Jimmy Garoppolo…a top 10 fantasy QB?

I have been hearing lots of negative opinions about Jimmy Garoppolo all offseason. I am here to tell you that these statements are all but factual and how Jimmy Garoppolo could finally gain the respect he deserves and become a fantasy worthy QB. 

In the beginning of the 2018 season, Jimmy Garoppolo suffered an ACL injury that kept him out from the remainder of the season. In 2019, when Jimmy Garoppolo returned, Shanahan wanted to ease him into the role and thus encouraged running the football. To his surprise the Niners running backs, Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert made the most of it and averaged 4.0 and 5.6 yards a carry respectively. The success of running the football allowed Garoppolo to limit his passes and protect his leg while the Niners won games. There were some games where Garoppolo was forced to pass, including weeks 9 and 11 against the Cardinals, week 14 against the Saints, and week 17 against the Seahawks. In those 4 games he averaged a QBR of 125.7, 344 pass yards, and 24.6 PPG. These games also came at the tail end of the season, where Garoppolo stated he became more comfortable throwing with his knee brace. In a recent interview, he explained his knee felt miles ahead of last year. With a healthier leg, a revamped offense, and a defense set for regression, Garoppolo has a chance at finishing as a top 10 fantasy QB in 2020.

  1. Kyle Shanahan

Kyle Shanahan is known around the league for his ingenuity and successful offenses. Shanahan was the OC for the Falcons in 2016, the year Matt Ryan won MVP. In 2016, Ryan threw for 4944 yards and averaged 9.3 yards a pass. After that season, Shanahan left the Falcons and Ryan fell off in his production. While Matt Ryan is a solid quarterback, Shanahan was able to elevate him to an MVP level. Shanahan traded for Garoppolo specifically and has been set on making him the franchise quarterback. Shanahan has designed his plays specifically for Garoppolo to succeed. Coming out of college, one of Garoppolo’s strengths was his quick release and ability to disguise the play action. In 2019 Jimmy Garoppolo ranked 9th in the league using play action passes with 10.1 YPA. The offense is also built around the hard-running Kittle and Deebo Samuels, who are known for their ability to gain YAC, further increasing the potential of huge passing plays. Shanahan’s scheme made Nick Mullens and CJ Beathard look like capable quarterbacks, and should set Jimmy up for success once more next season.

  1. Receiving Talent 

The Niners have arguably the best tight end in the league, George Kittle. Along with Kittle, the Niners receiver core is filled with young talent that includes Deebo Samuel (second year), Brandon Aiyuk (rookie) and Kendrick Bourne (fourth season). Along with the starters they have depth with Trent Taylor, Jalen Hurd and Dante Pettis. Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t given great receiver talent in 2019 until the signing of Sanders late in the season when he started to break out. However, during this offseason Jimmy has been working continuously with Bourne and building up chemistry. Bourne had five touchdowns in 2019 and was the so-called “big receiver” for Garoppolo. Jalen Hurd had a great college career and a great preseason with the Niners in 2019 until his season-ending injury. Trent Taylor and Dante Pettis looked like the upcoming WR1s for the Niners in 2018 until Taylor was injured and Pettis was outed by Shanahan for “attitude issues”. With all these receivers returning healthy and the chemistry with Garoppolo being better than ever, expect their numbers to go up. The Niners also recently acquired Wes Welker as their receiver coach who was the Texans WR coach in 2018 and that year Deandre Hopkins hit career highs in receptions and yards. 

  1. Defense Primed for Regression 

The Niner’s incredible defense last year is what helped catapult them to the Super Bowl. However, as history has proven it is nearly impossible to be historically good year after year. With the trade of DT Deforest Buckner and the increasing age of Richard Sherman, the Niner’s defense has a couple weak areas. With the offensive powerhouses they face, it is very likely that the team is forced to pass more than the 28.2 attempts per game last year (2nd lowest in the NFL). If the Niners are forced to pass amongst the league average, they would increase their pass attempts by 28% per game. If Garoppolo maintained a 28% increase in PPG, he would have finished at QB 6 last year. Obviously predicting that dramatic of an increase in points is unlikely, but it is very safe to say the Niners will be forced to pass more than last season, increasing Jimmy’s fantasy value.

  1. Easy passing schedule 

This one is simple. According to PFF Jimmy Garoppolo has one of the most favorable schedules for a QB. In the first 5 games, Garoppolo goes against the Cardinals (28th best pass defense), Giants (29th), Eagles (24th) and Dolphins (30th). He should get off to a very hot start, which could also give him good trade value leading up to the deadline. At the very least you should draft Garoppolo with a late round pick in hopes of adding him to a trade package to a team with a struggling QB early on. 

  1. Shootout divisional games 

The NF-C West is the debatably the best division in the league. This division has the Niners, Seahawks, Rams and Cardinals, which all consist of top-12 offenses. I could see three teams making the playoffs from this division. This means that the six divisional games are going to be hard-fought, competitive shootouts. In 2019 Jimmy Garoppolo’s best games were against the Cardinals and Seahawks where he couldn’t rely on the run game to carry the offense. With the addition of DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals and the continued development of DK Metcalf on the Seahawks, the divisional games should be high scoring affairs, pushing Jimmy to a high fantasy finish.

With the combination of the Niner’s easy schedule, strong division, and Shanahan’s stacked offense, there are no obstacles to Garoppolo’s success. With a fully healed knee and his first year of starting complete, we can finally see his full potential. Whether you are looking for a cheap starting quarterback or a possible trade chip for the middle of the season, Jimmy is a solid option. 

Have a different opinion? Let us know in the comments!


Author: Hamza Naqvi

College Graduate. Football Analyst.

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