QB Jimmy Garoppolo – The mystique of Garoppolo was almost cult-like after his trade to the 49ers. Jimmy has seven career starts in the NFL, which all ended in victories. He’s completed 67.3 percent of his passes in the NFL. Over his five starts with San Francisco, Garoppolo passed for 1,560 yards with seven TDs and five Ints while gaining a fantastic 8.8 yards per pass attempt. Defenses only sacked him eight times compared to the 35 sacks taken over the other 11 games. Jimmy passed for over 290 yards in four of his five starts last year with 20 completions over 20 yards with five of those passes gaining 40 yards or longer. Garoppolo had this breakdown in catches, yards, TDs, and targets to RBs (30/294/0 on 39 targets), WRs (64/842/2 on 100 targets), and TEs (23/412/3 on 31 targets) in his first starts. His game is built to react to defenses by using the whole field and all his receiving options. For his Fantasy value, a Fantasy owner has to be fair when reading his passing options. The 49ers lack a true WR1, WR2, and elite TE. They have pass-catching options at RB with a speed WR (Marquise Goodwin) and a couple of possession WRs. I’ll set his bar at 4,000 passing yards with about 25 TDs. I can’t trust Garoppolo as a starting Fantasy QB, but I’m willing to jump on his ride if his receiver corps shows more upside. Jimmy will make the talent around him better, which is a similar path as Tom Brady. Only a QB2 for me in 2018.
RB Jerick McKinnon – After a relatively quiet start to his career (1,911 combined yards with seven TDs and 91 catches), McKinnon broke through with his year in the NFL in 2017. He gained 991 combined yards with five TDs and 51 catches while working in a split role with Latavius Murray in Minnesota after the injury to Dalvin Cook. The Vikings gave him 13.7 rushes over seven games midseason, but Jerick gained only 3.8 yards per carry leading to Murray gaining momentum on early downs. McKinnon didn’t have a rushing TDs over his last eight games. He shined in two games as a receiver (6/72 and 7/114). Kyle Shanahan will use two RBs in his offense, and he did rotate two backs in his successful season with Falcons. I only see about ten rushes per game with a chance to catch about four balls each week. With about 225 touches, Jerick projected to gain about 1,150 combined yards with five to seven TDs and about 65 passes. His floor will be reasonable in PPR league due to his pass catching ability.
Update: 8/13/18 > McKinnon gave Fantasy owners a scare on Sunday after his first preseason game when he needed an MRI on his right knee. The news came back positive with just a muscle strain. He looks safe for now, but I would follow his progress closely.
RB Matt Breida – Over three seasons at Georgia Southern, Breida gained 4,304 combined yards with 40 TDs and 22 catches. He’s an undersized back (5’11” and 190 lbs.), but he offers strength and speed (4.38) highlight by his 8.7 yards per rush in 2014 and 7.9 in 2015. A change in coaching staff and injuries at QB led to a disappointing senior year (168/646/3) while gaining only 3.8 yards per rush. Matt gained 645 combined yards in his rookie season with three TDs and 21 catches on 126 combined touches. His biggest weakness came in pass protection, which is an area that Jerick McKinnon excelled in 2017. Even with pass catching ability, Breida may work better as a change of pass runner on early downs where his speed can create big plays. Possible 150 touches for 700+ yards with minimal value in TDs and catches.
Update: 8/13/18 > Breida also suffered a shoulder injury in the 49ers preseason game. He’ll miss the rest of the preseason while expected to be ready for game one.
WR Pierre Garcon – After a couple of down years, Pierre had his second season with over 1,000 yards receiving in 2016. He caught 79 of his 114 targets (69.3 percent) for 1,041 yards and three TDs. His final stats look attractive, but Garcon only had one game with over 100 yards receiving (Week 11 – 6/116/1). He had between five and seven catches in ten games with three double-digit target games. Over the last seven full seasons in the NFL, Pierre has over 65 catches six times and over 750 yards receiving in six years. He has 37 career TDs in 140 games played with his career high being six TDs in three different seasons. Last year in San Fran, Garcon caught 40 of his 67 targets for 500 yards with no TDs. He missed playing with Jimmy Garoppolowhile being on pace for 80 catches and 1,000 yards. His season ended in Week 8 with a neck injury. Last season the WRs on the 49ers caught 182 passes for 2,530 yards and six TDs on 331 targets. The change in QB will help the WR chances plus improve the catch total with better accuracy. Pierre appears to be healthy while starting the year at age 32. Solid floor of 80+ catches for 1,100+ yards with a handful of TDs.
WR Marquise Goodwin – Goodwin entered 2017 with ten career starts over four seasons with the Bills. In his 39 games played, he had 49 catches for 780 yards and six TDs on 111 targets. His catch rate (44.1) was a huge problem. For the first time in his career, Marquise stayed healthy for all 16 games last year leading to 56 catches for 962 yards and two TDs on 105 targets. He had three games with over 100 yards receiving (5/116, 6/106, and 10/114) with two of those game coming with Jimmy Garoppolo starting at QB. Over the last five games of the year, Goodwin caught 29 passes for 384 yards and one TD on 43 targets. I’d love to believe in his upside, but his injury past and lack of college resume (120/1364/7 over four seasons at Texas) paint a trap picture. I’m sure he’ll be over drafted in 2018, which make him an easy avoid for me.
WR Dante Pettis – Over four seasons at Washington, Pettis caught 163 passes for 2,256 yards and 24 TDs. His best season came in 2016 (53/822/15) as a junior. His quickness and open field ability point to much higher upside than Marquise Goodwin with both players lacking the frame to defeat physical corners. Dante will upgrade the punt return game while showing the ability to set up defenders while getting them flatfooted. He won’t beat a CB with his deep speed alone, but his route running and quickness will create big separation on double moves. Pettis has a DeSean Jackson feel while lacking the explosives on the outside. His hands grade well, but he won’t make a huge impact until he adds more bulk and strength. Possible 50 catches for 600 yards with some value in TDs.
TE George Kittle – Over his junior and senior seasons at Iowa, Kittle caught 42 passes for 604 yards and ten TDs. He’ll bring speed to the TE position with some blocking skills (struggled in both run and pass blocking in 2017). The 49ers saw enough of Kittle last summer to ship Vance McDonald out of town, which created a better than expected opportunity. He caught 43 of his 63 targets for 515 yards and two TDs while delivering eight catches of 20 yards or more. George finished with two games of value (7/83/1 and 4/100) while splitting time at tight end over his last nine games played. This season he should push his way to 55+ catches for 600+ yards with a handful of TEs. Kittle is TE2 in PPR leagues with some upside.
Update: 8/13/18 > Kittle suffered a shoulder injury in the 49ers preseason game. He’ll miss the rest of the preseason while expected to be ready for game one.