San Francisco 49ers (2-2, 1-3 ATS) at Arizona Cardinals (4-0, 3-1), 4:25 p.m.
Brolley’s 49ers Stats and Trends
These teams played under the total by an average of 10.8 points in their two matchups last season.
The 49ers are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games after their 1-3 start to this season.
Trey Lance stepped into the lineup last week and completed 9/18 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks, and he added 7/41 rushing for 20.4 FP in 30 minutes of action. HC Kyle Shanahan is expected to design a gameplan around his quarterback’s mobility this week (unlike what Matt Nagy did in Week 3 with Justin Fields), and the Cardinals have given up some rushing production to QBs this season. They’re giving up the seventh-most rushing yards per game (25.0) to QBs despite facing the likes of Matthew Stafford (6/21 rushing), Trevor Lawrence (6/27), Kirk Cousins (2/35), and Ryan Tannehill (2/17/1).
Deebo Samuel has seen 8+ targets and 5+ catches in every game, and he’s already turned in two different performances of 32+ FP after hanging 8/156/2 receiving last week. The Cardinals are giving up the eighth-most FPG (42.8) to WRs this season, and Samuel hung 8/134 receiving on them in Week 11 last season.
Brandon Aiyuk went back to disappointing fantasy owners with just a 15-yard catch on three targets, and he went back to being a rotational player with his snap share dropping from 86% in Week 3 to 67% in Week 4. He now has 6/68/1 receiving on 11 targets this season, and he had just a 15-yard catch on two targets and 93% snap share in his lone matchup last season against the Cardinals.
Among TEs, George Kittle ranks fourth in targets (28), fourth in receiving yards (227), fifth in catches (19), and seventh in routes (120), but he ranks 10th in FPG (10.7) thanks to his inability to find the end zone through four weeks. Kittle and Mark Andrews are the only TEs in the top-19 at the position that have yet to score this season. Kittle posted 8/136 receiving on 10 targets in two games in this matchup last season.
Elijah Mitchell could return to the mix this week off of his shoulder injury and he 36 carries in the first two games before sitting out the last two weeks. Trey Sermon is coming off easily his best game as a pro with 18/89 rushing, but he didn’t have a catch with Kyle Juszczyk turning into the team’s passing back with 8/78/1 receiving on 63 routes the last two weeks — Sermon has 2/3 receiving on 33 routes in that span. The Cardinals have given up 85+ rushing yards to individual backs the last three weeks and they’re allowing 5.2 YPC to RBs.
Brolley’s Cardinals Stats and Trends
The Cardinals are 1-5 ATS in their last six home games.
Arizona is 6-1 toward overs in its last seven home games.
The Cardinals had five straight covers (with one push) against the 49ers before San Francisco stunned Arizona 20-12 as six-point road underdogs in Week 16 last season.
The Cardinals have scored 31+ points in every game this season and they’re now averaging 35.0 points per game after they hung 37 points on their NFC West rivals, the Rams, last week.
Kyler Murray has averaged 8.4 YPA or better in each of his four starts, and he’s completing an NFL-best 76.1% of his passes in the early going. He’s scored 19+ FP in every game this season and the 49ers have given up 19+ FP in every contest. Mobile QB Russell Wilson (4/26/1 rushing) and Jalen Hurts (10/82/1) have given them issues this season.
DeAndre Hopkins saw a 22% target share last week but he’s still sitting at a 20% share through four weeks after owning a 26% share last season. Nuk hasn’t reached 5+ catches in a game since the season opener after he fell below five catches just three times all of last season. Hopkins posted a healthy 22/199 receiving on 28 targets in two games in this matchup last season. D.K. Metcalf posted 4/65/1 receiving against the 49ers last week.
A.J. Green has scored 13+ FP in three straight games and he has exactly six targets in every game. Coming off his first 100-yard receiving game since 2018, Green backed it up with 5/67/1 receiving on six targets against the Rams in Week 4, scoring on a 41-yard bomb to open the scoring for the undefeated Cardinals. The 49ers have given up two receiving TDs to WRs in each of the last two weeks.
Christian Kirk went back to burning fantasy owners just as soon as they started to trust him. He caught his only target for five yards last week after posting 65+ receiving yards in three straight games to open the year. He posted 7/76 receiving in Week 16 against the 49ers last season.
Rondale Moore has just 5/29 receiving the last two weeks after opening the year with 11/182/1 receiving the first two weeks, and he’s yet to see more than 50% of the snaps. Freddie Swain posted 3/20/1 receiving in this matchup last week.
Maxx Williams nearly matched all of his production from 2020 (8/102/1 receiving) in Week 2 alone when he stunningly caught all seven of his targets for 94 yards against the Vikings. He went back to having a limited role in Week 3 (3/19 receiving) before popping again for 5/66/1 receiving on five targets against the Rams in Week 4 (58% of the snaps). Williams has caught 15-of-16 targets on just 86 routes so his efficiency has been off the charts to open the year. No TE has reached 5+ FP against the 49ers since T.J. Hockenson roughed them up for 8/91/1 receiving in the season opener.
Chase Edmonds is doing all the heavy lifting for this backfield while James Conner is getting the glory at the goal with four rushing TDs the last two weeks. Edmonds is averaging 15.8/98.8 scrimmage per game through four games with 4+ catches in every game, but he’s yet to find the end zone. Conner is averaging just 3.3 YPC and 14.1/49.5 scrimmage per game but he’s converted 4-of-6 opportunities inside the five-yard line. The 49ers have given up three rushing TDs and 6.5/50.0 receiving per game to RBs to open the season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 29.8 (24th)
Plays per game: 68.3 (15th)
Pass: 56.9% (24th) | Run: 43.1% (9th)
Pace: 29.2 (20th)
Plays per game: 69.5 (10th)
Pass: 55.4% (27th) | Run: 44.6% (6th)
After being the fastest team in the league to the line of scrimmage in both 2019 and 2020, the Cardinals offensive pace has plummeted to a mediocre 20th in the opening month of the season. Now, a part of that is because they are 4-0 and have held a lead on 59% of their offensive snaps (third-highest rate). Those good game-scripts have allowed them to slow down and lean on the run to salt their wins away. But I also can’t help but think the Cardinals have also slowed things down to try and keep their defense off of the field. The Titans offense flopped in Week 1, the Vikings scored 33 against them in Week 2 in a scorcher, then they played the Jaguars, and then stomped the Rams. We’re going to learn a lot about this Cardinals team here in Week 5 vs. the 49ers and next week when they travel to Cleveland and play the Browns.
Trey Lance was thrown into the fire last week and even though the 49ers trailed the entire second-half, HC Kyle Shanahan, unsurprisingly, was very balanced going with a 53% to 47% pass | run split. I think we’re going to see an extremely run-heavy game plan here against this Cardinals run defense that is allowing a league-high 5.20 YPC to RBs and the sixth-most rushing yards per game (25.0) to opposing QBs.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Entering last week’s game after halftime, Trey Lance peppered Deebo Samuel with seven targets during those two quarters of play vs. Seattle. Samuel converted those touches into four receptions, 107 yards, two TDs, and 26.7 FPs… in two quarters! If that isn’t enough in and of itself to support , prepare yourself for the rewards. Just take a gander at these qualified numbers: Samuel is averaging 25.2 FPG (third-most), 10.5 targets/game (fourth), 3.55 YPRR (first), and 9.68 YAC/reception (first). Arizona is kindly offering 44.3 FPG (fifth) and 2.0 red zone touches (sixth) to opposing WR units. Samuel will face several defenders, but a third of his reps will be across from 2021 fourth-rounder Marco Wilson. Advantage Deebo.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Nobody on planet earth was higher on Trey Lance for fantasy than Scott Barrett, so I’ll just let him explain why he’s a start-worthy fantasy play this week. From Start/Sit:
“Earlier this offseason (here), I compared Jalen Hurts (2021) favorably to Lamar Jackson (2019). But, even more outlandishly, I compared Lance (2021) to Patrick Mahomes (2018). That was no doubt at least a little too bold, but it’s not hard to see why I was so bullish:
Lance — who averaged 77.0 rushing YPG and 13.3 rushing FPG throughout his career at North Dakota State — has massive Konami Code-upside. And he’s perfectly set up for success, with an elite offensive mind in HC Kyle Shanahan calling plays, and surrounded by three of the NFL’s best YAC monsters.
Brandon Aiyuk averaged 9.9 career yards after the catch per reception when at Arizona State. That ranks best by any Power-5 WR since at least 2014
Since entering the NFL,
- Deebo Samuel leads all WRs in YAC/R (9.8)
- George Kittle leads all TEs in YAC/R (7.9)
And what happened last week? In just two quarters of play, whilst running the Jimmy Garoppolo offense (and not the Lance offense), Lance totaled 20.4 fantasy points. He rushed 7 times for 41 yards. In other words, he’s on pace to average 40.8 FPG and 82 rushing YPG.
While, of course, that shouldn’t be his expectation this week, we are expecting low-end QB1 production right out of the gates. And despite this neutral to slightly below average matchup. He’s ranked QB9 in our projections, just ahead of fantasy stalwarts Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson.”
And a week of preparing for Lance to be the starter could do wonders for the rest of the team, but a lot of things will come down to chemistry. Check the below clip, involving Brandon Aiyuk, for an example of what playing with a drastically different stylistic QB means:
Exhibit A. Lance initiates a scramble drill and Aiyuk just isn’t sure what to do. He hesitates a bit but then looks for someone to block, expecting Lance to run.— Oscar Aparicio (@BetterRivals) October 8, 2021
More reps for Lance means more rapport with WRs which leads to better second chance opportunities. pic.twitter.com/B60KXWfaH7
With Lance, I think Deebo Samuel is a must-start. Unfortunately, that’s about it, as George Kittle (calf) is doubtful with a calf injury. If Kittle doesn’t go, I’m not terribly interested in Ross Dwelley.
If Elijah Mitchell is back this week, it will be interesting to see how Kyle Shanahan rotates him in with Trey Sermon, who looked much better last week than he did in Week 3, but doesn’t seem to have the trust of the coaching staff just yet. Both RBs are mediocre FLEX options.
The big question for Arizona is if RB Chase Edmonds (shoulder - questionable) will be available this week after missing multiple practices. That would be a big loss for the Cards. While James Conner has been cleaning up the trash near the goal line (4 TD), Edmonds has really gotten them there, ranking as the PPR RB13 despite scoring no TDs. Conner would be a strong RB2 option if Edmonds misses, though likely still a bit touchdown dependent.
Kyler Murray is the NFL MVP frontrunner, so no analysis is needed there. What does need some analysis is his target distribution.
Murray has been mixing the ball around to the Cardinals’ suddenly deep group of receivers. That, in turn, has also coincided with DeAndre Hopkins dealing with sore ribs, and a cold spell for “Nuk.” Hopkins had just 4/67 receiving on 7 targets against the Rams, and had a tough time with Jalen Ramsey, catching just a single pass for 10 yards in Ramsey’s coverage. Hopkins now has just 11 catches for 142 yards and a TD on 17 targets in his last three games. It’s his worst three-game stretch since he posted 14/128 on 31 targets from Weeks 7 through 10 in 2016… when he was catching passes from Brock Osweiler in Houston. Here’s the deal. Hopkins isn’t the only option, which is good for the undefeated Cardinals — his 25 targets are just one more than AJ Green has, and just three more than Edmonds. He’s also likely less than 100% given the rib injury, so that has to be taken into account. And it’s not like you can bench the guy. But he’s currently the WR22 in overall scoring, and that’s certainly less than you bargained for from a second-round pick. Green is playing really well, by the way, and is certainly in consideration this week against this banged-up secondary.
If you need a streaming TE, Maxx Williams has 15 targets over the last three games, but it really does feel like we’ve seen this all before.