#49ers big free agent pickup and starting RB Jerick McKinnon suffered a torn ACL today, source said. His season is over.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 1, 2018
It’s a devastating blow to the 49ers offense, leaving the running back depth chart seemingly barren. There’s a good chance they are active on the waiver wire after cut down day, but you wouldn’t think things looked all that promising with Alfred Morris now expected to operate as the early down option and Matt Breida being the third down type. The fact is, the outlook may actually not be as bad as you’d have thought.
Morris is 29-years old, but he doesn’t have the typical wear and tear as he’s been used sparingly while a member of the Cowboys the past two seasons. When he did get on the field in ’17 he took 115 carries for 547 yards, averaging 4.8 yards/carry. That’s a strong number, and while he may not be able to replicate it over a full workload it shows that he still has plenty left in the tank (and he continued to show that with a strong preseason).
That said, fantasy owners also shouldn’t underestimate the potential of Breida. He showed what he could do as a rookie last season, both running and catching the football:
- Rushing – 105 carries for 465 yards (4.4 yards/carry) and 2 TD
- Receiving – 21 receptions for 180 yards and 1 TD
Maybe he’s penciled in as the third down type back initially, but it’s easy to envision him rising into at least a share of the early down work. It’s not going to happen early on after he missed a bit of time with a shoulder injury. That will likely force the 49ers to ease him into the offense, and the team could easily decide to lean on Jimmy Garoppolo and the passing game (limiting the rushing attack).
At the end of the day both are must grabs due to this news. Long-term we’d rather own Breida, who has the higher upside and has far more miles left in the tank. If you need a fill in for the first half of the season Morris is going to be the preferred option, but by the fantasy playoffs Breida could be the better option. Keep that in mind when prioritizing your pickups and base it on your roster/outlook.
If you haven’t drafted yet, consider Morris in the Adrian Peterson range (he was #27 on our last running back rankings) and Breida a viable late round flier.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 preseason rankings: