After a brutal Week 2, many fantasy football rosters are going to be leaning on the waiver wire even more than usual. This week might very well be looked at as the FAAB-pocalypse when we reflect on the 2020 fantasy season. Just one of many running backs to sustain injury was Raheem Mostert of the San Francisco 49ers, one of the most running back-friendly offenses in the NFL. What does that mean for fantasy football managers moving forward?
Early reports suggest Raheem Mostert suffered from an MCL Sprain
This is bittersweet news for both fantasy football managers and 49ers fans. A sprained MCL does suggest that Mostert will be back in 2020, and he avoided the dreaded three-letter injury that shall not be named here (but it does share two letters with MCL). Raheem Mostert could be back in the starting lineup (for the 49ers and your fantasy team) as early as Week 4. But the bitter side of that news is that, according to the University of California San Francisco Health website, “a grade 2 tear can take two to four weeks to heal.” Furthermore, “a grade 3 tear usually takes from four to eight weeks to heal…”
Until we get more public information from the MRI results, fantasy football could be Raheem Mostert-less for anywhere between one week and eight weeks — which of the 49ers committee of running backs is the one to target?
Who steps into the starting role Raheem Mostert’s injury opens up?
The first name that comes to mind to fill Raheem Mostert’s shoes is Tevin Coleman. Coleman, who played for head coach Kyle Shanahan in 2016 when he was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta, was the presumed starter last year until injuries, a hot-hand approach, and then a complete hijacking by Mostert usurped him.
When Coleman played for Shanahan in 2016 he recorded a Consistency Score (CS) of 4.62, ranking 17th among all running backs, all while splitting time with Devonta Freeman. In 2019 however, mildly shocking considering the success the 49ers scheme has in producing numbers for fantasy managers, none of the 49ers running backs scored higher than 29th in CS, which did happen to be Coleman, due to the fact that no back for the team consistently “carried the load”.
Mostert, Coleman, and Matt Breida split the offensive snaps into nearly equal thirds, 34%, 36%, and 24% respectfully. However, from Weeks 6 through 12, Tevin Coleman sported a 4.35 CS over that time frame which would have ranked 25th among all running backs.
** Update – According to Adam Schefter, it is now expected that Tevin Coleman will also miss multiple weeks due to the knee injury he suffered in Week 2 as well.
Despite Coleman leading the team in touches by a wide margin in Week 2 after Mostert’s injury, 16 to four, he too left the game with a currently undisclosed knee injury. This paved the way for Jerick McKinnon’s four touches and absolute domination in the box score to Coleman. McKinnon, who is no stranger to the IR himself, came in and racked up 77 yards and a touchdown on just three carries. Of course, 55 of those yards did come on an unlikely third-and-31 conversion. This was clearly a more impressive stat line to Coleman’s 14 attempts for a meager 12 yards.
Free-agent running back signing on the horizon?
Not likely. The fact that Raheem Mostert avoided the dreadful knee injury that shall not be named, signed an extension, was dominant and the fact that the team has two solid vets and a few special teamers that can fill in, makes it highly unlikely John Lynch goes out and signs anyone off the street for any meaningful role.
Should we even care?
With a slew of injuries affecting the offense, including their starting quarterback, arguably their best receiver, now their best running back, and, oh yeah, like half of their starters on defense, should we even worry about who replaces Mostert for the Niners? Well for fantasy football purposes, yes.
Let’s sweep past the fact that Week 2 ravaged nearly everyone’s fantasy football teams at all positions and focus on the value that the San Francisco backfield carries. Everywhere Kyle Shanahan goes, running back fantasy football points follow. Even in 2019, when, as I mentioned before, no single RB finished better than 29th in CS due to a rotating workload, if you Frankenstein the 49ers backfield together as if it were one RB using just the fantasy production of whichever back led the team in snap percentage each week, you have a fantasy must-start. Doing this, the 49ers Frankenstein scored a CS of 5.93 on the season, which would have ranked 13th among all running backs.
Looking at PFN’s Fantasy Point Differential (FPD) database, we can see that both Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman finished the season with a positive FPD of 49%, and 8% respectively. Only Breida, who is no longer wearing the red and gold, finished in the red, with a -8% FPD. If you can figure out who is going to lead the backfield for San Francisco you are going to have a valuable fantasy football starter on your roster.
Related | Buy Low, Sell High Candidates for Week 3
With arguably seven fantasy-viable running backs now sidelined after a mere two weeks of the 2020 season, the 49ers running back is quite fantasy relevant, despite all of the injuries plaguing this offense. It could be argued, that with injuries to so much of the passing attack of this team, that the running backs are going to be even more valuable. With cupcake matchups versus the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Miami Dolphins, it is realistic to believe that the Nick Mullens-led 49ers can be competitive in all three of their upcoming contests and in turn, lean on their rushing game.
What should fantasy football managers do to replace Raheem Mostert?
Unlike the Giants, who lost their star running back for the year, Mostert’s short-term backup is likely already on the roster in San Francisco. There’s no reason to fear a veteran off the street, like Devonta Freeman, is going to suddenly join the team and blow up anyone’s value. You should be confident to pick up Jerick McKinnon (rostered in only 40% of leagues on FleaFlicker) and slide him into a starting role right away. With the news that Coleman is sidelined for multiple weeks as well, we have a clear idea of what kind of value McKinnon will now have in the immediate weeks to come. In deeper leagues or dire straights, Jeff Wilson Jr. should also see an increased role until Mostert’s return.
But for the same reason that I am not worried about a free agent signing, I urge restraint on your FAAB bidding or trade packages. It should be assumed that once healthy, Mostert resumes his role as the leader of this backfield, making McKinnon and Wilson Jr. ancillary pieces once again. Mostert’s positive 45% FPD and dominance in offensive snap share and touches leading up to his injury should leave no doubt that this is his backfield in 2020, once he returns to the field. Go into these transactions knowing you are buying a two-to-three week fill-in and bid, or trade, accordingly based on your own team needs as well.