Game Previews: All Fantasy Relevant Players For Week 5
Cardinals vs. 49ers
Arizona is on the threshold of a new era, a new wave of football led by the likes of Christian Kirk, Josh Rosen, and a third relevant young piece that is yet to be determined. The past few years saw a roster pieced together by overachieving veterans led by Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. Fitz looks like the professional he’s always been, but Rosen is not forcing him the ball. Johnson is still trying to find his footing, making it difficult to gauge the NFL’s only winless team. Fortunately, San Francisco plays host to the Cardinals in a matchup that offers at least some opportunity.
Is David Johnson actually back?
It would be a nice easy piece to say Mike McCoy’s hand is being forced and the star running back will finally have consistent opportunities. In reality, McCoy has never proved to be smart enough to do the obvious. Last week marked Johnson’s first decent yardage-effort of the season. Even with that, he needed his third score in four weeks to remain a relevant option.
San Francisco has been fairly generous to running backs throughout the season. The team is coming off a week where Chargers’ backs thrashed them via both ground and air attacks. Two weeks ago saw Kansas City run for barely two yards per carry, but the Chiefs also scored twice. Thus far, backs have found ample scoring chances against the defense, something that should persist even for this woeful offense.
What is there to watch in the passing game?
Two types of owners should have eyes on Josh Rosen. Dynasty owners and anyone desperate enough to Arizona’s skill players. The rookie looked fairly methodical in his approach to the game last week. While he simply missed a number of throws, he avoided the catastrophic decisions.
San Francisco’s average defense means that a healthy Fitzgerald could play in PPR leagues, but that’s more on reputation than expectation. If he is sidelined, it is a complete mystery as to who will actually come away with relevant targets. Kirk, Johnson, Chad Williams, and TE Ricky Seals-Jones split 16 opportunities a week ago (no one really capitalized). Arizona does have a chance to move the ball against this defense. However, an injured Fitzgerald could shed some meaningful light as to how Rosen will conduct this offense without a Hall-of-Fame security blanket.
Bye week streamers?
There are only two teams on bye this week, and frankly no one has talent from Tampa Bay that warrants a streamer. The Chicago defense is leaving a hole in some rosters, and while Arizona is not the worst option, there are certainly questions regarding their upside. This unit failed to create a turnover last week, and Beathard typically does a decent job of protecting the ball minus tip drills and the occasional bad throw.
If a kicker is somehow needed, look elsewhere. Seriously, anywhere else. Phil Dawson is just 1 of 3 on field goals this season. He entered the year with questions, and answered them with missed kicks and an undeserved loss.
The 49ers nearly pulled off an upset against the Los Angeles Chargers last week, and they most certainly feel confident hosting the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium this weekend. However, the Cardinals look like they’re beginning to find an upswing behind new face-of-the-franchise, QB Josh Rosen, while the 49ers are essentially playing out the year without their franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo. In what figures to be a relatively low-scoring affair compared to last week, this contest will feature quite a few intriguing matchups, not the least of which pits grit vs pedigree as competitive QB C.J. Beathard tries to lead the 49ers to their first win since the loss of Garoppolo against 1st round pick Rosen in his second career start.
Can Beathard survive Week 5?
The 49ers’ offensive line is banged up, with LT Joe Staley likely a gametime decision and RT Mike McGlinchey and C Weston Richburg also questionable. Beathard has built a reputation on toughness and grit, but the Niners can ill-afford losing another quarterback to IR after watching Beathard absorb multiple vicious hits against the Chargers last week. While the Cardinals have not been an imposing defense to this point in the season, they do sack and hit the quarterback at a top-12 rate, so the potential that Beathard may be playing behind a borderline non-existent line makes him an extremely risky streaming play this week.
Can Matt Breida ascend to an RB2 this week?
Arizona has given up 565 yards to opposing rushers so far this season (3rd worst in football) and 141.3 YPG. RB Matt Breida has been the more productive back of his timeshare with RB Alfred Morris, and this Sunday sets up nicely for some solid production. Arizona has also allowed 7 TDs to running backs (league high), and Breida remains active in the passing game. The 49ers will most likely want to establish the run to keep Beathard upright, and if they can get any semblance of a push, this game sets up nicely for Breida to post a RB2 finish.
Can George Kittle continue his campaign to join the elite TE tier?
TE George Kittle went off last week for 6 catches, 125 yards and a TD, bolstered by a big 82-yard strike that highlighted his athleticism. As injuries stifle WR Marquise Goodwin, age overtakes WR Pierre Garcon, and the younger receivers continue their struggle to win against man coverage, the passing game will likely continue to funnel through Kittle, making him a high-end TE play while the rest of the pass catching crew remains little more than desperation dart throws.
Should the 49ers defense be considered streamer-worthy this week?
At home against a rookie QB who has yet to top 200 yards passing? Yes, they’re in the streaming conversation. However, it should be noted that RB David Johnson had his best game with Rosen under center last week, and the young signal caller’s greatest strength might be his accuracy. The 49ers possess the run stuffing ability to limit Johnson’s YPC, but they have struggled mightily when it comes to covering backs in the passing game, an area where Johnson saw increased usage last game. With WR Larry Fitzgerald ailing, and a bevy of 1st and 2nd year players picking up the slack behind him, expect the Cardinals to lean on the run game and put the ball in Johnson’s hands via the air however they can if they want to win the game. The matchup warrants streamer consideration for the 49ers’ defense, but keep expectations in check. The Niners have recorded only 1 takeaway so far through 4 games, and they sit tied for 4th worst in the league with only 8 sacks.