Merry Christmas fantasy football fans, the best part of the year is here. It’s draft time, and for the first time in a while, the Bay Area has a solid group of fantasy football talent. Both the 49ers and the Raiders boast talent deep rosters with options all over fantasy big boards. Before you’re on the clock, here’s the low-down on the Bay Area’s fantasy football options.
A month ago, Jerick McKinnon looked like a must-draft option, but after an injury and the signing of Alfred Morris, he’s a stressful running back two option. His average draft position lands at running back 15.0, but he may fall even further because of Morris and injuries. If McKinnon can bounce back and be the guy Kyle Shanahan’s expecting to him be, he could have top-10 fantasy potential. Carlos Hyde, ranked fifth in ESPN’s 2017 fantasy consistency rankings was one of the best fantasy backs in the NFL last season, and McKinnon could be that — and more — if healthy.
Marshawn Lynch is always a wildcard, so why would it change when it comes to fantasy football? Lynch is tough to predict. He’s a power-back that will rely on touchdowns to make him a valuable fantasy-back. He’s ranked a lowly 28 by Yahoo, but will probably go higher because of the Raider Nation effect. Raiders fans love Beast Mode and will not hesitate to reach on him.
Wide receiver is one of the deepest groups on the 49ers roster with three fantasy options available. Out of those three, there is one option that’s a must-target, and one option to steer clear of. Marquise Goodwin is legit WR1. He has the most potential out of any Bay Area fantasy football option. He is coming off the board surprisingly late even though he posted great numbers with Jimmy Garoppolo under center, with Garoppolo targeting Goodwin 8.6 times per game in his five starts. He may lose some of those with the return of Pierre Garcon and arrival of Dante Pettis. You can steal Goodwin as your second wide receiver late. As for Garcon, he is someone to avoid. He’s another year older coming off a serious injury with Pettis on his heels.
Amari Cooper was a fantasy football darling like many Raiders last season, but after a down year he’s tumbled down many draft boards. He was ranked 11th on Yahoo last year, this year 16th. If Cooper can bounce back with a new offense and a new receiving corp, there’s no doubt he will get looks. He has value, but isn’t reliable enough to be a number one wide receiver. Outside of Cooper, the Raiders have two other intriguing options in their wide receiver corps; Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant. Nelson will always get love from fantasy owners for what he did in Green Bay, but is coming off an uncharacteristic season where he didn’t break 100 yards in any single game. He received high praise out of Raiders camp from Jon Gruden and Derek Carr, and is good option as a bench wide receiver or low-end receiver two.
Tight-end is one of the toughest positions in all of fantasy football. It is an important position that can make or break your fantasy season, but there are only a handful of premium tight-ends available, and they fly off the board quickly. Most tight ends left usually are only boom-or-bust options, and one of those is 49ers tight end George Kittle. Similar to Goodwin, Kittle showed great chemistry with Garoppolo, and he’s playing in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Shanahan loves to create mismatches pre-snap, and with defenses on their toes due to Goodwin’s deep threat abilities, Kittle should see his fair share of opportunities underneath. Kittle is a good option at tight end if you miss on the first-wave of tight-ends, but keep an eye on him because he is no secret rated as high as No. 11 on Yahoo boards. As for Oakland tight end Jared Cook, he’s a last-resort tight end you can grab late. Draft Cook with caution, as he is the definition of a boom-or-bust tight end. He is touchdown reliant at best, and has competition with blocking tight end Lee Smith and free agent signing Derek Carrier.
All we’ve heard about is the hype of Jimmy G, but will that transfer into fantasy points? If Goodwin stands to be a top-15 fantasy wide receiver like I believe, he’ll need big things out of Garoppolo. The 49ers stabilized their offensive line over the offseason hoping to give Garoppolo more time to work. Garoppolo is currently ranked as the 11th QB on Yahoo, but if you’re a 49ers fan and want Garoppolo, it’d be safe to reach for him, especially if you can pair him with Goodwin in a later round.
Derek Carr is similar to Cooper. Targeted by many last draft season, Carr left owners with a sour taste after a down year. This season Carr seems to be flying a bit under the radar, ranked 22nd overall according Yahoo. That’s lower than Alex Smith, Blake Bortles and Eli Manning. While Carr’s rankings have dropped, his upside has risen with a new coach, in a new system and with a new receiving corp. If you can grab Carr late as your QB2, he has potential. This is one of the deeper receiving corps Carr has ever had, and we know Gruden is going to want to throw. With tempered expectations, Carr could be a late round steal.
Note: This article was written before cut-down day, and news that Jerick McKinnon went down with a likely season-ending injury.