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#208 The Sneaky RB To Add Now

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In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter we discuss the 49ers backfield, check in on Antonio Brown, and look at some sweet charts. It's 9/23. Take it away, Peter Overzet…


Another Thursday, another week trying to figure out what the hell is going on with the 49ers backfield. Here’s everything we know right now and an opportunity to add a sneaky RB to your roster before Sunday...

* JaMycal Hasty is going to miss a significant amount of time with a high-ankle sprain and can be dropped. 

* Elijah Mitchell, who led the team in rushing after Mostert went down in Week 1, is dealing with a shoulder injury that has been described as “worse than a stinger.” He didn’t practice yesterday, but Kyle Shanahan said he “has a chance to go Sunday.”

* Rookie Trey Sermon (concussion) was a limited participant yesterday but Shanahan said he was trending in the right direction. Still, he’ll need to pass all five phases of the concussion protocol to play Sunday night against the Packers.

* In response to these injuries, the team recently signed Trenton Cannon, Jacques Patrick, and Chris Thompson (along with Kerryon Johnson last week, who is still on the practice squad). 

Cannon is primarily a special teams player and Thompson is a veteran pass catcher who could play some on third downs, but Patrick is the one who is most interesting to me as a big-bodied bruiser who could soak up all the early down and goal line work. He flashed in the XFL and in this year’s preseason and would be in line for 10+ carries if both Sermon and Mitchell can’t go. 

As usual, we know that basically any NFL running back with baseline talent and athleticism can produce in this 49ers offense behind a good line. Taking cheap stabs on anyone with a shot to get carries is prudent. 


* Bucs WR Antonio Brown was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list yesterday. Because he is vaccinated, he’ll only need to produce two negative tests 24 hours apart to be cleared. Still, Adam Schefter said it “will be tough for Brown to play Sunday.” If Brown were to miss, Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson would pick up the vacated snaps. 

* Darrell Henderson didn’t practice yesterday with his rib cartilage injury. The team said Friday will be the big day as far as determining where he’s at. Make sure Sony Michel is not available in your leagues. 

* Andy Dalton was officially ruled out for Sunday’s game at Cleveland. It’s Justin Fields time now.

* There were a handful of other DNPs from yesterday, but they are largely unactionable. We’ll check in on more status updates tomorrow. 

Betsperts—a great social media bet tracking app that is free to download—is giving away money this week to anyone who follows me on the app. You can follow both me and Matthew here: Pete & Matthew. The snapshot of followers for my giveaway will be taken at 7pm ET tonight.  



Sam Hoppen—an analyst and web developer wizard for 4for4 Football and Ship Chasing—will be sharing interesting data viz with us every week to help us make better lineup decisions. Today, we have an “Air Yards Distribution” chart for four teams and a chart displaying the number of plays teams are running per game. I’ll let Sam explain…

The chart below displays the distribution of how far downfield (or how far away from the line of scrimmage) a player is targeted. Where the player's bubble is higher indicates where more of his targets are concentrated. We would expect players with higher bubbles further to the right to be downfield, big-play threats while we would expect players with higher bubbles further left to be more consistent, higher-target players.

* There's been a massive shift this year in how the Carolina Panthers are using their wide receivers. So far this year Robby Anderson has an average depth of target (aDOT) of 22.3 yards and D.J. Moore has an aDOT of 9 yards - last year, Anderson was at 9.8 yards and Moore was at 13.7 yards. This should mean more consistency for D.J. Moore.

* Entering the season, many thought that rookie Ja'Marr Chase would compete for targets most with Tyler Boyd, but Chase has been much more of a downfield threat. Chase already has two touchdowns of over 40 yards this season but has a solid floor built in with the team's second-highest target share so far.

In this next chart, the team's bar shows the number of plays per game that team has averaged. Then the teams that play each other in the upcoming week are combined to show the total average between that week's matchup. With more plays come more opportunities for fantasy points, so use teams at the top of this chart as a tie-breaker when making your start/sit decision.

* The divisional matchup between the Titans and Colts includes two teams with the highest play count so far this season. While we don't yet know who will start at quarterback for Indianapolis, try to start as many players in this game as possible.

* In what figures to be one of the best real-life games of the week, the Rams host the Buccaneers. While the play count total for this game is tied for the lowest of the week, these two offenses have been efficient enough that you shouldn't be scared off by the potential for fewer plays.

* Though the matchup between the Jets and Broncos is among the top five in terms of combined plays, neither offense has been that inspiring to start the year. Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant, Corey Davis, and the Broncos RBs are the only players I would consider starting from this game.

For more of Sam’s great work, follow him on Twitter and read his terrifically titled “Hoppen to Conclusions” pieces on 4for4. 




- Pete Overzet


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