Game Previews: All Fantasy Relevant Players For Week 3
49ers vs. Chiefs
Can the run game keep the Chiefs’ offense off the field?
RBs Matt Breida and Alfred Morris settled into a groove against Detroit in Week 2, with Breida showing the explosive, playmaking ability that had a lot of zero-RB drafters excited about his late round value. However, snap distribution clearly suggested that both backs will remain involved in tightly contested games or positive game scripts. What we have yet to see, however, is a game where the 49ers find themselves down big early, and that may very well be the scenario that presents itself on Sunday with Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and company making their Arrowhead debut in Kansas City. Breida’s YPC advantage and targets over Morris imply that he will be HC Kyle Shanahan’s preferred choice when it comes to needing to manufacture points if the 49ers need to play catch up, while Morris looks to be the back to salt away the clock with a lead and take care of the football. Put simply, it’s unlikely that the Niners will playing with a lead for much, if any of the game, so Breida should find himself involved and quite active early and often. Those looking for an upside RB3 should look no further than Breida. Morris represents a standard RB3, who should factor in heavily as long as the game remains close.
Can the 49ers exploit what appears to be a terrible Chiefs defense?
They will probably have no choice, as it’s unlikely that HC Andy Reid’s offense will struggle to put up points against the 49ers defense. Much like QBs Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers before him, 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo will almost certainly have to air it out to keep the Niners in the game. The team will assuredly try and establish the run game early and often to keep Kansas City’s offense off the field, but it’s likely just a matter of time before Garoppolo has to take to the air. The Chiefs have allowed a league-leading 860 yards passing through two weeks, in addition to an atrocious 6:1 TD to INT ratio. WR Marquise Goodwin missed last week due to a deep thigh contusion, and his absence was certainly felt. Against Detroit’s unimposing secondary, San Francisco’s receivers struggled to win in man coverage, and without Goodwin healthy to stretch the defense and open things up for the offense to operate underneath, the 49ers may once against struggle to push the ball downfield in a game they will probably find themselves down in sooner rather than later. If Goodwin can suit up, then this game has the potential of a shootout. Regardless, Garoppolo can confidently be started as a low-end QB1 in a matchup that should require him to throw to keep pace.
Which 49ers pass catchers have the best matchups?
Against San Diego in Week 1, The Chiefs’ defense gave up 8 catches for 108 yards to the slot and 14 catches for 189 yards to running backs. In Week 2, this same defense gave up 13 catches for 121 yards to Steelers’ slot receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the slot, in addition to 5 catches for 48 yards to RB James Conner. TE Jesse James also gashed the Chiefs up the middle on 5 receptions for 138 yards and a TD. All of this bodes well for 49ers TE George Kittle, who Garoppolo continues to target relentlessly dowfield and between the hashes, as well as RBs Breida and Morris. The 49ers have not targeted the backs out of the backfield as aggressively out of the backfield as the Chargers and Steelers did, but given their struggles to win one-one-matchups on the perimeter with their receivers, HC Kyle Shanahan may have to alter his approach to exploit an obvious weakness on the road. Expect the 49ers to play it close to the vest initially in order to keep Andy Reid’s explosive offense waiting on the sidelines, but current trends suggests WRs Dante Pettis, Pierre Garcon, and especially Goodwin (if he suits up), along with TE Kittle will all be heavily involved should the 49ers fall behind have to throw the ball to keep up.
Does this 49ers defense stand a chance against a raging Chiefs’ offense in QB Patrick Mahomes’ Arrowhead debut?
They are not a recommended stream despite star LB Reuben Foster’s return from suspension. Sure, there’s a chance that Mahomes succumbs to the pressure of what will arguably be the biggest game of his career to date, but Chiefs’ HC Andy Reid should be expected to match Kyle Shanahan tit-for-tat when it comes to offensive punch, and the Chiefs boast far more firepower on that side of the ball. 49ers DBs Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, and K’Waun Williams will have their hands full with WRs Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, while LBs Fred Warner and Malcolm Smith, along with safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert will be tasked with stopping all-world TE Travis Kelce. The 49ers have looked stout against the run, and Foster’s return should help to keep RB Kareem Hunt in check, but the 49ers’ late-game breakdowns in the secondary against Detroit in Week 2 will probably be a focal point of Reid’s plan of attack, with Mahomes looking to assault the 49ers downfield with big-play specialists Hill, Watkins, and Kelce. If the 49ers can keep the Chiefs from scoring 35+, they will be the first team to do so this far in 2018. A lack of elite pass rush makes that prospect somewhat unlikely.
All signs point to the Chiefs scoring at will through the air and Jimmy Garoppolo having to battle back to keep his team from getting blown out on the road. HC Kyle Shanahan should be able to scheme the 49ers into scoring enough points to remain competitive, if not win the game, if the defense can somehow find a way to stop young gun Mahomes and his bevy of weapons. The 49ers defense will presumably use their 4-3 “under” front to stop the run, something they have done successfully this far this season, while allowing DL DeForest Buckner to generate pressure on Mahomes as DC Robert Saleh throws a variety of looks in the secondary to take advantage of Mahomes’ aggressive ways in the hopes of forcing turnovers. If the defense cannot take the ball away, this game could quickly turn into another shootout, something the Niners would prefer to avoid.
For the second straight year head coach Andy Reid moves into Week 3 with a 2-0 record, and this year the offense he designs looks spectacular. QB Patrick Mahomes set an NFL record by throwing his 10th TD pass in the first two games of a season. The Chiefs lead the NFL in points scored, averaging 40 points per game. If there is one word, to sum up the start of the season it’s efficiency. While yardage and snap totals are above average, the team is striking quickly and converting drives to touchdowns. This week the Chiefs host the San Francisco 49ers, a team they haven’t played since 2014. Here’s a look ahead at what to expect.
Can Patrick Mahomes keep up this torrid touchdown pace?
For at least one more week, the answer is yes. Early in the season, Mahomes has lit up zone coverage and I don’t think there is enough tape or time for teams to adjust. San Fran plays a primary Cover 3 zone coverage scheme, similar to ones in Seattle and Atlanta. But the 49ers are young on defense and don’t yet have the speed to cover all of the weapons the Chiefs can throw at you. Few teams can. Mahomes is a top 5 QB play and while I expect teams to begin taking looks away from him, it won’t be this week.
How should owners feel about Kareem Hunt ‘s slow start?
It’s not the time to panic just yet but the trends are surprising. While Hunt has been decent in the running game, he’s all but disappeared in the passing game. If you’ve watched Mahomes play you know that he is not a check down QB. He wants to push the ball and with so many weapons at receiver, you can’t fault him. This week I hope to see Reid get Hunt involved in the passing game. His rushing yards will come but unless we start seeing him on designed routes, his value will take a big hit.
Seven different receivers have scored, who will have a big day in Week 3?
WR Tyreek Hill is Mahomes clear favorite target and he’s shown he can score from anywhere on the field. Hill is an automatic start from here to the end of the season, WR1 in all formats. Heading into the season I felt the team would regress and TE Travis Kelce could be a player who feels it. After a slow start, I admit I may have been too conservative. While it is still likely that he falls short of his third straight one-thousand yard receiving season, he can challenge for a career high in touchdown receptions (8 in 2017), which will keep him at the top of TE options. Finally, WR Sammy Watkins exploded last week with 100 yards on 6 receptions. If you were an owner who started Watkins, congratulations. Watkins should be viewed as a high risk, high reward FLEX option and will make a nice bye week gauntlet start but trying to guess which weeks will boom is going to drive owners crazy.
Any predictions on how this one places out?
Vegas has this line at Kansas City -7 and an over/under of 55.5. Mahomes will come out firing and three passing TDs is likely. But this week look for Hunt to be very involved in the passing game and a big factor in the second half as the Chiefs try and hold off a solid young offense in SF. This should be a tight but high scoring game.