Ranking the 5 Best Fantasy Football Options in the Bay Area

Steve Maze@N/ACorrespondent IIJuly 24, 2012

Ranking the 5 Best Fantasy Football Options in the Bay Area

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    The Bay Area, though not host to names such as Arian Foster or Ray Rice, still has plenty to offer fantasy football owners once drafts commence.

    With both the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers set to make playoff runs, their rosters are assured to be competitive for all 16 games—music to the ears of fantasy owners.

    That all said, the following are the top five Bay Area fantasy football options this upcoming season.

5. 49ers Defense/Special Teams

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    Yes, we are starting this list off with a defense/special teams selection, which speaks volumes to how weak the 49ers' and Raiders' offenses are projected to be, as well as how strong the 49ers' defense is supposed to be.

    The 49ers were one of the league's toughest defense's to score on in 2011, and their special teams production was strong—minus the Kyle Williams gaffe.

    Ted Ginn Jr. is as explosive as any returner in the league and is capable of stepping up in big moments, as evidenced by his Week 1 performance last season.

    As per usual, when drafting the defense/special teams combo, wait till the end—any double-digit round is acceptable.

4. Darrius Heyward-Bey

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    2011 Stats: 64 receptions, 975 yards, four touchdowns.

    Heyward-Bay is out to prove his 2011 season was no fluke, and he should have the opportunity to do so after a full offseason to work with quarterback Carson Palmer.

    As one of the surprises in 2011, Heyward-Bey finished the season exceptionally strong. Three of his four touchdowns came in the final five games, including a nine-catch day in Week 17.

    As a No. 1 receiver and likely Palmer's best option, Heyward-Bey is extremely underrated fantasy-wise. Spending a seventh- or eighth-round pick on him could turn out to be the steal of the draft.

3. Vernon Davis

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    2011 Stats: 67 receptions, 792 yards, six touchdowns.

    If the 2011 playoffs were any indication of how Davis will perform in 2012, he is worthy of a fifth- or sixth-round draft pick.

    With tight ends being the new fad in high draft picks in the form of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, Davis will have good value midway through the draft.

    Davis may also benefit from a recent strengthening of the 49ers' receiving corps. Mario Manningham and Randy Moss will open more space over the middle for Davis to operate and increase his effectiveness.

    Davis is also extremely durable, as he has played in all 16 games the past four seasons.

2. Frank Gore

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    2011 Stats: 282 carries, 1211 yards, eight touchdowns.

    While no longer being one of the league's top backs, Gore is still a starting running back who can produce strong numbers and, thus, should not fall further than the fifth round.

    The concern for fantasy owners with Gore has always been health as last season was only the second time in his seven-year career he played 16 games.

    That said, Gore is a durable back and has rushed for over 1,000 yards five of the last six seasons. While his touchdown numbers have never been record-breaking, his production has been consistent, making him the ideal No. 2 running back for any fantasy team.

1. Darren McFadden

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    2011 Stats: 113 carries, 614 yards, four touchdowns.

    McFadden, when healthy, is still the top fantasy producer in the Bay Area, hands down.

    His ability to both carry for yards and finish at the goal line will make him a popular pick in the late first round and early second round.

    Despite missing time last season because of a foot injury, his youth should relieve fantasy owners' health concerns.  

    The identities of both teams seems rather clear from this fantasy list: running the football. While both Gore and McFadden are great picks in appropriate rounds, their backups may be just as useful for the goal line and other excess carries.