Kickoff: Sunday, September 13 at 4:25 PM ET
Location: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
Betting Odds: SF -7.5, 44.5 total via Oddsshark
Kyler Murray (Start, QB1)
If you are looking at someone to be the mid-round quarterback that vaults into the top 3 at the position next season, put your eggs in Kyler Murray’s basket. After a rookie season that saw almost 4,000 yards passing, a 20:12 TD:INT ratio, and another 500 yards and four scores on the ground, Murray is set to explode with the new addition of DeAndre Hopkins, arguably the most talented pass catcher in the league. The Cards love to sling it and there will be no shortage of that week one. We can definitely tamper expectations in Week 1 against the silver medal winners of the NFL last year in the 49ers, but there should still be enough volume to get Murray into the top 12 at the position this week. Start him with confidence this week.
Kenyan Drake (Start, RB1)
When Kenyan Drake came over from Miami last year, all he did was put up over 800 total yards and 8 TDs and kick former top 3 RB David Johnson to the curb. This led to the deal that sent Johnson to Houston to get Hopkins (that one still doesn’t make sense, but…Bill O’Brien). Now the cemented starter in Arizona, we get to see what Drake can do this season. The 49ers have a formidable run defense but you didn’t draft Drake at the top of your draft to sit him. The Cardinals will see plenty of work this week whether as a rusher or receiver, and they will need him if they plan to compete with the 49ers.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
DeAndre Hopkins (Start, WR1), Christian Kirk (Start, WR3/Flex), Larry Fitzgerald (Sit), Maxx Williams (Sit)
DeAndre Hopkins is in Arizona now. That happened. With that comes up and down emotions. On one hand, he is with a seemingly much better offense for his skill set in Arizona. However, he did get a downgrade at QB, at least for now. He goes from catching passes from Deshaun Watson to catching passes from Kyler Murray, who is a lower grade QB for the time being. Overall, however, talent trumps all and the Cardinals just made sure Hopkins got fairly compensated for that talent. Look for Murray to be laser focused on Hopkins who should win his individual match up this week. The only other pass catcher I would be starting for the Cards this week is Christian Kirk, but with the opponent, I wouldn’t expect more than WR3 production. Murray has been praising Kirk this offseason as being a potential 1,000 yard WR, but for now, Kirk will sit as a WR3 for me, at least in this matchup.
San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo (Sit, QB2 in deep leagues)
GQ Jimmy is back. Jimmy Garoppolo is only a start in 2QB leagues or the very deepest of leagues (think 16 teams or more). By all accounts he had a solid year last year, throwing for almost 4,000 yards and 27 TDs, but we simply have no idea what his WR core is going to be looking like this week. If you are in a standard-sized, 10-12 team league then he should be on a roster, but kept on benches this week.
Raheem Mostert (Start, RB2), Tevin Coleman (Sit)
A late bloomer last year, Raheem Mostert really came on the second half of the season and was a bright spot for the Super Bowl runner-ups. In total, he rushed for 772/8 on the ground while averaging a robust 5.6 YPC. It looks like Mostert will be the one getting the nod over Tevin Coleman for now, and rightly so, which only allows for one to start on teams this week. Coleman is a great rusher in his own right, but is definitely behind Mostert in terms of production last year, only averaging 4 YPC. If you have Mostert, you have to own Coleman, but leave Coleman on benches for now.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Deebo Samuel (Start if playing, WR2), Brandon Aiyuk (Start if playing, WR3), George Kittle (TE1, Start)
Oh boy…can you say a headscratcher? Jimmy GQ has got to be nervous about what he may or may not be working with this week. As little as a week ago, we were unsure if Deebo Samuel would be on the IR to start the season or just miss a couple of games. Now it is looking like he has a chance to play in Week 1, but there has been little optimism from coaches on if that is the case or not. If he plays, he has WR2 upside in what could be a game they have to match points with the Cardinals air attack. If he doesn’t, however, he will obviously be a sit. This brings me to Brandon Aiyuk, the promising rookie with a hamstring strain that threatens his availability Week 1. If he plays and Samuel doesn’t, he actually has good upside as a WR3, but at the time of writing, we honestly don’t know what this group looks like right now. Closely monitor if you are debating starting anyone other than George Kittle. Kittle put up a nice, robust 85/1053/5 last season and is the unquestioned WR1 in tight end form for this 49ers offense. This year with an improved rushing attack with Mostert more comfortable coming into the season as the starter, there should be more opportunities for Kittle to up his yards and touchdowns as the field opens up more with play action. Set him and forget it.
-Matt Dean (@MattDeanQBList on twitter, mdean8 on Reddit)