Alfred Morris Rumbles in 49ers Debut and Return to Kyle Shanahan's Scheme (Fantasy Football Sleeper) - Roto Street Journal
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Alfred Morris Rumbles in 49ers Debut and Return to Kyle Shanahan’s Scheme (Fantasy Football Sleeper)

Newly acquired Alfred Morris looked like his old bulldozing, workhorse self versus the Colts, taking 17 carries for 84 yards (4.94 YPC) in his first 49ers start. Morris is likely to play behind both Jerick McKinnon and Matt Brieda, who both sat with respective knee and shoulder injuries. Still, he’s dominated in Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme before, and would carries huge upside in the case McKinnon and/or Brieda’s injuries linger.

Moreover, Morris brings a different “power element” to this backfield as compared to the quicker McKinnon and Brieda. He could certainly carve out a short yardage / goalline hammer standalone role, in addition to his value as one of the highest upside handcuffs in the game.

In 2012 as a late-round rookie handpicked by Shanahan, Morris supplanted the nominal starter after a studly preseason. That season, he rumbled for a whopping 335 carries, 1,613 yards, and 13 TDs. This was followed by a less beastly, but still impressive 276 carries, 1,275 yards, and 7 TDs in 2013. Indeed, those are light years ago, but Morris looked plenty fresh in spot-start duty with the Cowboys, ranking No. 7 of 47 RBs in Football Outsiders’ Rushing Success Rate last season, and No. 4 of 53 in PFF’s yards after contact per attempt.

Shanahan, who again isn’t afraid for last-second backfield switches (as Morris himself proved in Washington), was highly complimentary of his new-back’s performance:
“I was real pleased with how Alf ran the ball…We could start seeing it during the week of practice, he was running the ball well and our O-line was blocking well. I was very excited how it carried over to the game… I was real happy with that group as a whole.”

Currently undrafted, Morris’ handcuff value alone makes him worth a late round “Penny Stock” dart throw. With the ability to carve out a standalone short yardage role amidst a crew of smaller backs, combined with his past dominance under Shanahan, the upside is far higher than most would think. Meanwhile, McKinnon’s risk continues growing, as a potential GL Vulture has now emerged behind him, as well as someone capable of shouldering the load if he falters.

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