The 49ers ran the ball the 2nd-most times in the NFL last season but rotated between Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, and Raheem Mostert as the lead back at various times. Mostert took over down the stretch of the season and put up 16.25 fantasy points per game – that would have made him the RB10 in terms of per-game average. Kyle Shanahan has a great history of having offenses that produce high-level running backs for fantasy football, especially in San Francisco. Can Mostert build on his monstrous end to the season and become a weekly starter in 2020?
Most runs of 15+ yards in Weeks 8-17
Nick Chubb – 11
Derrick Henry – 11
Joe Mixon – 11
Raheem Mostert – 11
Two more than anyone else pic.twitter.com/3IDybcBfw3
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) May 18, 2020
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Mostert was the RB26 in PPR leagues last season, which is pretty impressive given he only saw 137 carries throughout the year. The 49ers offense certainly helped him showcase his talents – after spending time with five different teams, Mostert has found his NFL home. He was the RB7 in PPR scoring during the final six games of the season and was a perfect fit for the Niners’ offense with his pass-catching ability and outside zone-rushing capabilities.
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I have Mostert down for a career-high 204 carries – he recently said he’s been focusing on putting on muscle during the offseason in expectation of that type of workload. The 49ers traded away Matt Breida during the offseason, and they appear ready to make Mostert the lead guy in the backfield, especially after he put up 53 carries for 336 yards and five touchdowns through their playoffs last season. Mostert put up some crazy efficiency numbers last season, and 5.6 yards-per-carry is unlikely to be sustainable. Still, even with reduced efficiency, he will improve due to an increased volume of touches. I currently have Mostert finishing as my RB21 on the season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he trends up towards the top-15 range.
2019 RBs — Yards per rush vs. 8+ defenders in the box (minimum 40 carries)
1. Raheem Mostert — 6.21
2. Aaron Jones — 5.60
3. Derrick Henry — 5.40
4. Adrian Peterson — 5.31
5. Dalvin Cook — 4.28
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) May 19, 2020
ADP: 105.4, RB35
Auction Value: $22
Mostert could be a steal at his current ADP as I see him being the leader of the crew of running backs in San Francisco. I have a hard time seeing how he doesn’t beat his current ADP, as even if the 49ers employ more of an RBBC this year, he should be heavily involved in what figures to be an elite offense. Mostert had incredibly fantasy value at various points last season, and he could shatter a 10th-round valuation very quickly if he maintains the workload I expect.
Mostert’s career yards-per-carry is up at 6.0 (!!), and while I don’t find that particularly sustainable, he should still be a very efficient player in 2020. He’s also grown into a valuable member of the passing game and should see career numbers in that regard this year. The track record for Mostert as a workhorse guy isn’t there, but after he dominated in the playoffs, it should be clear to everyone in San Francisco that he’s the best running back on the roster – hence the Matt Breida trade. Tevin Coleman will still be involved, and there’s a chance Jerick McKinnon will get on the field this year, but there should always be plenty of opportunity for Mostert in such a run-heavy offense.
If Jerick McKinnon doesn’t get on the field this year and Tevin Coleman is once again ineffective, the sky truly is the limit for Mostert in this offense. I could potentially see him finishing with somewhere around 220 carries for well over 1,000 yards, and he could easily find himself somewhere in the realm of 12+ combined touchdowns. The real key to unlocking his fantasy ceiling will be cementing himself in the receiving game, but his career 69% catch rate and 10.3 yards-per-reception suggest this is possible. The 49ers had over 100 targets to the running back/fullback position last year, a large portion of which should go to Mostert this season. Mostert had a 53% snap count over the final seven weeks, so even if he is sharing time in the backfield in 2020, he should be able to be a top-ten running back if things break right for him.
Attn: fantasy owners.
49ers RB Raheem Mostert says that he’s put on some more muscle this offseason. He thinks that’s necessary to be able to shoulder a 200-carry workload in 2020.
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) May 20, 2020
San Francisco 49ers Offense
The 49ers ran the ball more than any team other than the Ravens last season, and that’s part of their recipe for success, so it’s hard to see that changing. Kyle Shanahan has been able to produce some incredibly fantasy-relevant running backs in recent years, and Mostert appears to be the Niners’ favored back after his playoff success. Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t going to be asked to throw the ball much more than 30 times per game thanks to the team’s excellent defense and the decisive game script that should follow. Beyond George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, there is little in the way of proven pass-catchers on the roster, so the running back position figures to be heavily involved in the passing game. It’s certainly possible that McKinnon, Coleman, and, to a lesser extent, Jeff Wilson, could cut into Mostert’s work in 2020. However, Mostert is the best red-zone threat of the bunch as he put up eight touchdowns to Coleman’s six last season despite seeing half as many red-zone touches.
Strength of Schedule
San Francisco doesn’t face a particularly imposing in-division schedule for running back defense – the Rams (15th), Seahawks (19th), and Cardinals (20th) all ranked middle-of-the-pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to RBs. There are some stricter matchups on the slate, including games against top-end run defenses in the Jets (8th), Patriots (1st), Eagles (7th), and Saints (6th) all fared incredibly well in preventing running backs from scoring fantasy points. Still, the 49ers could produce offense against seemingly any defense last season. Plenty of lower-end defenses are on the slate as well, as the Giants (17th), Dolphins (26th), Packers (25th), Redskins (30th), Cowboys (14th) all struggled to varying degrees in allowing fantasy production from running backs. Of course, the strength of schedule is a widely-varying metric from year-to-year, but this slate doesn’t seem overly complicated, and you have the added benefit of one of the best offensive minds in Kyle Shanahan and a tremendous offensive line.
Everything the 49ers have done this offseason, from not drafting or signing any new running backs to trading away Matt Breida, has suggested they are very comfortable with the guys they have in place. Of course, Tevin Coleman, Jeff Wilson, and possibly Jerick McKinnon will be involved to some extent, but Mostert appears to be the guy and has a great chance to earn 200+ carries. In this offense, that makes him a borderline top-15 guy at running back. If his ADP remains where it is, he could be one of the greatest steals of this fantasy football season.
— OurSF49ers (@OurSf49ers) May 19, 2020
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