• Matt Woolsey

Victory in a Land Called Fantasy: Is the 49ers Defense Becoming a Viable Start?

Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann

Last season the 49ers were dead last in turnovers and ranked number 25 in sacking the quarterback. If you were ranking total points and total yards allowed with the worst defense being number one; the 49ers were fifth in points and twentieth in yards. To say they had a bad defense last season is putting it mildly; they were a terrible defense.

When talking fantasy, they weren’t much better. Five times they were a top 10 fantasy defense. Over the entire season they were ranked 31st, only Oakland was a worst fantasy defense. But I remember a wise monkey once told Simba, “Asante sana squash banana!” Nope that’s not it. “It doesn't matter, it's in the past.” That’s the one. That was the 2018 49ers defense, how about the 2019 49ers defense for fantasy?

Since the 49ers were on a bye in Week 4, I decided to only track the first three weeks. They are currently third in the NFL when you take out Week 4. However, that number is slightly skewed because they had the number one defense in Week 1 thanks to a couple pick-sixes. In Weeks 2 and 3 they were twelfth and sixteenth respectively. Not exactly what you are hoping for out of your fantasy defense. On the field they are playing great, but that doesn’t always translate into fantasy points.

In Week 5 they are taking on the Browns, a Monday night game from Santa Clara. Unlike the Titans in Week 1, who were actually tied with the 49ers in fantasy points, the Jets’ and Rams’ defenses in Week 2 and Week 3 did not score a lot of fantasy points against the Browns. One could argue those defenses may not be the same caliber as the 49ers defense. But I don’t think the 49ers have seen an offense in the first few weeks with as many weapons as that the Browns’.

I am still not completely convinced that 49ers are a start-worthy defense in fantasy football yet. Especially with Ahkello Witherspoon out for a few more weeks, the back end of the defense is going to have its hands full with Jarvis Landry and some guy named OBJ (maybe you’ve heard of him). But I would keep an eye on them. They have already equaled the same number of turnovers as last season. The sacks are starting to pile up, and they are getting to the quarterback more, which could create more turnovers and hopefully more defensive scores.

The same monkey once said, “The past can hurt, but the way I see it you can either run from it or learn from it.” On the field the 49ers seem to be learning from their past mistakes, so maybe that will translate to fantasy football soon.

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