Michael Crabtree: 2011 Fantasy Football Breakout Candidate

Ray TannockSenior Analyst IJune 22, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31:  Michael Crabtree #15 of San Francisco 49ers celebrates as he scores their second touchdown during the NFL International Series match between Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers at Wembley Stadium on October 31, 2010 in London, England. This is the fourth occasion where a regular season NFL match has been played in London.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

When the San Francisco 49ers drafted Michael Crabtree in the first round of the 2009 draft, they envisioned a superstar that was going to be their legitimate downfield threat for years to come; perhaps even the next Jerry Rice.

OK, maybe not "the next Jerry Rice," but they were starry eyed over the guy, that’s for sure.

On the flip side, fantasy owners figured the guy was going to make some noise, but quickly shied away from Crabtree when he held out of camp all the way until August of that year.

Crabtree's lack of presence at camp showed in his improper route running and overall discomfort in the vertical style offense of the 49ers attack that year (2009), as Crabtree finished his rookie campaign with 625 yards on 48 receptions and two touchdowns.

2010 was supposed to be a redemption year for Crabtree, a year in which he was going to put the past behind him and rise from the bowels of mediocrity.

But the 49ers had several offensive issues they dealt with nearly all season long, namely no true starting quarterback and an offensive attack that simply didn’t work, and despite it all, Crabtree still showed signs of improvement, hauling in 55 passes for 741 yards and six touchdowns .

Well, Crabtree could be in line for a breakout year in 2011.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has made it abundantly clear that he not only intends to bring back quarterback Alex Smith, but break him out of his shell, and WRs coach Johnny Morton believes that Crabtree is going to be a phenomenal football player in this offense…”Sacramento Bee.

Morton is talking about the 49ers new West Coast style offense.

Morton believes that Crabtree’s skills are better suited for the WCO rather than the vertical strike variety they have run for years, and this will be the year he breaks out.

Crabtree had his times in 2010 which shows he is still top notch material, and he is currently still within the Top 25 in WR Rankings, but if there is any doubt in other fantasy owners' minds about him, you could wind up with a mid-to-late round steal this season.

In my opinion, Crabtree will turn a lot of heads, and he could even be in line for his first 1,000 yard / 10 touchdown season.

Crabtree is just one of several third year receivers in the league, so if you’re interested, come check out my Top 10 Must Know 3rd Year Receivers.