With Raheem Mostert headed to injured reserve, Jeff Wilson has the opportunity to provide a fantasy football championship-winning performance in Week 16. Let’s take a look at how Wilson has performed this season, where competition for touches may come from, and his matchup with the Cardinals on Saturday.
Solid fantasy performance puts Jeff Wilson in the frame for Week 16
There was nothing spectacular about the way Jeff Wilson performed in Week 16. 3.8 yards per attempt and zero receptions is nothing to get excited over. However, Wilson did find the end zone, ensuring he finished with double-digit fantasy points for the first time since his return from injury.
Wilson left Sunday’s game with an injury but returned later
Jeff Wilson has been dealing with a number of injuries in the past six weeks. The most recent was a hamstring injury in Week 15. However, Wilson was able to return to the game and led the 49ers in carries (16).
Wilson has been sharing duties with Raheem Mostert over the past few weeks. However, with Mostert’s high ankle sprain landing him on the injured reserve, Wilson is now expected to be the 49ers lead back.
What competition does Jeff Wilson have for carries in San Francisco?
The way the 49ers have operated all season, there will be a back that shares some of the workload with Jeff Wilson over the next two weeks. The 49ers like to lean on multiple backs, and they could go in a couple of directions.
Tevin Coleman has been used sparingly when available
Tevin Coleman has generally been limited this season. He has seen double-digit carries just once, in Week 2. In the last three weeks, he has played 12 snaps and touched the ball five times. The 49ers may just have been keeping him fresh in case of injury to Raheem Mostert or Jeff Wilson, and now we will see just how healthy he is. This is Coleman’s final season in San Francisco on his current contract, so there is no reason the 49ers should be thinking long term with him.
Jerrick McKinnon has stepped up when called upon
McKinnon has achieved a rare feat for 49ers running backs this season, appeared in every game in some form. When the team needed him, he has served as the featured back. When his services in the offense have not been required, he has filled in on special teams.
McKinnon saw double-digit carries in four weeks this season. Outside of that, he has seen over five carries just once. He has been a little more of a threat in the passing game but has just two targets in the past three weeks. Both of those came in Week 15 when Wilson and Mostert were hobbled.
It is likely the 49ers use a little of both, but neither is really capable of taking on the starter’s workload over the final two weeks. That should all fall to Jeff Wilson.
Jeff Wilson has a chance to strike gold as a fantasy waiver wire claim in Week 16 and Week 17
This backfield is all about Jeff Wilson as we head into Week 16. 16 carries in Week 15 is about as good as it gets for the 49ers’ lead back, but it is better than nothing. Look for Wilson to take over the role of Mostert, seeing 15-20 opportunities per game. The third-year back out of North Texas has played over 45% of the snaps in the last three weeks and we could see that go over 50% this week.
How does the Week 16 matchup shapeup for Wilson
Matchups and opportunities are make-or-break for fantasy players. Jeff Wilson has the opportunity, but the matchup leaves plenty to be desired. The Arizona Cardinals rank 23rd in standard scoring when it comes to Pro Football Network’s Defensive Points Allowed Consistency Score (D-PAC). In PPR scoring, it gets worse, as the Cardinals rank 26th in D-PAC.
In terms of fantasy points allowed to the position, the Cardinals rank in the middle of the pack. They allow an average of 17.4 fantasy points per game to RBs in PPR formats. While not great, Wilson should be in line for 50-70% of those points at least. One place they struggle is in the red zone, allowing 7.6 fantasy points per game to opposing backs (24th).
In PPR formats, there is reason to be cautious. The Cardinals allow just 3.8 receptions per game to opposing backs. They do allow 35 receiving yards per game on average, but just three touchdowns. In total, the Cardinals allow just 0.93 touchdowns oper game to the running back position.
Jeff Wilson is the 49ers running back of choice in the red zone
The biggest thing going for Wilson is that he is the top choice in the red zone for the 49ers. Wilson has seen 23 of the 49ers’ red zone carries (31.1%). In Week 15, he received five of the eight carries, with Mostert receiving three.
McKinnon does rank second on the team with 18 carries, but he has mostly served in that role earlier in the season. In the past month, when Wilson has been available, it has been him or Mostert almost exclusively.
Week 17 offers more upside for Jeff Wilson
Not all fantasy leagues go to Week 17, but some do. If you are in one of those fantasy leagues, Jeff Wilson might very well be the man for you. The Seattle Seahawks rank fourth in D-PAC to the running back position in PPR. In standard, the matchup is a less juicy 17th.
The reason for the discrepancy is that the Seahawks allow an average of 6.1 receptions per game to running backs. That has turned into 44.1 receiving yards per game and four touchdowns. In total, the Seahawks have allowed 16 touchdowns to running backs (1.15 per game). If your fantasy league is running into Week 17, bank on a player who has seen 12 targets in the past three weeks.
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