Thursday Night Football
Oakland @ San Francisco
Team Totals: 49ers 24.5, Raiders 21.5
Down to 1-9 lifetime as a starter following last week’s meltdown at Arizona, C.J. Beathard draws a best-case-scenario matchup versus Oakland, which yielded top-12 fantasy quarterback scores in four of its last five games while providing squeaky-clean pockets with the league’s fewest sacks (7) and lowest QB hit rate (9.5%). PFF has “credited” the Raiders with 56 QB hurries, 44 fewer than any other NFL team. Beathard’s on-field play has taken such a sharp turn for the worse that his appeal is limited to two-quarterback leagues, however, and he is tentatively expected to play this game through painful injuries on his right (throwing) thumb and wrist. Beat writers have suggested coach Kyle Shanahan could use this as an opportunity to take a look at second-year UDFA Nick Mullens, a smallish (6’1/214) scrapper who committed a whopping five turnovers on 93 preseason snaps. … Slow and plodding in the front seven, the Raiders have been gashed by enemy backs for a 176/898/7 (5.10 YPC) rushing line. Gutting out a high ankle sprain among other ailments, Matt Breida led San Francisco’s Week 8 backfield in snaps (47%) and touches (16) while Alfred Morris (6, 17%) and Raheem Mostert (2, 18%) took distant backseats. As his health has deteriorated, so has Breida’s production with fewer than 75 total yards in five straight games and one target since Week 4. Despite the plus draw, Breida is a boom-bust flex option playing injured on a short week. Lacking stable roles, Morris and Mostert would be extreme shots in the dark.
Beathard’s Weeks 4-8 target distribution: George Kittle 37; Kendrick Bourne 25; Marquise Goodwin 18; Kyle Juszczyk 17; Trent Taylor 16; Morris 9; Mostert 6; Breida 4; Dante Pettis 1. … Playing weekly musical chairs in the secondary, the Raiders reinstalled 2016 first-round bust Karl Joseph at strong safety in an apparent Week 8 effort to showcase him for a trade. Colts tight ends capitalized with a near-perfect 10/133/3 receiving line on 11 targets. Raiders MLB Tahir Whitehead is another massive coverage liability; PFF has charged Whitehead with 19 completions allowed on 21 targets, including a league-high six TDs. Quarterback play remains an obvious obstacle, but Kittle has drawn eight targets in back-to-back games and ranks second among NFL tight ends in receiving yards (393) over the last five weeks. … Replacing Pierre Garcon (knee) in last week’s starting lineup, Bourne logged year highs in routes run (30) and playing time (82%) and led the Niners in both targets (10) and Air Yards (84). Cooper Kupp’s old bookend at Eastern Washington, Bourne has slowpoke speed (4.68) but is quick in a short area and can get open. Garcon (shoulder, knee) practiced on a limited basis this week, however, so Bourne may return to the bench. Garcon is listed as questionable. … Shadowed by Patrick Peterson in Week 8, Goodwin got loose just once but turned it into a 55-yard touchdown on a slant route. The Raiders’ lack of pass rush leaves them vulnerable to vertical passes, having allowed the NFL’s sixth-most 20-plus-yard catches (31) and a league-high 8.8 yards per pass attempt, which is all squarely in 4.27 burner Goodwin’s wheelhouse. … Slot man Taylor finished third in the 49ers’ wideout corps in Week 8 routes (15) and is on the radar in single-game DFS tournaments. Pettis ran just four routes in his return from a knee injury.
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The 49ers are bottom six in sack rate (5.0%) and bottom ten in QB hit rate (13.9%) and have allowed the NFL’s second-most touchdown passes (18). Derek Carr played his most comfortable game of 2018 in last week’s loss to the Colts, finding Jared Cook for big plays downfield, completing 17 straight passes at one point, sneaking in his first career rushing TD, and taking just one hit behind an offensive line that got healthier during its Week 7 bye. (Amari Cooper was not missed.) Carr’s play has been all over the map, but this matchup is favorable enough for QB1 streamer consideration. … Improved up-front health also benefited Week 8 lead back Doug Martin, who out-touched Jalen Richard 15 to 10 on 56% of the snaps. Martin was repeatedly stuffed at the goal line, but he ran quick and decisively en route to 89 total yards. The 49ers have played stout 2018 run defense but will be without MLB Reuben Foster (hamstring), while stud Raiders LG Kelechi Osemele (knee) returns from a four-week absence. Martin is a workmanlike RB2/flex. … As Martin stepped directly into Marshawn Lynch’s old role, Richard’s usage did not change. He needs the Raiders to fall behind for useful fantasy production. They did last week, so Richard drew a team-high eight targets. The 49ers have allowed the NFL’s sixth-most catches (50) to running backs.
Carr’s Week 8 target distribution: Richard 8; Jared Cook 5; Seth Roberts, Brandon LaFell, and Jordy Nelson 4; Martin 2. … Cook paced the Raiders in Air Yards (61) and receiving (4/74/1) in Oakland’s first post-Amari game, hitting pay dirt on a 25-yard strike from Carr. The Niners have been rocked by injuries at safety, placing FS Adrian Colbert (ankle) on I.R. before losing SS Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder) and fill-in FS Antone Exum (concussion) to injuries that will sideline them Thursday night. … LaFell usurped Martavis Bryant in the Week 8 starting lineup and tied Nelson for most routes run (27) among Raiders wideouts. LaFell and Nelson are over the hill with minimal upside, but this is an attractive matchup for both. They are opportunity-based WR4/5s likely to be touchdown dependent with low yardage ceilings. Nelson has fewer than 50 yards in 6-of-7 games. … Roberts ran 18 routes last week, getting wide open in the second quarter for a 31-yard TD. Fellow slot WRs Golden Tate (7/109/0), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (3/103/0), Larry Fitzgerald (8/102/1), Adam Thielen (6/102/0), Robert Woods (5/78/0), and Keenan Allen (7/63/0) have produced at or above expectation against the Niners. … Bryant struggled with drops and fumbles prior to the bye, so in hindsight we can’t be shocked he got benched for LaFell. Dating back to his time in Tampa Bay, Jon Gruden has shown longstanding affection for older players. Bryant played seven Week 8 snaps and was not targeted. I’d stash him for one more week before cutting ties in season-long leagues.
Score Prediction: Raiders 24, 49ers 20