The 49ers came a little too close to losing on Thursday. There was plenty going on in just one game and of course, a few other points for the week.
- Kenyan Drake – The new Cardinal running back was only there for three days and he ran for 110 yards and one score on 15 carries, plus caught four passes for 52 yards. That was more rushing yards that David Johnson gained in any game this year. It was the third-highest total in Drake’s career. Thursday night games can be uncharacteristic and unreliable. Drake’s performance almost exactly matched with Christian McCaffery (155 yards, TD) just gained in San Francisco last week. The downside to this is that once David Johnson and Chase Edmonds return, what happens? The next two weeks are at the Buccaneers and then at the 49ers for their rematch. That’s going to be rough on Drake if the others remain out and even less attractive if either back returns to the mix.
- Emmanuel Sanders – The 49ers featured the lowest-ranked set of wide receivers so it made sense to pick up Emmanuel Sanders. But in only two games, he debuted with four catches and a touchdown versus the Panthers and then he posted 112 yards and a score on the Cardinals last night. His nine targets led the team and no other wideout gained more than 40 yards. For a player slated to become a free agent in February, Sanders is gaining value every week. The 49ers’ next three games are all at home and Sanders looks like the 32-year-old veteran has landed in a great spot for his third act in the NFL.
- Jonnu Smith – Delanie Walker hasn’t practiced since Week 7 when he injured his ankle. For two games, Smith is delivering on his promise when he was the third-round pick in 2017. Smith caught three passes for 64 yards subbing for Walker against the Chargers and then six receptions for 78 yards against the Buccaneers – both career-high marks. The 35-year-old Walker missed almost the entire 2018 season and now is hobbled again. Also noteworthy – both of his best starts came with Ryan Tannehill as the starter.
- Derrius Guice – Just a reminder, Guice is expected to return in Week 11 after the Redskins Week 10 bye. There has been a change in head coaches since Week 1 when he was injured, but he’ll at least be added to the mix if not replace Adrian Peterson again. His first games back will be against the Jets, Lions, Panthers, and Packers. All of those feature below-average defenses versus running backs so Guice could make a splash for the final stretch of the season.
- Le’Veon Bell – He wasn’t traded though one of the interested teams was supposedly the Steelers. He’s complained about his usage after only taking eight carries for 23 yards last week at the Jaguars and he’s been limited to around 15 runs every week. Here’s how the defenses he’s faced have ranked against running backs: 12, 14, 2, 9, 11, 2, 13. Here’s how they rank for the next six weeks: 18, 26, 29, 30, 22, and 28. Bell still has time to reward his fantasy drafters and gets a significantly easier schedule starting this week. Now, if they would only start throwing to him again…
- Fantasy Tight Ends – It certainly feels like tight ends are not producing like they did last year. The reality is that they are not that far off and actually, the fantasy points generated through Week 8 for the Top-10 or Top-20 tight ends are almost identical to 2018. Here are the Top-20 tight ends as of Week 8. The problem is that there isn’t that much difference in the Top-6. But the relative fantasy points between last year and 2019 are very close. The names just jockey around but most of them have delivered fairly well to where they were drafted. There is an overall decline in using tight ends:So the position is in decline overall. But the top players still deliver close to what happened last year.