Last updated: September 12th at 5:27pm ET.
Team Totals: Bengals 23, 49ers 22
The 1-0 Niners visit Cincinnati without Tevin Coleman, whose high ankle sprain figures to cost him 4-6 weeks and could conceivably ruin Coleman’s entire year. Matt Breida is next man up after pacing Week 1’s backfield in touches (15) and snaps (43%) despite temporarily leaving the game due to dehydration in Tampa Bay’s sweltering heat. Raheem Mostert (10, 30%) mixed in behind him and had a ten-yard TD run negated by penalty. Even after the Bengals defended Seattle’s dangerous running game stoutly on Opening Day, Breida should be upgraded to a volume-based RB2 as Kyle Shanahan’s new lead back. The 49ers mainly value Mostert for his special-teams acumen, but he is worth a speculative waiver add, too. I do expect the Niners to sign a tailback before Sunday’s game. Beat writers have mentioned practice-squad RB Jeff Wilson. Free agent Alfred Morris is another possibility. … Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t play well enough in August or Week 1 to be trusted outside of two-QB leagues, especially after the Bengals harassed Russell Wilson into four sacks and nine hits on only 24 dropbacks last week. I thought Jimmy G looked overreactive to pressure against the Bucs in Week 1, and NFL Films’ Greg Cosell observed that Garoppolo’s ball placement has become increasingly scattershot, outright missing open targets. This game’s modest total (45) provides further reason to temper box-score ebullience on either side of the ball.
Jimmy G’s Week 1 target distribution: George Kittle 10; Coleman, Marquise Goodwin, Deebo Samuel, and Kendrick Bourne 3; Richie James 2; Mostert, Breida, and Dante Pettis 1. … As it should be, Kittle dominated Opening Day targets at Tampa and finished with eight catches. Unfortunately, he had two touchdowns called back, one due to FB Kyle Juszczyk’s offensive pass interference and the other on RT Mike McGlinchey’s illegal-formation flag. Kittle should experience positive regression as San Francisco’s passing-game focal point facing a Bengals linebacker corps poorly equipped to guard the middle of the field. … As a practical matter, no other 49ers pass catchers will be playable in fantasy leagues until we see evidence of enhanced individual target shares. Playing-time distributions remain notable; Samuel led San Francisco’s wideouts in Week 1 snaps (88%) with Goodwin (73%) second, slot man James third (39%), Bourne fourth (25%), and Pettis a disappointingly-distant fifth (3%). After the game, Shanahan attributed Pettis’ minimal usage to a calf injury in addition to the groin pull Pettis battled late in camp.
Back home after putting up a surprisingly-frisky fight in Week 1’s 21-20 loss at Seattle, the Bengals host a San Francisco team playing on the East Coast for the second straight week, this time for a 1pm ET start after downing the Bucs 31-17 in Tampa last Sunday afternoon. Andy Dalton committed enough Week 1 turnovers (2) and took enough sacks (5) for our Seattle D/ST play to hit, but his career-high 418 yards and deadly connection with John Ross bode positively for Dalton’s two-quarterback-league outlook until A.J. Green (ankle) returns. From Dalton’s hiked play-action rate (34%) to specific designs intended to counteract leaky protection, the Bengals’ post-Marvin Lewis offensive modernization was palpable in Zac Taylor’s debut. Dalton’s life will be made a little bit easier if instant-impact 49ers rookie DE Nick Bosa (ankle) can’t play; Bosa went down in training camp and suffered a setback in Week 1. … Joe Mixon’s ankle sprain is among Week 2’s biggest injuries to monitor and highlights Giovani Bernard’s must-stash value as mentioned in last week’s Matchups column. Rookie Trayveon Williams (foot) and final-cuts pickup Samaje Perine are the only other backs on the 53.
Dalton’s Week 1 target distribution: Ross 12; Tyler Boyd 11; Tyler Eifert 6; C.J. Uzomah and Damion Willis 5; Alex Erickson 4; Bernard and Mixon 3. … Ross did virtually nothing his first two years in the league and barely practiced in camp due to a hamstring injury. So it was more than a little surprising to see him come out like gangbusters in Seattle, averaging a filthy 4.4 yards of separation at target en route to 7/158/2 receiving. With A.J. Green still several weeks away from return, Ross deserves to be Week 2’s top season-long waiver pickup and is worth serious DFS consideration as a smallish speed burner (5’11/188, 4.22) with mismatch potential against plus-sized LCB Richard Sherman (6’3/195) and RCB Ahkello Witherspoon (6’3/198). … Boyd didn’t make big Week 1 plays but showed his floor with a team-high eight grabs and remains an every-week WR2, especially in PPR leagues. Slot CB K’Waun Williams is the biggest liability in San Francisco’s secondary. … Uzomah paced Cincinnati’s Week 1 tight ends in snaps (71%) with Eifert (49%) second, and those two may continue to cancel each other out until Eifert earns a larger playing-time share. Second-round TE Drew Sample played only three snaps at Seattle.
Score Prediction: Bengals 24, 49ers 20