XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 15 begins with the 49ers visiting Seattle for a 43.5 total game in which San Francisco is a 3.5 point favorite. A Thursday night game with some (very) meaningful questionable tags creates a tough situation for us to dig into, but we’ll explore it the best we can.
On the 49ers side, with Eli Mitchell on injured reserve, we’ve seen Christian McCaffrey in an extremely strong role, playing 82% and 70% of the snaps (he lost some work in the second half last week due to the 49ers just dumpstering the Bucs). But, even so, CMC has seen 31 carries and 13 targets in the last two games, putting up Draftkings scores of 28.6 and 32.3. As always, a healthy CMC has the highest ceiling of any running back in the NFL, and we can expect that even with a third (or possibly fourth) string quarterback at the helm, San Francisco is going to lean on their run game. The matchup is not imposing against a Seattle defense ranked 21st in overall DVOA and 26th against the run, making CMC the strongest overall play on the slate (duh). RB2 Jordan Mason had 11 touches last week on 30% of the snaps, but he didn’t see his first touch until late in the third quarter when San Francisco was up by 35 points and they pulled CMC from the game. CMC is questionable here but looks expected to play (he has what seems to be a minor knee injury, but he played through it last week with no issues). Mason is somewhat overpriced for a role that likely gives him extremely little work unless the 49ers blow out Seattle and would need either a CMC injury, another blowout, or a lucky touchdown in order to be relevant. Of course, if CMC unexpectedly sits out (always a possibility on a short week), Mason would look like an elite value play, Tyrion Davis-Price would likely back him up as RB2 at a $200 salary, and the San Francisco passing game would become even more condensed.
Showdown Ownership Projections!
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Before we dive into the 49ers receivers, a note on the quarterback situation: Brock Purdy took limited practices on Monday and Tuesday (or rather, it was an estimation of practice status because the team didn’t actually practice on a short week). I assume Purdy will play, but if he misses, Josh Johnson would start instead. My perspective here is that Johnson would be a stronger play than Purdy, but that’s partly just based on draft pedigree as Purdy was this year’s Mr. Irrelevant, while Johnson has shown some success in previous opportunities (304/2 and 307/3 in two starts last year).
The big news for the passing game is that Deebo Samuel is out, leaving more volume for CMC, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle. Jauan Jennings will likely still be in a less-than-half-time slot receiver role (his snaps didn’t really change last week after Deebo exited), while the beneficiaries of Deebo’s absence will be some combo of Ray-Ray McCloud and Danny Gray. The key guys here are, of course, Aiyuk and Kittle. We’ve seen a strong floor from Aiyuk this year but only rare ceiling, with just two games of 20+ Draftkings points, and he’s also been priced up to his highest Showdown salary of the season, so while his role expectation has grown, his salary has grown along with it. Same with Kittle, who isn’t quite at his record-high price (he’s been above $8k twice this year), but close to it. Kittle has a similar or even higher ceiling than Aiyuk, but it comes with a lower floor as Kittle is more likely to disappear from the passing game plan unexpectedly. Kittle has the stronger matchup, and I expect he will come with slightly less ownership (projections are going to favor Aiyuk here based on what he’s done this season) and a slightly cheaper price, which makes him my preferred tournament play between the two. Jennings’ role seems unlikely to change, leaving him what he always is – a low volume, low upside part-time slot receiver who will almost certainly need a touchdown for relevance. McCloud is somewhat interesting at $1,200, as he saw the biggest increase in snaps when Deebo left the game, and while it only came with one target, the 49ers weren’t throwing much by that point. He’s not going to be a primary target, but he’ll be on the field enough to make sense as a value option who can be considered not just a pure punt play. Gray is a pure punt play, and you can also put backup TEs Charlie Woerner and Tyler Kroft into that same bucket.
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