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Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown: San Francisco 49ers vs. New York Giants | Week 3




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The 49ers and Giants are both beat up, and they’re both underachieving. Now San Francisco has to trot out a backup quarterback or risk sliding to 1-2. Can Nick Mullens save the day for San Fran? For the 2020 NFL season, Matt Savoca will be providing his weekly NFL Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown column, going through every single game and offensive and defensive matchup, every week of the season. For your viewing convenience, we have broken up the matchups breakdown into several single columns, each one covering a single game. You can find links to every game right here. We have 13 games on tap for Week 3 NFL DFS and NFL Fantasy Football, so let’s dive in. The entire matchups article will be available in podcast form, every Friday afternoon on the Awesemo Podcast Network. Let’s get into 49ers – Giants for your NFL DFS lineups.

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San Francisco 49ers (22.25) at New York Giants (18.5) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

49ers Passing Game

Mullens gets the nod for Jimmy Garoppolo, who still isn’t right after leaving the 49ers Week 2 win against the Jets at the end of the first half. Mullens started eight games for the 49eres in 2018 after Garoppolo was lost to a season ending injury and second-stringer Brian Hoyer was benched. Over the final stretch of 2018, Mullens performed quite well, converting drives into scores at an above-average clip and providing more expected points per drive than the average 2018 quarterback as well (I highlight the importance of these metrics weekly on my data deep dive on That season, he graded very similarly to Cam Newton and Baker Mayfield. Then there’s the rumors that quarterback-needy teams came calling for Mullens at the deadline last season, and the 49ers held firm. He’s been in the 49ers system for multiple years in anticipation of exactly this scenario.

Facing Mullens on Sunday is a much-improved Giants defense that currently ranks 10th in overall defensive grades from PFF. It does seem, however, that the way to beat the Giants is through the air, as New York ranks outside the top 15 (by PFF) in both pass rush grade and pass coverage grade. The passing game has been a relative weak spot for the 1-1 49ers (they currently rank 26th in PFF’s passing ranking), leading to a sixth-worst net passing advantage for San Francisco.

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Reinforcements could soon be on the way for this ailing passing game (they currently rank 27th in pass plays per game) in the form of superstar George Kittle, still rehabbing a knee injury but trending in the right direction. If he’s a go, he’s in a smash spot and could be in line for eight or more targets.

Without Kittle in the fold and facing a positive game script early on in Week 2, Kendrick Bourne (21% of true weighted opportunity share), Trent Taylor (13%), Jordan Reed (13%) and Jerick McKinnon (11%) have picked up a majority of the receiving slack. With Raheem Mostert set to miss time with knee injury, his 9% true weighted opportunity share is up for grabs as well. After a two-touchdown day, Reed is priced way up, the 12th-most expensive tight end on the slate. Even if Kittle misses for second straight week, Reed seems like an easy player to fade at his salary this week.

49ers Running Game

The 49ers’ success relies primarily on their ability to get chunk yardage to in the run game, and without Mostert (averaging 11.5 attempts, 3.5 targets) and Tevin Coleman (nine carries and two targets), it may be more difficult. Even if McKinnon were to have just 60% of Mostert and Coleman’s workload tacked-on to his three-attempt, three-target season average, that’s 21 touches. Particularly because San Francisco uses running backs so heavily as an extension of the passing game (8.5 targets per week), McKinnon should have a rock-solid floor, even if we see more of Jeff Wilson (two carries and three yards in Week 2), or undrafted rookie JaMycal Hasty. Priced as the 28th running back, McKinnon presents possibly the value of the slate with a clear path to high volume and a strong probability of positive game script, particularly in the second half.

Giants Passing Game

New York absolutely has a chance to steal this game from the NFC champs. With injuries ravaging the 49ers defense, including Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas being lost for the year, Daniel Jones will be facing a defense just beginning to find a new identity. Speaking of new identities, former Pro Bowler in Ziggy Ansah and former third overall pick Dion Jordan will be making their 49er debuts this weekend, but it’s likely impossible to fully replace a player like Bosa, who was the 12th overall defensive lineman in the NFL according to PFF. It’s equally tough to trust any of the team grades or defensive metrics that make this look like a terrible matchup across the board for the Giants quarterback and his receivers.

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Jones has had a rough go of things already this season. After relying heavily on Saquon Barkley as a receiver out of the backfield in Week 1 (18% of true weighted opportunity share), Barkley was lost for the year to a torn ACL in Week 2. Jones struggled mightily for the remainder of the game, finishing with zero touchdowns and an interception. It’s somewhat exciting to see Jones leading a fast-paced offense (New York is fifth in team pass attempts per game), but much of that has been driven by game flow, as they’re -7.4 average score differential is bottom seven in the NFL. Jones has been excellent with a clean pocket, completing 83% of his throws, but he struggles when under duress; his completion percentage drops below 30%. His underlying metrics are tough to stomach: Adjusted yards per attempt 29th among quarterbacks, his fantasy points per dropback 32nd. Awesemo projections are bearish on Jones respective to his DraftKings salary.

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Darius Slayton has been the best part of the Giants’ 2020 season. Commanding 23% of the Giants true weighted opportunity share, 25th among wideouts, Slayton has taken advantage of injuries to Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard (who’s been placed on IR for the short term), racking up 135 total yards (22nd) and two touchdowns through two games. It would not be shocking to see Slayton’s usage shoot towards 30%, especially with Richard Sherman still out for the 49ers in the secondary. Evan Engram is the next guy to likely see increased usage with the loss of Barkley. Participating on 100% of Giants’ routes and already receiving 20% of the Giants’ targets (seventh among tight ends), Engram hasn’t translated the heavy usage into points, but he’s already proven to be an integral part of the Giants offense near the goal line, receiving three red zone targets and catching two. Those looks will eventually translate to touchdowns, especially if those targets (currently 7.5, also seventh among tight ends) increase due to Barkley’s absence.

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Tate (13% of true weighted opportunity) is the only other player on the Giants’ roster who’s seen more than 10% of the volume in either week, but other possible contributors will be C.J. Board (7%), Dion Lewis/Devonta Freeman (Lewis saw 6% last week, Freeman isn’t on the slate) and Kaden Smith (6%). These are not tertiary weapons that inspire confidence, but if you were to pick a dart throw, Smith is a living, breathing tight end with a defined role and a salary just $100 more than minimum.

Giants Running Game

Barkley’s injury erases more than just a supremely talented back from New York’s roster — it eliminates their entire identity. And while I wish Barkley nothing but a quick and speedy recovery, it’s possible that Barkley’s injury will force the Giants into a more aggressive, deep-shot-taking, pass-first team. In that situation, we could see increased scoring (in losing efforts), which could actually create a higher ceiling for Lewis and Freeman (signed off the street this week). At this point in their careers, they are both replacement-level running backs.

Lewis, the only one of the two who’s actually on the slate this week, stumbled to a meager 3.7 yards per touch (on 15 touches, including five targets) in Week 2. Lewis has been used mostly as a receiving-down back in his career and hasn’t received more than 20 touches in a game since Week 10 of 2018. But 10 to 15 touches aren’t out of the question even with Freeman in the mix. It’s also possible that Freeman, after years of knee troubles (Lewis is no stranger to them himself), doesn’t have the ability he once had, and he could flame out quickly. In that case, it would once again be Lewis shouldering the load, with Wayne Gallman (zero carries and one target after Barkley went down) spelling him. Lewis is way too risky at his RB37 salary on DraftKings.


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A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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