When I learned that Colin Kaepernick would be starting in place of Alex Smith Monday Night I sent out a tweet that suggested you downgrade the 49er receiving options. There is a reason I don't get paid to do this professionally. You can't deny that Kaepernick was absolutely electric. Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree had a touchdown each as the offense moved the ball like a hot knife through butter. It brought a tear to my eye. Especially since I thought I had just lost a close game in fantasy, but thanks to Aldon Smith's equally impressive night I remain in the playoff hunt (that explains the cover photo). The life of a 6-5 fantasy team is not for the weary.
It appears that Kaepernick will get the start again Sunday. In regards to running backs and wide receivers "getting the start" can mean anything from getting the most touches to simply being on the field during the first drive. I'm not going to explore Harbaugh's brain on this one (it's far too dangerous in there). The preview below is written in the perspective that Kaep will start and play the entire game.
This is one of the few 49er matchups where you can feel safe playing all your fantasy stars on both teams. You obviously want to avoid any New Orleans running back not named Darren Sproles and even he is only a must start in PPR formats. Unless you are in a 14 team or deeper league you'll want to keep Randy Moss and Mario Manningham on the bench. With that being stated let's preview some of the big fantasy names in this game.
Which tight end has the bigger game?
The knee jerk answer here is Jimmy Graham who has been far more consistent than Vernon Davis this season. Both had incredibly good games during the playoff contest last year and both had six receptions and a touchdown last week (Vernon had about 60 more yards). The Saints give up the most fantasy point to tight ends, the Niners the second least. You can't go wrong with either guy, but Graham is an absolute monster and I have more trust in his quarterback.
Final Line: 7 receptions 90 yards 1 TD
Final Line: 5 receptions 100 yards 1 TD
Top pass defense vs. best fantasy quarterback: Who has the edge?
It may be too early to speak on MVP candidates, but Drew Brees would get my vote. After a horrid start he has his team at .500 and is currently the best fantasy player in most scoring formats. He'll face a Niner defense who allowed 462 yards and 4 TDs when they last met. Brees also has an assortment of options to move the chains. Sproles and Graham work the short to mid range while Colston, Henderson and Moore are all solid threats to score from just about anywhere on the field. The 49ers pass defense is no joke, but stud QBs usually find ways to exploit even the toughest of defenses.
Final Line: 375 yards passing, 3 TDs, 1 INT
What to expect from Kaepernick?
While writing this article Twitter exploded with news that Colin Kaepernick would get the start over Alex Smith Sunday. Whether this is a permanent move remains to be seen, but if for some reason he is still available in your league you need to grab him. It won't be all puppies and sunshine for Kaep as the season goes on. He blew up Chicago on short notice and he still very green (see the St Louis game). However, his rushing numbers will help even out any fumbles, interceptions or lack of passing yards. Sunday we'll get to see what he can do when a defense knows he is coming. The Saints D has actually improved over the last few weeks so don't expect a cakewalk here.
Final Line: 240 yards passing, 45 yards rushing, Combined 3 TDs 1 INT
Can Michael Crabtree keep the touchdown streak alive?
Out of all the players that are affected by the change in quarterback, Crabtree is the most interesting. He and Smith finally seemed to be on the same page for most of the season as Crabs was on his way to a career year. Monday night, Kaepernick targeted Crabtree 5 times and thankfully for fantasy owners he was able to get a touchdown out of it. I'm not ready to downgrade Crabtree just yet. Despite the Monday Night debacle, Chicago's secondary is an elite group. I'm interested to see what Kaep and Crabs can do against a more forgiving squad.
Final Line: 6 receptions 80 yards.