Emmanuel Sanders Fantasy: Start or Sit 49ers WR on Thursday Night Football?

Getty Emmanuel Sanders of the San Francisco 49ers

When the San Francisco 49ers traded for wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders one week prior to the NFL trade deadline, their hopes were that they had finally acquired a number one receiving target on the outside for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

While the verdict is still out on whether or not Sanders can take the 49ers offense over the top, the early returns were certainly promising.

Can Sanders continue to grow on his productive play on Thursday night vs. the Cardinals enough to warrant a starting spot in your fantasy football lineups? We discuss.

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Emmanuel Sanders’ Fantasy Outlook vs. Arizona Cardinals

Emmanuel Sanders kicked off his 49ers debut in grand fashion, finding the endzone on the team’s first offensive possession in their Week 8 trampling of the Carolina Panthers. Sanders’ stat line at the end of the day was nothing eye-popping, but his four reception, 25 receiving yard, one touchdown performance was good enough to make him the WR30 in fantasy points.

While Sanders still has room to grow in terms of production, his usage last week is what is most promising about his fantasy prospects moving forward. In Sanders’ first game as a ‘9er he played 55 offensive snaps, that’s 82% of San Francisco’s offensive plays from Week 8. Those numbers firmly placed Sanders atop the receiving pecking order last week.

This week Sanders will face off with the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football. The Cards defense has been middle of the pack in terms of allowing fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, ranking 15th in the NFL. However, they’ve surrendered the fourth-most passing yards in football through the first eight weeks of 2019. Even better, their 20 allowed passing/receiving touchdowns this year are the most a defense has surrendered this season.

In seven of the team’s eight games this season, the opposition’s leading receiver averaged a healthy 16.7 fantasy points against the Cardinals. Arizona has also allowed 11 receivers to total either 80+ receiving yards and/or a receiving touchdown over their eight games this year.

To simply play devil’s advocate, a plethora of the statistics above were racked up without All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson on the field. Peterson returned to the Cardinals lineup just two weeks ago, and while his Pro Football Focus grade of 70.3 is underwhelming by his standards, he’s likely to continue to improve his play as he gets back into game shape.

Should You Start or Sit Emmanuel Sanders in Week 9?

The matchup seems like a dream scenario for Sanders’ owners. The only thing that is holding back his potential fantasy stardom for this week is his new team’s offensive philosophy. The 49ers are a run-first team, as is apparent by the fact that Jimmy G has the 28th-most passing attempts in football this season.

Still, with another week under his belt, and already a major part within the 49ers gameplan, Sanders’ fantasy worth should only continue to trend up. Sanders is a solid WR3 on Thursday Night, and if all goes well he could find himself within the top-24 scoring players at his position at the end of Week 9.

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