Week 9 Game Hub: ARI-SF

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Week 9 Game Hub: ARI-SF

Arizona Cardinals (7-1, 6-2 ATS) at San Francisco 49ers (3-4, 2-5), 4:25 p.m.

Brolley’s Cardinals Stats and Trends

  • Arizona was the last team to be knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten last week.

  • The Cardinals covered by a point over the Trey Lance-led 49ers in a 17-10 home win in Week 5.

  • Arizona is 6-1-1 ATS in its last eight meetings with the 49ers.

  • The Cardinals have covered four straight road games.

  • Arizona has played four straight games under the total as a favorite.

  • Kyler Murray is coming off his worst fantasy performance (11.1 FP) of the season against the Packers, and he picked up an ankle injury on the final drive of the game. Murray does have an extra three days to get ready for San Francisco since they played on TNF in Week 8, but it looks like he could be a true game-time decision. If Murray is healthy enough to play, HC Kliff Kingsbury could cut down on the design run for his quarterback, who has just 26/38 rushing (1.5 YPC) in the last four weeks anyway. Murray had his second-worst fantasy performance (13.7 FP) against the 49ers back in Week 5 when he posted 239/1 passing and seven carries for one rushing yard.

  • DeAndre Hopkins came into Week 8 nursing a hamstring injury, and it limited him to a 25% snap share against the Packers. He made the most out of his two targets, turning them into 66 yards, but his big play of the game proved costly. Nuk aggravated his hamstring injury on a 55-yard catch down the sidelines in the middle of the first quarter, and the play initially went down as a 61-yard touchdown before it came back for a facemask penalty on Hopkins near the end of his run. Nuk played sparingly in critical passing situations after that play, but he at least gets 10 days to prepare for the 49ers. He posted 6/87/1 receiving on nine targets against the 49ers in their first meeting this season.

  • Christian Kirk could get a small target boost with A.J. Green (COVID) out this week. There’s a chance Kirk could slide back into his Z-receiver spot from last season, which is Green’s current position, but it’s notable they kept Kirk in the slot (81%) last week with Antoine Wesley stepping in for a banged-up Hopkins. Kirk has seen 4+ catches in four straight games but he snapped a three-game run with double-digit FP last week. He posted 5/39 receiving with an 11-yard carry in this matchup last week.

  • Rondale Moore should also see a small boost this week with Green out after playing a season-high 61% of the snaps with Hopkins limited last week. He hasn’t reached double-digit FP since he had one of his best games of the season against the 49ers in Week 5, posting 5/59 receiving and 3/38 receiving.

  • Zach Ertz has been fairly active right out of the gates with the Cardinals, posting 7/108/1 receiving on nine targets through two games. He also played a promising 73% of the snaps last week with Hopkins banged up last week so he could be active once again this week with Green out. The 49ers haven’t allowed a TE to reach 40+ receiving yards since T.J. Hockenson went for 8/97/1 receiving in the season opener.

  • Chase Edmonds finally found the end zone last week on his way to 7/30/1 rushing and 3/39 receiving on 59% of the snaps. James Conner saw just five carries on 37% of the snaps against the Packers, but he turned those looks into 22 yards and two touchdowns.

  • Edmonds managed just 9/34 scrimmage playing through a shoulder injury and Conner posted 11/37/1 scrimmage in this matchup earlier this season.

Brolley’s 49ers Stats and Trends

  • San Francisco snapped a four-game ATS losing streak last week.

  • The 49ers are 1-6 ATS and 5-2 toward overs in their last seven home games.

  • These teams have played under the total in three straight games in this series.

  • Elijah Mitchell has firmly established himself as the team’s workhorse runner after his third 100-yard rushing performance in five tries. The sixth-round pick posted a season-best 19.7 FPG with 18/137/1 rushing against the Bears in Week 8, and JaMycal Hasty was distant second in this backfield with 3/4 rushing. Mitchell is now averaging a healthy 5.4 YPC and 86.6 rushing yards per game, and he’s seen 17+ carries in four of his five games. The only downside to his usage is that he’s been a complete zero as a receiver with just four combined targets this season. Mitchell has been limited in practice with a rib injury and Hasty and Trey Sermon would be the next guys up if he’s unable to play. The Cardinals held Mitchell to just 9/43 rushing and 2/19 receiving when these teams met in Week 5 with Trey Lance under center.

  • Jimmy Garoppolo is coming off his best game of the season, completing 17/28 passes for 322 yards (11.5 YPA), and did his best Lance impression with a pair of rushing touchdowns against the Bears. Jimmy G missed this matchup back in Week 5, and the Cardinals have held four straight QBs under 16 FP, including an undermanned Aaron Rodgers (15.7 FP) last week.

  • The 49ers outgained the Bears 8.6 yards per play to 4.8 in Week 8, and they did in large part to the 83-yard catch-and-run play by Deebo Samuel. The third-year receiver posted 6/171 receiving on nine targets last week, which put him at 819 receiving yards through seven games. He surpassed Jerry Rice’s previous franchise-best of 781 yards through seven contests in 1986. He’s still dealing with a calf injury but he’s expected to play again. Deebo posted 3/58 receiving and he added a 13-yard rushing TD playing with Lance in this matchup back in Week 5.

  • Brandon Aiyuk is showing signs of life again after posting season-bests in snap share (88%), targets (7), and receiving yards (45) for his second game with double-digit FP. He did little in this matchup back in Week 5, posting 2/32 receiving on four targets on a 71% snap share.

  • George Kittle has been out of the lineup since Week 5 with a calf injury, but he could return to the lineup this week in a pivotal NFC West showdown for the 49ers. Based on his third-round ADP, Kittle was off to a slow start as the TE10 (10.7 FPG) through the first four weeks of the season. The Cardinals are giving up the fewest FPG (6.3) to TEs this season, but Robert Tonyan had 3/49 receiving against them before his injury last week.

Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies

Cardinals

Pace (seconds in between plays): 27.4 (12th)

Plays per game: 68.1 (12th)

Pass: 55.0% (29th) | Run: 45.0% (4th)

49ers

Pace: 28.2 (18th)

Plays per game: 64.0 (27th)

Pass: 56.1% (27th) | Run: 43.9% (6th)

Pace Points

At press-time, there is a lot up in the air surrounding the Cardinals right now after Kyler Murray didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday. Keep in mind, Murray was in a walking boot after ther Cards’ TNF loss to the Packers last week after suffering a sprained ankle on their final drive.

Regardless, this sets up well for the 49ers run game. Coming off two back-to-back 100-yard performances, this is a great spot for Eli Mitchell to stay hot as opponents are running the ball against them at a massive +7.5% clip above expectation (third-highest rate). And regardless of how this game plays out with Kyler in or out, the 49ers are going to run the rock. Through eight weeks, HC Kyle Shanahan is top-12 in run rate in all three key game situations: trailing, leading, or game within a score.

Huber’s Key Matchup Notes

NOTE: Each week, Huber’s Key Matchup Notes in the Fantasy Points Game Hubs are little snippets from Wes Huber’s industry-best, comprehensive Advanced Matchups bible. A DFS-slanted article typically available to only our Premium Subscribers, we are making this week’s edition FREE to coincide with our midseason price drop, with rates reduced by 50%. There is still plenty of time to get on board!

Until I see Elijah “Eli” Mitchell lay an egg, he will continue to be listed as a Target. The 49ers’ O-line is built to maul opposing defensive fronts into meat piles resembling rushing lanes. And Mitchell has taken advantage of an outstanding opportunity, putting his insane 4.35-second 40-time at 5-foot-10, 201 pounds on full display. He reminds everyone of his 37.5” vertical and 128” broad jump explosiveness every time he drives between the tackles. San Francisco dedicates the sixth-highest rate of offensive plays toward sustaining their ground game. And Mitchell has been fed with 75% and 69% of that volume over the last two weeks, respectively.

Deebo Samuel did not face Arizona in either of their games with San Francisco last season. But they did catch Deebo twice during his rookie campaign. Samuel took a backseat with a 4/40/0 to Emmanuel Sanders and George Kittle during his first encounter. In the second, he directed his offense’s 36-26 victory with an 8/134/0 line.

While some of the defenders from that Arizona team remain, the vast majority have never faced Samuel. One of those is Robert Alford. It’s been an All Pro-type season for Alford, limiting his coverage to 0.61 YPCS (sixth-best), 0.21 FP/CS (19th), 0.13 AY/CS (second), and an 85.3 TPR (31st). But the most significant issue presented by Samuel is identical to the one defenses faced when defending Harvin: they don’t need the air yardage of outside WRs or the designed screen blocking of slot WRs. Just like RBs big enough to break tackles and fast enough to run around them, Samuel only requires the football to be placed in his hands before creating his own offense.

Dolan’s Vantage Points

Look, the Cardinals could be running out a shell squad this week. QB Kyler Murray (ankle), WR DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring), and WR AJ Green (COVID) could all miss.

Keep in mind this is a 4:25 PM Eastern game, so fantasy players must have alternatives at the ready.

Murray is problematic, because even if he does play, he hasn’t been running at all, which totally curbs his upside. If he doesn’t go, Colt McCoy will be the quarterback. McCoy is veteran enough to get the ball to Zach Ertz and Christian Kirk, but expect a heavy dosage of Chase Edmonds and James Conner.

The 49ers aren’t as easy to figure out as last week, when they were basically “play Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel and forget the rest.”

That’s because Deebo’s lingering calf issue, which he’s been playing through for a few weeks, is acting up this week. He’s legitimately questionable, though probably better than 50/50 to play.

TE George Kittle (calf) could be back this week, and his role might well be that of a pure receiver, given the emergence of Charlie Woerner.

This could also be a way for the 49ers to reduce the wear-and-tear on Kittle’s oft-injured body, by not having him grinding it out so much against big defensive linemen. If Kittle goes, he’s a TE1.

Meanwhile, Brandon Aiyuk might have clawed his way out of Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse and will continue to be utilized more in Jimmy Garoppolo’s target tree.

Still, Mitchell looks like a strong start, if you can stomach the fact that he’s dealing with a rib injury (he’s fully expected to play). Jeff Wilson could make his 2021 season debut this week as he returns from a knee injury. That could bury Trey Sermon even further.

Here’s Graham from Week 9 Start/Sit:

“Coming off two back-to-back 100 yard performances, this is a great spot for Mitchell to stay hot. Arizona hasn’t allowed a ton of total fantasy points because they’ve only been scored on twice on the ground, but make no mistake: This is not a good run-stopping front seven. The Cardinals have allowed a healthy 4.77 YPC (fourth-most) and are dead-last in explosive runs allowed (16%) and Mitchell is perfectly positioned to take advantage. In his five starts, Mitchell has handled a whopping 81% of the 49ers carries and, for reference, that is the third-highest carry share among RBs behind only Derrick Henry (95%) and Najee Harris (88%). The role and matchup both align. Mitchell is a fantastic RB2 play this week.”

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