Thursday Night Football
Seattle @ San Francisco
Thursday night's Seahawks-49ers game has a 42-point Vegas total -- tied for lowest of Week 7 -- with host San Francisco listed as a six-point dog. The last five scores of 'Hawks-Niners games are 17-7, 19-3, 23-17, 19-17, and 29-3. In a low-scoring slugfest, the 49ers' 18-point team total is worrisome for the fantasy outlooks of their skill players. ... Carlos Hyde plans to play through a foot injury that very clearly affected him in the second half of last week's win over the Ravens, wherein Hyde finished with a 21-55-0 rushing line (2.62 YPC). Seattle has limited opposing backs to the third fewest fantasy points in the league, and 3.58 yards per carry. Further hindering Hyde's matchup is the return of difference-making Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner, who missed Week 6 with a pectoral strain. With legitimate health concerns in a tough matchup, Hyde is a low-end RB2 play. Since his Week 1 outburst versus Minnesota, Hyde's YPC average is 3.36 with one touchdown in five games. ... Although Colin Kaepernick turned in solid efforts against the Giants and Ravens' leaky pass defenses in Weeks 5-6, he is likely in for a slower game on Thursday night. Over his last five meetings with Pete Carroll's defense, Kaepernick has managed to complete 69-of-129 throws (53.4%) for 717 yards (5.56 YPA) and a 2:8 TD-to-INT ratio, also losing a pair of fumbles. Kaepernick did not clear 175 passing yards in any of those five games and has absorbed ten sacks over the last two meetings. Even with Seattle's defense showing more signs of leakage than usual this year, Kap is not a trustworthy two-quarterback-league start.
Kaepernick's target distribution this year: Anquan Boldin 47; Torrey Smith 25; Garrett Celek 21; Quinton Patton and Vernon Davis 16; Hyde 15. ... In chronological order, Boldin's stat lines in his last five Seattle games are 1-7-0, 6-93-0, 5-53-1, 3-18-0, and 2-23-0. It is additionally concerning for Boldin's Week 7 outlook that the Seahawks have flirted with using Richard Sherman in shadow coverage of top receivers, most recently doing so to A.J. Green in Week 5. Boldin is best viewed as a low-end WR3. ... Although his production is always wildly unreliable, Smith might be the 49ers' best bet for passing-game impact if Sherman indeed sticks to Boldin. Seahawks RCB Cary Williams is a major liability, ranking dead last among 100 qualified cornerbacks in Pro Football Focus' coverage grades over the last three weeks. As usual, Smith is a boom-or-bust fantasy option. ... Seattle's defense is most vulnerable in tight end coverage, coughing up the second most fantasy points in the league to the position including receiving lines of 8-90-2 (Tyler Eifert) and 7-131-1 (Greg Olsen) over its last two games. Unfortunately, the Niners' tight end situation has devolved into a Celek-Davis timeshare. Celek has actually begun playing more than Davis, logging a 78% snap rate to Vernon's 58% clip in last week's win over Baltimore. Ultimately, third-stringer Vance McDonald (1-10) was the only 49ers tight end to catch a pass against the Ravens.
As six-point road favorites, Seattle's team total is 24. ... Skewed by massive point totals allowed to Pittsburgh and Arizona on the road, the 49ers' overall defensive metrics don't look good on paper. At home, however, San Francisco has limited Minnesota to three points, Green Bay to 17, and Baltimore to 20; both the Packers and Ravens rank top ten in the NFL in points scored and yardage gained. The 49ers have held Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, and Teddy Bridgewater to a combined 78-of-117 passing for 798 yards (6.82 YPA) and a 3:3 TD-to-INT ratio through three home affairs. This is a mediocre matchup for Russell Wilson, who is the No. 10 overall fantasy quarterback entering Week 7. ... Although he was bottled up by Carolina's stout run defense (3.18 YPC), the game film showed no noticeable signs of slippage in Marshawn Lynch's Week 6 return from hamstring and calf injuries. Lynch demonstrated his usual burst and tackle-breaking ability in the rare instances Seattle's run blocking gave him room. Lynch also dominated the workload ahead of UDFA Thomas Rawls, logging a season-high 82% snap rate and 18 touches compared to Rawls' one carry. San Francisco has played average to below-average run defense this year, permitting the eighth most fantasy points to running backs and 4.03 YPC while ranking 27th in Football Outsiders' DVOA. Lynch is safely a mid-range RB1 play Thursday night.
Wilson's target distribution in Weeks 1-6: Jimmy Graham 40; Doug Baldwin 31; Jermaine Kearse 26; Tyler Lockett 19; Lynch 17; Fred Jackson 14; Luke Willson 12. ... Wilson finally showed a willingness to throw to Graham in contested situations in last week's loss to Carolina, resulting in season highs in targets (12), catches (8), and yards (140). Although his weekly usage has been inconsistent, Graham's on-field play remains as strong as ever in Seattle. He has yet to drop a pass on the season and ranks third in the NFL in catch rate (73%) among tight ends with at least 30 targets. San Francisco has permitted the league's seventh most receptions to tight ends. ... Since beginning the season with back-to-back seven-catch efforts, Baldwin has yet to hit five targets in any of Seattle's ensuing four games. Not helping matters is the Seahawks' new five-way WRBC also involving Kearse, Lockett, Chris Matthews, and Ricardo Lockette. Whereas Baldwin played 85% of Seattle's snaps in Weeks 1-2, his snap rate dipped to 64% in Weeks 5-6. Baldwin is a low-end, low-ceiling WR3 option. ... Both coming off Week 6 goose eggs, Kearse and Lockett belong on fantasy waiver wires regardless of their Thursday night stats. Kearse is short on receiving ability, while Lockett only plays about half of the Seahawks' offensive snaps and is much more of an impact special teamer at this stage of his career.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 20, 49ers 17