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Fantasy football: Jeff Wilson the best of a 49ers’ running back glut

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Fantasy football: Jeff Wilson the best of a 49ers’ running back glut

How much is enough running back depth? In real-life NFL football or fantasy?

You know who probably will admit not having an answer? The San Francisco 49ers.

Everyone they send out to play the position tends to suffer some type of calamity. It is one of the most dangerous jobs in America.

First, Raheem Mostert went down, as he often does. He suffered a knee injury in Week 1, had surgery in October and has been announced as out for the year. The presumed backup was third-round rookie Trey Sermon. But some preseason boo-boos and poor performance knocked him down the depth chart, leaving the job to sixth-round rookie Elijah Mitchell.

Then Mitchell encountered his own issues. He missed Weeks 3-4 with a shoulder problem, then was out Week 11 with a broken finger. Now, he is likely to miss Sunday’s Week 14 game with a concussion and knee issue.

Sermon had been a spotty fill-in when Mitchell was out, but now he is on the IR with an ankle injury. Jeff Wilson Jr. was out much of the early season, but he returned in Week 10 and got 19 carries when Mitchell was out in Week 11. He has been dealing with a knee issue, but has been removed from the injury report.

Trenton Cannon is around, but he has zero touches since Week 2 and is dealing with a concussion. That leaves JaMychal Hasty as the only other traditional option beyond Wilson — if Mitchell sits out, as expected. The other wild card is fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who seems like the only one consistently on the field, even if he isn’t consistently used as a runner or receiver.

Jeff Wilson Jr. #22 of the San Francisco 49ers
Jeff Wilson Jr. is our pick out of the bevy of 49ers running backs for fantasy football purposes.
Getty Images

So let’s assume that Mitchell does not play and the others do. Regardless of which other Niners running backs are active, we like Wilson the best among them. He has some role in the passing game, though not large, and is the most likely of the bunch to get any goal-line carries. In the Week 11 game when Wilson took the lead, Sermon still got 10 carries, or about a third of the work. So we should expect others to be a part of the game plan.

If Cannon and Hasty play, we think the majority of passing-down work would go to Hasty. That isn’t a huge role, however, and Cannon likely would get enough to undermine any seasonal value for Hasty, even in PPR formats. If Cannon is out, Hasty would be a slightly less desperate option.

Juszczyk’s value doesn’t change. He is not going to be the lead back. He is not going to be heavily involved in either the run or pass game, though might get a touch or two on either front. But he is a threat to score a touchdown, putting him on the DFS radar as a cheap punt option.

That’s your 49ers’ running back situation in all its glory. It isn’t exactly a beacon of hope, but Wilson provides a sliver of light.


Big Weeks

Derek Carr QB, Raiders, at Chiefs (FD $7,200/DK $5,900)

The Chiefs’ defense has been playing better of late, but one of the two quarterbacks to post two passing TDs vs. K.C. since Week 5 is Carr in Week 10. And we expect the Raiders to have more offensive success the second time around.

Rex Burkhead RB, Texans (FD $5,300/DK $4,600)

David Johnson looks like a shell of himself, and at least Burkhead has a subtle bit of pop. Burkhead has out-touched and outperformed Johnson the past two games both played.

Rex Burkhead #28 of the Houston Texans rushes
Rex Burkhead
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Mike Williams WR, Chargers, vs. Giants (FD $6,900/DK $6,000)

With Keenan Allen out, we’re willing to overlook Williams’ seven-week slump, only kept afloat in two of the past three weeks by a pair of isolated long plays.

Austin Hooper TE, Browns, vs. Ravens (FD $5,000/DK $3,400)

David Njoku is on the reserve/COVID list. If he is activated Saturday, it would be after a week of not practicing, which means Hooper could get additional snaps. If Njoku doesn’t play, it puts Hooper on the radar for back-end tight-end options.

Small weaks

Javonte Williams RB, Broncos (FD $6,700/DK $5,900)

Wouldn’t it be great if Williams had a backfield to himself? Alas, Melvin Gordon is still around, though he is listed as questionable and been practicing in a limited fashion this week while dealing with hip and shoulder problems. We wouldn’t expect a repeat of last week’s explosion either way.

Chuba Hubbard RB, Panthers, vs. Falcons (FD $6,500/DK $5,900)

Since Week 9, Ameer Abdullah has repeatedly gotten more work than Hubbard — though that was with Christian McCaffrey playing. But don’t expect Hubbard to dominate the fill-in duty as he did earlier this season. Expect a committee.

Chase Edmonds RB, Cardinals, vs. Rams (FD $5,500/DK $4,500)

Edmonds could see his first action since Week 9, after an ankle injury. Would sit on him for a week. James Conner has been productive enough that the Cardinals shouldn’t feel the need to force-feed Edmonds immediately.

Marquise Brown WR, Ravens (FD $7,000/DK $6,300)

He yardage has taken a nosedive the past three games despite ongoing steady targets (4.8 per target). Went just 8-for-51 on 10 targets two weeks ago – in the Browns’ most recent game.


Fantasy Insanity Daily Duel

Site: DraftKings

Slate: Sun. main (11 games)

Type: $12 tourney

Top prize: $25K

Pot: $205K

DREW’S CREW

QB – Taylor Heinicke (Was, vs. Dal) $5,500

RB – Leonard Fournette (TB, vs. Buf) $7,400

RB – JaMycal Hasty (SF, at Cin) $4,000

WR – Stefon Diggs (Buf, at TB) $ 8,100

WR – CeeDee Lamb (Dal, at Was) $7,200

WR – Terry McLaurin (Was, vs. Dal), $7,000

TE – Austin Hooper (Cle, vs. Bal) $3,400

Flex – Rex Burkhead (Hou, vs. Sea) $4,600

DST – Panthers (Car, vs. Atl) $2,800

WILK’S WARRIORS

QB – Dak Prescott (Dal, at Was) $6,700

RB – Cordarrelle Patterson (Atl, at Car) $6,900

RB – JaMycal Hasty (SF, at Cin) $4,000

WR – Russell Gage (Atl, at Car) $ 5,700

WR – CeeDee Lamb (Dal, at Was) $7,200

WR – Jarvis Landry (Cle, vs. Bal), $5,400

TE – Gerald Everett (Sea, at Hou) $3,500

Flex – DJ Moore (Car, vs Atl) $6,200

DST – Chargers (LAC, vs. NYG) $4,300

Season risked: $101

Season winnings: Jarad $40, Drew $15

Check @NYPost_Loftis and @NYPost_Roto for any lineup updates before Sunday kickoff.

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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