After three straight days of participating in practice, it appears that San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert is set to return from injury and suit up for Week 5. They could not be happier about this news as the team needs every player back as soon a possible. If Raheem Mostert does indeed return from injury and suit up in Week 5, can he be started in fantasy football, and what does it do the value of Jerick McKinnon?
October 11 Update (3:45 PM): Raheem Mostert active for game against Miami
Note: This article was originally published on October 9th. On October 11, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Mostert would be active for their afternoon game against the Miami Dolphins. Mostert was limited in practice this week but is ultimately ready to return after suffering a sprained MCL in Week 2.
After three straight days of practice, all signs point to Mostert playing in Week 5
Since sustaining a sprained MCL Week 2 against the New York Jets, Mostert has yet to see the field. According to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner, Mostert was practicing with the team on Friday. It is worth mentioning that we do not know yet how much work he is seeing. We will most likely see Mostert listed as a limited participant, in line with his two previous practices.
Mostert’s return would be massive news as the 49ers would be getting back their QB1 in Jimmy Garoppolo and their RB1 in the same week.
While only playing in two games, Mostert put together solid performances. He rushed 23 times for 148 yards and a touchdown and caught six of his seven targets for 110 yards and a touchdown.
In Week 1, Mostert led the 49ers backfield with 60% of the snaps compared to McKinnon at 31% and Coleman at only 10%. In Week 2, we saw a very similar trend continuing before his knee injury took Mostert out of the game.
If Mostert continues on his path to playing in Week 5, he gets an incredible matchup against a Miami defense that’s 31st in DVOA and 28th against the pass.
The return of Mostert in Week 5 does not signify the end of Jerick McKinnon’s involvement
Just because Mostert is back, it does not mean he is 100% or that the team will run him into the ground the first chance they can. They can and will use multiple running backs to limit the workload while placing each player in optimal situations. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has been doing this for years.
He’s currently fantasy’s RB10 in PPR formats, but the days of McKinnon being an RB1 are coming to an end. In all likelihood, McKinnon will now take a backseat to Mostert for the early-down work. However, it’s not because he did anything wrong, just that he will likely hand over early-down touches to Mostert like before. But the teams knows that at any moment, they can rely on McKinnon to handle the workload.
McKinnon, who played 92% of the 49ers’ offensive snaps in Week 4 against the Eagles, had 97 total yards and a touchdown. During Weeks 3 and 4, McKinnon ran for 92 yards and two scores on 28 carries and hauled in 10 passes on 12 targets for 82 yards. He has scored a touchdown in every game so far this season.
McKinnon won’t carry the higher-end RB2 value in Week 5 and beyond, but he has shown enough to the team to warrant more usage in this backfield. Even with Mostert back, McKinnon is going to be a flex-worthy start each week.
How should fantasy managers approach Week 5 with both Mostert and McKinnon?
With Raheem Mostert active, I think you need to start both him and McKinnon. If there is a team you want to play your running backs against, the Dolphins are right up there. Just last week, they allowed Seattle running backs to combine 29 touches, 131 yards, and three touchdowns.
Now that Mostert is playing, he will be a high-end RB2 against a Dolphins team that allows 24.6 fantasy points per game to RBs. If Mostert can’t play, McKinnon would lead the backfield again as a lower-end RB2 with PPR upside. He’s a flex even with Mostert playing since Shanahan likes to rotate his running backs.
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