After three straight days of participating in practice, it appears that San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Moster 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?
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 Nick Wagoner, Raheem 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 likely 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 Moster 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, 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 optional situations. 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 Moster 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?
If Raheem Mostert is 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.
If Mostert plays, 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 if Mostert does play since Shanahan likes to rotate his running backs. Meanwhile, Jeff Wilson Jr. would only have relevance as a low-end flex play if Mostert is out.
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