Super-Deep Fantasy Sleepers: San Francisco 49ers

Fantasy football analysis is typically devoted to players that are likely to have an immediate impact. But to paraphrase Rod Serling, there is another land, whose boundaries are that of imagination.

It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is in the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

Much like the Twilight Zone, this super-deep fantasy sleepers series will open your eyes to a host of maybes, might-be’s, used-to-be’s, and never-weres. These 64 fantasy sleepers (two per team) are well off the fantasy radar,1 but could have an important role if events unfold in unexpected ways.

Join me, on a team-by-team journey through a land of both shadow and substance, of the deepest of deep sleepers.

San Francisco 49ers Fantasy Sleepers

Player: Vance McDonald, TE

Startup ADP: TE30

Scenario: Better coaching leads to a year-late breakout.

Vance McDonald was one of our favorite breakout candidates last season, but things didn’t turn out as we’d hoped. This year there’s a new coach and quarterback in town. Could this be McDonald’s time to shine?

Brian Hoyer is the new San Francisco quarterback. Here’s a look at his career passing efficiency.2


Did you notice that two of his three top targets are tight ends? I did. Now let’s take a look at TEs that have played with new coach Kyle Shanahan.

Owen Daniels 2008 26 16 6.3 4.4 53.9 12.5%
Owen Daniels 2009 27 8 7.3 5 64.9 62.5%
Chris Cooley 2010 28 16 7.9 4.8 53.1 18.8%
Fred Davis 2011 25 12 7.3 4.9 66.3 25.0%
Fred Davis 2012 26 7 4.4 3.4 46.4 0.0%
Jordan Reed 2013 23 9 6.6 5 55.4 33.3%
Jordan Cameron 2014 26 10 4.8 2.4 42.4 20.0%
Jacob Tamme 2015 30 15 5.4 3.9 43.8 6.7%
Jacob Tamme 2016 31 8 3.9 2.8 26.3 37.5%
AVE AVE 26.9 11.2 6.0 4.1 50.3 24%

That’s about 11 PPR points per game on average. The TE Sim App gives the soon to be 27 years old McDonald a ceiling of 10.1 points per game, so this isn’t an outrageous extrapolation. Getting to 11 points per game would make McDonald a TE1.

Player: Kyle Juszczyk, RB

Startup ADP: Undrafted

Scenario: A crowded backfield blinds drafters to the highest paid player.

Did you know the 49ers drafted Joe Williams to compete with Carlos Hyde? Of course you did, you read RotoViz. The 49ers also signed Tim Hightower.

But before that, new GM John Lynch signed Juszczyk to a $21 million contract. That contract ranks eighth in total value, ninth in per-year average, and 13th in total guaranteed money for all NFL running backs. Juszczyk’s cap number for 2017 is double the combined total for Hyde, Hightower, and Williams, and Juszczyk has almost 2.5 times as much guaranteed money as every other RB on San Francisco’s roster combined.

It’s easy to see a scenario where Hightower (only $300,000 guaranteed) gets cut, Hyde gets injured or is ineffective, and Williams isn’t ready for a full-time role. It’s also easy to see a scenario where San Francisco is trailing a lot and has to throw the ball; receiving is one of Juszczyk’s skills. Put it all together and he could be the 49ers top fantasy RB.


Dynasty owners in very deep leagues may want to consider rostering McDonald and Jusczcyk as fantasy sleepers. In shallower leagues, add them to your watchlist. In redraft, both are on the streaming radar.

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  1. Nearly half are undrafted in dynasty startups, only 10 are rookies, and only three are in the top 30 at their position.  (back)
  2. More than 30 targets.  (back)
By Charles Kleinheksel | @ | Archive

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