Richie James will compete for a role as a reserve receiver with San Francisco this season, but he has minimal Fantasy value in most leagues. The 49ers have a crowded receiving corps with Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, Deebo Samuel, Jalen Hurd, Jordan Matthews, Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor, along with George Kittle at tight end. James will likely have a hard time jumping over most of those guys on the depth chart, but keep an eye on his role in training camp. He's not worth drafting in most formats.
James caught six of seven targets for 31 yards in Saturday's preseason opener against the Cowboys. James led all 49er receivers in targets and receptions, but he was unable to do much with the opportunities. The 23-year-old has an uphill battle if he wants to carve out a role on offense this season after the club used two high draft picks on wideouts. James may have caught a break after projected starting slot receiver Trent Taylor needed to undergo surgery to his foot this weekend. If the latter heals up before the regular season, then James' best shot to make the 53-man roster will be on special teams.
James was outplayed by Trent Taylor during the offseason program, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. With the 49ers using draft picks on Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, it's hard to see how they'd make space for both James and Taylor on the 53-man roster. There's even a chance both undersized wide receivers might be cut, as the team also boasts two veteran wide receivers -- Kendrick Bourne and Jordan Matthews -- with experience playing from the slot. It sounds like James will need a big summer to stick around on the Week 1 roster, though he might be able to earn a spot strictly on the basis of his work as a return specialist.
James had three catches (five targets) for 32 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 48-32 loss to the Rams. James was granted the first start of his career on the last game of the season with Marquise Goodwin (calf) missing the contest and both Pierre Garcon (knee) and Dante Pettis (knee) on injured reserve. The seventh-round pick made the most of his opportunity, playing on every offensive snap (58) and catching his first touchdown pass. James spent most of the year limited to return duties, so it shouldn't be surprising that he finished the season with just nine catches for 130 yards. The biggest takeaway from the rookie's campaign was that he clearly usurped Trent Taylor on the depth chart down the stretch, putting him in a favorable spot to make the team next year in a similar return/reserve wideout role.
James caught his lone target for four yards in Sunday's 14-9 loss to Chicago. James recorded his first catch in four weeks, due in large part to Dante Pettis (knee) going down in the first half. The rookie still saw little usage on offense, but he could vault up to third on the depth chart against the Rams on Sunday if Marquise Goodwin (Achilles) joins Pettis on the sideline. If that happens, the 49ers will likely add a receiver or two from off the current 53-man roster, but James figures to start ahead of whoever joins the squad.
James was not targeted in Sunday's win over Denver, and he muffed a punt return for the second consecutive week. James' inability to secure the ball on punt returns over the past two weeks caused him to be removed from the role mid-game in favor of Trent Taylor. The latter also occupied the rookie's role as fourth wideout on offense, eliminating whatever marginal fantasy value he had developed while filling in for injured starters. With the 49ers' receiving corps getting healthier with each passing week, James can be safely be left out of the fantasy conversation.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/08||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||28||25.00|
|6||10/13||@Los Angeles Rams||19||22.05|
|12||11/24||Green Bay Packers||26||24.75|
|14||12/08||@New Orleans Saints||31||26.67|
|16||12/22||Los Angeles Rams||19||22.05|
|3 Year Avg||14||9||130||1||4||14.44||17|