As a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell emerged as one of the biggest fantasy football revelations as a rookie last season. Debuting with a 104-yard performance against the Lions in Week 1, the Louisiana product solidified himself as the top dog in a crowded running back room and could’ve easily blown past 1,000 yards if not for missing six games due to injury.
The secret is out for the second-year playmakers and he enters the season in the top 25 of average draft position among running backs. Can he build on a successful rookie campaign this fall?
2021 season statistics & fantasy finish
Rushing: Mitchell took 207 carries for 963 yards (4.7 ypc) and five touchdowns. He didn’t have a single fumble for the year.
Receiving: He caught 19 of 20 targets for 137 yards and a touchdown.
Fantasy: Mitchell finished the season as the 26th ranked fantasy running back in PPR formats. He compiled 165 points to the tune of 13.8 fantasy point per game.
49ers offseason moves
The most notable change for the 49ers offense stemming from the offseason is the switch from veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to second-year QB Trey Lance. This exact move could be seen coming since the Niners traded up to draft him with the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft and head coach Kyle Shanahan now feels comfortable enough for the rising QB to take over.
As far as the running back room goes, Raheem Mostert departed for the Dolphins in the offseason, leaving just Jeff Wilson to realistically compete with Mitchell for first-team reps.
2022 best case scenario
Mitchell stays healthy and takes a jump into a potential top 10 back in the league. The dynamic 49ers offense has weapons for days and Mitchell could be a centerpiece as the team vies for a return trip to the NFC Championship Game.
2022 worst case scenario
Mitchell gets banged up again and experiences another start-stop season where he’s in and out of the lineup.
I’m inclined to believe that we’ll be talking about Mitchell as one of the league’s best running backs by the time the regular season ends. He should thrive in San Francisco’s offense and won’t have too many issues fighting off Wilson for the RB1 role. He’s RB23 in ADP so far, so you can get really good value for him in your drafts.