The NFL kicks off Week 9 on Thursday Night Football with the San Francisco 49ers at the Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers are 10.5-point favorites on DraftKings Sportbook, and the game has been given a total points of 43.
RB David Johnson (ankle) is questionable for the Cardinals, and RBs Matt Breida (ankle) and Raheem Mostert (knee) are both questionable for the 49ers. RB Chase Edmonds (hamstring) is out for the Cardinals.
The 49ers are the most run-heavy team in the NFL, leading the league with 39 rushing attempts per game, well above the 2019 league average of 26 rushing attempts per team game. With them double-digit favorites, they could feature even more rushing volume than normal in this matchup.
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49ers TE George Kittle is an obvious start against a Cardinals defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Here are some other players that fantasy owners can consider starting or sitting in their seasonal leagues:
Start: RB Tevin Coleman
Coleman’s snap count has been in the 50-60 percent range over the last three weeks, but he is a candidate for an expanded workload given the rest of the 49ers’ backfield is banged up. The 49ers are the most run-heavy team in the NFL and are 10.5-point favorites, which makes Coleman a candidate for excellent rushing volume. Despite missing two games this season, Coleman is tied for 13th in total red zone carries and has seen a heavy 15 red zone carries over his last three games.
Sit: RB David Johnson
Johnson is usually a must start, but he carries significant health risk and lack of playing time risk here. Johnson enters the day uncertain to actually play, and even if he does, the Cardinals say that a timeshare at RB is expected. Because of the uncertain workload for the Cardinals’ backfield, newly acquired Kenyan Drake is also a risky start. Drake would have more fantasy appeal if Johnson is ultimately ruled out, but a matchup against an outstanding 49ers defense is an ugly one.
Start: QB Jimmy Garoppolo
Garoppolo’s fantasy value is limited by below average passing volume, as the 49ers are the league’s most run heavy team. Garoppolo is averaging just 27 pass attempts per game, below the 2019 league average of 35 pass attempts per team game. The 49ers are also 10-point favorites, so they may not need to pass much. However, the Cardinals have allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing QBs, which includes the most passing TDs (20) and most passing yards (2,372) allowed. Garoppolo will be in good position to be productive through the air when the 49ers do choose to pass.
Sit: QB Kyler Murray
The 49ers have one of the best defenses in the NFL, holding opponents to the fewest passing yards per game with the second lowest QB rating. The 49ers have allowed minuscule fantasy production to opposing QBs, allowing just six fantasy points per game to QBs, second lowest. San Francisco has also generated the fourth most sacks, which could be a problem for Cardinals offensive line that is poor. This is a really ugly matchup for quarterbacks.
Start: 49ers defense
The 49ers, who have been the NFL’s second best defense both in terms of fantasy points per game and points allowed per game, have an appealing matchup against a Cardinals offense that has been sack prone on the back of a poor offensive line. The Cardinals may also be without David Johnson (ankle), and even if Johnson does play, he is expected to be limited.
Start: WR Emmanuel Sanders
Sanders was productive in his first game since being traded to the 49ers, playing on 82% of the 49ers’ offensive plays and catching four passes on five targets. Sanders was also targeted inside the 10-yard line, where he caught a TD pass. While the 49ers generally have low passing volume and could be even more run heavy as 10-point favorites, Sanders looks primed to be the top option at WR in the 49ers’ passing game.