Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
Sunday football wraps up with the Packers visiting the 49ers (fun fact: I’m a 49ers fan; my boss is a Packers fan, so there’s some friction here) in a 47.5 total game with the 49ers currently field goal favorites. As JM notes, most of the 49ers offense is a game-time decision, so it’s somewhat hard to evaluate here, but I’ll try to talk through different permutations of activity and inactivity.
The 49ers run game is a timeshare — let’s get that out of the way right now. Matt Breida was out last week and Tevin Coleman played 49% of the snaps, exactly split with Raheem Mostert. Coleman led in touches, and he’ll lead in red zone work and (probably) targets, but Matt Breida’s status doesn’t really impact Coleman at all. Breida is currently listed as doubtful, but we’ve seen him play through dubious injury tags before. If he plays, he has big play upside but also comes with fairly significant re-injury risk. His red zone role is minute, so he’ll need big plays in order to really smash. If Breida is out, as is likely, Mostert is a pretty reasonable value play at just $4,200. The matchup is fantastic and he should see at worst 8 or 9 touches but possibly up to 15 or so as a home favorite with some pass game work. Jeff Wilson played one offensive snap last week, got one target, and caught it for a 25 yard touchdown, so if you want to chase that, have fun. The overall assessment here is the 49ers run game is likely to produce at least one solid score and possibly two if the 49ers win, but if the Packers get out to a lead, none of these backs have major pass game roles.
The 49ers pass game has all three primary weapons (Kittle, Sanders, and Samuel) listed questionable but trending positively. Deebo had a massive game last week with Kittle out and Sanders playing (but limited to under half of the offensive snaps as he battled through pain). If Sanders plays this week, I would expect him to be close to if not back at his full-time role, which makes Deebo seem overpriced for a WR2 role behind Kittle in a run-first offense. These three guys are all priced closely together, and if all three play, I would rank them as Kittle, then Sanders, then Samuel. The matchup is fine (the Packers started off rated strongly against the pass but have been fading as the season goes on), but this is fundamentally a run-first offense so I wouldn’t want more than one 49ers receiver unless I’m building for a scenario in which the Packers put up a decent fight. If all three primary guys are healthy, the other receivers on the team all fade back into ancillary roles, with Kendrick Bourne likely having earned the most trust with his added opportunities (touchdowns in three games in a row). Bourne will likely still have some kind of role, but it’s also likely a role that will require another score in order to really pay off.
All right, now the what-ifs. If Sanders misses, Deebo becomes the WR1 and we saw him perform in that role last week, while Bourne steps into a more full-time snap percentage and we’ll see little bits of Marquise Goodwin, Richie James, and maybe even 2018 darling Dante Pettis. Goodwin is the most attractive of those guys as he has real big-play ability and can force his way into optimal lineups with just one catch. If Kittle misses, Ross Dwelley caught four of five targets for two touchdowns last week but just 14 yards; he’s a red zone and short area threat, but without much yardage upside he’s going to need a score to pay off. Also, two weeks ago when Kittle was first out I noted that Kyle Juszczyk could be used in Kittle’s role and get some decent target volume…well, it didn’t happen that week, but it showed up last week with the fullback seeing seven targets and catching all of them. Sigh. Could happen again here, of course, but it won’t be as sneaky this time. It’s also worth noting that Kittle is a highly effective run blocker and the 49ers run game is likely to be a little bit less effective without him — not enough to make it unplayable, of course, but I’d probably ding 5% off of projections for the 49ers running backs if Kittle is out. Deebo missing is largely the same impact as Sanders missing, of course, and if multiple receivers miss it can start to get really hairy. Of the 49ers ancillary receivers, Bourne should be the first to step into additional work. San Francisco is pretty adamantly keeping Goodwin as a part-time player to keep him healthy, so I doubt he’ll become full-time no matter what happens. Multiple guys being out likely just opens up more for Richie James and Dante Pettis, and perhaps more 12 personnel sets with Juszczyk playing as the second tight end. Whew.
The Packers are, fortunately, somewhat easier to decipher. Aaron Jones is the lead back but in a frustrating timeshare with the much less talented Jamaal Williams, and while the split can on occasion tilt Jones’ way, overall this is really very close to a 50/50 backfield. Jones, of course, is the one more likely to break the slate with a huge game, but Jamaal is an eminently viable play at $6,600 who will remain heavily involved no matter what. The matchup here is sneakily good: while the 49ers are 2nd in DVOA against the pass (by a very, very large margin over the #3 Ravens), they’re just 19th against the run. As long as this game remains close, the best way for the Packers to move the ball will be on the ground, and we’ve also seen the Cardinals show that the way to score against the San Francisco defense is to creatively use running backs, both on the ground and through the air, to create other openings and opportunities.
It feels weird to have a slate with the Packers in which Davante Adams is not the primary weapon, but his matchup is much tougher. Volume and talent can certainly overcome that and, as always in tough matchups, Davante’s ceiling is absolutely intact (and huge), but it’s his floor that takes a hit. The wildcard in the Green Bay passing attack is Marquez Valdes-Scantling. In Week 9 MVS played 69% of the snaps but had zero catches on two targets, and then in Week 11 he only played 11% of the snaps. It’s not clear if that was due to injury or the ascension of Allen Lazard, who has a steadier target volume but a declining snap share. It’s hard for me to figure out what’s happening here, but I’ll be watching beat reporters to see if there’s anything we can glean about who is likely to be the primary perimeter receiver opposite Davante. If one of MVS or Lazard seems likely to have a full-time role, both are very significantly underpriced at just $4,000 and $3,200, respectively. In the slot the Packers have Geronimo Allison, who is just $2,800 but only has two games all year over 10 Draftkings points. Allison is on the field but just not getting the work, averaging 3.7 targets per game as the running backs soak up the short area work for the Packers. Jimmy Graham will soak up three to five targets and likely do very little with them. Both Allison and Graham are going to need touchdowns to be relevant here and I’d sooner chase them with Graham, who has a healthy red zone role, than with Allison, who does not.
The way this game is most likely to play out is with the 49ers defense controlling things while their run game gradually builds a lead. It’s hard to ever discount Aaron Rodgers, of course, but the Green Bay offense has been somewhat uncreative this year and hasn’t really impressed outside of Davante Adams being fantastic and Aaron Jones having a few big blowup games. Of course, betting against Rodgers has not historically been a profitable endeavor, so let’s look at some other ways this game could play out:
- The 49ers defense, despite scoring a ton of fantasy points via turnovers and touchdowns, has given up 25, 27, and 26 points in its last three games. Two of those games came against the Arizona Cardinals, who have not exactly been lighting the world on fire. San Francisco’s defense is really, really good, but they’re not unbeatable, and with a pair of running back-led offenses showing a path to success against them in the last three weeks, it’s not implausible to think that Green Bay, which uses its backs heavily in the passing game, could similarly find success here.
- Or, maybe not. San Francisco’s defense can clamp down anyone, having held several good offenses to 20 or fewer points this year. Onslaughts are certainly viable.
Overall my favorite captain in this one is Aaron Jones, with secondary preferences for Tevin Coleman, the 49ers second running back, and 49ers receivers depending on who’s healthy.
Some groups to consider:
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain receivers with their QB
- Pair captain QBs with at least 2 receivers
- At most 2 of Garoppolo, Coleman, and Breida or Mostert (depending on who’s healthy)
- At most 2 of the Packers non-Adams receivers (Allison, MVS, Lazard, Kumerow, Graham, Lewis)
JM’s Notes for Thursday-to-Monday Players ::
- As of the middle of the week (and this is obviously unlikely to change before the end of the week), pretty much the entire 49ers offense is a game-time decision. When talking about a Thursday-to-Monday slate, then, there are a few ways to handle this.
- Firstly, the most obvious and straightforward way is to avoid the 49ers offense altogether. With so much uncertainty (on a team that spreads the ball around quite a bit anyway), it’s not a bad idea — particularly if only building a small number of rosters — to avoid this team and hope no “have to have it” scores emerge from this side of the ball.
- Secondly, we have the “try to win a tourney by thinking differently from the field” approach, in which the Packers have allowed 15 notable stat lines in all (six to running backs, nine to pass catchers, each of which ranks near the top of the league), while having allowed 22 or more points in six of their last seven games. It’s likely that the 49ers produce one or two really nice stat lines here, and it’s also likely that ownership will be low on these players. As such, you could play the “game time decision” game by leaving a couple roster spots open for players from this game, and simply pivoting over to options from the Monday Night game if the player(s) you want to roster are inactive. Especially if multi-entering, saving some of your rosters for this approach has its merits.
- The Packers, of course, are more “bet on talent and hope it beats the matchup” than anything else. If we take away the blowout-driven “notable stat lines” from both John Ross and Tyler Boyd, San Francisco has allowed only two notable stat lines all year: one to Christian McCaffrey; one to Kenyan Drake. Aaron Jones is the player with the best shot at breaking this matchup, but it should go without saying that no player on the road at San Francisco this year is a standout play. Packers options are simply “betting on talent and hoping to sneak by the field with a lucky-strong game.”