The San Francisco 49ers were one game away from being in the Super Bowl last season. While Niner fans were disappointed that they didn’t make Super Bowl 56, the optimism is significantly high heading into 2022 and the Bay Area was not void of any offseason stories. There was the unforeseen news that Deebo Samuel asked to be traded (has now signed an extension to remain with San Francisco), Trey Lance has been given the reins of the offense, and Jimmy Garoppolo surprisingly finds himself still a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
So with Lance as the new leader of the offense, this offense should see a slight change in scheme and play calling. How does this affect your fantasy football draft strategies? Check out this article as we dive into the playmakers to draft to your roster this coming fantasy football season to make sure you finish the season as a fantasy champion.
Leave Your Fantasy Football Draft With This Player
Trey Lance, QB
One of the biggest offseason storylines from the 49ers offseason was the moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo to Lance as their quarterback. Lance brings more athleticism to the position and should hopefully take this San Francisco offense to another level. That’s part of the reason the 49ers front office was willing to part with three first-round picks to move up to select him in the 2021 NFL Draft.
As mentioned, Lance brings a different skill set to the quarterback position that the 49ers offense lacked previously. Garoppolo was a great leader and was able to lead his team to wins more often than not but he lacked a strong arm to get the ball down the field and mobility was an issue after suffering multiple leg injuries over the course of his Niner tenure.
Lance comes in with a strong arm to put the ball wherever he wants and has the ability to make plays with his legs when there are no options in the passing game. The only question mark when it comes to Lance is that he played at a lower level of college football with North Dakota State which is an FCS school. From what fans can see, Lance has the ability to be a world-class player at the NFL level, it’s just whether he can sustain that success and ability.
He did come into a few games as a rookie for the 49ers and started two games as well and during those times Lance showed flashes of promise and he could certainly be a difference maker for the 49ers this season as a full-time starter.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan hasn’t had an athletic quarterback like Lance since his days in Washington when he coached Robert Griffin III. Working with Lance can really unlock more of this offense and Shanahan can experiment more with different plays and schemes which is dangerous to think about for the rest of the NFL.
Looking at Lance as a fantasy football player, he’s got sleeper pick written all over him. Lance is not being targeted until the double-digit rounds at least and you could gain a serious edge by targeting him late and filling out the rest of your roster early. Lance is being undervalued, as he’s currently ranked as the 13th quarterback off the board in fantasy football drafts. Yes, there is some risk with drafting Lance but you have to look at the immense upside.
You can also mitigate the risk by taking another quarterback like Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr, or Aaron Rodgers. Personally, that’s not something you’ll need to worry about because Lance will make an immediate impact with your fantasy football roster and be a consistent producer to keep you in contention for a league title in 2022.
Rookie Fantasy Football Difference Maker
Why did Deebo Samuel have a huge season in fantasy football last year? San Francisco’s rushing attack was nothing without his ability to run the ball, that’s why. Niner fans are praising the emergence of rookie Elijah Mitchell last year as well, but there was little to be excited for as far as being a 49er running back last season. Raheem Mostert who has been dynamic in this offense in the past, dealt with another serious injury and was forced to miss the entire 2021 season.
Trey Sermon was drafted out of Ohio State in the third round in the 2021 NFL Draft but he failed to make an impression and he had a total of 41 carries his rookie year. So to put it lightly, the 49ers need some help running the football. Insert Davis-Price into the mix for touches in the 2022 Niners rushing attack.
Davis-Price comes to the 49ers out of LSU as a 2022 third-round pick. He was able to surpass the 1,000-yard rushing mark in his final season at LSU and was comfortable being a lead back if needed. He also played a good secondary role when he played behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire in his freshman year.
Davis-Price is a great prospect because he’s a bigger running back but he offers the skill set of a smaller running back. He comes in at 6’0” and 211 lbs. but he can run a 4.48 40-yard dash. Davis-Price offers the agility of a smaller back to find the hole and make cuts on a dime at times, but then once he meets a defender he’s not afraid to drop the hammer and punish the defender to get extra yards.
He’s also a marathon type of runner in that he can play for an entire game and actually gets better with more carries because he can develop a rhythm and establish himself in the offense more.
Looking at the fantasy football stock for Davis-Price, it’s a thing you need to wait for to see whether it’s worth buying or not touching at all. Davis-Price is going to be in play for snagging that number two role behind the starter Mitchell but Sermon will hopefully rebound and is in the conversation for touches as is veteran Jeff Wilson Jr.
Regardless of who the backup is for Mitchell, they could be a valuable handcuff option in fantasy football leagues because Mitchell could not sustain playing for a full season last year. If Mitchell has to miss any games this season as well, that backup running back will automatically become a solid option to stream in your lineup.
Another thing that’s worth noting is that in every single season that Kyle Shanahan has been the head coach for the 49ers, a different running back led the team in rushing yards and attempts. Also remember that the 49ers rushing attack is a maddening thing to think about too because Shanahan likes to roll with the hot hand, so it may not always be the same guy every week.
So Davis-Price is not going to get drafted in fantasy football leagues but depending on how the backup role shakes out during training camp and preseason, he could be a valuable addition to your bench once the season actually begins.
Potential Fantasy Football Breakout Player
Brandon Aiyuk, WR
All the talk last season was that Brandon Aiyuk was going to break out as a great receiver for San Francisco and of course a great fantasy football receiver. Instead what happened is Deebo Samuel went under the radar and became a revelation in fantasy football circles and was one of the main reasons San Francisco was one game away from the Super Bowl. Now going into 2022, those aspirations have swapped. Samuel is the one getting all the praise and Aiyuk is flying under the radar.
One of the big storylines this offseason was that Samuel requested a trade from the 49ers because he was not going to get the contract he wanted and didn’t want to be used as a running back. That news is now ancient history as he recently signed a three-year extension for $73.5 million, with a little over $58 million guaranteed. While this was all still in limbo, Lance was working out and practicing with Aiyuk and building chemistry with the receiver.
While building that rapport with Samuel won’t take long either, you have to see that Lance may end up preferring to look Aiyuk’s way more often during the season because of the nuances they worked on during the summer. Here’s a look at Aiyuk’s stats during the season in 2021
|Weeks 1 – 9
|Weeks 10 – 18
He started slow and seemed to be in Shanahan’s doghouse but then was able to start to pick things up in the second half of the season. So the talent is there and Aiyuk got more involved in the offense once he was able to show his maturity, which seemed to be the issue as to why he was in Shanahan’s dog house.
Looking at Aiyuk’s fantasy football value, he should be going somewhere towards the end of the ninth round or the top of the 10th round. Going this late, Aiyuk is going to be a bench player for someone’s fantasy roster or possibly the FLEX option.
Aiyuk should have immediate FLEX value but he definitely has the potential to become a strong WR2 in fantasy leagues. People are underestimating him and overvaluing Samuel because of the sensational season that he put up last year.
While both receivers are going to hold value in fantasy leagues, Aiyuk may become the receiver you want over Samuel because of the chemistry and the change in play style that Samuel is requesting. Scoop up Aiyuk in your fantasy football draft in one of the later rounds and you could be drafting one of the biggest sleepers of the 2022 season.
Fantasy Football Bold Prediction
Elijah Mitchell will finish as a top-10 fantasy running back
Pop quiz: When was the last time the 49ers had a running back that finished in the top-10 in fantasy football? If you said Carlos Hyde in the 2017 season, then you earn the gold star! This year is going to be the year that San Francisco breaks that five-year streak.
Mitchell had 1,100 scrimmage yards and six total touchdowns, all while playing in only 11 games. This means that he averaged 100 scrimmage yards a game and if he could do that for an entire 17-game slate, he might not only make the top-10 but he could be towards the top of it as well.
Last season, Mitchell did deal with injuries which obviously prevented him from playing in all 17 games. Part of the reason he ended up getting hurt though was that he was overused and the thin depth at running break forced him to be used more in a game than probably he wanted to be as well as Shanahan wanted to.
The hope is that Sermon, Wilson Jr., and Davis-Price should be able to take some of the load off of Mitchell which will keep him fresh for an entire season to do damage. If that ends up being the case, Mitchell is going to easily meet this expectation and will be an absolute find in the middle rounds of your fantasy draft.