If you root for the 49ers or the Raiders, you’ve been there.
Your fantasy football draft is going according to plan when, all of a sudden, somebody picks a Bay Area skill player way too high. Whether they were convinced LaMichael James would usurp Frank Gore (he didn't), or that a Raiders-era Randy Moss was the best player in the draft (he wasn't), it happens every year.
So, where should you target 49ers and Raiders in your fantasy football draft? With help from our friends at Rotoworld, I’ll examine the quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, and tight ends to pay attention to.
This handy guide is intended for a 10-team, non-PPR league. Let's start with the signal-callers.
Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers, Rotoworld Rank: QB15)
In his first five starts with San Francisco last year, Jimmy GQ ranked as the sixth-best fantasy quarterback, according to Rotoworld's Evan Silva. The hype train is packed, but Garoppolo’s upside make him worth a calculated risk as soon as the seventh or eighth round -- as long as the top quarterbacks are off the board, that is. Just don't take him with your first pick.
Derek Carr (Raiders, QB18)
Carr is healthy now, but he won't have much stability otherwise. His most-targeted receiver from the last three years is gone (Michael Crabtree, WR30 per Rotoworld), and Carr is playing for his third offensive coordinator in three years. New head coach Jon Gruden’s largely kept Carr hidden in the preseason, but any upside is really only worth considering once he hits the waiver wire.
Jerick McKinnon (49ers, RB15)
McKinnon thrived when thrust in a larger role in Minnesota last season, and Kyle Shanahan’s recent history in Atlanta offers an intriguing possibility: McKinnon as Devonta Freeman. He has the pass-catching ability (51 receptions last season), and a preseason calf injury shouldn’t dissuade you. If you miss out on a bigger name in the first round, McKinnon is a nice fallback as early as the late second round.
Marshawn Lynch (Raiders, RB28)
Beast Mode was solid over the last eight games of 2017. He averaged 92.2 total yards, and scored five touchdowns during that stretch. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson’s last two offenses in Jacksonville were in the bottom-third in rushing, but he didn't have a back like Lynch. Oakland’s native son is an intriguing option right around the fifth round, and especially if he slips further.
Matt Breida (49ers, RB58)
Fantasy football season is also cuffing season ... if you’re playing it right. Breida playing the Tevin Coleman role makes him more than just a cuff, though. He is one of the most intriguing sleepers, since he ranked 15th in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) and fifth in Defensive-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) among running backs last year. Breida’s worth a flyer from the 12th round onward as you draft your last offensive players.
Doug Martin (Raiders, RB63)
Gruden is high on Martin this preseason, but the 29-year-old is coming off of the worst two years of his career. He flashed some receiving ability (9.3 yards per reception) in limited touches (nine catches), but he also ran for fewer than 3 yards per carry for the second straight year. Martin’s not worth stressing over in the draft, but could be a waiver-wire pickup in a best-case scenario.
Alfred Morris (49ers, Unranked)
Depending upon McKinnon and Breida’s readiness to start the year, Morris could be in for a heavy workload early. The 29-year-old turned back the clock with 84 rushing yards against the Colts last Saturday, and the most productive years of his career were playing for Shanahan in Washington. Keep an eye on Morris in the 14th round, or whenever you pick your last offensive player.
Amari Cooper (Raiders, WR15)
The bad news: Per Pro Football Focus, Amari Cooper led the league in drop rate (17.2 percent) last season, and averaged nearly one-and-a-half fewer targets per game than in 2016. The good news: Cooper still set a career-high in touchdowns (seven) despite missing two games and dealing with various injuries. You won’t want to reach on him, but his floor is high enough to make him a no-brainer in the fourth round or later.
Marquise Goodwin (49ers, WR36)
Goodwin enjoyed the best season of his career in his first year under Shanahan, and he developed strong chemistry with Garoppolo. Extend his final five games over a full season, and Goodwin was on pace for 93 catches and 1,229 receiving yards. That’ll play. Even if he doesn’t emerge as a touchdown threat, he should be on your radar as soon as the seventh round.
Pierre Garcon (49ers, WR31)
Garcon missed the final nine games of the season, but as Rotoworld’s Evan Silva noted, he was on pace for a staggering 144 targets. He is a year older, and will be coming off of a tough injury, but his growing connection with Garoppolo bodes well. Target Garcon in the ninth or 10th round, and even earlier if you’re in a PPR league.
Jordy Nelson (Raiders, WR32)
Nelson’s decline was precipitous in 2017, but that masks his remaining fantasy value. The days of double-digit touchdowns and over 1200 receiving yards are probably behind him, but Nelson’s firmly entrenched as the Raiders’ No. 2 option. If he slips out of the ninth round, scoop him up.
George Kittle (49ers, TE13)
It's usually wise to wait on a tight end, and Kittle would be a solid reward if you do. He and Garoppolo have developed strong chemistry this off-season, and Kittle’s hot finish to 2017 (194 rec. yards, TD in the last three games) offered a preview of what could come. Play the waiting game, and pick Kittle in the 12th round or later.
Jared Cook (Raiders, TE18)
Cook was Carr's third-favorite target last year, but his fantasy output was largely contained to two huge games over a three-week span. After that, he eclipsed 75 receiving yards and five targets only once. Tight end’s largely a crapshoot as a position, but you should have better options throughout the draft.