The San Francisco 49ers head into Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals with a host of questions. Most notably, what should we expect from rookie quarterback Trey Lance, who is making his starting debut due to Jimmy Garoppolo’s calf injury?
For fantasy football managers, the next biggest question will be what to expect from the backfield. The game plan will be different with the more mobile Lance playing, but also, the backfield will be a bit more of a full house. Elijah Mitchell missed the past two weeks with a shoulder injury, but he is now back, having been cleared on Friday with a full practice after two limited practices to open the week.
The 49ers won’t have Raheem Mostert the rest of the season, but this is the closest they’ll come to a fully-healthy backfield.
Fantasy Football analysis: 49ers RB Trey Sermon
Kyle Shanahan and Bobby Turner mix and match running backs, and that can create headaches for fantasy managers. The team spent a third round pick on Sermon this year, only to have him inactive in Week 1. He made an appearance in Week 2, but was knocked out on his first snap after he took a blow to the head at the end of an eight-yard run.
Mitchell took over the starting role after Mostert went out, but Sermon has been the starter the past two weeks with Mitchell sidelined. There were questions about Sermon’s work in practice coming into the first two weeks, but he reportedly has impressed of late, which might be enough to earn him the starting role over Mitchell moving forward.
For the time being however, we likely need to go into this thinking it could go either way. The 49ers do face a Cardinals run defense that ranks 16th in efficiency, and the ground game will likely be a bigger priority with Lance getting the start. Both players offer some value for deeper leagues, but in more shallow leagues, it’s going to be hard justifying a start until we know who is the actual starter.
Fantasy Start/Sit Recommendation
Sermon and Mitchell are worth flex starts in deeper leagues, particularly if you’re short-handed. In more basic leagues, you should probably sit them and wait and see how this situation shakes out.