Fantasy football: CBS Sports lists two 49ers as hot picks
By Peter Panacy
Fantasy football owners know leagues are won or lost in the later rounds, and CBS Sports is highlighting two 49ers players to grab late in 2021.
One of the downsides about playing fantasy football with San Francisco 49ers players is aside from tight end George Kittle, there’s not necessarily a bona fide No. 1 stud on the roster worth using a first-, second- or even a third-round pick on in your fantasy draft.
The Niners have a promising wide receiver corps, but it’s relatively unproven and top-heavy. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has also traditional employed a running back-by-committee approach, too, and bell-cow tailbacks and/or red-zone specialists have way more value than those who churn out a decent amount of yards every week but don’t always find the end zone.
That’s all OK, though.
Smart fantasy football owners don’t concern themselves as much with early picks. Every league will get quality guys in Rounds 1 and 2. It’s the late-round additions, sleepers and bargain breakouts who’ll ultimately decide championships.
Fortunately, at least according to CBS Sports, San Francisco has two worth going after heading into 2021.
CBS Sports names Brandon Aiyuk a fantasy football sleeper, Trey Sermon a breakout rookie
Kittle is going to be the first 49ers player off fantasy football draft boards this summer. No questioning that.
But in terms of finding some WR2 or FLEX help, going after second-year pro wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk appears to be a smart play from CBS Sports’ perspective.
Here’s what they had to say about the former first-round NFL Draft pick:
"The former first-round pick out of Arizona State was thrust into a significant role offensively in his rookie season due to a number of injuries at the position in San Francisco and he delivered impressive results with 60 catches for 748 yards and five touchdowns in just 12 games.Aiyuk was on the field for at least 70 percent of the offensive snaps in every game he played and his 96 total targets included 14 red-zone targets, which were 18th-most among wide receivers in the NFL."
CBS Sports also noted, rather correctly, how Aiyuk should benefit from a much healthier Niners offense this season, as well as some consistent quarterback play with Jimmy Garoppolo still entrenched under center.
Last year, Aiyuk still managed to put up those numbers despite having three different quarterbacks — Garoppolo, Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard — trying to get him the ball.
Now fully immersed in Shanahan’s offense, there’s little reason to believe Aiyuk can’t hit that magical 1,000-yard plateau to go along with some serious touchdown chances, making a mid- or even a late-round fantasy pick well worth your while.
It’s a bit interesting, though, to see rookie running back Trey Sermon, San Francisco’s third-round pick from this year’s draft, tabbed as a breakout candidate.
From CBS Sports:
"Sermon averaged 6.5 yards per carry in four collegiate seasons and racked up 3,432 scrimmage yards while scoring 29 times in 45 games for two of the most dominant offenses in the nation. He was at his best in big games, rushing for 331 yards in Ohio State’s Big Ten Championship win and 254 scrimmage yards in a national semifinal victory over Clemson. The model sees him as a top-35 option at running back despite the fact that he’s 54th back off the board according to early 2021 Fantasy football ADP."
Sermon was working with the 49ers’ first-team unit during OTAs, considering starting running back Raheem Mostert was nursing a minor injury, and that’s a good sign for fantasy football owners targeting Sermon late on draft day.
Related Story: Trey Sermon is a quality fantasy football stash
Shanahan isn’t likely to sway from his running back-by-committee strategy, and players like Mostert, Elijah Mitchell and perhaps even Wayne Gallman could all take touches away from Sermon.
That said, if there was ever going to be a bell cow-type tailback in the Niners offense, Sermon looks like he’ll be it.
Being ranked as the 54th running back, according to ADP, means Sermon won’t have any trouble slipping on draft day. Smart fantasy owners will likely put a sleeper-type grade on Sermon, potentially tabbing him as a stash player, FLEX option or a bye-week reserve until he starts to make his mark known over the first few weeks of the season.
And if those weeks wind up going well, it wouldn’t be shocking at all to see Sermon climb up into RB2 status.