The time of year is rolling around again for Fantasy Football drafts! Some drafts have already taken place with plenty yet to make their selections. Of the three leagues I am in this season, I only had one draft so far with the other two in the coming weeks. With three weeks left until the start of the season we here at Niner Noise wanted to break down some 49er players and what value they could bring to your fantasy football team.
Best Fantasy Football Site: FantasySharks.com
I have been going to Fantasy Sharks for my fantasy football news for the last three seasons and they never disappoint. I keep the site under wraps from my friends I play fantasy football with as they are accurate with their recommendations. Each week the site ranks players at every position and gives comments on why they will either be a stud or a dud for the week. I found this web site to be most useful when you are trying to find a sleeper QB, WR, RB, TE or defense for one week in replace of a player who is either in a bye week or injured.
49ers Fantasy Studs This Season:
RB, Frank Gore
Since Gore took over the starting job at running back in 2006 he has not only been the 49ers most reliable offensive weapon but the only player on the 49ers fantasy owners would be willing to draft in the first-round. Gore is first-round material again in 2011 but I would caution away from drafting him. Gore missed the last five games last season with a hip injury and even though he is back to 100% he will miss at least one game due to injury. The 49ers offense has improved but Gore will be the workhorse once again which means more wear and tear on his body. Gore missed five games last season, three games in 2008 and 2009 and one game in 2007 due to injury. Gore should give you over 1,000 rushing yards and eight rushing TD’s but you will need to back him up with another running back that can step in should he get hurt.
TE, Vernon Davis
Gore was the lone in fantasy value on the 49ers until Davis had his breakout season in 2009 showing the 49er Faithful he was worth a first-round pick with 78 receptions, 965 yards and 13 TD’s. Davis followed that season with lower numbers in 2010 (56 receptions, 914 yards, 7 TD’s) but he is still one of best over the middle threats in the NFL and ranks in the top-five of best tight ends in the NFL this season. Despite the fact that Alex Smith will be throwing the football you can expect Davis to put around 60 receptions, 900 yards and 8 TD’s this season. The only other tight end I would draft before Davis is Antonio Gates.
49ers Fantasy Duds This Season:
QB, Alex Smith
Smith will be entering his seventh season in the NFL with his third head coach and seventh offensive coordinator. Jim Harbaugh may be a quarterback guru and likes Smith but there is only so much Harbaugh can do for Smith to make him a reliable starter in the NFL. That means Smith has little to no fantasy value. Every so often Smith will have a good game but that is as difficult to predict as the next big earthquake. If you have Smith on your bench you are either desperate for a QB or you are new to fantasy football.
WR, Michael Crabtree
Crabtree is partially on the fantasy duds list because he has an injured foot and partially because he was a huge bust last season. Crabtree is entering his third NFL season and he has yet to play in a preseason game in his career. This is important because he has never been in rhythm with Alex Smith on the field during the regular season which I think has a lot to do with him not playing in the preseason. Preseason games are a great time for QB’s and WR’s to get on the same page reading defenses and coverage. Had Smith and Crabtree played together in the preseason games Crabtree would not have had a fantasy bust season last year. Last season Crabtree had 55 receptions, 741 yards and 6 TD’s but he was a number one receiver and those are not number one receiver stats. Crabtree is expected to be ready and starting in week one but his left foot injury gives me caution and will hurt his ability to cut on routes and make plays down the field.
49ers Fantasy Sleepers This Season:
WR, Braylon Edwards
When it comes to winning your fantasy football league I have noticed it usually comes down to your sleeper picks and studs that you found on the waiver wire that did well one week and continued killing it the rest of the season. The only time I won a fantasy football league was in 2007 when Edwards had his breakout and so far best season of his career. Edwards will not put up 80 receptions, 1,289 yards or 16 TD’s numbers in 2011, as he did in 2007, but he will be the sleeper WR of the year in football. Most fantasy draft previews have Michael Crabtree higher on the WR list than Edwards and I rank him in the 40-50 range of wide receivers. Howerver there is little risk to drafting Edwards as he will most likely be available in the later rounds for you to pick up. He is also coming to the 49ers with a chip on his shoulder and is not signed beyond this season so you know he will want to have a big season. Edwards will have the same dilemma as Davis, catching passes from Alex Smith, but he will be able to put up at least 50 receptions, 700 yards and 5 TD’s. Not bad for a late round or waiver wire pickup.
RB, Kendall Hunter
Whether or not you have Frank Gore as your running back keeping an eye on the 49ers backups Hunter and Antony Dixon is a must for reasons explained above. Hunter is not worthy of using a pick on during your fantasy draft but with Gore most likely not receiving as many carries as recent years Hunter could serve as the main backup to Gore. Dixon is still in the mix and Hunter will need to win the training camp battle in order to be worth any fantasy value. With the way Hunter has played this preseason I predict he will be the second running back. Throw in the fact that Gore is in a contract year, Jim Harbaugh might want to use Hunter more than previous coaches have used backups to see if Hunter has what it takes to be a featured running back.