San Francisco 49ers rookie running back Elijah Mitchell has struggled with injuries throughout the 2021 season. He’s currently dealing with a knee injury that was a factor in him missing multiple weeks earlier this season. Will Mitchell be able to suit up and play against the Dallas Cowboys this weekend, and what should fantasy football managers expect from the 49ers’ RB situation?
Elijah Mitchell’s 2021 production
Mitchell wasn’t expected to play a big role in the San Francisco offense this season, but he was forced into a sizeable role early on. Over 11 games, he posted 963 yards and 5 touchdowns on 207 carries. Mitchell added 19 receptions for 137 yards and 1 touchdown on only 20 targets through the air.
He flashed early in the year, recording 100+ yards in three of his first five games. He also averaged 4.8 yards per carry or better in four of those five contests, including 7.6 yards per carry on 18 attempts against the Chicago Bears.
Mitchell’s been heating up recently as well. He’s posted 85+ rushing yards in four of his last five games. However, he hasn’t been quite as efficient.
Mitchell has taken on a slightly different role late in the season. Over his last four outings, he’s seen 11 total targets. He saw just 9 in his seven previous games. It’s clear that Mitchell can contribute in the passing attack if the 49ers need him, but it wasn’t a massive part of his role this year.
How would Mitchell’s absence affect the 49ers’ offense?
If Mitchell were to miss this week, Jeff Wilson Jr. would take over as the lead back. Wilson’s started multiple games this season, struggling more often than not.
He has totaled 294 yards on 79 carries (3.7 yards per carry) with 2 touchdowns. While Wilson did flash in Week 15 with 110 yards and 1 TD on 21 carries against the Atlanta Falcons, he’s mostly struggled in each of his other starts.
JaMycal Hasty would also play a larger role in the offense. However, Hasty works more as a receiving back, as he boasts more receptions than rushing attempts this season.
Ultimately, the 49ers would rely more heavily on their passing game if Mitchell were to sit out of this contest. That won’t be the case, though, and San Francisco should rely heavily on the rookie against Dallas.
Will Mitchell play vs. the Cowboys this week?
Mitchell injured his knee weeks ago, but he returned in Week 17 against the Houston Texans. He also had a full role in Week 18 against the Los Angeles Rams. Mitchell totaled 44 touches in those contests.
He started the week out with a “DNP,” failing to practice on Wednesday. He was then a limited participant on Thursday before getting in a full practice on Friday. San Francisco removed Mitchell from their injury report, and he will play this weekend.
Are fantasy points available vs. Dallas?
The Dallas Cowboys feature one of the better defenses against running backs in 2021. They’re giving up 16.8 fantasy points per game, which ranks 23rd in the NFL. Dallas is a defense that has struggled more against wide receivers and tight ends than running backs.
The Cowboys are giving up 112.8 rushing yards per game and 4.5 yards per attempt this season. Additionally, they have allowed 13 rushing touchdowns over 17 games.
The 49ers are a team that will stick heavily with the run, and Mitchell is one of the best running backs in the postseason. He can be fired up as a high-end RB for fantasy.