Kickoff: Sunday, October 16th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Betting Odds: SF -5.5, 44.5 total via Oddsshark
San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo (Sit, QB2)
There are few things most people can agree on, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many who would argue that Jimmy Garoppolo is anything other than an efficient, winning QB. Garoppolo is 35-15 as a starter and rarely makes mistakes with a 76 to 39 TD:INT ratio. Unfortunately for fantasy managers, San Francisco is content to employ a run-heavy offense that limits the upside Garoppolo brings as a fantasy starter. San Francisco is 27th in the NFL in passing percentage at 49.16% but it’s hard to argue with the results as the team is atop the NFC West at 3-2. Opposing QBs have had success against the Falcons this season, averaging more than 290 yards per game with multiple TD passes in three of Atlanta’s five contests. If Garoppolo had a higher volume, he’d likely be a consideration for fantasy managers this week, but at a near TD favorite, I expect more of the same from the 49ers. Pass on Garoppolo this week.
Jeff Wilson Jr. (Start, RB2), Tevin Coleman (Sit), Tyrion Davis-Price (Sit)
Since Elijah Mitchell suffered an MCL injury in Week 1, Jeff Wilson Jr. has dominated the touches out of San Francisco’s backfield. Wilson has 190 snaps on the season at RB and no other player on the roster has more than 30. Wilson has taken advantage of his newfound opportunity, rushing for 74 or more yards in each contest since Week 2 and finding the end zone once in each of the last two weeks. Atlanta has been prone to giving up good fantasy days to RBs recently, surrendering 127 total yards with one TD to Nick Chubb in Week 4 and 139 total yards with two TDs to Leonard Fournette last week. If San Francisco were to give Wilson just a few more touches per game (currently averaging 18), he would sneak into the RB1 category, but as it stands now, fantasy managers can trust Wilson as a solid RB2 in Week 6.
I’m doing a little projecting here when I expect Tevin Coleman to be the primary backup to Wilson this week, but rookie Tyrion Davis-Price could be on the cusp of returning. San Francisco released Marlon Mack this week which could indicate Davis-Price is close to returning from his high ankle sprain but I expect the team to give him at least one more week before dropping him back into the backup RB role. Coleman only saw 19 snaps last week but did record two TDs on his 11 touches. That sort of efficiency is almost impossible to replicate and he won’t see enough volume with a healthy Wilson to make a fantasy impact this week. Whether it’s Coleman or Davis-Price backing up Wilson this week, neither is worth a start.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Deebo Samuel (Start, WR1), Brandon Aiyuk (Sit, low-end FLEX), Jauan Jennings (Sit), George Kittle (Start, TE1)
Confession time for me. Deebo Samuel might be my favorite player in the NFL right now. It could be argued that Samuel is the most important skill position player for San Francisco as he leads the team in targets with 37 and will see some carries each game as well. Samuel is averaging 9.5 yards per touch this season and leads the team with three TDs (one rushing, two receiving). Samuel plays bigger than his size (6-0, 215 pounds) and despite his 4.48-second 40 at the 2019 NFL Combine, he plays much faster than that. Atlanta has struggled against slot WRs this season, allowing 114 yards to Jarvis Landry in Week 1, 108 yards to Cooper Kupp in Week 2, and 76 yards to Tyler Lockett in Week 3. Look for another solid outing from Samuel this week and fantasy managers should be comfortable starting him as a WR1 this week.
On any other team, Brandon Aiyuk probably lands as a fantasy WR2 but the low-volume passing attack San Francisco employs keeps Aiyuk’s ceiling low. Aiyuk has yet to exceed 63 receiving yards in any game and has just one TD on the season despite seeing the second-most targets on the team with 27. The low volume keeps Aiyuk of out regular fantasy starting consideration, but with injuries dotting the fantasy landscape at the skill positions, Aiyuk does carry some intrigue as a FLEX option.
Jauan Jennings has established himself as the third WR for San Francisco but, like Aiyuk, is the victim of a low-volume passing offense and is at best the fourth option in the passing game. Jennings dropped in the 2020 NFL Draft because of a slow 40-yard dash time (4.72 seconds), but he has shown enough speed to create separation and outrun defenders. Unless something happens to one of the guys ahead of him on the depth chart, Jennings won’t see enough volume to warrant serious fantasy consideration.
It’s been difficult for fantasy managers to see the drop in usage from George Kittle when compared to past seasons. Kittle missed Weeks 1 and 2 this season but has played a full complement of snaps the past three weeks. Over that time, Kittle has seen an average of five targets per game, down from the nearly eight he averaged per game from 2018-2021. Kittle is still a valuable part of the offense but is not being used as the receiving threat he has been known for. His ADOT this season is a paltry 4.5 yards – a decrease of almost four yards from 2021. Despite all the negatives, Kittle is still one of Garoppolo’s primary targets and TEs have had success against Atlanta this season (seven receptions and 70 yards per game on average) which makes Kittle a solid choice at TE this week and should return mid-TE1 numbers.
Marcus Mariota (Sit, QB2)
I mentioned above when talking about Garoppolo how San Francisco is 27th in passing rate. Atlanta is one of the five teams that pass less, coming in at 31st in the NFL with only 45.45% of their plays resulting in a pass. Marcus Mariota does bring a rushing element to his game, which is appealing to fantasy managers, and he has surpassed 60 rushing yards twice already this season and has padded his fantasy numbers with two rushing TDs. Unfortunately, the Falcons are facing one of the top defenses in the NFL this season as they are tied with Buffalo for the fewest points allowed (61), third in passing yards allowed (889 yards), and lead the NFL in total yards allowed (1,246). The 49ers have also had success containing mobile QBs (Justin Fields – 28 rushing yards, Russell Wilson – 17 rushing yards) this season. It’s simply a bad matchup for a QB in a low-volume offense to produce starter-worthy fantasy numbers. Keep Mariota on the bench in Week 6.
Tyler Allgeier (Sit), Caleb Huntley (Sit), Avery Williams (Sit)
Tyler Allgeier teased fantasy managers in Week 4 in relief of Cordarrelle Patterson when he totaled 104 yards on 11 touches, and soon after, Allgeier was tabbed the starter with Patterson going on short-term IR. Despite seeing more than half of the team’s offensive snaps, Allgeier could only muster 45 yards on his 13 carries and wasn’t involved at all in the passing game. I discussed earlier how dominant San Francisco has been on defense this year but didn’t mention they’re also ranked first in the NFL with the fewest rushing yards allowed at 357. Atlanta used nearly the same split of starter snaps to backup snaps with Allgeier as with Patterson (60% starter, 40% backups), and without a role in the passing game, Allgeier is hard to recommend against this defense. Allgeier has value for fantasy managers, but not this week. Bench him in Week 6.
Both Caleb Huntley and Avery Williams split backup RB duties last week and that appears to be the plan again this week as Damien Williams looks to be at least one week away from returning to the field. Huntley utilized much like Allgeier, strictly as a running option, while Williams saw work in both the running and passing game against Tampa Bay last week. While Atlanta is good as a team on the ground (third in the NFL with 823 rushing yards), no one player stands out with Patterson sidelined. As a result, both Huntley and Williams should remain on your fantasy bench this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Drake London (Start, WR2), Olamide Zaccheaus (Sit), KhaDarel Hodge (Sit), Kyle Pitts (OUT?), Parker Hesse/Anthony Firkser (Sit)
It didn’t take long for Drake London to ascend to the top of the WR depth chart in Atlanta and Mariota has shown he is comfortable giving the rookie plenty of chances in the passing game. London is the clear target leader for Atlanta with 39 this season and seems to have settled in as a guy who will see seven or eight targets a game. London’s breakout has also been noticed by opposing defenses as he’s struggled to put up quality numbers over the past two weeks with six receptions on 14 targets for 52 yards. We’ve detailed how good San Francisco’s defense has been this season and, combined with London’s recent struggles, keeps London out of the WR1 conversation. Atlanta is quite the underdog in this game which could lead to some garbage-time stats for London and the offense and his heavy involvement should see him finish as a low-end WR2 this week for fantasy managers.
The rest of the WRs for Atlanta are so rarely utilized it’s hard to even recommend them as bench depth for fantasy leagues. Olamide Zaccheaus has a paltry 14 targets on the season and KhaDarel Hodge falls short of that with just 12. The two have COMBINED for 20 receptions and 341 yards through five games, though Zaccheaus does have two TDs on the season. Given the matchup, the low-volume offense, and their standings as the third or fourth option in the passing game, neither Zaccheaus nor Hodge can be trusted for fantasy managers this week.
As of this writing, it’s still unknown whether Kyle Pitts will have recovered enough from his hamstring injury to play in Week 6 after sitting out Week 5. Pitts is easily the second-most valuable receiving option for Mariota and is still performing at the level that made him a weekly starting option last season averaging 15 yards per reception but isn’t seeing nearly the same number of targets. Pitts averaged almost 6.5 targets per game last season but sits at just more than five this season. If he plays, it’s hard to suggest him as a starting option coming off an injury that impedes his mobility against a stout San Francisco defense. I’d give him another week before trusting him as my starting TE.
With Pitts out last week, Parker Hesse and Anthony Firkser each saw just a single target against Tampa Bay. If Pitts returns, both will be relegated to backup or blocking duty and will be worth next to nothing for fantasy managers. f Pitts remains out for Week 6, their contributions last week indicate a minimal role in the passing game making them an afterthought for fantasy managers. Pass on both this week regardless of the status of Pitts.