This article is part of our DFS NFL series.
We get a special edition of Monday Night Football in Week 11, as the Cardinals and 49ers square off in Mexico City. The matchup is a near must-win for the Cardinals to retain realistic hopes of reaching the postseason. Sportsbooks see the 49ers as comfortable favorites, as they enter as eight-point favorites and an implied 75.6 percent chance of victory. That number could narrow as the status of Kyler Murray becomes clearer, though the 49ers will almost certainly remain the favorite. The game total will be another number to watch based on Murray's ability to suit up. It currently sits at 43.5, giving the 49ers an implied total of 25.8 points and Arizona 17.8. If it's not clear yet, a lot of things in this game will be contingent on Murray.
Update: Murray is reportedly unlikely to play, though, as of this writing, he has not yet been ruled out. The 49ers are now 10-point favorites with the same 43.5 game total.
If he suits up, Kyler Murray ($11,200 DK, $16,000 FD) is the highest-priced quarterback. Even if he plays, it's a tough sell to roster him. He's surpassed 20 fantasy points in only four of his nine games this season. His performance has certainly trended up since the return of DeAndre Hopkins; he's missed ceiling performances because he's topped 50 rushing yards in only two games this season. Given that he's dealing with a hamstring injury, it's difficult to imagine he'll be eager to scramble or that the Cardinals will center their gameplan on designed runs for Murray. Add a 49ers defense that has largely stymied quarterbacks — only Marcus Mariota and Patrick Mahomes have surpassed 20 fantasy points against them — and the case for Murray gets thinner. Colt McCoy ($9,400 DK, $14,000 FD) is off the injury report and will start if Murray is out. While he comes at a relatively cheap price for a potential starting quarterback, he's a clearly less talented quarterback than Murray and is in the same tough matchup.
Jimmy Garoppolo ($9,600 DK, $14,500 FD) has no ceiling, but he has a remarkably safe floor. He's tallied between 15.9 and 18.02 FD points in each of his last five games. That narrow band of production also exists on DK, but he spiked a 21.32 performance with a 300-yard bonus. That safety makes plenty of when considering the 49ers' offensive scheme, which is based heavily on run after the catch. In other words, so long as Garoppolo can distribute the ball to the open player, he'll have production. The Cardinals defense shuts down certain areas of offenses very well, but its ranks as a fantasy defense have benefited from matchups against John Wolford (9.8 points) and Baker Mayfield (7.9 points).
This is a slate where we can get away from playing a quarterback, but I'll take Garoppolo if I'm playing the position.
Unsurprisingly, Christian McCaffrey ($11,400 DK, $16,500 FD) is the highest-priced player on both sites. To captain him on DraftKings, he'll occupy 34.2 percent of the $50,000 budget. We have a two-game sample of him in San Francisco, and we've seen drastic differences in both usage and results. In Week 8 against the Rams, McCaffrey got 26 touches and 27 targets/carries. In Week 10, he got 18 total touches and 20 targets/carries. The difference was the return of Elijah Mitchell ($5,800 DK, $8,500 FD). The Cardinals are essentially a league-average defense against running backs as measured by fantasy points against. DVOA reflects the same. McCaffrey has the obvious potential to be a player required to roster to cash. On the other hand, Mitchell seems to have had a clear impact on McCaffrey's touch upside. I'd be likely to forego McCaffrey at the captain price point on DK, but he's a fine FLEX. He's a strong play on FD. The 49ers have made clear they plan to continue to use Mitchell. In addition to getting 18 carries in his first game back from IR, he saw four inside the 10 and two inside the 5. If Murray is out, it's viable to roster McCaffrey and Mitchell given the likely game script. Mitchell is also a good value play on his own and likely to be strong leverage off McCaffrey in the hopes he finds the end zone at the expense of the higher-usage player.
The story is quite simple in Arizona. With Eno Benjamin out of the picture, James Conner ($8,600 DK, $11,000 FD) is the obvious lead back. He could reasonably account for every carry out of Arizona's backfield. While that's incredible usage, unfortunately the story isn't that simple. Of Conner's 82 rush attempts this season, none has gone for 20 or more yards. He also has decent involvement in the passing game, which balances out some of that lack of explosiveness. As for the matchup, only three running backs have reached double-digit fantasy points against the 49ers this season. Examples of explosive players who have failed against them this season include Austin Ekeler, Javonte Williams and Rashaad Penny. Conner likely will project well due to his volume, but he'll need to score at least once to have a chance to pay off his price. Keaontay Ingram ($2,600 DK, $7,500 FD) is cheap, but barring an injury to Conner, he isn't likely to see more than five touches.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
DeAndre Hopkins ($10,400 DK, $15,000 FD) has seen a 32.9 percent target share since returning from suspension — the top mark in the league. The 49ers are still above-average as a defense against the pass, but not nearly as stingy as they are to running backs. Hopkins is my top captain option even if McCoy is the starter. Marquise Brown is doubtful to play, leaving Rondale Moore ($6,600 DK, $10,500 FD) as the second receiver in Arizona. Moore has benefited from the absence of Brown and has a minimum of at least eight targets but as many as 13 in his last three weeks. He's also a strong play. A.J. Green ($4,800 DK, $7,500 FD) has gotten only sparing usage, and even with the savings he isn't particularly interesting. That's because Trey McBride ($1,000 DK, $7,000 FD) is set to step into a significant role in the offense in Zach Ertz's offense and is the premier punt option of the day.
The 49ers have a trio of strong options to consider. Deebo Samuel ($8,200 DK, $12,000 FD) has the best target share, but Brandon Aiyuk ($7,600 DK, $11,500 FD) has the superior air yards share. Aiyuk is a more natural fit on FD while Samuel is more natural on DK. Aiyuk offers the better point per dollar value on paper, but the matchup suggests this could be a Samuel game thanks to the Cardinals' propensity to give up yards after the catch. Overall, I'd generally lean Samuel, both have no issue playing either.
As for the matchup, the Cardinals are a good pass defense as measured by fantasy points allowed, but are subpar as measured by DVOA. In part, that could be due to the team's struggles to cover the tight end. Arizona is tied with the Seahawks as the worst teams in covering the tight ends in terms of fantasy points allowed. That could mean it's a blowup spot for George Kittle ($7,000 DK, $10,000 FD). The primary problem for Kittle is that his proficiency as a blocker and the 49ers desire to use him in that role. He ranks first among tight ends in total snaps but only fifth in route participation (83.3 percent). That's not a bad mark, but it does highlight some of his risk for lack of volume, which is only heightened due to the likeliest game script. Of the core pass catchers, Green is the only player in whom I don't have much interest.
There are several peripheral pass catchers worth noting, even if not necessarily worth rostering. Jauan Jennings ($4,400 DK, $8,000 FD) has the most significant role of that group, but he's run only 111 routes. Ray-Ray McCloud ($2,200 DK, $6,500 FD) is more appropriately priced as a punt option on both sites. He's racked up seven targets across his last three games, ripping off three catches of 20 or more yards in that span. Robbie Anderson ($4,000 DK, $6,000 FD) has done nothing since joining Arizona, but he has the potential to break the slate open with a long touchdown catch. However, he's run single-digit routes in four of his last five games. Since Greg Dortch ($3,000 DK, $6,500 FD) tallied 20 receptions in Arizona's first three games, he's had five receptions for 23 yards combined across seven games since. Of this group, McCloud would be my top choice as a punt option along with McBride.
Robbie Gould ($4,200 DK, $9,000 FD) has had inconsistent opportunity this season and has made multiple field goals in three of his nine games. He's also missed three field goals and one extra point, looking uncharacteristically inaccurate. With a relatively high implied total for the 49ers, he's worth considering. However, given some of the decent potential punt plays, he might not be necessary.
Matt Prater ($4,000 DK, $8,500 FD) has been even more of a boom-bust option. He has made no field goals in three of his six games this season. In the other three, he's made two field goals on two occasions and four on another. He's an intriguing play based on the theory that Arizona will be able to move the ball at a decent clip, but without Murray, struggle to find the end zone.
Often, the underdog is the more intriguing defense. However, that's not the case in this game. The 49ers ($5,000 DK, $9,500 FD) rank eighth in defensive DVOA and likely will draw a matchup against Colt McCoy. Arizona ranks roughly league average in sack rate allowed, so there aren't major concerns from the matchup except the explosiveness of the wide receiver corps. The price is the major issue with locking in the San Francisco defense — at least on DK.
The Cardinals ($3,400 DK, $9,000 FD) rank 21st in DVOA entering Monday's matchup. Garoppolo has only a 1.5 percent interception rate and has been sacked at a league-average 6.3 percent rate. The biggest problem with Arizona's defense is that San Francisco is likely to go fairly run-heavy — or run their offense through short, quick passes — minimizing the chances for sacks, fumbles and interceptions.