Ranking Most Productive Fantasy Options on San Francisco 49ers Roster
The fantasy football season is upon us, and for the first time 49ers fans will be able to select and root on several members from their own team.
Sure last year's squad scored a lot of points when Colin Kaepernick took control of the cockpit, but it's difficult to get on the bandwagon early when the top scoring option is David Akers.
Things don't look nearly as bleak this season. What's not to like about this offense? The speed. The power. The threat of six points being scored on every play. It screams badass. The 49ers haven't looked this lethal since the days of Young, Rice, Watters and Jones.
How great would it have been if fantasy football was on the "Internets" 20 years ago?
But anyway, let's break it down. Who will be the top fantasy studs on the Niners' roster this year?
No. 7: Michael Crabtree
Christmas came early for Crabtree last year when Colin Kaepernick became the 49ers' full-time starter. After four years of waiting, the talented wideout finally had a quarterback who could deliver him the ball the way he wanted: at full throttle.
Crabtree seemed to be the only receiver who could handle Kaepernick's fastballs, and the result were some gorgeous-looking touchdowns that left defenses paralyzed.
Anyone worried that Crabtree might have a little rust coming back late in the season should think back to his infamous holdout in his rookie year, where he sat out the first five games and quickly became the 49ers' leading receiver.
Keep him on your watch list until November, then scoop him up and win your league running away.
2013 Stat Projection: 565 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns
No. 6: Quinton Patton
Quinton Patton is everything that A.J. Jenkins isn't: committed, hard-working, talented and has the ability to catch a football.
I don't expect to see him at the bottom of the depth chart for long, especially with the way he impressed during the preseason.
His crisp route-running and elusiveness has the potential to become deadly with Kaepernick's precision passing, and savvy fantasy veterans might find themselves with a steal somewhere in the fourth or fifth rounds.
The story of Patton flying to San Francisco and driving to the 49ers' training facility just days after he was drafted will be told quite often if he goes on to have a fruitful NFL career. Expect it to change over time. Pretty soon we're going to hear about how he drove his Ford Focus back to Enterprise and left a $100.00 tip and a box of Raisinets in the glove compartment.
2013 Stat Projection: 597 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns
No. 5: Kendall Hunter
One of the key pieces to the 49ers' ground assault, Hunter was averaging over five yards per carry before he tore his ACL late last season. Watching LaMichael James fumble away a drive in the Super Bowl caused him to throw his Segway at the television and double his efforts to return healthier and stronger for 2013.
The Niners like what they've seen so far in the preseason. Kendall is faster, slipperier and isn't afraid to take on any 400-pound defensive lineman standing between him and daylight.
With James sidelined for the first two games of the season, it'll be completely up to him to pants a defense whenever Frank Gore is getting a breather.
That translates into hundreds and hundreds of yards and yes, maybe even a couple more touchdowns.
2013 Stat Projection: 632 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns; 145 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown
No. 4: Vernon Davis
After taking a while to adjust to a new quarterback under center, Davis found his rhythm with Colin Kaepernick in the playoffs.
Expect that to continue this season.
With his size, strength, speed and off-key caterwauling, Vernon continues to be a nightmare for linebackers and defensive backs. He makes ridiculous catches in traffic and is almost impossible to stop once he gets out into the open field.
Davis spent much of the offseason training with Kaepernick, and looks poised to become the same beast that set the single-season touchdown record for tight ends in 2009.
Despite being one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL for the last six seasons, I still feel that he's yet to reach his full potential. But I said the same thing about Microsoft's MP3 player, so what do I know?
2013 Stat Projection: 912 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns
No. 3: Anquan Boldin
Last season while playing for the Ravens, Boldin caught 65 passes for 921 yards and four touchdowns. So what's he going to do now that he'll have a few good balls thrown his way?
When Boldin had a Hall of Fame quarterback throwing to him in Arizona, he racked up five 1,000-yard seasons, 44 touchdowns and became the fastest receiver in NFL history to reach 400, 500 and 600 receptions.
He was unstoppable.
Then he was traded to Baltimore, where receivers usually go when they enter witness protection and play terribly to protect their real identity.
Boldin revealed himself in the playoffs last year, averaging one touchdown and nearly one hundred yards per game as the Ravens went on to become Super Bowl champions.
Look for one of the most physical receivers in the NFL to dominate again with Colin Kaepernick firing missiles in his direction.
2013 Stat Projection: 1,215 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns
No. 2: Frank Gore
When the 49ers made Frank Gore their starting running back in 2006, there was a collective shrug.
Anything was better than Kevan Barlow.
Seven years, 11,000 yards and 51 touchdowns later, and there still doesn't appear to be an end in sight.
The Tank continues bouncing off tacklers, shooting through holes, dragging linebackers and scoring touchdowns.
He's the best running back in San Francisco 49ers history, which is amazing when you consider names like Roger Craig, Garrison Hearst and Joe Perry, and when you factor in all the punishment he endured during the hapless years of Mike Singletary and Mike Nolan.
In 2009, Gore led the 49ers in rushing, was second on the team in receiving and probably would have been a better option at quarterback over Shaun Hill.
A lot has been made about his age this year, which is perplexing since 30-years-old seems to be nothing these days.
With all the depth the 49ers have at running back, fatigue shouldn't be a concern for Gore anytime this season. Bad news for defenses, awesome for fantasy owners.
2013 Stats Projection: 1,106 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns; 225 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
No. 1: Colin Kaepernick
Ten games was all it took for 49ers fans to believe they had found the next Joe Montana.
But Colin Kaepernick is not Joe Montana. Joe couldn't run the ball in for a touchdown from his own 20-yard line or throw the ball into San Francisco Bay from midfield. He also couldn't bench press 400 pounds or hold a quarter with his stomach.
But I digress.
The one thing Montana did do better than Kaepernick was finding the second receiving option. It's the reason why the 49ers won Super Bowl XXIII when the Bengals were blanketing Jerry Rice, and it's why they came up short in the final seconds last year when the Ravens were swarming (and holding) Michael Crabtree.
A full offseason should take care of any such concerns, and considering the ease in which Kaepernick constantly led the Niners from behind in the playoffs, it's likely we're going to see the same fourth quarter lightning that enthralled San Francisco for over a decade.
2013 Stats Projection: 4,300 passing yards, 32 passing touchdowns, 7 INTs; 550 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns
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