The old axiom about even a broken clock being right twice a day comes to mind when discussing tonight’s Monday Night Football game between Seattle and San Francisco. We’ve been forced to sit through some real stinkers on ESPN so far this season. We’ve had to acquaint ourselves with the rosters of the Redskins, Bengals and Dolphins. We’ve had to listen to Joe Tessitore carry Booger McFarland for quarters at a time. We’ve had a black cat streaking onto the field be the most exciting part of a broadcast. Still, maybe, just maybe, it was all worth it to get this battle of NFC West powerhouses.
It’s the Seahawks. It’s the 49ers. Let’s break it all down from a Showdown perspective.
San Francisco 49ers
The biggest injury news we have coming into this slate — sorry Kyle Juszczyk ($600) — is that Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle ($9,200) is doubtful to play this evening with a knee ailment that’s held him out of practice all week. This is unfortunate news for a couple of reasons. Not only does Kittle possess more than twice as many receptions (46) and receiving yards (541) as any other person on San Francisco’s roster, but he also would have been in a fantastic matchup had he the means to play. Dating back to the beginning of Week 5, Seattle’s surrendered both the seventh-most targets in the league to opposing TEs and allowed the third-highest rate of yards per target to the position (9.4). Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean Ross Dwelley ($2,000) is going to run rampant on this Seahawks defense. I do believe he’s viable, as he’s coming off playing a season-high 70.0% of the 49ers’ offensive snaps in Week 9, and he appears to be the more receiving-inclined option between himself and Levine Toilolo ($1,800); however, in the end, this probably just means more opportunities for Emmanuel Sanders ($10,200). The veteran wideout has been targeted on 23.7% of San Francisco’s 55 pass attempts the past two contests and is coming off a 112-yard performance in last Thursday’s win over Arizona. Sanders is, without question, the No. 1 weapon in the 49ers’ passing attack if Kittle is to be sidelined. Though, it also should be noted Deebo Samuel ($4,800) has seen at least a 60% snap share in three straight weeks, as San Francisco’s crowded WR corps starts to see its rotation become a little more streamlined.
Editor’s Note: Kittle will be inactive tonight vs. the Seahawks.
Of course, the hypothetical success and value of Sanders and Samuel is tied to Jimmy Garoppolo ($11,000). The former second-round selection picked apart a suspect Cardinals secondary in Week 9, setting season-highs in attempts (37), passing yards (317) and touchdowns (4). Additionally, Garoppolo’s 31.9 DKFP output was the first time he’d eclipsed even 15.0 DKFP going all the way back to a Week 2 performance against Cincinnati. I still have my reservations with the quarterback’s game-to-game volume projections — a direct result of Garoppolo entering Week 10 with the fewest drop backs of any QB to start all of his team’s contests so far in 2019 — but the 28-year-old does draw another enticing matchup tonight. Seattle’s one of three squads to have conceded an average of at least 300 passing yards across its past three games; a statistic that doesn’t even take into account the 116 rushing yards Lamar Jackson racked up on the unit in Week 7. The Seahawks actually have surrendered 390-plus passing yards on three different occasions this season, yet their overall issues have been slightly masked by giving up only 11 touchdowns through the air. That’s simply a level of touchdown suppression that doesn’t mesh with the fact Seattle’s 278.1 opponent passing yards per contest rank as the fourth-most in football. To wit, the three defenses that’ve been more generous have allowed a combined 71 passing TDs. Regression has to be right around the corner.
Finally, let’s break down the 49ers’ vaunted rushing attack. No one in the NFL runs the ball more often than San Francisco, which possesses the league’s highest rushing rate at an eye-popping 55.9%. The 49ers also lead the NFC in yards generated on the ground on a weekly basis (171.1), while a banged up offensive line still has managed to produce a respectable 4.70 adjusted line yards per carry. However, while it’s rather easy to predict San Francisco is going to run the ball, it’s been a little more difficult projecting which running back will benefit the most from such inclination. For instance, it was Matt Breida ($6,200) receiving more carries than Tevin Coleman ($8,200) against Arizona, with the latter mustering a paltry 1.9 yards on 12 attempts in the 28-25 win. Yet, when you dig a little deeper, it remains clear why Coleman is the more expensive of the duo. The former Falcon has out-snapped Breida 153-to-91 going back to the start of Week 5 and, within that same timeframe, Coleman’s garnered 18 red zone carries to Breida’s two. With recency bias and possible salary relief likely pulling people in the direction of Breida this evening, I could see this being a nice buying window for Coleman. It certainly doesn’t hurt Coleman’s viability that the 49ers are expected to welcome back both Mike McGlinchey and Joe Staley, either.
49ers D/ST ($5,200) has been incredible to begin 2019. No one is denying that. However, I live my life by a few easy-to-remember rules, and one of those commandments involves never doubting the powers of Russell Wilson ($11,400). In a vacuum, is it hard to endorse a slate’s highest-priced player going into such a difficult matchup? Obviously. Yet we are discussing a QB that comes into Week 10 on the heels of throwing for a career-high five touchdowns and a pivot that leads all NFC quarterbacks in fantasy points gained per drop back (0.64). Still, a bit of discretion probably is advised when it comes to utilizing Wilson. San Francisco is giving up the fewest opponent passing yards per game (138.1) and the second-fewest passing yards per attempt (4.9). The Niners truly have assembled quite the defensive force, and it’s a unit that also leads the NFL in adjusted sack rate (12.0%). While Wilson did post football’s best passer rating under pressure in 2018 (91.4), that level of competition is enough for me to take the MVP candidate out of the running as a Captain’s Pick. That doesn’t mean he’s not viable as a FLEX option, though.
Helping Wilson’s value this evening will be his trio of talented wideouts. Tyler Lockett ($10,400) is suddenly the elder statesman of the Seahawks’ receiving corps, at least when it comes to experience within Brian Schottenheimer’s offensive schemes. The big-play slot option is in the midst of another hyper-efficient campaign, hauling in a massive 84% of his targets and averaging an elite 2.33 yards gained per route run. However, Lockett’s price tag does present a bit of an issue on tonight’s slate. K’Waun Williams is an imposing enough matchup to deter prospective owners on his own — especially considering the corner’s surrendered a mere 0.17 PPR fantasy points per route covered in 2019 — but my hesitation with Lockett is more about Seattle’s usage of the talented WR. Despite collecting an insane 18 targets in last weekend’s OT victory against Tampa Bay, Lockett still possesses a relatively modest 21% target share. That’s a concerning amount of volume with the 49ers conceding the fewest amount of opponent plays per game through nine weeks of action (53.9). Lockett’s still liable to have a great performance, it’s just hard to pay that much for the Kansas State product when D.K. Metcalf ($7,800) is seeing a similar target and snap share for roughly two-thirds the salary.
Wide receiver No. 3 is still a little up in the air, but, with Josh Gordon ($5,400) not appearing on the Seahawks’ final injury report, it would appear the recently claimed wideout will make his Seattle debut Monday. However, Gordon being active is only half the battle. It remains to be seen how big a role Gordon will be able to carve out for himself with the Seahawks. Both Lockett and Metcalf have played at least 90% of the team’s offensive snaps the past two weeks and, though Seattle’s somewhat featured David Moore ($1,200) within that span in 11 personnel, Moore’s managed only a measly three receptions. There’s just too much uncertainty surrounding Gordon for him to be all that interesting on this slate. Honestly, I could say similar things about Jacob Hollister ($4,600), who caught a pair of red zone touchdowns last Sunday. Though it’s obvious Hollister represents a far more dynamic receiving option than Luke Willson ($200), the looming return of Ed Dickson weighs heavily on Hollister’s workload. If Dickson’s ruled inactive this evening, I’d rather Hollister to the likes of Gordon or Moore; yet, if Dickson’s in there, I’d be avoiding Seahawks TEs entirely.
Editor’s Note: Gordon will be active tonight vs. the 49ers.
Chris Carson’s ($8,600) role, on the other hand, is not up for debate. There are few things in fantasy football as concrete as the former seventh-round pick getting his 20 carries per week, and San Francisco is setting up as a surprisingly decent matchup for the bruising running back. The 49ers were gashed by Kenyan Drake and the Cardinals last Thursday to the tune of 6.7 yards per carry and, if we expand our sample to the past three weeks, only Carolina’s surrendered more rushing yards per attempt than San Francisco’s dubious mark of 5.7. Carson might not get many looks in the passing game — as the 49ers have induced the fewest opponent backfield targets of any team this season — but he’s as solid a DFS asset as there is in 2019.
By DVOA, San Francisco’s enjoyed the league’s fourth-easiest schedule to this point of the campaign. Attribute it to a step up in level of competition or just a blind faith in Russell Wilson, but I do believe our last remaining undefeated team goes down tonight. As such, Chris Carson ($12,900 CP) is my main target at 1.5x value. A combination of floor, matchup and set-in-stone volume are a touch trio to beat. On San Francisco’s side of things, Emmanuel Sanders ($15,300 CP) feels like the way to go.
Final Score: Seattle 24, San Francisco 20
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