How good will Frank Gore be in 2008, or why fantasy projections are BS.

Frankgore_medium

A lot of message boards (for any sports team really) can get extraordinarily negative at times.  I've noticed traffic often increases here when things are going poorly.  Of course, since Niners Nation started at the tail end of 2006, there's nothing to really compare it too.  The whole point is that I've occasionally seen people write that Frank Gore has only had one good year and thus shouldn't be ranked as high as he is any various projections.  I find that to be somewhere between laughable and total BS.  When you set the franchise rushing record, and follow it up with 1,100 yards on one of the worst offenses in NFL history, you're not a one-shot wonder.

We're all curious how Frank Gore and the 49ers rushing game will do in 2008 in the Mike Martz-led offense.  Many of us are also probably slowly getting in the mood for another season of fantasy football (more info to come on a Niners Nation league).  So I thought I'd check out what some fantasy football sites are projecting from Frank Gore.  I won't say they're wildly all over the place, but there are certainly some mixed projections.  One site even felt Frank Gore was due for up to a 10% drop in fantasy production, for reasons described below.

ESPN
Rank: 6
Stats: 1,068 rushing, 7 TDs/73 rec., 594 receiving, 3 TDs
I tend to use ESPN's draft kit.  I think I (and plenty of others) assume their fantasy writers know a lot, but in reality, we all know anybody can make projections and call themselves an expert.  In fact, before the season starts I'll throw out my random based on next to nothing projections, like these folks.

In these first edition 2008 rankings, Gore is ranked just behind Joseph Addai and Steven Jackson and just ahead of Clinton Portis and Marshawn Lynch.  ESPN clearly thinks Gore enters a Marshall Faulk type of role on the receiving end.  He's not a big play threat as a receiver so the low yardage total isn't surprising.  What I do like is the increase in touchdowns.

CBS.Sportsline
Rank: 5
Stats:
1,158 rushing, 6 TDs/57 rec., 486 receiving, 1 TDs
CBS's projections indicate very little change in Gore's production.  106 more total yards and 1 more touchdown.  Personally I see that as a little low considering the potential for a more high-powered offense.  I suppose this would be working under the impression that Martz will help, but the offense will still not be all that good.

In these rankings, Gore is ranked just behind Adrian Peterson and Steven Jackson and just ahead of Marshawn Lynch and Joseph Addai.  Lynch is definitely getting a lot of love.  If the receivers in Buffalo can step up he could certainly move up.  Of course, we'll see how this whole hit-and-run business plays out.

Fox Sports
Rank: 12
Fox Sports hasn't listed stat projections, but rather general rankings.  In these rankings, Jamal Lewis, Ryan Grant and Clinton Portis are just ahead, with Ronnie Brown, Brandon Jacobs and Willis McGahee right behind him.  While I think Frank Gore is a better running back, the funny thing with running backs this year is that I could certainly see plenty having better statistical years than Gore, simply because of the comparable situations.  Personally, I think Gore has a big year in large part because of receptions.  However, teams like the Packers and Browns could be good enough to lead to very solid years by Grant and Lewis.

Ultimate Fantasy Football Strategy
Rank: 19
Stats:
1,000 rushing, 6 TDs/60 rec., 500 receiving, 1 TDs
I wanted to pick a random site I've never checked before and this one came up first when I googled 2008 running back projections fantasy football.  I think it's safe to say I won't be heading back there anytime soon.  They added in a projection of the offensive line for each running back.  For Gore, they projected the 49ers offensive line as "slightly worse."  Considering how bad it was at times last year, I'm not sure it could be slightly worse.  The only reason I can think that's the case is they assume Larry Allen didn't really lose a step last year.  Other than that I'm not sure what to say.  Part of their reasoning:

About Steven Jackson: Only 3 of the 10 RBs 27 yrs old or younger who had a dominant season followed by a disappointing one managed to improve in the next season and none returned to the level they were at previously...

About Gore: See Jackson...The difference for Gore is that his offensive line is worse than last year in run blocking but it is better in pass protection. The average decrease is about 10% in terms of fantasy points.

So there you have it.  I could throw out projections from every possible fantasy site but there would really be no rhyme or reason for the projections.  This is a small sample size, but there really isn't a whole lot to glean from this.  So do you think any of these four is possible?  Personally I think while any of them is possible, aside from ESPN's reception projection, I think they all are underestimating Frank Gore's potential production.

Just to throw numbers out there for the hell of it, I'll go with:

  • 265 carries, 1,215 rushing yards, 4.5 avg, 8 rushing touchdowns
  • 67 receptions, 582 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns

Feel free to project away.  We can always look back at this and laugh come November or December.

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