Showdown Slant ::
Presented by top Showdown mind Xandamere!
We’ve gotten a great series of island game showdowns this week and it wraps up with the surprisingly 8-0 49ers hosting the 7-2 Seahawks in a divisional matchup with significant implications. The 49ers are 6 point home favorites in a 47.5 total game, which means the Seahawks are implied for just 20.75 points — a total they’ve only failed to hit once this year; and while I’m not in the business of betting lines, it feels pretty low for this offense. Seattle can take it slow when they’re ahead, but if they fall behind, they can be as explosive as just about anyone.
The Seattle run game is the bread and butter of their offense as they’re running almost as much as last year and more than all but four other teams in the NFL. Chris Carson, despite another two fumbles last week, played 85% of the snaps and saw 18 touches against just four for Rashaad Penny. The days of this being a split backfield appear to be over, at least for now. The 49ers defense is elite against the pass but has been attackable on the ground, especially with Kwon Alexander now out for the rest of the season. This is why I feel like the Seattle game total is low: Seattle’s offense focuses on the run, and that’s where the 49ers can be attacked. Despite being a road underdog, Carson is still an elite play (especially at just $8,600!), as we know the Seahawks will keep running, running, running if the game is anywhere even remotely close.
The pass game is where San Francisco’s defense is absolute elite, so Russell Wilson is going to have his work cut out for him. Only two passing offenses have thrown for more than 200 yards against the 49ers. San Francisco brings a ton of pressure with the highest sack rate in the NFL, but Russ has always been successful under pressure (he’s gotten used to having shabby offensive lines during his career), so I’m willing to bet on him here. The question is who to pair him with. Tyler Lockett, obviously, is the best choice, but he’s also priced up to $10,400, which is intimidating considering the matchup. He’s clearly the best option in the Seattle passing attack. Behind Lockett it gets ugly fast…DK Metcalf is the other full-time player, but perimeter WRs have been absolutely eliminated by the 49ers secondary. David Moore has been passing Jaron Brown and Malik Turner lately, but they’ve all been involved, and now of course Josh Gordon has been signed. Gordon almost certainly isn’t ready to take on a full workload, but he’ll eat into Moore’s snaps. Jacob Hollister scored two touchdowns last week but that was due to Luke Willson leaving for part of the game. Ed Dickson is also looking likely to return, which throws the tight end situation into a multi-way split. Lockett is the only reliable choice here, with Metcalf and Hollister (especially if Dickson isn’t active) the best of the dart throws. Josh Gordon is an interesting GPP option at just $5,400 as he has the on-field talent to beat anybody and he isn’t priced for a full-time role.
The 49ers have taken establishing the run to new heights this season, with a passing play percentage of just 44% — the lowest in the NFL by over 2.5%. Don’t be fooled by last week’s flop as the highest owned player in the SF @ ARI showdown; Tevin Coleman should still be the lead back in this backfield, as he played 55% of the snaps compared to 39% for Matt Breida and just 3% each for Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson. Coleman isn’t a bellcow, but he’s the lead dog here, and he’s also getting almost all of the red zone work. Given how heavily the 49ers lean on the run game, you can play Coleman and Breida together as it is entirely reasonable for them both to get 15+ touches. Mostert and Wilson appear to have been mostly phased out with Coleman and Breida both healthy, and are just longshot dart throws.
The San Francisco pass game is interesting to pick apart here. With George Kittle almost certainly out, they’ll be missing their leading receiver. Emmanuel Sanders has been the only full-time receiver on the squad, but he’s priced at $10,200 as a true WR1, which I’m not sure I’m willing to buy despite his big game last week. He’s a solid if overpriced play here. Behind Sanders, Deebo Samuel is the most reliable receiver in this offense, playing about two thirds of the snaps. His target volume can disappear in a non-competitive game (as it can for any 49ers receiver), but if you expect this one to be a battle, Deebo should see at least 5 or 6 looks. The rest of the wideouts (Pettis, Bourne, and James) are rotational pieces who have little value as anything other than dart throws. The 49ers receiving corps doesn’t exactly end there, though…fullback Kyle Juszczyk is returning, and coachspeak suggests he could be used similarly to Kittle, which would of course be a massive value at just $600. We also have Ross Dwelley, who stepped in for Kittle last game and caught 4 of 4 targets, and at just $2,000 represents another interesting bargain. I don’t know how to interpret coachspeak and if there’s anything to Juszczyk playing as a tight end, but I do know that the fullback has been critical to the success of the run game, so having him back helps Coleman and Breida, and before getting hurt he was still seeing a couple of targets per game of his own so he’s unlikely to put up a total dud.
The most likely way for this game to play out is a close-fought, ground-based affair. The 49ers are happy to run all day, while the Seahawks run in order to set up their deep vertical passing game. The main interesting pieces are the running backs, quarterbacks, and Tyler Lockett, with the rest of the receivers all carrying varying levels of attractiveness in tournaments.
Some other ways the game could play out:
- If you believe the 49ers are really “favored by 6” then you might want to invest more in the Seattle passing game. The Seahawks pass game is elite, but we just rarely see enough volume unless they fall way behind. If they do so in this one, we could see Russ at 35+ attempts, which even against the 49ers secondary could be enough volume to be a total smash.
- As I find myself frequently noting, we can predict usage but we can’t really predict touchdowns, and while these teams all love to run the ball, it’s entirely possible that every score in this game comes through the air. The rotational nature of both receiving corps makes it hard to predict how that shakes out, but you could certainly take some stands here.
- While the Seahawks are a highly capable offense, the 49ers are also a fantastic defense, and it’s not uncommon for us to see road teams just totally fall flat at unexpected times. Onslaught lineups are contrarian and should give some nice leverage.
Overall my favorite captains are the 3 main running backs, but I also want to have exposure to Sanders as the only full-time receiver in Kittle’s absence and perhaps a bit of Juszczyk just in case he gets more pass game usage than normal.
Some groups to consider:
- At most 1 kicker
- At most 1 defense
- Pair captain receivers with their QB (I might consider skipping this for Sanders, because in a real shootout, Russ’ rushing ability could have him outscoring Jimmy G even if Sanders is the single highest scoring player)
- Pair captain QBs with at least 2 receivers
- At most 2 of Jimmy G, Coleman, and Breida except in 49ers onslaught lineups
- At most 1 of each team’s minor rotational pieces (and you may even consider a group to have at most 1 of these guys in total across both teams, as the chances of any of them truly smashing are fairly slim)
— 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(!).
JM’s Notes for Thursday-to-Monday Players ::
- There are two ways to look at this game :: what is likeliest to happen, and what could happen
- What is likeliest to happen :: The 49ers’ defense is absolutely elite, having allowed only four notable stat lines all year: two to Bengals pass catchers in a blowout, and two to ultra-versatile backs in Christian McCaffrey and Kenyan Drake. Since we should always build in an effort to capture the highest scores on the slate, Seahawks players become unattractive from a “likeliest scenario” standpoint. And while the 49ers have a good matchup when they have the ball (the Seattle defense has been between mediocre and poor all season, in nearly all areas), this is also an offense that likes to spread action around, using multiple backs and spreading targets to multiple pass catchers. Emmanuel Sanders and George Kittle are “the best bets” for heavy usage and production, but in this “likeliest scenario” even those guys do not push for top scores on the slate.
- What could happen :: Because the Seahawks are a vertical, attack-minded offense when they pass the ball, and because the Seahawks are almost always able to play their games close, there are paths available to this game turning into more of a “shootout” than the field will expect. Is it likely that Seattle gets their vertical passing game moving to such an extent that players from this team become slate-winners? No. But is it possible? Absolutely. And if that happens, the concentrated pass game usage on Sanders and Kittle will make these two potential slate-winners as well.
- To put that another way: no players from this game are lock-and-load options; but Sanders and Kittle can be considered in all formats for their role/matchup (they’re likeliest to post a “solid score,” but you could hope for some things to break their way and for a slate-winner to emerge), and game stacks can be considered if you want to build around a scenario in which the Seahawks are able to hit a few big plays through the air. In this scenario, Russell Wilson, one or even two of his pass catchers, and one or two pass catchers on the 49ers could all become viable on a tourney roster. Again: not the likeliest scenario; but if multi-entering the Thursday-to-Monday, it’s a scenario to at least consider.