Fantasy football: What to make of 49ers entering 2021

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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SF 49ers, Brandon Aiyuk
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Fantasy football: 49ers’ safest bets, biggest sleepers and waiver-wire adds

George Kittle is the bona fide No. 1 San Francisco fantasy option heading into 2021. And even if you reach for him on draft day, you’re likely to net some seriously positive results.

But rounding out your fantasy football roster with some other safe bets, sleepers and possible waiver-wire adds could ultimately make the biggest differences in getting into the postseason and hoisting your league’s trophy.

Safe Bet: WR Brandon Aiyuk

Fantasy owners are taking note of second-year wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, whose 60 receptions for 748 yards and five touchdowns in 2020 — paired with 77 rush yards and two more touchdowns — were notable. Particularly in light of the fact he only played in 12 games.

Aiyuk’s ADP has risen to 5.10, and he’s currently the 24th ranked wide receiver heading towards fantasy football draft season.

Some consistent quarterbacking, along with his own maturation, could mean Aiyuk winds up being one of those breakout candidates this year.

Biggest Sleepers: RBs Trey Sermon and Elijah Mitchell

Mid- or low-drafted running backs rarely get attention in fantasy football drafts, but Trey Sermon might be worth a late-round look in the wake of the 49ers losing veteran running back Jeff Wilson Jr. to a knee injury, sidelining him four to six months.

Sermon is a quality fit in Kyle Shanahan’s outside-zone running scheme, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see the rookie used early in games, meaning he’ll get his share of touches in tandem with players like Mostert.

Meanwhile, the Niners’ sixth-round draftee, running back Elijah Mitchell, was a pass-catching machine at Louisiana-Lafayette, recording 49 receptions for 597 yards and five touchdowns during his four-year collegiate career, and Shanahan loves to get pass-catching tailbacks involved in the offense — great news for PPR leagues.

While Mitchell is by no means guaranteed to make the roster, he’d be worth a stash consideration in deeper leagues.

Sermon and Mitchell’s ADPs are 12.01 and 13.09, respectively.

Waiver-Wire Adds: WR Richie James and RB Jeff Wilson

Losing Wilson is a blow. And he won’t find his way onto any fantasy football roster early in 2021, meaning he’ll probably be available towards the middle of the season, provided he fully recovers.

In two of Wilson’s three starts last year, he rushed for well over 100 yards and finished the year with a combined 10 touchdowns — the crucial stat where running backs earn chunk points.

Depending on how San Francisco’s running back room looks around Week 10, grabbing Wilson might end up being a smart move.

Meanwhile, the 49ers’ slot receiver role remains wide open heading into 2021.

Wide receiver Richie James shouldn’t warrant a spot on a fantasy roster. But fans won’t soon forget his nine-catch, 184-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Green Bay Packers last season when given a starting opportunity.

That’s certainly more of an exception than the rule. But if James secures the No. 3 role on the regular-season depth chart, keep an eye on him for favorable matchups and don’t be afraid to pluck him up to help navigate through a tough bye week for your starters.