While fantasy football owners may not think too much about the 49ers’ defensive/special teams being a must, there is still a tradeoff.
If you’ve played fantasy football long enough, you’re fully aware that your defensive/special teams picks aren’t going to win you a fantasy championship in any year, but a bad pick can certainly cost you a shot at winning your league.
And every now and then, getting a top D/ST group can actually push you into some tougher matchups against other contenders in the league.
Okay, so it’s rare to give advice on D/ST groups, and you probably won’t think about which NFL defenses and special teams you want to add until you’ve rounded up most of your roster.
But, us being the location of the San Francisco 49ers and all, it’s probably smart to take some stock worth of where the Niners defense will be in 2022 and what kind of plans you want to have in terms of fantasy football draft day.
Feeling bullish on the 49ers D/ST in fantasy football? Good
In 2021, under first-year defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, San Francisco’s defense got off to a slow start, paralleling the team’s 3-5 regular season opener. Midway through the year, however, the 49ers turned the proverbial page on that side of the ball, allowing opponents to score 25 points or more just twice from Week 10 through the rest of the year and into the postseason.
Perhaps even more impressive was that the Niners still managed to record 48 sacks, tied for fifth in the league, despite not having a rusher in double figures other than Pro Bowl EDGE Nick Bos.
On top of that, Ryans defense has only given up 100-plus yards once since Week 10 until the NFC Championship game.
True, the owners of San Francisco’s fantasy football defense were hurt by a lack of interceptions (just nine) and a poor special teams group that didn’t offer much in the way of scoring value without punts.
But with the additions of former Seattle Seahawks special teams coordinator Brian Schneider and former Pittsburgh Steelers return specialist Ray-Ray McCloud this offseason, it should be clear that improvements are expected in that phase of the game as well.
Overall, ESPN gave the 49ers’ D/ST group 120 standard fantasy points last season, but this same unit is projected to have less in 2022 at 114.48.
Time for a snack? For sure.
The underrated 49ers D/ST is a smart play in fantasy football
The fickle nature of D/ST units in fantasy, namely due to player turnover from year to year, can make it challenging to assess whether or not the previous season’s success will carry over to the next season.
Ryans, entering the second year of his coaching career, appears to have grown though, with the Niners retaining most of their talent like Bosa and linebacker Fred Warner while also adding some extra faces like veteran cornerback Charvarius Ward to reinforce the secondary.
And that defensive backfield has been one of San Francisco’s better units during training camp so far.
While San Francisco may not be ranked among the top three defenses, placing it in the top five category is certainly reasonable.
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According to Fantasy Football Calculator, the 49ers’ D/ST group has an average draft position (ADP) of 12.08, three picks behind the Indianapolis Colts’ ADP of 12.05 and more than two rounds behind the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams’ D/ST unit (10.04 ).
Yes, looking at a sleeper defense like that of the Green Bay Packers (14.08 ADP) or Baltimore Ravens (14.11 ADP) might be a bigger gamble with more value and equal payout, the Niners have the right mix if they aren’t D/ Fantasy football owners ST will chase but will still deliver value.
Maybe even exceed it.
So fantasy owners, plan accordingly.
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