 40.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
49ers Run D
2nd DVOA/7th Yards allowed per carry
Cardinals Run O
23rd DVOA/10th Yards per carry
49ers Pass D
16th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per pass
Cardinals Pass O
6th DVOA/10th Yards per pass
Cardinals Run D
5th DVOA/20th Yards allowed per carry
49ers Run O
5th DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Cardinals Pass D
6th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per pass
49ers Pass O
5th DVOA/12th Yards per pass

49ERS // CARDINALS OVERVIEW

There are four teams in the NFL that have yet to win a second game this season. Two of them are playing in this game.

With an incredible eight teams on this 10-game slate carrying a Vegas-implied team total of 25.0 or higher, this game (Over/Under of 43.0; early-week team total of 21.5 for each side) is likely to go very much overlooked in the DFS community. Arizona ranks dead last in plays per game, and they have allowed the second most plays per game. Arizona ranks 31st in points per game and 32nd in yards per game. Seven games into the season, the Cardinals are averaging an unfathomable 220.7 yards per game.

Outside of turnovers (dead last) and sacks allowed (second to last), the 49ers have been much more respectable on offense, ranking middle of the pack in pace, pass play rate, yards, and points. But while the Cardinals will be taking on a below-average San Francisco defense (20th in drive success rate allowed, 19th in yards allowed, and 31st in points allowed), C.J. Beathard and the 49ers will have to contend with an Arizona pass D that ranks seventh in adjusted sack rate and first in aDOT allowed.

It’s not all bad news for San Francisco’s offense, as the sheer number of plays faced by the Arizona D has put a serious strain on them. Add it all up, and Arizona has still allowed the 10th most points per game and the ninth most yards per game.

This game will be mistake-filled, and it will be worth eyeing the DST units on either side, but with a couple bad teams going at it and nothing to lose, I imagine we’ll find at least one or two intriguing plays from this spot.

49ERS PASS OFFENSE

The 49ers’ passing offense matches up like a jigsaw piece with the Cardinals’ defense, as Derek Carr is the only quarterback in the NFL who is throwing the ball shorter than C.J. Beathard on average (his average intended air yards is an incredibly low 6.4), while Arizona has allowed the lowest aDOT in the league.

The way for pass catchers to pile up fantasy points against the Cardinals is in yards after the catch (Arizona allows an above-average catch rate and above-average YAC per reception), but true upside is still difficult to come by, with the Cardinals allowing only eight passing touchdowns all season (the second lowest mark in the league). Only six of these touchdowns have come to wide receivers and tight ends — giving us a below-average offense, taking on a defense that limits upside for pass-catchers. Beathard should be under siege against the Cardinals’ pass rush, leading to plenty of short passes once again. Beathard has been unable to support relevant stat lines from any pass catcher except George Kittle, with Pierre Garcon going a combined 10-87-0 across his last three games, Kendrick Bourne going 5-55-0 in that same stretch, Trent Taylor going 10-79-1, and Marquise Goodwin surrounding his 4-126-2 game with a combined 5-54-1 in a pair of contests. Goodwin is the only guy in this group with upside that stretches beyond “Maybe I’ll get lucky.” Goodwin is in a tough spot for upside against an Arizona defense that has allowed the fourth fewest pass plays of 20+ yards this year.

Unlike last week (when I actually had Kittle saved as my early-week FLEX play, alongside Njoku — before I swapped him for Kerryon (and then moved off Kerryon…ouch), Kittle has a poor matchup against a Cardinals squad that has allowed only 23 receptions to tight ends — just three more than the league-leading trio of Chicago, New Orleans, and Oakland. Because of Kittle’s open-field athleticism, he has a better shot at beating this matchup than the average tight end — but it is a below-average matchup nonetheless.

49ERS RUN OFFENSE

Teams have had the most success on the ground against Arizona — hammering them to the tune of the most rush attempts faced in the league and the most yards allowed in the league. Arizona has allowed an incredible 12 rushing touchdowns through seven games — two more than second place Cleveland. Ten of these rushing touchdowns have gone to running backs, with an additional two receiving touchdowns going to running backs.

Frustratingly, however, the 49ers continue to divvy up work between two backs — with Matt Breida playing only five snaps last week after aggravating his ankle injury, and with Raheem Mostert filling in once again, this time alongside Alfred Morris. Morris has yet to top 67 rushing yards in a game this year and has only six receptions through seven games, making him entirely touchdown dependent. He’ll need a pair of scores to really stand out on the slate — though if Breida misses this week, the work will be locked in for Alf, giving him some floor.

Mostert has piled up 87 and 78 yards the last two weeks, on touch counts of 12 and 11. If Breida misses this week, Mostert could see as many as 14 to 16 touches (assuming San Francisco can keep this game close enough to lean on the run the way other teams have against the Cardinals), though if Breida plays, Mostert’s role (as well as Alf’s role) will become unpredictable once again.

CARDINALS PASS OFFENSE

I am actually, honestly excited for this side of the ball — and while I will aim to balance my expectations with the fact that there are a ton of games on this slate with good offenses in high-scoring spots (i.e., the Cardinals will likely be a team I target in large-field, low-dollar tourneys as part of a multi-entry strategy — rather than being a team I harvest multiple plays from on my main team), I do think there will be some good production here.

Let’s start with the offensive coordinator change — from dinosaur Mike McCoy to 38-year-old, former first-round pick, former Bruce Arians assistant Byron Leftwich. To be clear: there is not a ton that a coordinator can change in a week and a half — and with the Cardinals on bye next week, the focus here should be on keeping things simple. There has been talk (both from inside and outside the organization) that there are a few clear mandates on Leftwich: 1) identify the strengths of the Josh Rosen passing attack, and call plays that focus on those, 2) simplify the thought processes for Rosen so he can react and play a bit more freely, and 3) figure out how to get David Johnson involved “in a manner similar to how he was involved under Arians.” That third mandate has not been inferred from chatter, but has been publicly stated by Wilks. There have also been whispers that Leftwich will incorporate more pre-snap movement and creative alignments to actually put strain on the defense (thank goodness), and that he will start calling a more vertically-oriented offense.

There should be three key ways this week in which the Cardinals can “play to Rosen’s strengths, simplify the playbook, and get DJ more involved.” Those three key ways are named Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald, and David Johnson.

Fitzgerald has recent target counts of 7 // 3 // 8 // 8, and while he has not topped 40 yards since Week 1, he’ll have a chance here to do a bit of damage with the ball in his hands against a San Francisco team that ranks bottom three in YAC allowed per reception. Naturally, Fitz’s low-aDOT role gives him a lower floor than “seven to eight targets” suggests, but this is a quietly good spot for him to exceed his typical range.

Kirk has recent target counts of 5 // 4 // 7 // 6, showing his upside with a 3-85-1 game and a 6-77-0 game in the last three weeks. Expect Leftwich to work Kirk away from Richard Sherman, and to scheme him a couple touches close to the line of scrimmage as well. Kirk appears to have a solid floor and a quietly solid ceiling for his price (9.0% of the salary cap on DraftKings and FanDuel; 8.8% on FantasyDraft).

And after recent target counts of 3 // 2 // 2 // 3, we can comfortably project DJ to see at least twice as many looks as his recent norm, with five to seven targets being a comfortable range to project — along with the 18+ touches he has seen in three of his last four games. DJ has six carries inside the five-yard-line (sixth in the NFL), and he has six of the Cardinals’ 12 touchdowns on the year. San Francisco has allowed only four yards per carry to running backs, ranking 17th in the league in fewest rushing yards allowed to the position; but they have allowed 45 running back receptions — only four fewer than a Kansas City team that has allowed the second most in the league. DJ looks like a decent-floor, solid-ceiling play.

Behind these three, Ricky Seals-Jones and Chad Williams will pick up the remaining pieces in this bad offense. Williams saw eight targets last week, but he is no better than fourth in this attack right now, and he is the likeliest guy to be used in occupying Sherman, making it difficult for him to hit. RSJ has topped 35 yards only twice all year, while the 49ers have allowed the ninth fewest receptions to the position.

JM’S INTERPRETATION

This is only the third game I have written up on the main slate, so I don’t know for certain — but at his price (and given the poor team he still finds himself on), I don’t imagine I will end up rostering David Johnson myself. I do know I like James Conner more, and there are a few other high-priced guys I have not yet researched who I expect to like more as well (Saquon Barkley and Kareem Hunt stand out to me in particular — with Todd Gurley obviously on the list as well). But I do think we’ll see a nice game from DJ, and I wouldn’t be averse to taking a shot on him in tourneys.

Fitz is a floor guy, but I’ll likely feel I can target more certain ceiling (I nearly wrote “better ceiling,” but I do believe Fitz has a couple more big games in him before he retires; I’m just not sure we’ll have any ability to see those games coming).

Kirk stands out to me as a guy with really nice upside for his price — especially in this matchup, where he will catch downfield passes with opportunity for YAC-driven splash plays. Leaning on a rookie wide receiver in a poor offense is always uncomfortable, but this is a nice spot for Kirk to keep his solid run intact.

On the other side, I don’t plan to target anything — though it won’t surprise me if Kittle has another solid game, as he’s good enough to hit in a difficult matchup. I also think Mostert will become interesting if Breida misses — and while I can’t see myself pulling the trigger on a timeshare back on a bad offense, he would be worth a spot on my list (and a bit more late-week research) for the guaranteed touches in a good spot.