Last updated: December 12th at 5:17pm ET.
Team Totals: 49ers 29, Falcons 18
Even after Drew Brees poured an unholy six all-purpose TDs on the 49ers at the Superdome last week, DC Robert Saleh’s unit should not be taken lightly as it pertains to Matt Ryan, whose pass protection is an ongoing concern with 16 sacks absorbed over Atlanta’s last three games, and whose arsenal is in downward ascent with Calvin Ridley (abdomen) done for the season and neither Julio Jones (shoulder) nor Austin Hooper (knee) playing at 100%. In the Falcons’ first away game since November 17, I like the 49ers’ D/ST to overpower Atlanta’s shriveling offense. Ryan is best approached as a boom-bust QB1. … Devonta Freeman visits the Bay Area with 21 touches in consecutive weeks to face a Niners defense that enemy backs stung for 4.52 yards per carry over its last ten games but has allowed the league’s second-fewest receiving yards per game to Freeman’s position (26.9). Up front, San Francisco will play this game without DE Dee Ford (hamstring) and NT D.J. Jones (ankle). Ultimately, Freeman’s Week 15 playability hinges almost entirely on volume with anemic per-carry (3.6) and per-catch (6.6) efficiency in an offense likely to struggle facing one of the league’s best defenses on the road. He’s a low-upside RB2. … Although Brian Hill’s touchdown came in deep garbage time of last week’s win over the Panthers, Hill has stayed involved with touch counts of 7 and 9 since Freeman returned from injury two games ago.
Atlanta’s primary three-receiver set to close out the season figures to field Julio Jones and UDFA rookie Olamide Zaccheaus outside with Russell Gage in the slot. Ridley’s absence combined with San Francisco’s loss of top CB Richard Sherman (hamstring) improves Jones’ outlook as a mid-range WR1 with DFS-tournament appeal in a spot where Julio’s volume could spike. Jones’ usage floor remains intact with eight targets or more in seven straight games. … Zaccheaus’ third-quarter 93-yard TD in last week’s win over Carolina occurred on his first career catch. Small (5’8/188) and not especially fast (4.54), Zaccheaus’ big play is not worth chasing against a 49ers defense allowing the NFL’s fifth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. Zaccheaus could easily share No. 3 wideout time with Christian Blake and Justin Hardy. … As a rotational slot receiver, Gage is impacted less by Ridley’s injury because his role is unlikely to change much. He’s a PPR-specific WR4 option in this suboptimal draw. … Hooper’s Week 14 return-game snaps (64%) weren’t quite as lofty as usual, but he drew six targets and should be closer to 100% here. While San Francisco has played lights-out tight end coverage for most of the season, Jared Cook and Josh Hill’s combined Week 14 receiving line (4/68/3) against the Niners plus Ridley’s absence provide optimism Hooper can recapture his pre-injury production. Safety-valve checkdowns to Hooper will come in handy if the Falcons struggle to protect Ryan and take away Atlanta’s deep passing game.
Albeit not quite worthy of “revenge” game billing, Kyle Shanahan catches his former team at the 49ers’ house in an opportunity for San Francisco to pour points on Atlanta’s leaky defense, which lost top CB Desmond Trufant (arm) for the season last week. 8 of the last 12 quarterbacks to face the Falcons tallied top-12 fantasy outcomes, while Jimmy G is on a torrid run having completed 141-of-204 passes (69.1%) for 1,756 yards (8.6 YPA) and a 16:4 TD-to-INT ratio over his last six starts. Although Garoppolo’s floor is never especially safe on what remains a run-first, defense-oriented 49ers team, this does stand out as a potential upside spot, and Garoppolo has shown a high ceiling with three top-five fantasy scores in the last month and a half. … Deservedly so, Shanahan stuck with Raheem Mostert as his lead back in last Sunday’s thrilling shootout win over the Saints; Mostert paced San Francisco’s RBBC in snaps (59%) and touches (12) while Matt Breida (7, 19%) and Tevin Coleman (3, 16%) took firm backseats. Easily the 49ers’ most effective back all season, Mostert is experiencing a legitimate breakout year by leading all NFL backs with at least 100 rushes in yards per carry (6.0) and ranking second behind Austin Ekeler (7.1) in yards per touch (6.7). On Thursday, Shanahan acknowledged Mostert “has given us no choice” but to remain the 49ers’ backfield leader. With San Francisco favored by two scores at home, Mostert’s workload has a chance to spike in positive game script. He’s an RB2 play with RB1 upside against undermanned Atlanta.
Garoppolo’s Weeks 13-14 target distribution: Emmanuel Sanders 15; George Kittle and Deebo Samuel 12; Kendrick Bourne 7; Mostert 4; Kyle Juszczyk 3; Breida and Coleman 1. … Confirming his rib injury is a concern of the past, Sanders shredded Saints DBs Eli Apple and Vonn Bell throughout last week’s first half and has now topped 95% of San Francisco’s offensive snaps in consecutive games. He’s an upside WR2 play against the Falcons, who’ve allowed the NFL’s seventh-most yards per game to wide receivers (178.7). … Kittle enters Week 15 with 85-plus yards and/or a touchdown in six of his last eight games. Fellow tight ends Jared Cook twice (3/85/0, 6/74/0), Ian Thomas (5/57/1), and Greg Olsen (5/57/0) all dropped TE1-caliber box scores on Atlanta within the last five weeks. … Samuel’s targets (8) rebounded in last week’s shootout after he drew just 2 and 4 in the two games prior. Samuel’s volume isn’t secure with Sanders and Kittle healthy, but he’s earned WR3/flex treatment in this plus draw with 75-plus yards and/or a touchdown in five straight games. … Bourne hit pay dirt twice from close in versus New Orleans but remains a touchdown-or-bust WR4 option with just one game above 42 receiving yards all season.
Score Prediction: 49ers 30, Falcons 17