San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has transformed himself from gadget quarterback, to starter, to potentially a top-10 fantasy play at his position for the rest of the 2012 season.
In Week 13, Kaepernick is among our must-start sleeper players.
Kaepernick again jumped over a difficult hurdle as the 49ers starter, beating Drew Brees and the surging Saints in their own backyard. The fantasy stats (over 200 yards passing, touchdown, rushing touchdown) also followed.
In the following slides, we'll break down Kaepernick and the rest of the smart sleeper plays for Week 13 of the fantasy football season.
Jim Harbaugh isn't ready to commit to Kaepernick as his starter moving forward, but it's clear now that he has no other choice. Kaepernick has helped lead the 49ers to wins over both the Bears and Saints, two contending teams in the NFC playoff picture.
Fantasy-wise, Kaepernick may just be a top-10 quarterback play for the rest of the 2012 season.
The second-year quarterback is averaging almost 20 fantasy points per game in two starts, mostly because he can make every throw, and he has the athleticism to get out of the pocket. The results have been almost 500 yards of passing, nearly 40 rushing yards and four total touchdowns (three passing).
The Rams aren't the same kind of sure-fire matchup as the Saints were in Week 12, but Kaepernick has shown enough to think he'll continue producing from a fantasy standpoint. He's a top-10 quarterback play this week.
The Cardinals offense is downright laughable, and most fantasy owners would do well to steer clear of any player not named Larry Fitzgerald (even he's risky these days). But in Week 12, Wells (owned in just 47 percent of Yahoo! leagues) might have some fantasy value.
Arizona's top back returned to the starting lineup Sunday against the Rams and found pay dirt twice, scoring once from a yard out, and again when he found the corner on a 12-yard run. Forty-seven yards on 17 carries isn't what you want, but he did get the touches.
The Cardinals travel to New York in Week 12, and the Jets (bottom third of the NFL vs. the run) continue to be a defense you want to run on this season. Arizona might not pound New York into submission with the run (that offensive line is still awful), but Wells should get carries. All he needs is one or two touches near the goal line to be fantasy relevant, too.
The Broncos threw a little bit of a curve ball by starting Moreno Sunday, especially with Ronnie Hillman looking explosive in his limited touches so far in 2012. But it's clear that Hillman has a specific role, and Moreno actually looked like a decent fantasy pickup in his first start of the 2012 season.
Moreno carried 20 times for 85 yards and caught four passes for 26 more yards against the Chiefs Sunday. That type of production should mean he'll continue being the starter for the Broncos.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers do travel to Denver in Week 12, and they entered last Sunday as the NFL's top run defense yard-wise. However, the Bucs will have their hands full with Peyton Manning, and we think Moreno (owned in just 18 percent of Yahoo! leagues) can still be a quality fantasy start. At the very least, he's worth your pickup for the rest of the season.
A good chunk of fantasy owners gave up on Garcon, who is owned in just 55 percent of Yahoo! leagues. That number will move back towards the 90-95 range over the next week, especially if Garcon can build on his promising performance from Thanksgiving.
Facing the Cowboys in Dallas, Garcon caught five passes for 93 yards and a 59-yard score. He looked plenty healthy as he caught a pass behind him and raced through the Cowboys secondary for the touchdown.
In Week 12, Garcon gets his first crack at the New York Giants (bottom 10 in the NFL against the pass) as a member of the Redskins. The Giants aren't a slam-dunk fantasy defense against receivers (still in the bottom third), but there's a high fantasy ceiling for Garcon this week.
You'll have to monitor the situation of quarterback Brandon Weeden, who left the Browns' win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday with an apparent concussion. If he can't go in Week 12, Gordon's "sleeper" status might have to be revoked.
But with Weeden healthy, Gordon has big-play potential against the Raiders' pathetic pass defense in Week 12, and could be a flex starter for some owners.
Oakland is in the bottom five of fantasy defenses against opposing receivers this season, and Gordon is always one bomb away from making owners happy they started him. This week, that potential is very high.