If you’re one of those fantasy football owners who took San Francisco 49ers running back Jerick McKinnon, his season-ending ACL injury means you need to make a move fast.
You certainly didn’t see this coming, fantasy football owners.
If you’re among those who saw San Francisco 49ers featured running back Jerick McKinnon a viable addition to your roster for 2018, the news of his season-ending ACL tear in practice over the weekend was about as devastating as it gets.
McKinnon was ideal for an RB2 spot in your fantasy lineup. Paired with head coach Kyle Shanahan’s innovative offense, the former Minnesota Vikings tailback was destined to be a dual-threat runner with plenty of pass-catching ability — perfectly suited in a points-per-reception (PPR) league.
Now you’re left scrambling for a replacement on the waiver wire or through a trade.
Since trades in fantasy football can get about as convoluted as anything else, let’s focus on some waiver adds and free-agent pickups, shall we?
The most obvious, of course, is McKinnon’s primary backup, Matt Breida. Although ESPN leagues show fellow Niners back Alfred Morris the most-added runner to replace McKinnon — now added on 62.3 percent of fantasy football rosters, compared to 52.2 for Breida.
Here’s where you have your choice, though. Breida is far more a pass-catching option (take note, PPR fantasy players). While his 465 rush yards in 2017 isn’t exactly prolific, his 21 receptions and net 645 all-purpose yards — third most on San Francisco’s offense last year — suggest he’ll occupy a bigger role in Shanahan’s offense.
Morris, meanwhile, has never been known as a pass-catching tailback. The most receptions he’s ever had in a season was 17 back in 2017.
Plus, according to the San Jose Mercury News‘ Cam Inman, Breida is looking to be the starter for the 49ers’ Week 1 bout with the Minnesota Vikings.
So if you’re left to decide between Breida and Morris, go with the former.
If neither Breida nor Morris is available, or you’d rather just stay away from Niners running backs now, taking a look at the New York Jets’ Bilal Powell isn’t a bad idea. He’s currently owned in less than 50 percent of ESPN leagues but is projected to start, according to Matt Stypulkoski of NJ.com.
There’s a good chance, however, all three of the above names are no longer available to you now. So you have to dig a bit deeper in your fantasy football scrap heap to find someone with promise.
Should this be the case, consider targeting the Philadelphia Eagles’ Corey Clement, who’ll split time with No. 1 running back Jay Ajayi and should have no trouble churning up yardage early on as Philly figures out its passing game.
Clement is currently owned in just 28.2 percent of fantasy leagues.
Or if you really want to take a gamble and can’t risk waiting a few weeks for your investment to pan out, don’t be afraid to grab rookie Pittsburgh Steelers James Conner for a possible Week 1 handcuff.
With All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell still skipping out on practice and yet to sign his franchise tag tender, Conner suddenly pops up on the radar as an emergency start for Week 1.
That’s a concern for Pittsburgh, not you.
Conner is owned in just over 12 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues right now.