Fantasy football owners aren’t likely to think heavily about 49ers rookie running back Trey Sermon, but he might be worth a late-round stash.
With fantasy football season beginning to heat up, and San Francisco 49ers fans looking to add at least one of their favorite team’s players onto rosters this season, most owners are probably going to be gearing towards a top-performing or upper-echelon player like All-Pro tight end George Kittle or second-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
And, maybe for the homers out there, even quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
But Kittle is likely to be a Round 2 or Round 3 pick, while Aiyuk is probably going to wind up being someone else’s WR2 or FLEX player by the middle of fantasy football drafts.
Instead, the real owners know championships are won or lost with late-round fliers and waiver-wire adds, and few Niners players fit into this category more than rookie running back Trey Sermon.
Sermon, the Ohio State standout whom San Francisco grabbed in Round 3 of this year’s NFL Draft, wasn’t drafted that high to merely be a role player and reserve tailback. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has lofty expectations for him, and Sermon is generally viewed as a quality fit in the head coach’s outside-zone blocking scheme.
True, the 49ers’ No. 1 running back on the roster, Raheem Mostert, is likely to be the first player from the Niners selected at this position on fantasy draft day. And while Mostert’s speed and breakaway skills make him a scoring threat every time he touches the ball, Sermon might end up being the better value pick for owners either looking for a Mostert handcuff or as a potential RB3 reserve right out of the gate.
Particularly in light of San Francisco losing No. 2 running back Jeff Wilson Jr. four to six weeks with a knee injury.
Related Story: Jeff Wilson injury opens up bigger door for Trey Sermon
In terms of fantasy value, however, what could Sermon offer, and when should owners consider looking at him? Late in their fantasy drafts? As a waiver-wire add?
Let’s take a look.
49ers’ Trey Sermon: Fantasy football value
Going after a running back, especially one not projected to start, is always a risky proposition where the team employs a rotation as the 49ers do.
But Wilson’s injury removes one of the Niners’ top scoring threats from last season, and there are going to be more touches going Sermon’s way now than would have been the case if Wilson stayed healthy.
On top of that, Mostert’s recent injury history — he missed eight games last season with various ailments — means San Francisco likely tries to keep him fresh by resting him, thereby giving a player like Sermon more chances.
And it isn’t as if you’ll have to worry too much about not being able to have a shot at him.
According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Sermon’s average draft position (ADP) in 12-team PPR leagues is 12.01, whereas Mostert is currently at 4.08. Sermon is also the 53rd running back ranked. And according to ESPN, Sermon is rostered in only 32 percent of team leagues right now, meaning there’s an excellent chance he’ll slip through to the waiver wire.
That’ll change as Week 1 draws nearer, and all those unfortunate training camp and preseason injuries begin to pile up. But for now, it’s safe to say you won’t have to use a mid-round pick on someone like Sermon, and you might even be able to wait until the opening waiver wire.
49ers’ Trey Sermon: Fantasy football projections, 2021
Getting value out of late-round picks or waiver adds is a major key towards winning any fantasy football championship, and Sermon offers up enough upside for consideration here.
Whether it’s as a sleeper RB2, FLEX option or a bye-week assistant, a strong start from Sermon in tandem with Mostert is certainly possible. Especially for Mostert owners, who’ll likely want a player like Sermon to help fill the void if the former suffers another injury.
As far as projections go, Sermon is predicted by ESPN to score 97.1 fantasy points on the year in a campaign where he’s predicted to have over 400 yards rushing, 19 receptions for 153 yards and four net touchdowns.
Putting things into perspective, albeit in an abbreviated injury-shortened year, Mostert netted 99.7 points in 2020.
What the smart play might be is to either use your final fantasy draft pick on a player like Sermon, especially if you’ve already drafted Mostert, getting your handcuff that way. Or pay close attention to how Sermon is used in Week 1 if he’s hanging on the waiver wire.
If there are indications he’s being used as a regular part of the rotation, he might be worth scooping up with the hope and anticipation his usage grows as the season moves along.