Few players failed to live up to their offseason hype more than Dante Pettis in 2019. After an impressive finish to his rookie season, the fantasy community largely predicted a breakout campaign. However, that breakout never came, as Pettis fell down San Francisco’s depth chart while recording just 11 receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
Fortunately, there were some warning signs before the start of the regular season. Pettis struggled in the preseason and spent most of his time with the backups, so his ADP plummeted for those drafting closer to the start of the regular season. Pettis is going undrafted in just about every fantasy draft right now, but is he worth a late-round flier with San Francisco’s receiving core banged up?
2020 Fantasy Football: Dante Pettis and the Post-Hype Sleeper
Justifying the Hype
Before we get into his 2020 outlook, it’s important to look back and realize why the fantasy community was so enamored with Pettis in the first place. Pettis finished his rookie season with 27 receptions for 467 yards and five touchdowns, which doesn’t look too impressive on the surface. However, a deeper dive shows that there was sound reason to expect a Year 2 leap.
Pettis started the 2018 campaign as an afterthought, but earned a starting job down the stretch. From Weeks 12 to 15, Pettis played in 85-92% of the snaps while averaging 4.3 receptions, 84.5 yards, and one touchdown on 6.5 targets per game. He was the WR8 over this stretch and genuinely looked like he could be a long-term fixture at the position.
Four weeks was an admittedly small sample, but that wasn’t the only reason to expect a breakout. The 49ers selected Pettis early in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, so they clearly believed in his talent. Additionally, Pettis was a 55th percentile college dominator and finished in the 79th percentile for college target share. While these numbers aren’t elite, they certainly imply that he has what it takes to make it in the NFL.
We know that Dante Pettis has the ability to have success in the NFL, even if it’s in a small sample. Additionally, this is still the same front office that liked him enough to take him in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. A breakout is theoretically still possible, but Pettis would need to have the opportunity fall into his lap.
Fortunately, that appears to be happening. The team never replaced the departed Emmanuel Sanders, and the rest of the depth chart is falling apart. 2019 breakout sensation Deebo Samuel suffered an offseason foot injury and might not be ready for the start of the regular season. Even if he is, he’ll probably need some time before he’s back to his old self.
First-round pick Brandon Aiyuk suffered a hamstring injury, and Jalen Hurd tore his ACL. Aiyuk might be ready for the start of the season, but it’s going to be hard for an injured rookie to contribute right out of the gate in this shortened offseason. Right now, things are so bad that the 49ers are working out Kevin White.
George Kittle will always be the top option in the passing attack, but the battle for the second spot is completely up in the air. Right now, Kendrick Bourne is reportedly the top receiver on the depth chart, and you should probably target him if you’re looking at anyone in this offense. However, someone in your league might draft Bourne before the final round. Pettis is essentially free in all formats, and is especially worth a late-round pick in dynasty startups. He probably won’t pan out, but he’s only 24 and has tons of opportunity in front of him. At his current ADP, he’s well worth the risk.
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