Rife with juicy narratives, the NFL remains one of the nation’s most original and long-standing reality shows. From August through February, the drama is televised in hour long episodes. Throughout the spring and summer, the intrigue spills beyond the sticks, enticing viewers with tales of cunning, redemption, and betrayal. At the center of these unfolding plot lines, often exists a player. Whether they’re returning from injury, moving teams, or grasping at relevance, these men captivate our attention.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be examining the 10 most interesting players of the offseason. As their situations develop, updates will be made to each story. The hope is that this becomes a hub of conversation for the league’s most compelling names … and devoted aficionados.
Heading into last fall, there was much debate as to whether or not Jimmy Garoppolo had the “it” necessary to lead a franchise. From snaps of his late night interludes to hand-wringing over his lack of weapons, everyone had an opinion about the strong-jawed passer. I, for one, was admittedly enamored with his potential, pointing to his Terminator-like focus and deft ball placement.
After all, he single-handedly revived a flatlining 49ers squad at the end of 2017, completing 67.4 percent of passes and averaging 8.8 yards per attempt. Furthermore, the Chicago-area native displayed an impressive understanding of Kyle Shanahan’s notoriously complex offense. In a stoic (some might even say Tom Brady-esque way), he took on blitzes with aplomb, completing 52.2 percent of pressured attempts (QB1), engineering 21 red-zone scoring drives, and stringing together five straight wins to close out the season.
Those stats, however, did not continue at the top of the 2018 season. Struggling to get on the same page with his receivers and holding on to the ball for far too long (he averaged over four sacks per game), Garoppolo failed to put up QB1 fantasy numbers.
His best FF effort of the season was, unfortunately, also his final game of the year. After playing ping pong with Patrick Mahomes for three-and-a-half quarters — passing for 251 yards and 2 TDs (8.4 YPA) — Jimmy G tore his ACL and prematurely ended his starting campaign with the 49ers.
If I told you Jimmy G was ranked inside of my top-TEN fantasy QB's heading into 2019 you would...
— Liz Loza (@LizLoza_FF) March 14, 2019
Reportedly rehabbing ahead of schedule, the EIU alum is likely to be one hundred percent by training camp. But which Jimmy G will be under center by September? Both sample sizes — from the end of 2017 to the start of 2018 — are frustratingly small. In all eight starts there were flashes of brilliance AND moments of cringeworthy concern.
I’m choosing, however, to see the glass (of chardonnay, natch) as half-full. It’s conceivable to believe that the combination of Garoppolo’s accuracy and willingness to fit the ball into tight windows, in tandem with the late-season emergence of Dante Pettis, could result in a glut of highlight-worthy plays. Plus, with Tevin Coleman now on the squad, Jimmy G has a reliable (and dynamic) short-area weapon, which should help him get the ball out faster. His protection figures to also improve, as RT Mike McGlinchey builds on an impressive rookie effort. Throw in YAC monster George Kittle (857 yards, TE1) and things are looking up in San Fran … and fantasy land.
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