As the San Francisco 49ers prepare for what will hopefully be an on-time start to their 2011 season, fantasy football will be heating up at some point soon. I'd be curious to see how Yahoo! Fantasy Football and other sites will be impacted by a possible lockout. In the meantime, one of the many stories for the 49ers will be how the new coaching staff will impact the team's performance as fantasy football weapons.
I couldn't find a rundown of Yahoo!-based scoring results from 2010 so I had to look elsewhere. ESPN still has the final fantasy performance stats from last season. While it's not Yahoo! I've got to think the scoring is relatively similar. Here is a rundown of the 49ers fantasy results in 2010. Frank Gore led the way even with his extended absence at the end of the season. Vernon Davis saw his numbers take a dive as he couldn't match his explosive 2009 season. He finished tied with Alex Smith in fantasy points. The comparisons are different given the scoring for quarterbacks versus tight ends as Davis still finished third among all tight ends, while Smith was 27th among quarterbacks.
The 49ers offense as a whole featured some relatively weak fantasy football performances, which shouldn't surprise anybody. Although Michael Crabtree was drafted by plenty of people, I have to imagine he spent a good chunk of the second half of the season on many folks' benches. Frank Gore and Vernon Davis were really the only clear starts every week and Gore was lost for fantasy playoff season.
In terms of fantasy production, who stands to gain the most from the new coaching staff?
Your most consistent producers will grab plenty of yards, but the big blow-ups will happen thanks to touchdowns given the huge point totals they can bring. That's part of the reason Vernon Davis was such a monster in 2009. His 965 yards in 2009 was quite solid, but the 13 touchdowns is what made him a fantasy juggernaut.
Will it simply be a matter of Vernon Davis regaining some fantasy glory, or will we see Michael Crabtree or another player really step up in terms of fantasy production? Gore remains the only running back on the roster worth a fantasy football slot since his backups probably won't get a ton of carries around him. In terms of backups, Delanie Walker could be an interesting option if the 49ers offense does feature more plays to the tight ends. I don't think he'll be drafted in most leagues, but he'll be a guy worth keeping an eye on for fantasy purposes as we figure out the 49ers new offense.
It's also possible the 49ers defense will see a solid step up in production. Last season the defense was in the middle of the pack for fantasy points a year after being at the top of the rankings. Vic Fangio brings his own scheme to town and the team has added outside linebacker Aldon Smith to the mix. The problem for now is that we don't know what will happen with Aubrayo Franklin, Manny Lawson, Ray McDonald, Dashon Goldson, Takeo Spikes, and Nate Clements. I hadn't put all the names together in a list before, but that's a pretty large group of players. It's five starters and a key role player in McDonald. I'd be a bit surprised if all six players returned, but the lockout leaves everything up in the air.
So how do you see the 49ers fantasy production developing in 2011?