Jeff is taking a well deserved break from this week’s Fantasy Forum, so I’ll be your substitute writer for today. I know that’s disappointing, but buck up. I’ve got a little treat for you.
Jeff normally talks about a player from the Thursday Night game. Of course, this week it was the Packers blowing what passes for the San Francisco 49ers active roster out of the water. Naturally, you’d expect me to talk about Davante Adams, or Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Maybe
Aaron Rodgers (NEVER!), or even Aaron Jones, who’s been fairly underwhelming of late. I mean, there’s no way I could possibly talk about a 49ers player, what with them starting a bunch 3rd stringers and walk on’s. No one would EVER put readers through tha… oh, forget it. Y’all read the title, I’m talking about newly minted Superstar (Super Freak?) Richie James!
Look. The Niners trailed the entire game, and were down 31-3 entering the 4th quarter. So basically, the entire second half was garbage time. Plus, the Packers defense is just awful, and dealing with a less than healthy secondary. So let’s not read TOO much into James’ 9 catch, 184 yard, 1 TD performance. San Francisco is DECIMATED at wide receiver, and last night rolled with a starting lineup that was headlined by Trent Taylor (!), and featured the likes of Ross Dwelley, JaMycal Hasty, and whatever a “River Cracraft” is. So it’s not all that surprising that the fleet footed James found himself standing out from the crowd. I mean, someone had to, and James routinely found space with the Packers playing soft coverage (either intentionally or not) much of the night.
Did his routes look crisp? No. Did it matter with the 49ers trailing by double digits for 3 quarters? Also no. He was undoubtedly a fantasy asset for anyone “lucky” enough to have been forced to start him last night (or any daily fantasy players who took a low money shot on him in their Thursday line up). The question is, can he be an asset moving forward? That’s tough to say.
James clearly stood out as Nick Mullens’ favorite target, catching 9 balls (his first of the year, by the way) and accounting for 63% of Mullens’ passing yardage. For comparison, the players with the next most receptions for the Niners were Ross Dwelley (3 for 52) and Jerick McKinnon (3 for 16). Of course, it could just be a case of him getting open vs soft coverage that led him to dominate the WR touches. You hit the open guy, after all. However, San Fran also had a number of plays specifically designed to go to James: a tap pass, and a handful of screens (one of which went for 47 yards). That suggests more than just circumstantial success. They intended to feature him, at least to an extent.
Of course, expecting him to repeat Thursday’s performance again this season is probably setting yourself up for disappointment. It’s highly unlikely to happen. However, the 49ers are banged up at nearly every position on the team. They are going to be trailing in a lot of games between now and the end of the season, which means plenty of airing it out. BUT, wide receivers Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne should all be back next week after spending this week on the COVID/Reserve list. It wouldn’t surprise me if James played himself into more offensive snaps, but I highly doubt he’s going to be featured moving forward.
Long story short, if you want to take a shot on him, I’ve heard worse ideas. He’s a fairly versatile player with enough speed and quickness to make opposing defenses pay. That said, he’s not going to get anywhere NEAR the run he did on Thursday again, unless something (else) catastrophic happens to the Niners receiver room. Go ahead and take a shot on him if you want, but do NOT spend more than 5-7% of your FAAB budget, or burn a high waiver priority. Exceptions can be made for those hard up for receiver help. Sometimes Hail Marys are all you’ve got to save your season… but James is likely to be more Desire, than Fire. Cue the music!
As always, let us know what’s going on in your fantasy leagues below! Also hit up the comments with any questions you might have, or tag us on twitter @gridironborn and @WhiskeyRanger29 for a (likely) quicker response!
May the Fantasy Gods be with you, always.
Jeff Berckes is the lead Fantasy Football guru for Windy City Gridiron. You can find him @gridironborn on twitter, and hear him weekly on the Bears Over Beers Podcast.
WhiskeyRanger is a freelance graphic artist/content creator, an avid Bears fan and apparently speaks in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @WhiskeyRanger29, and check him out on Youtube at WhiskeyRanger.
In the form of a Rick James song, how is your Fantasy Football season going so far?
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