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Koh Knows: 49ers fantasy fortunes rise with Jimmy G

The final stat line was nothing to write home about but Jimmy Garoppolo gave San Francisco 49ers fans something they haven't had in awhile: hope.

Well, that, and a win, which was nice too.

And, for fantasy purposes, Jimmy G's presence makes the other offensive weapons in the Bay a whole helluva lot more intriguing. It increases Carlos Hyde's touchdown upside, guys like Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor go from deep sleepers to smart adds off the waiver wire, George Kittle is all of a sudden a viable TE streamer.

I'm not saying Garoppolo is Deshaun Watson by any stretch, but as we saw in Houston, a dynamic quarterback raises the ceiling for all fantasy assets involved. That could be the case in San Francisco/Santa Clara/the Greater Bay Area as well.


Garoppolo was 26-of-37 passing for 293 yards in his first start for the 49ers with no touchdowns and one interception. It was very efficient but nothing great from a fantasy perspective. However, there are some real, tangible things to get excited about moving forward.

Combing through Garoppolo's Week 13 tape, what I saw was a passer who threw with great anticipation and velocity, even under duress. But what left me impressed was how good he was on third down.

As a team, the Niners converted 10 of 18 third downs into first downs, good for a 55 percent conversion rate. I probably don't need to tell you, that is damn good. As a point of reference Minnesota and Philadelphia (both excellent offenses) lead the league in this stat, converting on 46 percent of their third downs. San Francisco had come into Week 13 flipping just 34 percent of their third downs into a new set of downs, the sixth-worst conversion rate in the NFL.

Digging in further, of those 18 third downs, coach Kyle Shanahan put the ball in Garoppolo's hands 16 times and asked him to make a play. Clearly, Shanny is asking his pal Jimmy to make plays and just as clearly, Jimmy came through.

Of the 16 Garoppolo third down plays, he threw it 14 times, connecting on nine passes and converting eight total first downs. For a guy who picked up this playbook just a few weeks ago, that is awfully good.


The mark of any good quarterback is the ability to read defenses and do it quickly. If we're going by the eyeball test, Garoppolo passed with high marks. If we're going by numbers? Well, he did pretty well there too.

Per Next Gen Stats, Garoppolo was able to target wide open receivers more often than any of his 49er QB counterparts this season.

Garoppolo's ability to go through his progressions quickly and then pull the trigger with accuracy and velocity on this throws helped him complete 70 percent of his passes. And not only that, he completed 14 of 14 pass attempts to his primary receivers, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor.


While I loved the opening salvo of Garoppolo's Niners career, from a fantasy perspective he is still just a low-end streamer. He can certainly get the job done and has the potential to pop off for a three-touchdown game but predicting that will be difficult. See: Brett Hundley or Jacoby Brissett.

The real fantasy impact here is that Goodwin needs to be added immediately if you are in a hyper-competitive league. He's been an air yards darling all season but the quality of targets he was seeing left you with a receiver with a horrendous 43.5 percent catch rate. That volatility to most wasn't worth the trouble.

That changes with Garoppolo under center. Goodwin caught all eight of his targets in Week 13 to the tune of 99 yards. Given his share of air yards and targets, the touchdowns will almost assuredly come. He's a must-add. (Here's an explainer on air yards for those of you who are new to it. The idea is that air yards is just as important as targets in predicting WR production.)

Trent Taylor all of a sudden graduates from Danger Zone candidate to a PPR darling in deeper leagues. He's a great possession-type receiver that also has the skills to bust the occasional big play as we saw not only in Week 13, but throughout his collegiate career as well. Expect Jimmy G to continue to lean on him to keep the offense in positive down-and-distance situations.

Carlos Hyde will also see a boost mostly through touchdown upside. George Kittle and Garrett Celek are tight ends who aren't necessarily priority adds right the second, but are certainly names you need to keep tabs on.

The bottom line is the addition of Garoppolo to this San Francisco offense lifts everyone involved, upping both their ceilings and floors.

As for Niners fans? Well if Red was right in "The Shawshank Redemption" in saying "hope is a dangerous thing," consider San Francisco quite the dangerous place. Garoppolo could legitimately be the answer at quarterback.

James D. Koh is an anchor and host for NFL Network. He is also the host of the NFL Fantasy Live Podcast and a guest columnist for the NFL fantasy football editorial staff. Follow him on Twitter @JamesDKoh.

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