With week 13 approaching many fantasy football leagues around the web are preparing for the fantasy football playoffs. Now if you are like me, not only are you a huge football fan, but you also love fantasy football. During this fantasy football season I have had time to reflect on the San Francisco 49ers players that have had the most impact through a fantasy perspective. Now before I begin we should remember that the Niners have been built primarily on defense, special teams, and the running game. So unlike the New England Patriots or the Green Bay Packers, the Niners offense players do not have mind blowing numbers. But there were a few that could have contributed to your fantasy football team if you were running short on a certain week. Here are my top five Niner fantasy football performers for the season.
5. QB Alex Smith
Yes, I know. The man who has been benched repeatedly in his career is now a possible fantasy football contributor. Now I know he is not considered as a starter in most fantasy football leagues, but he is a great choice for a backup. Considering how great the running game and offense line has been for the Niners throughout the season, Alex has had time to throw the ball from the pocket with great accuracy and precision. He has had some great fantasy games this season. Versus the Philadelphia Eagles he threw for over 290 yards, 2 touchdowns, with no interceptions. In the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers he threw for 170 yards, 3 touchdowns, with no Interceptions. Just recently against the Arizona Cardinal he threw for over 260 yards, 2 touchdowns, with 1 interception. With a favorable schedule coming up, Alex Smith is an appealing start if you are in need of a quarterback.
4. WR Michael Crabtree
Ever since Crabtree was drafted by the Niners, the same has been said about him, “He has so much potential.” This season Crabtree is leading the Niners in receptions and receiving yards after starting the season with an ailing foot injury. After being forced to limited playing time because of the foot injury, Crabtree has really picked up as of late. Alex Smith has targeted Crabtree in many pass attempts during the second half of the season. The one thing that fantasy owners are upset about is the lack of touchdowns from Crabtree. Unfortunately for Crabtree fantasy owners, Alex has missed Crabtree in a couple of touchdown opportunities. Most recently Alex overthrew a wide open Crabtree in the end zone against the Arizona Cardinals a few weeks ago. If you are indeed a Michael Crabtree owner, be confident starting him with games against the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, and two against the St. Louis Rams coming up.
3. TE Vernon Davis
Vernon has not had the fantasy football season that some had expected. His fantasy point production has been spotty throughout the season. I believe he has been solid for the most part. He leads the Niners with 5 touchdowns, second on team in receptions and receiving yards. The problem is that Davis owners are expecting to see the kind of season he had in 2009, where Davis had a career high 13 touchdown receptions. Not to sound like a broken record, but that is not happening again with the kind of philosophy the Niners play with. Being playing hard defense and running the ball. That does not mean that he cannot be a factor. As we should all know by now Head Coach Jim Harbaugh loves to use his tight ends, which is a big reason why Davis leads the team in touchdown receptions. Expect a few more big games out of Davis as coach Harbaugh is becoming more and more comfortable throwing the ball. The game at Arizona should be a must start for Davis, since he was targeted many times by Alex in the first meeting between the two teams.
2. Defense/Special Teams
It is safe to say that the Niner defense is an automatic start in anyone’s fantasy football roster. The Niner defense leads the NFL in rush yards allowed, points allowed, and most importantly for fantasy owners in takeaways. The Niners have made it a habit to cause turnovers this season. Forcing three turnovers against the Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Bucs, Cleveland Browns, and FIVE against the Arizona Cardinals. Need to say anymore? The special teams have been good this season as well. K David Akers has turned out to be a great acquisition for the Niners. Not counting the game versus Arizona, where he missed three field goals attempts, Akers has been virtually automatic. The Niners have been in a few games this season where Akers has done most of the scoring, making Aker owners happy. Lastly, do not forget about WR Ted Ginn Jr. As a returner, Ginn has done a terrific job for the Niners. But it was week 1 versus the Seattle Seahawks where Ginn made his mark on the game and in fantasy leagues. Although his only two returns for a touchdown occurred in the same game against the Seahawks, he is still a threat anytime he has the ball on a return. It is obvious to start the Niner defense every week. Duh!
1. RB Frank Gore
It looked very rough at the start of the season. Trust me I am a Frank Gore owner on my fantasy team. After three games into the season I was both frustrated and confused. I thought Frank had lost it. But he would thankfully prove me wrong. It took till week 4 at the Eagles to finally get him going. From that point on Frank went on a tear rushing for at least 100 yards in five straight games and adding four touchdowns during the streak. When healthy, Frank has been a consistent performer in fantasy leagues throughout the years. A sight of caution for Gore owners could be that the Niners in the last three games has favored the pass, decreasing the productivity of Frank. Do not worry, the bread and butter to the Niners offense is Frank Gore. So at the end of the day he will be utilized and fantasy owners, like me, have nothing to worry about.