NOTE: This is part one of a two-part series in which I will analyze two NFL teams with questions regarding fantasy production. I will analyze by position each player who has fantasy relevancy (QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs, D/ST, and kickers).
The San Francisco 49ers are considered one of those teams with questions regarding fantasy football production. They have a lot of risk associated with them, and it is mostly luck of the draw when drafting a 49er.
But to all those people who are looking to draft a 49er, this article is for you, as this will most likely answer all of your questions regarding their fantasy production.
Be sure to comment and like and I will make an effort towards replying to every comment posted on this article.
Alex Smith—Smith came from fantasy obscurity to have a decent statistical year last season, as he finished up averaging 12.5 Fantasy PPG in 11 starts, phenomenal for a QB who had been widely considered a bust.
However, the lack of targets and a difficult defensive schedule could hurt Smith, but you could consider using him in spurts as the 49ers have a stretch where they are facing off against two of the worst defenses in the NFL, the Rams and Buccaneers in Week 10 and 11.
Smith is an option as a backup, but not much more than that.
Frank Gore—Gore is easily one of the top 10 running backs in fantasy football, but there is one big issue you should be aware of when drafting him.
Gore has shown an ability to produce big fantasy numbers, evidenced by him averaging 16.4 Fantasy PPG in 13 starts last season*, including a 35-point performance against the Seattle Seahawks.
But notice how I said 13 starts. Gore missed three starts in a row last season because of an ankle injury, and that injury made the last time he played a full season in 2006. The ankle has plagued Frank throughout his career, so I suggest you draft him mid to late in your first round, but be sure to draft a solid backup a few rounds later as a safety net.
Michael Crabtree—The 49ers receiving corps' fantasy legitimacy took a huge hit with the loss of Josh Morgan, but second-year wide receiver Crabtree should be able to fill the void. Yes, I know that he did not exactly light up the league last season, but you have to take into account that he created a dramatic holdout, during which he missed the first five games of the regular season and even threatened to re-enter the Draft in 2010. If you combine that with him being a rookie at the time, he had a lot to overcome and his stats reflected that.
In 2009, Crabtree averaged six fantasy points per game in 11 starts, which also included nine games which he got less than 10 fantasy points. He did have one game where he earned 13 fantasy points, his best fantasy performance of the season, but he did not have good numbers last season.
But now with Crabtree comfortable with the 49ers, look for him to put up decent fantasy points along with grabbing four to six touchdown passes along the way.
Vernon Davis—Davis is considered by many to be one of the best, if not the best fantasy tight end. He mirrored Cowboys WR Miles Austin's performance as he was widely considered a bust until he caught on fire and averaged 10.5 Fantasy PPG along with a record-tying 13 touchdowns for a tight end.
Davis is Alex Smith's top red zone target and that could pay dividends for your fantasy team this season as you should look for him to score about three to five touchdowns this season. In a standard scoring ESPN Fantasy Football league, every touchdown equals four points, so Davis could help you win those close games down the stretch.
The point? Davis will not repeat his 2009 performance, but he will continue to be one of fantasy's top tight ends.
The 49ers defense was one of the best in fantasy last season as they averaged 10.4 Fantasy PPG, good for the No. 1 scoring defense. This defense will get even more of a boost with rookie Taylor Mays, who I believe will eventually take the starting safety spot later in the season. Combine that with three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis, and you will have a lethal fantasy defense by Week Five.
Joe Nedney has long been regarded as one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL, but that does not necessarily translate into fantasy success.
Nedney only missed four field goals all season, but he let fantasy owners down as a result of a potent 49ers offense (yes, you read that correctly).
San Francisco had one of their best offensive performances in a few years last season, and I project that the offensive production will continue next season, thereby making Nedney a fantasy football free agency mainstay.
*Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) are based on ESPN Fantasy Football's Standard Scoring System.
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