Raheem Mostert’s Fantasy Football Expectations Should Be Kept in Check
Despite limited playing time in 2019, Mostert was dominant and he surged for fantasy owners just in time for the fantasy playoffs. According to BestBalls10s, Mostert has an average draft position (ADP) of 57.57 since the beginning of June. He is being taken as the 27th running back in drafts.
Let’s see if there is room for Mostert to outperform his ADP.
While Mostert played all 16 games in 2019, the catch is he was the starter in a whopping zero games. Nonetheless, he finished the season as the 20th ranked running back on only 151 total touches in standard scoring leagues, according to Fantasydata. He recorded at least 10 touches in only seven games, showing how criminally underused he was, particularly between Weeks 4-11.
Mostert finished the 2019 season with 772 rushing yards and 8 rushing touchdowns on 137 carries. Additionally, he recorded 14 receptions for 180 receiving yards and 2 receiving touchdowns. The lack of receiving work diminished his value in PPR leagues, but his touchdown output in the final five weeks of the season bolstered his value in standard leagues.
Efficiency was crucial to Mostert’s success in limited action and that is shown in his advanced metrics. He averaged 5.64 yards per carry and a rushing touchdown every 17.1 carries -- which would be RB1 numbers if his workload was extrapolated.
Among running backs with at least 130 carries last season, Mostert ranked 1st in Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry, 6th in Rushing NEP, and 10th in Rushing Success Rate (read more about these terms in our Glossary). Plus, he recorded a 3rd ranked Production Premium (plus 35.6) according to PlayerProfiler.
Even though the receiving sample size is small, Mostert was also extremely efficient through the air. Among running backs with at least 20 targets, he ranked 1st in Reception NEP per Reception, 2nd in Reception Success Rate, and 2nd in Reception NEP per Target.
It also helps that the game script typically favored the 49ers throughout the season, as Mostert rarely faced stacked fronts on his carries (32.1%), and the offensive line ranked 8th in the league according to Football Outsiders. Not to mention George Kittle is an elite blocking tight end.
Again, while the sample size is small and involves extrapolation, these numbers are RB1 quality at a high-end RB3 price tag. While there is room for regression, it seems like an amazing value given increased opportunities. Let’s discuss if Shanahan’s scheme will allow for Mostert to receive the touches necessary to outperform in 2020.
It’s no secret that Kyle Shanahan’s system is most effective when he has a dynamic backfield. During his time as an offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, he had Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman propelling the offense to the Super Bowl in the 2016 season. Similarly, the mix of Matt Breida, Coleman, and Mostert was clearly successful in taking San Francisco to the Super Bowl in 2019. It’s not a coincidence that Shanahan’s most successful seasons have had a backfield by committee and his least successful seasons have had a featured back.
San Francisco was the second leading rushing team in the league (498 rushing plays) yet did not have a player record over 140 carries. Yes, I understand Breida was just traded to the Miami Dolphins during the draft and this vacates 137 carries, which is undoubtedly, a boost to both Coleman and Mostert’s outlook. But there is a new threat emerging in 2020…Jerick McKinnon.
I get it. McKinnon has not played in two seasons after a brutal injury during the offseason he signed a huge contract to be the workhorse back in San Francisco and most readers probably forgot he existed until reading this article. The news coming out from his trainers, and even Mostert himself, is that he is in the best shape of his career and he is going to surprise in 2020.
The point is, it's a risky game to assume the bulk of the workload is destined to fall into Mostert’s hands. Shanahan is equipped with the deepest backfield in the league and history shows he is not afraid to utilize it.
numberFire’s models project Mostert will finish with 908.75 rushing yards and 7.90 rushing touchdowns on 204.60 carries, along with 202.45 receiving yards and 1.25 receiving touchdowns on 25.47 receptions. These projections have him finishing as the RB24, in line with his current ADP.
There is no doubt Mostert will provide tons of value and some upside to fantasy owners this season. He is expected to be a consistent producer that will be a strong pickup in redraft leagues, but his outlook is clouded due to the depth of the committee in San Francisco. At this ADP, there is a major risk in all the available running back options, and Mostert may be the safest choice. He comes with a solid floor and potentially, a high-ceiling, which is extremely attractive for a possible RB3 on your roster.