Get Frank Gore while you can, fantasy football owners. With his breakout performance last Thursday in St. Louis, Gore showed that he still has the deceptive quicks that have made him one of football's most underrated running backs the past few seasons. The ninth-year vet scored a touchdown and posted a season-high 153 yards on 20 carries, including four that went for at least 15 yards.
Since Monday, Gore has been the most traded player on the Yahoo! fantasy football wire. If recent history holds true, it could be the right time to buy.
Running backs are supposed to wear down as they approach 30, but you could argue that 30-year-old Gore is in the midst of the best stretch of his career. In the two full seasons since Greg Roman took over as the 49ers' offensive coordinator, Gore posted consecutive 1,200-yard seasons, the first time he's done so in his career.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com shared some perspective on Gore's production so far in 2013:
Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) September 30, 2013
He might have got off to a slow start in 2013—posting just 60 yards in 30 combined carries the first two weeks—but he's been a major contributor the last two contests. In Week 3 against the Colts, Gore carried the ball 11 times for 82 yards (7.5 average) and added 21 receiving yards. For the year, he's averaging a healthy 4.8 yards per carry and his 295 yards put him on pace for just a shade under 1,200 yards again this season.
Sure, it's true that backups Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon may be taking carries and goal-line touches away, but Gore is still the featured back behind what is widely considered to be the best offensive line in the NFL. Much has been made about quarterback Colin Kaepernick's running skills, but he's only averaging 6.5 carries per game as opposing defenses have slowed the team's use of the zone-read option, which was so effective for the 49ers last year.
Gore has also been reliable, starting each of the past 36 regular-season contests for San Francisco since missing the final five games in 2010. In Week 5 Gore and the 49ers will face the Texans, whose rush defense ranks 23rd in the league (113.2 yards per game) after giving up 98 yards and a score to Marshawn Lynch in Week 4.
When you look around the market at other comparable featured backs like Chris Johnson, it appears Gore is the safer bet. According to the Titans' official website, Locker will be out for a "few weeks" with a hip injury, meaning opposing defenses will be even more locked in on shutting down Johnson, who is yet to post a double-digit point effort in standard fantasy leagues this year.
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