As we inch closer to opening day of the NFL season, we want to get you prepared for your fantasy football drafts. That process begins with our team previews, where we’ll break down each team’s offense while providing players we’re targeting and, in some cases, avoiding.
>> READ: 49ers Season Preview from Mike Martz
49ers Fantasy Football Team Preview
Head Coach: Kyle Shanahan (seventh season as 49ers head coach)
Offensive Coordinator: None
Key Offensive Additions:
Key Offensive Departures:
Key Offensive Rookies:
Points Per Game: 26.5 (sixth)
Passing Yards: 226.8 (13th)
Rushing Yards: 138.8 (eighth)
Vacated Targets: 8 (32nd)
Pass: 54 percent Run: 46 percent
OL Rank: 19th
There isn’t a messier quarterback room in the league than the 49ers’. If Brock Purdy fully recovers from his throwing-arm elbow injury, he’s expected to be San Francisco’s opening-day starter; news on Purdy’s injury has been trending in a positive direction for some time now.
From Week 13 on, when Purdy took over for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo against the Miami Dolphins, Purdy was 11th in fantasy points per game with 18.1. If Purdy can’t play on opening day, consider him a strong, matchup-based streaming option given his premium supporting cast.
If Purdy has any setbacks, that’s when things get cloudy at quarterback. Trey Lance has seen limited action through his first two years, but he’s shown absolutely nothing to this point. The 49ers are a contending team in win-now mode, and Lance is still a developmental quarterback.
That reality means Sam Darnold could be the guy if Purdy doesn’t start the season. Darnold has suffered through below-average supporting casts throughout his career, so if there was ever a place for a former third-overall pick to resurrect his career, it’s Kyle Shanahan’s loaded 49ers offense.
Given Lance’s first-round draft capital and dual-threat skill set, he could be an interesting buy-low option in dynasty if his value continues to plummet. If he sees playing time in San Francisco this year, he’s worth a wait-and-see waiver wire pickup giving his supporting cast and rushing upside. If Darnold is thrust into action, consider him an intriguing streaming option.
Christian McCaffrey has the best role in all of fantasy. He had 244 carries and 85 receptions last year; no other runner with 75 or more receptions even hit 205 carries. There were a lot of moving parts for San Francisco last year due to injury, with Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell missing time, along with the quarterback switch from Garoppolo to Purdy.
However, McCaffrey should see 12 to 15 carries and five to seven targets each week in a scheme friendly to running back production. He remains the fantasy RB1 heading into 2023.
Mitchell should mix in for work between the 20-yard lines, with the occasional red zone or goal line rush attempt. Mitchell averaged 9.8 rush attempts in four games with McCaffrey last year, though one 18-carry game is keeping that number propped up. Mitchell most likely gets five to 12 carries each week without any pass game production.
He won’t be starting for you in fantasy when McCaffrey is healthy, but Mitchell is one of the top handcuffs. As a rookie in 2021, he averaged 15 fantasy points per game, with 18.8 carries and 1.7 receptions per contest. Expect that type of workload should McCaffrey go down in 2023.
Wide Receivers, Tight Ends
The 49ers have the most talented group of playmakers in the NFL, and their offense under Shanahan is designed to exploit mismatches. Despite some uncertainty at the quarterback position, this offense is expected to score plenty of points.
Brandon Aiyuk is a standout wide receiver, but due to potential volume limitations, he won’t be a top-end fantasy producer. Samuel is a versatile weapon, often used as both a running back and pass catcher, with Shanahan consistently finding creative ways to involve him.
George Kittle is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in football and a dominant blocker. While he excels as a receiver, his blocking ability could be required more frequently than his receiving ability. This offensive line needs help with protection.
The 49ers will likely use a lot of two-receiver sets; they’ll rely on McCaffrey to play as a wide receiver, making use of an additional tight end or running back to help in pass protection.
Considering these players’ current draft positions, we wouldn’t be eager to select any of them, but if they fall in drafts, that could be a buying opportunity. Each player possesses exceptional talent and fantasy football potential, making them valuable assets if they slip.
Ian Miller: Buy Mitchell (RB45)
When it comes to elite offenses, specifically elite rushing ones, there are going to be cheap running backs who return a lot of value during the season. Injuries are inevitable in the NFL, especially at running back. Not to mention, we’ve seen Mitchell have standalone value in this exact offense.
49ers We’re Targeting or Avoiding in Fantasy Football
Josh Larky: Target Aiyuk; Avoid Samuel, Kittle.
Ryan Reynolds: Target Mitchell.
Jordan Vanek: None.
Other Fantasy Previews
Follow our Team on Twitter
Josh Larky: @JLarkyTweets
Ryan Reynolds: @RyanReynoldsNFL
Jordan Vanek: @JordanVanekDFS
Ian Miller: @Dynasty_IM