TNF Fantasy Preview: San Francisco 49ers vs Arizona Cardinals

Mike Fanelli | October 31st, 2019 

Happy Halloween everyone! The NFL trade deadline was Tuesday and several players got moved. One of the players moved was Kenyan Drake, who will play tonight for the Arizona Cardinals. Last week’s Thursday night game was boring and I expect tonight’s game to be similar. The Cardinals are coming off a 31-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints, while the San Francisco 49ers destroyed the Carolina Panthers 51-13. Even at home, the Cardinals are massive underdogs and this game will be hard to watch, so be smart and enjoy your Halloween doing something else.

To recap last week, it wasn’t an awful fantasy game. Dalvin Cook scored 28.1 PPR fantasy points, the RB5 on the week, while Stefon Diggs caught all his targets and had 19.3 fantasy points despite not getting into the end zone. Kirk Cousins played well for the Vikings, completing 89% of his passes but left fantasy owners disappointed, scoring just 11.6 fantasy points. As if the Redskins offense wasn’t a mess to begin with, Case Keenum suffered a concussion and didn’t play in the second half leaving Dwayne Haskins came in and the offense completely fell apart. Terry McLaurin had a solid first half but was shutout with Haskins under center. Last week my projections were hit and miss but hopefully, I’m better this week, so let’s find out.

San Francisco 49ers

Quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo

While the 49ers are undefeated, Garoppolo isn’t a big reason why. He has yet to throw for over 300 yards in any game and has thrown three passing touchdowns just once (against the Bengals in week two). On the season, Garoppolo is the QB23 and has scored over the league average (16.3 fantasy points), just once and has scored under 15 fantasy points in five straight games. He has scored under 11 three times this season and hasn’t thrown for over 175 yards in two straight games. In a vacuum, Garoppolo isn’t a fantasy relevant quarterback. However, the matchup this week makes Garoppolo somewhat interesting.

The Cardinals give up the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, giving up 8.4 more than the league average. Over the last three weeks, quarterbacks have scored 30 or more fantasy points against the Cardinals twice. During that span, quarterbacks have scored eight touchdowns against the Cardinals. They have allowed quarterbacks to throw for over 260 yards in 75% of their games this season. Garoppolo is a high-end QB2 this week but it’s a risky play because it’s all based on the matchup.

Running Back – Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson

At the time of writing this, both Breida and Mostert are questionable to play in tonight’s game with ankle and knee injuries. Given the short week and playing on the road, I don’t expect either to play but both could be game-time decisions. If either play, I would have a hard time starting them as they will be playing with an injury and their snaps will be limited.

Let me back up for a second. If anyone still has Wilson on their roster, stop reading and go drop him. Unless Breida and Mostert are both inactive, Wilson doesn’t have a role in this offense. Over the last two weeks, he has a total of 11 snaps, despite the blowout last week against the Panthers. Furthermore, he has played more than 15 snaps in just one game this season. If Breida and Mostert are both out, Wilson is a nice cheap DFS option $2,000 but you’re hoping he falls into the end zone. In season-long leagues, I would leave him on the waiver wire, where he belongs.

Back to Breida and Mostert. Since Coleman has returned in week five, Mostert has played just 15.8% of the snaps while Breida has played 31.6%. During that span, Coleman has played 50.2% of the snaps. Furthermore, during that span, Coleman had 71 touches while Breida had 52 and Mostert had 20. Meanwhile, Coleman had four total touchdowns last week, while playing almost twice as many snaps as any other 49er running back. The gap between Coleman and Breida is widening. Over the last two weeks, Coleman has played 56.5% of snaps while Breida has played 27.5% of the snaps.

To wrap this up, the only 49er running back I would feel comfortable starting tonight is Coleman. He is getting the snaps and touches, plus he is coming off a career game. The Cardinals give up around the league average in fantasy points per game to running backs (23.2) but gave up 43.4 fantasy points to Latavius Murray and the Saints running backs last week, with Alvin Kamara inactive. Coleman is a low-end RB1, especially if Breida is inactive, while if Breida is active, Coleman is a safe mid RB2 while Breida is a risky flex play and someone I would leave on the bench unless you have to play him because of bye week or injuries.

Wide Receiver – Emmanuel Sanders, Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne

In his first game as the 49er, Sanders caught four of five targets for 25 yards, a touchdown, and 12.5 fantasy points; not a bad first game. However, the 49ers run the ball more than any other team in the league, running the ball 57.5% of the time, limiting any pass catcher’s upside not named George Kittle. Sanders did lead all 49er wide receivers in snaps last week with 55 (82%) and targets with five. However, despite that, Sanders was just the WR30 last week and I expect a similar outcome this week.

The Cardinals give up around the league average in fantasy points per game to wide receivers (33.7) but have given up just one touchdown to wide receivers since the return of Patrick Peterson. While Peterson might not shadow Sanders into the slot, the Cardinals secondary has stepped up their play with Peterson back. Sanders’ is a mid to low end flex/WR3 this week and I expect him to score between 8-12 PPR fantasy points without a touchdown tonight and his odds of getting into the end zone aren’t promising.

For the rest of the 49er wide receivers, other than Samuel, the rest shouldn’t be on fantasy rosters. Goodwin, Pettis, and Bourne all average under 6.2 fantasy points per game this season. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to nail down which wide receiver the 49ers will put on the field. Last week Pettis played 92% of the snaps, highest on the team, but played just 30% on Sunday against the Panthers, second-lowest on the team. Similarly, Bourne played 89% of snaps last week but just 48% on Sunday. To make this situation even muddier, Goodwin is expected to play tonight after missing Sunday’s game with a personal matter.

If you had to play one of these wide receivers tonight, I would go with Samuel because he has the most snaps among the wide receivers this season and because he played the second-most snaps in each of the last two games he was active. Also at $5,200 he is a solid option in DFS tonight, especially given his ability to score on jet sweeps or end-around run plays.

Tight End – George Kittle

Given the draft price fantasy owners had to pay for Kittle, he hasn’t lived up to expectations. However, Kittle is still the TE6 for the season, averaging a solid 13.4 fantasy points per game compared to 16.2 last year. Unless you also drafted an Austin Hooper, Mark Andrews, or Darren Waller, you likely don’t have a better option at tight end on your roster, making Kittle an obvious must start each week. Since the 49ers’ week four bye, Kittle has scored 14.5 or more fantasy points in three of four games, with the exception being the muddy game against the Redskins. Kittle hasn’t scored 21 or more fantasy points in a game this season but tonight they could change.

Much like quarterbacks, the Cardinals give up the most fantasy points per game to tight ends. They give up 21.5 per game, 10 more than the league average. The Cardinals have given up 23 or more fantasy points to tight ends in 63% of their games this season. Furthermore, tight ends have scored under 11 fantasy points just once this season against the Cardinals. Kittle faces the Cardinals tonight and again in two weeks, with the Buccaneers in between. If you can trade for Kittle before tonight, I would consider it, his rest of season schedule is fantasy-friendly.

Defense/Special Teams

Sacks, sacks, and more sacks; that’s what this defense does. The 49ers had season-high seven sacks on Sunday against the Panthers and 27 this season. As bad as the Panthers’ offensive line was Sunday, the Cardinals’ offensive line is even worse. The Cardinals have given up the sixth-most sacks this season (27) and over their last two games, the Cardinals have given up six sacks. Since the bye week, the 49ers D/ST has scored 12 or more fantasy points in every game. With a short week, several injuries at running back, and a rookie quarterback, the 49ers D/ST is a top-three option for me this week.

Arizona Cardinals

Quarterback – Kyler Murray

After scoring back-to-back games with 25 or more fantasy points, Murray has put up back-to-back stinkers, scoring seven fantasy points against the Giants and 10.1 against the Saints on Sunday. Murray has zero touchdowns (passing or rushing) over that span. He is averaging 162 passing yards and 20.5 rushing yards despite averaging 27 pass attempts and six rush attempts during that span. The return of Christian Kirk helps but with all the injuries in the backfield and the poor offensive line play, Murray is in line for a frustrating game tonight.

The 49ers give up the second-fewest fantasy per game to quarterbacks, giving up 10.2 less than the league average. Quarterbacks have scored a total of 2.5 fantasy points against the 49ers over their last four games. That span includes Baker Mayfield (-2) and Jared Goff (1.1). Ironically, Keenum’s 3.1 fantasy points two weeks ago is the highest during that span. Furthermore, quarterbacks have scored over the league average (16.3 fantasy points) just once this season against the 49ers. Murray is outside my top 18 quarterbacks this week.

Running Back – David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, Kenyan Drake

Edmonds has already been ruled out with a hamstring while Johnson is listed as a game-time call as he practiced on Wednesday but the latest report says Johnson won’t play tonight. If by some chance Johnson plays, he will likely be on some sort of a snap count and given the tough matchup, I would leave him on the bench.

The 49ers give up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs, giving up 14.9 per game, 8.3 less than the league average. Over their last six games, the 49ers have held running backs under 13 fantasy points in five of them and the exception was Christian McCaffrey last week. Furthermore, McCaffrey’s rushing touchdown last week is the only rushing touchdown the 49ers have given up this season.

With the injuries to Johnson and Edmonds, the Cardinals traded a conditional sixth-round pick to the Dolphins for Drake on Monday. If Johnson is inactive, Drake should see a massive workload as Zach Zenner and Alfred Morris are the only other running backs on the roster. After being acquired three days ago, Drake didn’t have much time to practice, learn the playbook, or build chemistry with his teammates. However, if Johnson is out and Drake gets the majority of the snaps, he is a risky flex option this week. If possible I would leave any active Cardinals running back on the bench this week.

Wide Receiver – Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, KeeSean Johnson, Damiere Byrd

Let’s get the non-factors out of the way. If you have Johnson or Byrd on your redraft roster right now, stop reading and go drop them, they belong glued to the waiver wire. The only fantasy relevant Cardinal wide receivers are Fitzgerald and Kirk. After a strong start to the season, Fitzgerald has struggled over the last two weeks. He scored 11.5 or more fantasy points in five of his first six games but has scored a total of five fantasy points over the last two weeks. Meanwhile, Kirk returned Sunday against the Saints after missing three games with an ankle injury. Kirk scored a season-high 17.8 fantasy points on Sunday, catching eight of 11 targets for 79 yards.

However, the matchup against the 49ers tonight is a scary one. The 49ers give up the third-fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers, giving up 25.2 fantasy points per game, 8.5 under the league average. Furthermore, the 49ers haven’t given up a passing touchdown since their week four bye and have held wide receivers under 20 fantasy points in three of four games. Combine a dominant rush led by Nick Bosa with a strong secondary with Richard Sherman, I expect the Cardinals to struggle to pass the ball tonight.

Between Fitzgerald and Kirk, I would play Kirk given his big-play ability and the fact that he is coming off a season-high performance. However, both receivers worry me tonight and I have both outside my top 30 wide receivers this week. Both receivers are low-end flex/WR3 options with a lot of risk attached to them and I would leave both on the bench this week if possible.

Tight End – Charles Clay, Maxx Williams

Alright, let’s not get cute here. Clay is the TE42 for the season while Williams is the TE44. Both tight ends have one game scoring more than four fantasy points this season. They have scored a combined one touchdown and a total of 23 targets this season. If you need any further proof on why not to roster, let alone play either of these tight ends, the 49ers give up the second-fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends. They give up just six fantasy points per game, 5.5 less than the league average. Tight ends have scored over 8.5 fantasy points just once this season against the 49ers.

Defense/Special Teams

Stop! If you think there is any reason to play the Cardinals D/ST in season-long leagues, I can’t help you but I’m going to try anyway. The Cardinals D/ST averages 1.5 fantasy points per game, fourth worse in the league. Furthermore, they have scored positive fantasy points just three times this season and if you remove their fluke eight sack game against the Giants two weeks ago, the Cardinals D/ST is averaging just two sacks a game and have scored negative four fantasy points this season. Meanwhile, D/STs have scored under seven fantasy points against the 49ers in three of their last four games. Still thinking about playing the Cardinals D/ST? If so, call 911 immediately.

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