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Should I start or sit Matt Breida in Week 1 fantasy football?

The 49ers start their 2019 season in Tampa Bay against a defense that wasn’t any good stopping running backs last year. Jerick McKinnon is done for the season but even with him out, should you start or sit Breida in Week 1?

San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida rushes during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

For half the teams in the league, losing someone like Jerick McKinnon for a second consecutive season to injury would have been a low blow. Since he was brought from Minnesota he has yet to see the field as a 49er. Luckily for San Francisco (but not so much for fantasy GMs), the team still can count on two other high-profile running backs in Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida. The former was signed by the 49ers in March after finishing the 2018 season as a high-end RB2 in fantasy leagues while playing for the Falcons. All things pointed to Coleman leading the 49ers’ backfield this year over Matt Breida. Until it didn’t, or so it seems.

The production of Coleman and Breida is as close as it gets and both have been drafted as low-end RB2 in season-long leagues. Coleman ran 167 times for 800 yards and four touchdowns in 2018. Breida rushed 153 times for 814 yards and three touchdowns. Coleman had 32 receptions for 276 yards and five touchdowns. Breida logged 27 receptions for 261 yards and two touchdowns. The efficiency numbers favor Breida (better yards per touch), but the raw counting stats (and the experience) are on Coleman’s side. I can’t think of a backfield harder to predict in terms of usage than the 49ers one, and it will probably come down to weekly matchups. Great situation for a real-life team, stinker for fantasy players.

Fantasy Impact: Facing a mediocre defense against the run in that of Tampa, you might think there is no better week to start Breida than this one. Think again. The Bucs allowed the 11th-most yards to RB last season. They also let 15 touchdowns (3rd-most) in through the ground. The matchup can’t get much better, all things considered. The problem is not that, though, but rather how San Francisco will split touches in some 50/50 share between Breida and Coleman. We won’t know until deeper into the season (if ever) who gets the edge over the other one. With such a scenario in place, it doesn’t merit starting Breida this week, even if it sucks considering how favorable the matchup against Tampa Bay is. No matter how good the production of Breida can be, it will get cut in half just by the reduced playing time.

Recommendation: Start at FLEX, Sit otherwise