The 49ers (4-5) are simply running low on NFL-level personnel at this point. Looking past their defensive injuries, they are working with backups at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end. QB Nick Mullens was generally awful at Green Bay in a 34-17 defeat. The backfield of Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty ran for just 55 yards on 17 carries. Richie James, a seventh-round pick in 2018, popped for nine catches, 184 yards and a touchdown.
The Saints (6-2) breezed to a 38-3 victory in Tampa Bay behind Drew Brees on Sunday night. The veteran QB threw four touchdowns and didn’t have to do much after halftime as New Orleans took a 31-0 lead into the break. Alvin Kamara had a relatively quiet game — 49 yards on 14 touches — but a touchdown made his fantasy day look respectable. Since Brees spread the ball around to 12 different receivers, no Saints wideout had a truly big game. Michael Thomas didn’t score in his first action since Week 1, but his six targets, five catches and 51 receiving yards paced the team in all three categories.
Notable Statistical rankings (Football Outsiders)
49ers: #15 overall — #16 offense, #12 defense, #12 special teams
Saints: #1 overall — #6 offense, #7 defense, #5 special teams
49ers: +9, +325
Saints: -9, -385
Fantasy football start/sit advice
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, $5,700
Aiyuk was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list last Friday, which was some good news for an offense in dire need of skill-position talent. With Deebo Samuel still battling a hamstring injury, Aiyuk may be leaned on in this game. Don’t forget that he surpassed 20 DraftKings points in his two most recent games.
Richie James, WR, $4,000
If Samuel remains out, James isn’t a terrible DFS option given his price. We probably saw his best game in Week 9, but it’s clear that Mullens trusts him. The Saints’ pass defense isn’t nearly as good as it performed against the Bucs — coming into Week 9, New Orleans had allowed multiple passing scores in every game — so there is a chance for James to post a semi-repeat performance here.
Michael Thomas, WR, $7,400
Thomas’ return to the field wasn’t a dominant one, but he looked healthy. He honestly didn’t need to be great in a total walkover, but in a competitive game, there doesn’t appear to be a reason why he can’t be the Michael Thomas we know. He’s worth trying at this price, especially against the Niners’ injury-ravaged defense that has permitted eight passing scores in its last two games.
Drew Brees, QB, 6,400
Yes, eight passing scores allowed its last two games! Brees’ lack of arm strength remains a concern, but with his receiving corps generally healthy for the first time in a long time, he shouldn’t have much trouble picking apart San Francisco. He is a high-floor option for your DFS cash games.