Last updated: October 24th at 2:38am ET.
Team Totals: 49ers 23.5, Panthers 18
The Panthers return from their bye for a near-impossible matchup in the Bay Area, where DC Robert Saleh is garnering 2020 head-coaching buzz for coordinating a defense that allowed ten combined points in its last three games and has held 5-of-6 quarterbacks faced to fantasy results of QB24 or worse. It’s a to-the-wolves matchup for Kyle Allen, who in all likelihood will struggle mightily before giving way to Cam Newton (foot) for Week 9. … Christian McCaffrey’s draw is similarly imposing; Saleh’s unit has stymied enemy backs for 112/450/0 (4.02 YPC) rushing and an NFL-low 23.2 receiving yards per game keyed by athletic-phenom LBs Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander. While box-score expectations should be lowered based on Carolina’s Week 8 opponent, CMC remains a volume-secure RB1 play averaging a league-high 27.0 touches with nine touchdowns through six games.
Allen’s 2019 target distribution: McCaffrey 28; Curtis Samuel 26; D.J. Moore 25; Greg Olsen 20; Jarius Wright 12. … While Samuel and Moore’s sheer after-catch explosiveness may allow one to get free for a big Week 8 play, both are dicey WR3/flex options facing a 49ers defense that has given up a league-low 10 completions of 20-plus yards and the NFC’s fewest fantasy points to wide receivers. … Teams targeting tight ends against San Francisco are 21-of-31 passing for a paltry 134 yards (4.3 YPA) and one touchdown on the season, individually stymieing O.J. Howard (4/32/0), Vance McDonald (1/10/0), and otherwise red-hot Gerald Everett (2/9/0). The brutal draw downgrades Olsen into fringe TE1/2 range.
The 49ers’ Week 8 passing-game outlook isn’t much better; despite an early-season bye, Carolina leads the NFL in sacks (27) and ranks second in QB hits (50) while holding 5-of-6 quarterbacks faced to fantasy outcomes of QB15 or worse. San Francisco is still missing both starting offensive tackles (LT Joe Staley, broken fibula, and Mike McGlinchey, knee surgery), while game-manager Jimmy Garoppolo has scored above QB16 in just 1-of-6 starts. He’s a weak two-QB-league play. … Halting the pass but vulnerable on the ground, Carolina has maintained run-funnel tendencies since losing DT Kawann Short (shoulder) to I.R., permitting 122/555/6 (4.55 YPC) rushing to enemy backs. This plays into the 49ers’ run-first ways after Tevin Coleman handled Week 7 season highs in touches (22) and snaps (66%) at Washington and further expanded his team lead in red-zone carries from 15 to 1 over Matt Brieda. Based on matchup and his rising usage as a home-favorite lead back, Coleman is a Fanduel-specific DFS-tournament play. … Albeit perhaps mainly due to FedEx Field’s wet conditions and Jeff Wilson’s north-south “mudder” profile, Wilson’s Week 7 reemergence as a backfield factor is concerning for Breida, whose nine touches and 27% playing-time clip were both season lows. Breida is a high-risk, low-floor flex option versus the Panthers with Coleman continuing to separate himself as coach Kyle Shanahan’s preferred 1A runner.
Garoppolo’s 2019 target distribution: George Kittle 42; Deebo Samuel 22; Dante Pettis 17; Marquise Goodwin 16; Kendrick Bourne 14; Breida 13; Richie James 9; Coleman 8; Raheem Mostert 6. … All 49ers pass catchers busted in a Week 7 game where Jimmy G threw for a year-low 151 yards and didn’t lead a single touchdown drive in rain-soaked D.C. … Kittle still led the team in targets for the fourth straight game and remains an elite TE1 play against Carolina’s zone defense, which yielded 143 yards and a Cameron Brate TD on 13 tight end targets (11.0 YPA) in its last two games. Kittle has drawn a dominant 31% target share versus zone coverage this season (Sports Info Solutions), fourth highest among all NFL pass catchers. … Tuesday trade acquisition Emmanuel Sanders joins a crowded pass-catcher unit that is paced by Kittle and expected to get Deebo Samuel (groin) back this week. Pettis led 49ers wideouts in Week 7 routes (24), Bourne in targets (4). Even if Sanders eventually emerges as San Francisco’s clear-cut No. 1 wideout, that distinction won’t necessarily reap helpful fantasy rewards on a run-first team where Kittle remains the top pass option. No team has thrown the ball at a lower rate than the 49ers this season.
Score Prediction: 49ers 20, Panthers 13