Although not everybody is into fantasy football, it can be a useful tool for figuring some things out about the 49ers various matchups. With the NFL entering the first set of bye weeks, fantasy owners find themselves looking for skill position players to fill the void each week. This week, Baltimore, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis and Washington are on bye weeks, which means no Steven Jackson, Tony Romo, Ray Rice, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten or a host of other players.
In looking at the 49ers matchup this week, there are some interesting sleepers for fantasy purposes that could also provide a huge boost to the actual 49ers on the field. The 49ers are not the greatest fantasy option in the world in part because the offense is still developing. The team has some talented skill position players, but beyond the usual suspects (Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree), it is up in the air who is going to have a big game in a given instance. I know some folks really dislike starting 49ers in fantasy, but there are at least some options.
The most "obvious" if you will, would have to be Kendall Hunter. Frank Gore is probable this week, which means he'll likely get the start in spite of some limitations in practice. However, I've got to think after the past two weeks, Kendall Hunter will be looking at some touches, be it catching passes out of the backfield, or getting mixed in with Gore in the rushing attack.
I would argue another big sleeper this week is Alex Smith. I'm even putting my money where my mouth is and starting him in one of my money leagues. In a keeper league I'm in I normally start Josh Freeman. This year for the heck of it I decided to bring in Smith as a backup. Not the wisest idea early on, but suddenly he could be an intriguing matchup guy.
This week Smith faces a Bucs defense that gave up 281 yards and two touchdowns to Curtis Painter on Monday Night Football. Maybe Smith won't get those kinds of numbers, but if he can avoid multiple turnovers, his numbers actually start looking rather intriguing. The offense seems to be trying to open up more and more and Alex Smith, fantasy QB, could be a beneficiary. Maybe he's not a guy you start every week, but what about versus TB and versus the Arizona Cardinals dreadful pass defense? Are you telling me that's not a fantasy matchup that at least piques your curiosity?
Joshua Morgan and Delanie Walker are the only other significant fantasy performers that are not already starting for folks. Morgan has some upside as he seems to connect with Alex Smith here and there, but there is enough downside that you can probably find some better receiving options in a given week. As for Walker, we keep waiting for that consistent blow-up, but it's not happening yet.
While we all simply want the win, the fantasy implications of a broadening 49ers offense are still intriguing to consider.