Fantasy Football: How Marquise Goodwin Could Be Even Better in 2018

In an offense primed for positive regression, Marquise Goodwin has room to improve his fantasy football value.

After starting the 2017 season 1-9, the San Francisco 49ers experienced a resurgent 5-0 finish under Jimmy Garoppolo. Coming over at the trade deadline, Garoppolo ignited the team's receiving corps.

Trent Taylor and Marquise Goodwin both benefited from Jimmy G's play, but Goodwin did so at a much higher level, finishing the year with a career-best 56 receptions for 962 yards and 2 scores (29 catches, 384 yards and 1 touchdown with Garoppolo). However, Pierre Garcon -- who landed on injured reserve after just eight weeks -- will supposedly be ready for training camp, and second-round draft pick Austin Pettis is now in the picture, so it is fair to wonder if Goodwin can hold on to the 49ers' lead receiver role.

If he can hold off his fellow wideouts, what can Goodwin do to improve on his career year?

Goodwin's Offensive Role

Goodwin not only dominated in the counting stats, but he also did so in the eyes of our signature Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which uses historical down-and-distance data to determine what is expected of a player on a per-play basis (you can read more about it in our glossary).

NameTargetsCatchesYardsReceiving NEP per Target

On a per-target basis, Goodwin stood out among his peers.

It should be noted, however, that Garcon played all of his games with Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard at quarterback. During this period of time, Garcon led San Francisco in target share at 21.0 percent, while Goodwin recorded a share of 14.6 percent during the same stretch of season. Garcon also bested Goodwin in receiving yards by a mark of 500 to 349.

While Garcon could walk back into a large target share, which would negatively affect Goodwin, the two receivers play very different roles within the 49ers offense. Head coach Kyle Shanahan recently spoke on the importance of defined roles for wide receivers within an offense, indicating there may not be a true alpha on San Francisco next year.

Within Shanahan's offense, Goodwin occupied a particularly valuable role. Having ran a 4.27 40 and with speed for days, Goodwin played the field-stretcher role last season. Predictably, this led to big plays, evidenced by his team-leading 14.7 average depth of target (aDOT). In comparison, Garcon recorded an aDOT of 9.7, which just goes to show that he was used much closer to the line of scrimmage.

Along with the big plays downfield, Goodwin was featured near the end zone in Shanahan's offense. In the first eight weeks of the season, Goodwin bested Garcon in red zone targets by a count of nine to five. Six of those nine targets came within the 10-yard line and three came inside the 5, while Garcon failed to record a single target inside the 10. Goodwin went on to lead San Francisco with 15 red zone targets with 9 coming inside the 10.

Assuming that Goodwin continues to occupy a field-stretching, red zone role for the 49ers, he remains a solid bet to lead the team's receivers in fantasy points in 2018.

Offensive Regression

Despite Garoppolo's breakout and the Niners' five-game winning streak to end the year, the quarterback managed to throw a mere seven touchdowns during that span. At the same time, he threw for 1,542 yards on 174 passes. To put it another way, his touchdown rate of 4.0% (a touchdown every 24.9 attempts) fell below the league average of 4.2% and was far off the league's top 10 quarterbacks, who all sported a rate of 5.0% or higher.

But this wasn't a Jimmy problem. To zoom out and look big picture, San Francisco as a team experienced a particularly wide gap between passing yards (3,925) and passing touchdowns (15). Overall, their 2.5% touchdown rate through the air ranked dead last, and they were the only team to end the year with fewer than 21 scores after tallying up at least 3,500 passing yards.

We know Shanahan's offensive reputation, so this isn't about the offense's inability to move the ball. If Garoppolo can build on a promising 2017, touchdown regression should hit the entire 49ers team, creating room for an improvement in the fantasy outlook of all players, including Goodwin, who we project for nearly five touchdowns this season.


With Taylor and Pettis set up to play complementary roles in San Francisco, Goodwin and Garcon will likely compete for the 49ers' top receiver position. Even if Shanahan's offenses do not require the presence of an alpha-dog, Goodwin's role as a field-stretcher and red zone target make his role very valuable within the 49ers offense.

To further Goodwin's case, the front office showed confidence in him by signing him to a three-year, $19.25 million dollar contract with $10.65 guaranteed.

Goodwin is obviously part of their plans, and with the Niners' offense likely to regress in a positive way the speedy receiver provides supreme value in the late eighth round of 12-team fantasy drafts (standard scoring). If him and Jimmy G continue what they started, we'll be talking about another career season this time next year.