Heading into the 2013 NFL Season the San Francisco 49ers offer a number of options for those who are playing fantasy football. Depending on the league settings, how deep the rosters are or if there’s a spot to put a player on injured reserved, wide receiver Michael Crabtree is a player to avoid as he’ll be out for much of the season after tearing his achilles during organized team activities in May.
Last season the 49ers no.1 receiver caught 85 passes for 1,105 yards, with a long reception of 49, averaged 13 yards per reception and had nine touchdown receptions. With Crabtree out of the lineup it means other players will get more opportunities to produce, so here’s a look at the top five fantasy football options in no particular order for the upcoming season excluding defensive players.
Before getting to the top five, here’s a look at three options to use if in a deeper league or if return yards have importance.
1. Kendall Hunter, RB
Hunter is back from his injury and will get a number of opportunities to run the football. Before his season ended due to injury he ran for 371 yards on 72 attempts good for an average of 5.2 yards per carry, had a long of 26 and scored two touchdowns.
Expect from him in 2013 115-130 carries, 500-550 yards and five or more touchdowns.
2. Quinton Patton, WR
The fourth round pick out of Louisiana Tech will get the ability to make an immediate impact with the team as the 49ers have two receivers coming back from serious injuries suffered last season in Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams, Lavelle Hawkins and Austin Collie got added for depth and the 2012 first round pick A.J. Jenkins got traded for another receiver Jon Baldwin recently. So, Patton will get his chance to prove himself and he most likely will.
For 2013 expect 40-50 receptions, 600-700 yards receiving and five or more touchdowns making him a dark horse candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
3. LaMichael James
Picked in the second round of the 2012 draft, James didn’t get much opportunities until late in the season and in 2013 he’ll primarily get used as the kick returner and with his explosive speed he’s definitely worth looking at if the league rewards for return yardage.
He did also suffer an injury recently and is out for the next couple of weeks, which means it’s just better to pick him up as a free agent then to use a roster space for him at this time.
The top 5:
1. Frank Gore, RB
With plenty of depth at the running back position Gore had his best season since 2006 and that was the season when he carried the ball 312 times, ran for 1,695 yards, averaged 5.4 yards per carry and scored eight touchdowns. In 2012 he had 24 less carries than he did in 2011 and that’s due to having depth at running back, which keeps Gore fresh and as a result his yards per carry average went from 4.3 yards to 4.7 yards.
For 2013 expect around 240-260 carries, 1,200 yards, eight or more touchdowns and anywhere between 4.5-4.9 yards per carry. The one drawback with the 49ers offensive philosophy is that Gore isn’t used as much in the passing game as he once was.
2. Anquan Boldin, WR
Since Crabtree is out, Boldin becomes the top receiving threat for the 49ers. For the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 he caught 65 passes for 921 yards, averaged 14.2 yards per reception, had a long of 45 and four touchdowns. Made his mark in the playoffs with 22 receptions, 380 yards, a 17.3 yards per reception average, long of 50 and four touchdowns.
In 2013 expect 70-80 receptions, over 1,000 yards receiving, an average of 14-15 yards per reception and seven or more touchdowns.
3. Vernon Davis, TE
Last season Davis got targeted only 61 times and as a result had his worst yardage totals since 2007 and his role will expand in the offense as he did line up at wide receiver in training camp. He did also have another great performance in the playoffs catching 12 passes for 254 yards, averaged 21.2 yards per reception, had a long of 44 and a touchdown reception.
Expect from him 60-70 receptions, 800-1,000 yards and eight or more touchdowns.
4. Phil Dawson, K
During the 2011 season the 49ers struggled scoring touchdowns and as a result kicker David Akers set a NFL record for field goal makes. A year though he struggled mightily, leading to his release. Taking over the role is Dawson a former Cleveland Brown.
The 49ers even in 2012 still have issues with play calling in the red zone as shown by the playcalling in the closing seconds of the Super Bowl against the Ravens, which means Dawson will get opportunities to put the football through the uprights. Expect between 33-36 field goal makes and 38-42 attempts.
5. Colin Kaepenick, QB
Kaepernick impressed after taking over the starting quarterback role over Alex Smith, which meant Smith could get moved and has now found a home with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The 49ers use the option, so if teams gear up for Gore to run the football, Kaepernick can keep it himself or he may decide to throw as illustrated by his performance against the Green Bay Packers. He set a NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game whether postseason or regular season with 181 and that was on 16 attempts. He also completed 17 passes on 31 attempts for 263 yards, with a long of 45 and threw two touchdowns and one interception.
Gore also got the chance to run as he carried the ball Gore he carried the ball 23 times for 119 yards to go along with a touchdown and a long of 33.
With a full season expect Kaepernick to throw anywhere from 3700-3900 yards, run for 500 or more yards, throw for 25-28 touchdowns and complete 62-64 percent of his passes.