San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will make his first NFL start Monday night against the Chicago Bears, but that doesn't make Kaepernick a realistic fantasy option in the present or future this season.
Barring some kind of Herculean effort, Kaepernick's hold on the starting job will be just a one-week gig. And his one start Monday night includes facing the No. 1 fantasy defense against quarterbacks this season.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Monday morning that Kaepernick would start against the Bears after Alex Smith (concussion) did not earn clearance from an independent neurologist.
Kaepernick (owned in 1.2 percent of ESPN leagues) replaced Smith in Week 10 after a helmet-to-helmet hit in the first half. The second-year quarterback completed 11-of-17 passes for 117 yards and rushed for 66 yards in a 24-24 tie to the St. Louis Rams.
Now, Kaepernick has to face a fantasy defense that has feasted on opposing quarterbacks this season.
The Bears haven't allowed more than 15 fantasy points to a quarterback this season, and in three separate games, Chicago has kept the opposing quarterback to three or less points. In fact, this defense (allowing an average of 8.4 points) is a full two points better than the next-best defense against opposing quarterbacks in 2012 (Seahawks, 10.4).
Kaepernick does bring the ability to extend plays with his legs, and the option read should be a part of the 49ers' game plan. But that doesn't make Kaepernick a strong bet to do well against the Bears defense Monday night. Even replicating the 16 points Kaepernick produced against the Rams would be a major development against the Bears.
This will likely be Kaepernick's one chance to leave a fantasy footprint the rest of the 2012 season.
While concussions can linger on, and Smith's inability to gain clearance is an alarming sign, most will expect the former No. 1 pick to start when the 49ers travel to New Orleans in Week 12. If that's the case, Kaepernick would slide back into his role as a little-used gadget quarterback. At that point, any fantasy value all but dries up.
The only fantasy owners that should be looking into Kaepernick this week and down the road are those who lean on Smith as their fantasy starter. In that scenario, Kaepernick is likely a last-ditch option.
But for 99 percent of fantasy players, Kaepernick is avoidable. The fantasy matchup Monday night is dangerous, and his prospects of playing later this season do not appear good.