Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders had seen his fantasy star dwindle over the past few years as a member of the Denver Broncos. No season had been more difficult than this one in 2019, as Joe Flacco has failed to deliver on the magic that once made him a Super Bowl winning quarterback seven years ago.
However, in the blink of an eye, Sanders went from being a member of a 2-5 team and on the downslide of his career, to joining an undefeated roster while possessing untapped fantasy potential. All this, thanks to a trade to the wide receiver-hungry San Francisco 49ers earlier this week.
Can the 49ers get a positive return on their investment in Sanders’ first game in uniform? Or is Sanders too far removed from his prime to have a monumental role in the team’s offense, in return leading to little fantasy success? Let’s discuss.
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Emmanuel Sanders’ Fantasy Outlook vs. Carolina Panthers
Emmanuel Sanders had accumulated just 60 receiving yards total over his three previous games and was likely close to being dropped in the majority of leagues. Yet, a move to San Francisco has brightened fantasy owners’ outlook on the two-time Pro Bowler moving forward.
Despite Sanders’ struggles of late, it hasn’t been all bad for the wideout this season. Prior to the poor three-game stretch, Sanders was coming off a five reception, 100+ receiving yard showing. In fact, in three of his first four games this season, Sanders averaged seven receptions and 96 receiving yards, while totaling two touchdowns.
It’s that kind of production that forced San Francisco’s hand to pull the trigger in acquiring Sanders’ services. Prior to Sanders’ arrival, the 49ers did not have a wideout on the roster that had eclipsed 15 receptions on the season. As a matter of fact, they’ve had only two wideouts hit double-digit receptions. While speculation swirled that the ‘9ers would give Sanders the weekend off to get better acquainted in the offense, Kyle Shanahan is apparently having none of that.
It’s certainly clear that the ‘9ers are excited to have their offensive weapon at their disposal on Sunday, so what does that mean for Sanders’ fantasy outlook?
The Carolina Panthers have somehow been terrific on the backend this season, yet very generous to receivers in terms of fantasy. The Panthers allow the eight fewest passing yards per game in 2019. A quick once over of their trio of cornerbacks’ stats this season, and you’ll understand how that ranking became possible.
However, despite those brilliant numbers, Carolina still surrenders the 10th most fantasy points to wideouts this season. The main reason for their struggles in the fantasy realm is the abundance of receptions that wideouts have accumulated against the Panthers. Eight separate receivers have hauled in seven-plus catches against their defense this year.
Should You Start or Sit Emmanuel Sanders in Week 8?
There are a few things to take into consideration before deciding on Sanders’ placement in your lineup. For starters, teams tend to preach about how much their newly acquired players will be involved in their gameplan. Those same players tend to see their snaps limited come game time.
However, when they are on the field, the offense makes it a priority to feature that player. If all goes well, Sanders could have a performance similar to Antonio Brown’s lone performance as a Patriot this season. Brown played just 33% of the team’s snaps that day, yet finished with 16+ fantasy points.
Chances are Sanders will fall slightly short of those numbers. San Francisco is still a run-first offense at heart. Yet, if you’re going to go with a 49ers receiver in your lineup, look no further than Sanders, as the matchup is certainly welcoming. The newly acquired Sanders will be a mid-range WR3 on Sunday.