The Duel

2019 Fantasy Football 49ers Training Camp Battle: Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida & Jerick McKinnon

By Stephen Knox
Chicago Bears v San Francisco 49ers
Chicago Bears v San Francisco 49ers / Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers were expected to be fantasy football gold in Kyle Shanahan's second year as head coach in 2018. Injuries put that to a halt though.

One of those injuries was a torn ACL for Jerick McKinnon, who is still recovering from that injury, and that has made this backfield tough to decipher for 2019 fantasy football players. McKinnon, Matt Breida and free agent acquisition Tevin Coleman are all legitimate contenders to see significant work in the backfield.

The 49ers had high expectations when they signed McKinnon to a four-year $30 million deal in the spring of 2018. He was coming off of a season in which he totaled 991 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns for the Minnesota Vikings. However, his injury allowed Matt Breida to step in and rush for 818 yards in 13 starts, while also catching 27 passes for 271 yards and score five total touchdowns in his second pro season.

Instead of simply waiting on McKinnon to get healthy and pairing him with Breida in 2019, they went out and added more depth to their backfield. They brought in former Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman, who had great success as a spell back for Shanahan when he was the Falcons' offensive coordinator in 2016. That year, Coleman totaled 941 yards and 11 touchdowns. The reunion with his former offensive coordinator could mean big things for Coleman, and reports from camp are that he is getting work as the top RB.

Fantasy football drafters are clearly siding with the new signing, as Coleman has an average draft position (ADP) of RB27. After being drafted closer to Coleman early in the offseason, the lingering injury concerns have driven McKinnon's cost down to RB46, right next to Breida at RB47.

Already more than one year removed from playing football and facing a chance of opening the year on the injured reserve, McKinnon becomes an incredibly risky fantasy football pick without a ton of early-season upside. Unless reports from camp quickly take a more optimistic turn, you may end up being best served to leave McKinnon alone on draft night, and to target him on the waiver wire when he gets closer to returning to action. Coleman looks set to serve as the team's lead back to open the regular season, and a modest draft cost of RB27 leaves room for value and upside in that role.

Breida presents the trickiest situation of the three. His ADP is quickly climbing with the McKinnon injury news, but with Kyle Shanahan's history of featuring multiple running backs in an offense, Breida could still prove to be a late value pick if McKinnon misses time.

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