By Skip Charles in Vegas
The WFT has won two straight, knocking off an undefeated Steelers team in Week 13.
A lot gets made of their defensive front and all its first-round talent, but it’s a group that is deserving of high recognition.
They completely shut down the Steelers on the ground to the tune of 21 yards on 14 attempts, and there was absolutely nowhere to run. Pittsburgh finished the game with -7 rushing yards before contact. The Football Team also picked up more total pressure on Ben Roethlisberger than any team this season despite his quick release, along with getting in the passing lanes to bat several passes.
The run game component will be more difficult to replicate in this matchup against the 49ers, but they should have plenty of opportunities to get after Nick Mullens and force him into several mistakes. In the late-season battleground that the NFC East has turned into, Washington’s defense gives the team as good of a shot as any at returning to the postseason.
The opening -4.5 spread quickly disappeared after both teams’ Monday night performance. The market has paused at 3.5, but added juice to Washington indicates that a move to 3 is likely coming. Our cash and ticket percentages lean slightly toward the 49ers on the spread, but a heavy percentage of the moneyline has backed Washington.
Alex Smith has a much better PFF passing grade in this matchup, despite Washington still not generating a positive EPA on either pass or rush attempts. Our model lean is still solidly in their direction at the 3.5 point spread, but this is a situation that needs to be acted on quickly. A move to -3 could easily dissipate the value that currently exists in this market.
This is a matchup between two teams within the top eight of PFF defense grade and two average at best offenses.
The run games for both teams should definitely be avoided. The 49ers are finally healthy at running back, leaving them with a four-person committee. None of the backs played over 50% of snaps last week, and it’s possible that Tevin Coleman plays more than four snaps in his second game back.
Antonio Gibson injured his toe during their Monday Night Football game. If he’s out, Peyton Barber will be given more ciarres, while J.D. McKissic will see more targets. The 49ers, like the Football Team, are top-six in preventing fantasy points to running backs.
Terry McLaurin is the only player for Washington worth trusting in this matchup despite his poor numbers in his last game. McLaurin caught two of six passes thrown his way for 14 yards. Luckily, he gets to play a 49ers defense that just gave up 375 passing yards to Josh Allen. His top-four receivers were all wide receivers, so McLaurin should be just fine. It’s possible another wide receiver plays well, but Washington rotates through a few different players so any one of them could step up.
Jordan Reed should have TE1 upside in this matchup for the 49ers in his revenge game. The Football Team has allowed 90 yards or more to tight ends twice and allowed 68 yards to Eric Ebron in their last game. Reed is a top-five tight end by PFF receiving grade, and he’s consistently running 25 routes each game. Washington has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers but has been average against tight ends. It will be difficult for Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel to play better than average, but not for Reed.