Much has been made of Jerrick McKinnon's four-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers. ESPN's Matthew Berry is the latest to chime in on the 49ers new starting running back. The fantasy football guru evaluated how McKinnon's stock was impacted by his relocation in free agency.
McKinnon was one of eight players that Berry said he “loves following offensive movement.” Berry pointed to Kyle Shanahan's track record with versatile running backs as well as McKinnon's success down the stretch of 2017. Last year, Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida combined for 80 receptions. In 2016, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 86 catches with Shanahan as their offensive coordinator in Atlanta. Freeman alone caught 73 passes in 2015.
That's why Berry says that McKinnon, who has averaged 47 receptions over the last two seasons, could be a fantasy monster in PPR formats with the 49ers. Here are Berry's full comments:
Used primarily as a change-of-pace guy or third-down back for much of his career, McKinnon got more run last season after Dalvin Cook went down. In the six games he got 15-plus touches, he averaged 19.7 PPG (PPR scoring), which over a 16-game schedule would have ranked as RB6. Now he gets serious money to go play for Kyle Shanahan, where he should be a PPR machine. In his two years in Atlanta and last year in San Francisco, Shanahan RBs have been top eight in the NFL in receptions and top five in receiving yards in each season. McKinnon will be a trendy sleeper this season.
Shanahan has said multiple times that it will be a group effort in the 49ers backfield. Whether that's Breida, Joe Williams or another back not currently on the roster, McKinnon will concede some touches. Still, expect the former Minnesota Vikings playmaker to play a prominent role for Shanahan and the 49ers. That usage could prove fruitful for San Francisco as well as your fantasy roster.
For what it's worth, Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi, Detroit Lions running back LeGarrette Blount, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, Denver Broncos wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Chicago Bears tight end Trey Burton were the other players Berry "loves" following free agency.
The NFL Network draft analyst recently announced his updated top-50 prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft.