Chargers-49ers DFS Showdown: Slate Strategy Analysis

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Christian McCaffrey has the highest optimal probability projection on a DFS showdown slate between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football. CMC saw his first full game in the red and gold go as well as anyone could have asked as he recorded a trifecta of touches. He combined for 26 touches additionally, but we’re slightly worried that it will be hard for him to reach that mark tonight. Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell both return from injury and are both candidates to eat away at CMC’s volume. Given the unknown surrounding the Niners, you could be better off saving a few dollars and looking elsewhere.

Where else do you have to look besides a guy in Austin Ekeler, who has averaged two touchdowns in each of his last five games? That pace is not sustainable, but what is one more week of hopeful production when Mike Williams and Keenan Allen remain out? Questions surrounding his viability against such a stout run defense can be quickly answered, as he’s been targeted 36 times through the air over his last three games. They have no choice but to get him the ball, so he looks to be worth the slightly lower price and ownership attached to him.

The Chargers will have to throw the ball more than they already do, as the Niners’ defense is much more susceptible to the pass than the run while being a touchdown underdog. Justin Herbert already ranks third among quarterbacks in passing attempts this season, so if you don’t expect Ekeler to extend his multiple-touchdown streak, then Herbert has all the upside in the world.

Jimmy Garoppolo is seeing the most positive ownership leverage of anyone on this slate while offering a little bit of financial flexibility as a multiplier target. He’s now loaded with talent around him, so given all the mouths to feed, it is certainly feasible that this offense’s diversity could propel Jimmy G to the top of the optimal board. He’s thrown two touchdowns in each of the last four games, so given his overall efficiency, he could squeak out an optimal-worthy performance.


Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are now in a 1A/1B situation, as Deebo doesn’t have the overwhelming rushing impact to lift him anymore. Both guys should see several targets, with Aiyuk possessing a slight edge, as he has recorded three touchdowns over his last three games. Deciding between these two really could be done through a coin flip, but we’ll give the edge to Aiyuk, given the recency bias.

Joshua Palmer is probably a better play than Deebo and Aiyuk while being cheaper, with the better quarterback throwing him the ball. LA will have to attack the Niners outside, where they are most vulnerable, and Joshua Palmer is all Herbert will have out there. He recorded double-digit targets and over 100 yards last week as the WR1, so look for him to be a strong play on this slate despite the high ownership and continue to benefit from the depleted receiving room.

Elijah Mitchell will play his first game since the season opener and now is the backup by default due to CMC. We don’t know how Kyle Shanahan will manage his backfield, but we expect Mitchell to get some touches at a minimum and look like a strong play, given his minimal price. He’ll be understandably significantly owned, but he’ll be your best option to infuse financial flexibility into your lineups.

We’re siding with George Kittle over Gerald Everett in the tight-end battle. Kittle costs more, but he’s shown flashes as of late, finding the endzone in his last two games while recording 24 targets over his previous three. Everett also has seen significant volume that we can’t gloss over, but we’re worried about his matchup as the Niners have only allowed 33 yards per game to opposing tight ends this season.

We’re looking to roster Michael Bandy as our non-Joshua Palmer play out of the Chargers’ receiver room. He saw eight targets and 80% of the snaps last week in his first game with an increased role. DeAndre Carter is a worthy play in his own right, given his consistency. Still, we’re eyeing up Bandy’s affordability and higher upside, given how he’s projected to build from his workload last week. 

Michael Bandy and Elijah Mitchell will be our favorite cheap plays on this slate, but Jauan Jennings is another option, as he’s averaged about 3.5 targets per game over seven games this season.