GAME OVERVIEW ::
BY hilow >>
- WR Deebo Samuel finally finds himself as a full participant in practice this week and is expected to return to action against the Jaguars following two missed contests and the team’s Week 9 bye.
- OT Trent Williams has yet to practice this week nearly four weeks after his ankle injury. Not the best look coming out of the team’s bye week.
- WR Zay Jones got in a limited session Wednesday as he attempts to make it back to game action following five missed games in the team’s last six. I tentatively expect Jones to return to action after a largely lost season to this point.
- The question with the 49ers isn’t so much will they produce, it’s where will the production come from and can their opponent keep pace?
How SAN FRANCISCO Will Try To Win ::
We know the drill by now with these 49ers, who bring a weekly slow pace of play (32nd-ranked 31.2 seconds per play) and bottom-10 Pass Rate Over Expectation (PROE) to the table. Their highly concentrated, forward-leaning offense is primarily limited by a coach that doesn’t necessarily aim to score as many points as possible every time his team touches the football, so much as he tries to methodically control the game towards a victory. We know the offense to run primarily through Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, Samuel, and George Kittle, an offense that is as hard to figure out for fantasy purposes as it is for their opponents on a weekly basis. Not that we can’t count on weekly production as much as any one of those four primary contributors can erupt in any spot, which makes it more difficult to narrow down when all four are active. With all four active, concentrated volume is highly unlikely to amass away from McCaffrey, with the primary pass-catchers most reliant on efficiency and touchdowns to return elite scoring. By DVOA, this is a difficult spot on paper against a defense that ranks in the top five against both the pass and run, but micro matchups matter far less for the 49ers than they do for most other teams around the league. In earnest, this is one of those teams that can win in many different ways and beat difficult matchups, with the more interesting aspect of this game being Jacksonville’s potential to keep pace. As we’ve covered in numerous spots this season, the norm for the 49ers is that they hang 30 points on the scoreboard, leaving situations where their opponents can potentially keep up against their own suffocating defense highly valuable for fantasy purposes.
McCaffrey leads the league in rush yards and reception yards at running back through the halfway point in the season, on pace for over 1,300 yards on the ground and almost 600 yards through the air, in addition to being on track for a lol-worthy 26 touchdowns. His 5.6 yards per touch ranks eighth in the league, but his massive 44 red-zone opportunities leads the league by a wide margin. Furthermore, he has played all but two offensive snaps over the previous two games for the 49ers, rendering both Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason completely irrelevant in the process. The matchup is poor on paper against a Jacksonville defense holding opponents to just 3.6 yards per carry (fourth) behind a middling 1.33 yards allowed before contact and a solid fourth overall rating in DVOA against the run. Where the Jaguars have really struggled is containing running backs through the air, having allowed the most receptions to opposing backs this season (60). All of that to say, McCaffrey should be just fine in this spot and always carries the potential to put the rest of the league on notice in any matchup. Oh yeah, and there’s that little bit about scoring in 17 straight games and the like.
Aiyuk. Samuel. McCaffrey. Kittle. Any one of those four names can return elite GPP production in any given game. The trick isn’t as much as will any of them have a good game as it is which of those guys will have a good game. The Jaguars have played the fourth-highest rate of zone coverage this season and blitz at an above-average 29.4 percent clip, which sets up as another spot for Kittle to be utilized at an in-line position at an increased rate, particularly if Williams misses again. Both Samuel and Aiyuk are right around a 24 percent targets-per-route-run (TPRR) rate against zone coverage this season, trailed slightly by Kittle and McCaffrey. Compare that to the 34.5 percent TPRR of Aiyuk against man coverage and it becomes even trickier to figure out where the production is likeliest to flow from in this spot. Despite the high DVOA against the pass, the Jaguars have allowed top-10 marks to tight ends and wide receivers this season, most often ceding production to the intermediate middle of the field in front of their safeties. Again, the problem for us is that all four primary pass-catchers run routes to those areas of the field at elevated rates.