“Right now, we’re all ones.” That’s what Stevie Johnson, recently traded from Buffalo Bills to the San Francisco 49ers, told his new team’s website, claiming that the Niners now boast four No. 1 receivers.
Johnson may be right, in the sense that opposing defenses will have to respect San Francisco’s deep passing attack, consisting of tight end Vernon Davis and wide receivers Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and now Johnson. However, in terms of fantasy value, Johnson was likely far better off in Buffalo where he faced limited competition.
The Bills traded up in the first round of the draft to acquire top wide receiver prospect Sammy Watkins, shopping Johnson to the highest bidder soon thereafter.
With so many mouths to feed in the current 49ers receiving corps, it’s unlikely that their offense will sustain each player’s fantasy value from years past. To do so, the team would need an aerial attack on par with those of Denver and New Orleans, the top-two teams in passing yards per game last season (San Francisco ranked 30th on that list with 186.2 passing yards per game).
To be fair, Crabtree missed 11 games in 2013, taking quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s favorite target off the field for much of the year. Still, the team’s current identity is one of stout defense and a power run game, first and foremost.
San Francisco assuredly expects an improved passing game next season. However, it may be quite frustrating for fantasy owners to predict when a receiver like Johnson will have a big game. As a result, the former Bills’ leading pass-catcher should be drafted as nothing more than a No. 4 wide receiver option for fantasy teams.
All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.
James Paradis is a fantasy football featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Be sure to check out his entire archive on fantasy strategy and analysis.
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