The 2023 NFL season keeps flying by at record pace, and we’re already at Week 12 and Thanksgiving Day! With a fantastic matchup on the TV late Thursday, who do fantasy football managers need to keep an eye on in this battle between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks?
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
- Spread: 49ers -7
- Total: 43
- 49ers implied points: 25
- Seahawks implied points: 18
Brock Purdy: Mr. Irrelevant was Mr. Perfect in Week 11. Against the Bucs, Purdy posted a perfect passer rating (21 of 25 for 333 yards and three touchdowns). It’s almost like having a healthy do-it-all Deebo Samuel makes a significant difference:
- Last three games with healthy Samuel: 1.00 FP per pass
- Three games with Samuel limited/out: 0.37
Purdy averaged 9.8 yards per pass in two games against the Seahawks last season and is a top-10 option for me in this spot. I wouldn’t bank on perfection again, but his high-floor skill set alongside a healthy trio of talent-elevating pass catchers is a combination I’m certainly not fading.
I have Purdy ranked ahead of Kyler Murray (vs. LAR) and Justin Herbert (vs. BAL) this week.
Geno Smith: A tricep injury resulted in him missing some snaps against the Rams last week, but Smith was able to return, and it sounds like he’ll be fine for this weekend.
Being on the field for the Seahawks and in your starting lineup, however, are two very different things.
Smith’s rushing upside we saw last season is no longer something we can project (more games with negative rush yards than games with over 15 rushing yards), and his production through the air has been spotty against strong defenses.
I take that back. “Spotty” was far too nice.
- Week 6 at CIN: 27 of 41 for 326 yards, zero TDs, and two INTs
- Week 8 vs CLE: 23 of 37 for 254 yards, two TDs, and two INTs
- Week 9 at BAL: 13 of 28 for 157 yards, zero TDs, one INT
- Two games vs. LAR: 345 total passing yards
Smith is ranked well outside of my starting consideration in standard leagues, and I think there’s a real chance he’s a below-average option in Superflex leagues. I’m out on Smith against the sixth-best pass defense on a per-pass basis that allows the second-fewest red-zone trips per game.
Chrisitan McCaffrey: Phew. McCaffrey somehow was able to overcome his massive one-game scoreless drought last week against the Bucs, as he caught his fifth touchdown pass of the season and added 21 carries (his most since Week 1) for good measure.
CMC is as productive as any back in the game, and that’s with him being held without a 20-yard carry for over a month. Imagine what would happen if he was ripping off chunk plays in the run game!
McCaffrey cleared 130 scrimmage yards and scored in both of his games against Seattle last season. Similar production this week wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Kenneth Walker III: An oblique injury sidelined Walker in the early going of last week’s loss in Los Angeles and seems likely to keep him sidelined for this game on short rest at the very least.
That’s tough news for his fantasy managers. Walker’s four straight top-15 finishes at the position early this season likely put you in a spot to challenge for the playoffs, something that you now need to do without K9.
While Zach Charbonnet was starting to gain momentum, it should be noted that Walker was being used as the early-down back prior to suffering the injury. The schedule is brutal over the next month, but once Walker is cleared to return to action, he’ll be ranked ahead of the rookie for me.
It should go without saying that you need to sit on Walker until we know more. His raw talent makes him worth tying up a roster spot to hang onto, even if his contributions in the short term are going to be minimal.
Zach Charbonnet: Grab you some of your finest cheese; it’s Charbonnet season.
Can you tell I’m not a drinker? That felt awkward typing, so I can only imagine how it came across reading it. I may struggle when it comes to the analogies of the high life, but I can land the plane when it comes to fantasy analysis!
Charbonnet is averaging 4.9 yards per carry this season and has caught 15 of 16 targets since the middle of October. We just saw Rachaad White total 14.8 half-PPR points on 15 touches against these 49ers last week, proving that even a tough matchup can be overcome by the right skill set.
Seattle clearly believes in their second-round pick. They repeatedly told us that Walker’s reduction in work over the past month had nothing to do with health and everything to do with the desire to extend the pride of UCLA.
There might be a learning curve to work through — last week was Charbonnet’s first with double-digit rush attempts — but given the state of the possession, I have him ranked as a high-end Flex play, even in a tough matchup.
In total, I think he can do something similar to what White did last week, which is plenty from someone who has been stashed on your bench all season long up to this point.
Brandon Aiyuk: After being held scoreless in six straight games, Aiyuk has found paydirt in both games since Deebo Samuel returned, catching eight of nine targets in the process (211 yards).
Teams don’t always challenge the Seahawks down the field, and that could limit the ceiling potential that Aiyuk flashed last week. His aDOT this season is more than double that of Samuel and is 64.4% greater than George Kittle.
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But with Samuel attracting attention, Aiyuk’s ability to win in single coverage keeps his catch expectancy high enough to label him as a strong WR2 in all formats.
Aiyuk has racked up 1,279 receiving yards and eight scores over his past 17 games — per-game production that I’m penciling in for the stretch run of this season.
Deebo Samuel: While Purdy and the 49ers’ offense as a whole has looked much better since Samuel returned, his fantasy stock is a bit of a moving target. In those two games, Samuel has earned just 15.4% of the targets, and outside of a 23-yard TD run, his two games have totaled just five rushing yards.
I very much believe that Samuel is more valuable to the 49ers than he is to fantasy managers these days, but better days are still ahead. The Seahawks own a bottom-10 opponent aDOT and are among the 10 worst defenses in terms of missed tackles per game, a brutal set of metrics to take into this matchup.
I still prefer Aiyuk over Samuel if I’m picking a San Francisco WR, but I do have both easily inside of my top 25 at the position and think you can feel great about starting either as long as Purdy is playing at this high of a level.
Tyler Lockett: We are coming up on the year anniversary since the last time Lockett cleared 60 receiving yards. And with a banged-up Smith under center, the downside figures to keep outweighing the upside.
I don’t want to say I stumbled upon an equation that rivals that of Albert Einstein or an invention that will go down alongside the Wright Brothers in history, but I won’t say I didn’t.
- Lockett vs. teams with a top-five opponent aDOT: 19.7 PPG
- Lockett vs. teams without a top-five opponent aDOT: 6.4
We’re only talking about a 10-game sample, but teams that are attacked downfield are vulnerable to those strong Lockett weeks. This ain’t that. The 49ers rank 25th in opponent aDOT, making Lockett flirt with WR40 for me this week.
DK Metcalf: Is Metcalf preparing to peak at the right time? He has 12 catches for 192 yards and a touchdown over his past two games after totaling 13 catches for 220 yards and one touchdown in his five games prior.
Metcalf has commanded a 29.3% target share in his past two games against the 49ers. If that level of usage is sustained, I’m too low on him at WR24.
I don’t trust Smith in a big way, so if I’m taking a chance on one of his receivers, it would be the one in form with the greater single-play upside (Metcalf owns a 20% edge in aDOT over Lockett this season).
Jaxon Smith-Njigba: The former Buckeye is holding more value on a weekly basis with both Lockett and Metcalf healthy than I thought he would this summer, but that doesn’t mean he’s a Flex option in a matchup like this.
Even with him performing above my personal expectations, we’re still talking about just two top-30 finishes this season for the rookie. With a QB who is at less than 100 percent, a pair of receivers who rank ahead of him in the target hierarchy, and a matchup against the seventh-best team in terms of time of possession (Seattle ranks 31st), there’s no need to get cute with JSN.
I’m holding onto him the same way I’m holding onto Elijah Mitchell or Latavius Murray — one injury away from mattering, but not there without a teammate going down.
George Kittle: Is it possible that I am dead wrong in my analysis of Kittle? Yes, that is always a possibility, no matter how much time I pour into the research. If the risk of failure scared me, I wouldn’t be in the predictions business.
I’ve been out on Kittle all season, citing his sporadic production was priced too high on draft day. I stand by that idea, even if it’s made me look like a crazy person over Kittle’s past three games — 20 catches for 354 yards and two TDs.
Kittle’s been a top-three TE performer in each of those games, and not a single manager is complaining.
But guess what? He has as many top-five finishes at the position as weeks ranking outside of the top 25. It just so happens that he has clustered all of the strong games in a tight window.
Does that mean he’s a foolproof, Tier 1 tight end the rest of the way? Let me ask that question a different way for anyone who has been married.
If, in one day, I do the dishes, cut the lawn, and not only do the laundry but also put it away, am I now the greatest husband in the history of mankind? Or is my wife happy with these results, understanding that it’s only a matter of time before I leave the toilet seat up or burn her rice?
That’s where I stand with Kittle. I’m thrilled with the production. I am. I roster him in a league where he fell too far, and he’s been great.
But I’m not moving off of my preseason priors the same way I wasn’t victory-lapping his six catches for 49 yards through two weeks to open the season. This is part of the Kittle experience — enjoy the ride. He’s a top-10 TE for me every single week, but the optionality of this offense makes it only a matter of time (in my opinion) before he buys the wrong brand of coffee.
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