The cream of the NFC West crop not long ago, San Francisco sank to the bottom of the bay last year. Chip Kelly was a very divisive hire this offseason and the organization is in full rebuild mode, but there are some signs a turnaround is on the not-so-distant horizon. In this edition of ‘The Stance,’ Brad Evans and Dalton Del Don attempt to escape from Alcatraz.
Carlos Hyde has driven a wedge into the fanalyst community. Supporters contend he’s on the brink of a breakout in Chip Kelly’s frenetic offense. On the other hand, critics argue game flow and Hyde’s knack for injury will only lead to heartache. At his 43.7 ADP (RB16), is the RB OVERVALUED, UNDERVALUED or PROPERLY VALUED?
Dalton – PROPERLY VALUED. On one hand, he has impressive “under the hood” stats backed by passing the eye test. He’s a really good runner when on the field and is seemingly an ideal fit for an uptempo Chip Kelly offense that relies upon a workhorse. On the other hand, Hyde has a problem staying on the field. His style often invites contact, and he always prefers laying a hit on a linebacker as opposed to running out of bounds. There’s real durability concerns when it comes to Hyde.
The other problem is that the 49ers might have the worst offense in football, highlighted by what looks like an ugly O-Line. It also doesn’t help having to play the Seahawks, Cardinals and Rams’ tough defenses 37.5 percent of the time. San Francisco averaged an NFL-low 14.9 ppg last season (next worse was 17.2), and that’s unlikely to improve in 2016 if the team truly believes Blaine Gabbert is the answer at quarterback. Hyde has talent and is the rare back who will be given a chance at 300+ touches, but he’s a major injury risk and will lack scoring opportunities while playing in one of the worst offenses in the NFL, so RB16 feels about right.
Brad – UNDERVALUED. Unintelligent people immediately dismiss Hyde for two reasons: 1) Fragility, 2) Situation. Though both raise risk, the former Buckeye is an extraordinarily talented player who is sure to record 300-plus touches this season. Remember, LeSean McCoy averaged 353 touches per year in his first two seasons under the Old Chipster. Hyde, who routinely humiliates would-be tacklers with his power (career 60-plus YAC%) and evasiveness (No. 4 in tackles avoided per attempt in ’14), is a creator. Even when the offensive line fails to execute he maximizes each carry. Oh, and despite what critics say, he can also catch the ball.
Thrust into a zone system similar to what he ran at Ohio St., he is about to profit massively. His ceiling is in the 1,500-1,600 total yards, 11-14 TD range.
Torrey Smith, widely considered to lead the team in targets, is a popular WR3/WR4 pick in standard and PPR drafts. FILL IN THE BLANK, the veteran receiver catches ______ passes for ______ yards and _______ touchdowns.
Dalton – 60-855-6. I just really worry this franchise is going to roll with Blaine Gabbert (and don’t be surprised when/if Jeff Driskel gets a few starts this season). Not that Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have his flaws, but I’d feel much better taking a flier on Smith if Kap were to be named the starter. It’s safe to expect an increase in the paltry 62 targets (over 16 games) Smith saw last season, but ultimately the 49ers offense really limits his upside. He’s barely a top-50 fantasy WR on my board.
Brad – 61-913-5. Many fanalysts have scrawled several hundred words about Torrey’s profit potential. Though I think he has reasonable odds of besting his 81.1 ADP (WR40), I’m not entirely sold he’s going to be gangbusters. Reservations about his still thin route tree are warranted and, as the Niners’ No. 1, he’s bound to attract coverage from the opposition’s best corner. Give me Tavon Austin, Sterling Shepard and Kamar Aiken at a similar price point instead.
Bruce Ellington has become an object of affection among some fantasy mouthpieces. Expected to man the slot in San Fran, OVER/UNDER 64.5 receptions for the diminutive wideout.
Dalton – UNDER. He’s currently the favorite to emerge as the team’s No. 2 wideout (although DeAndre Smelter will provide competition and has far more long-term upside), but Ellington has 19 CAREER catches, so this would be quite the leap for the 5-9 receiver. He’ll see plenty of time out of the slot either way, but if it’s still unclear, I’m really down on the prospects of this offense this season. Like his cousin in Arizona, Bruce has also had trouble staying on the field (while being asked to play limited snaps).
Brad – OVER. Ellington is a true snake in the grass. Though undersized at 5-foot-9, 179 pounds, he is prototype slot man who should tally an 80-plus snap percentage in Kelly’s spread offense. His shiftiness and clean routes should be enough to gain separation from defenders. Because of the Niners’ transparent offensive line and forgiving defense, he could garner some 110-plus targets. That happens and 70-75 catches are a foregone conclusion. At his 180-plus ADP, I’m buying all day. And, yes, I only play in PPR leagues.