The fantasy football season has come to an end. Call it odd, call it frustrating, but don't call it predictable. Who saw RG3 and Andrew Luck being top 10 QBs or that Adrian Peterson would prove to be the first mutant to play in the NFL? How else do you explain his phenomenal healing factor? Hopefully, you were able to make some sense out of all the madness en route to a fantasy championship. If not, join the rest of us as we passionately curse the names of Darren McFadden, Ryan Matthews, Hakeem Nicks and the others who were drafted high only to disappoint.
For the San Francisco 49ers, this was a solid year for fantasy purposes. The run first offense did not disappoint owners who drafted Frank Gore or even deep leaguers who took a chance on Kendall Hunter. The passing game essentially remained the same, but eventually a consistent receiving option rose to the occasion. Those who drafted the 49ers' team defense were expecting more, but they did finish a respectable 7th.
This weekend is devoted to watching the first round of the playoffs and piercing our Russell Wilson voodoo dolls repeatedly in the legs and arms (am I alone on that one?). Therefore, I'll wrap up the season with a breakdown of how San Francisco's key fantasy players faired over the season and predict where they may land in 2013 drafts:
You have to feel for Alex. His season was going extraordinarily well and then one hit (or collection of hits) takes him out the picture. I'm not too familiar with his contract, but if I were to guess, Smith is coming back next year. His fantasy season was highlighted by a 300 yard 3 TD game against what the Buffalo Bills were labeling a defense. However, Bad Alex definitely had some stage time. Refer to his stat line from the game against the Giants if you have a strong stomach. Alex was never a starting level QB in fantasy land, but a serviceable QB2 or backup.
2013 Preview: There are a few teams that could use a guy like Alex, but I'm guessing he starts 2013 as the 49er backup. Not draftable in 2013.
What was supposed to be a one night stand against Chicago turned out to be true bromance. Harbaugh obviously saw something here and Kaepernick did not let him down. Colin never finished with less than 14 fantasy points in any game he started. His ability to connect on long passes and run like the Dickens keeps his fantasy floor relatively high. You have to love his 15 TD to 5 turnover ratio. I am an Alex fan who was critical of the switch, but Kaep helped turn this offense into a fantasy point factory (unless your name is Vernon Davis).
2013: Preview: Drafting a QB next year is going to be very interesting. After the clear top 3 of Brees, Brady and Rodgers there is a log jam of talent on the second tier. Kaep will be drafted in the top 10 of QBs in most leagues in the same group as Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford. If you want him next year be prepared to use one of your first four picks or drop some serious change in auction leagues.
The tread on The Tank go round and round...all-damn-day. Many..errr...most...uhhh everyone predicted Gore's fantasy value to take a dip, concluding he would lose touches to Kendall Hunter and the other backs. That was partially correct. Gore had about 30 fewer carries, but slightly more yards, 11 more receptions and an equal amount of touchdowns (8). Finishing around #12 amongst fantasy running backs, Gore only had 3 games of 100+ yard rushing, but he consistently found the end zone to help his overall numbers. He also returned some key value in PPR leagues, especially later in the year.
Borrowing Barring a traumatic injury in the playoffs, Gore should be the feature back in The Bay for 2013. LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter will factor into the offense, but Frank will be the back to own. In 12 team leagues he will probably be drafted between 13-16 at running back making him an upper tier RB2.
Better late than never. Crabs found his way onto fantasy rosters in the later rounds of drafts or in some cases on the waiver wire. He was a decent, yet unspectacular option with Smith at QB, but proved he has the talent of a playmaking WR when Kaepernick got the start. Despite his inconsistency early on his performances later in the year allowed Crabtree to finish 15th (PPR & Standard league average) among fantasy wide receivers in 2012.
2013 Preview: The Niners will most likely bring in more talent at wide receiver during the offseason, but as long as Kaepernick is launching missiles in his direction he belongs in the WR2 conversation for 2013. He'll fall to the 7th or even as low as a 9th round pick in 2013. He'll e gunning for his first 100 reception season, so rank him higher in PPR leagues.
There is good news to be found here, but it was all in the first few weeks. Davis started the season hot with several double digit fantasy point games in the first 5 weeks. How did he finish? I'll just list a few tight ends that finished with more fantasy points: Scott Chandler, Dennis Pitta, Jermaine Gresham and Brandon Myers. To be fair this was an absolutely horrid year for those who drafted a tight end early. Davis was likely drafted third behind Gronk and Graham, but came nowhere near their output. I would say he disappeared in the fantasy playoffs, but he was a ghost well before weeks 14 and 15.
2013 Preview: Flash forward to late August 2013. You missed out on the two best options at tight end and you have to choose between Davis, Antonio Gates, Owen Daniels and Heath Miller. You can make a case for ranking those four in any order. Tight end will be another crap shoot next year. Even with a full offseason to work on his chemistry with Kaep, VD falls to into rounds 8-10 in most drafts as the 5th-7th tight end overall.
Here are some quick thoughts on the players who were less likely to be on your starting roster this year.
You can be upset at his performance from a fantasy perspective (only 3 TDs), but he has been solid for the 49ers real world offense this year. Odds are he doesn't return to the NFL next year, hopefully after getting his Super Bowl ring.
Manningham stayed active in the offense, but wasn't really the downfield threat we expected. The switch at QB seemed to be in his favor, but this team rarely supports two serviceable fantasy receivers. He will be coming back from a serious injury next year so he won't be drafted in most leagues. However, if this offense opens up with Kaep under center in 2013, Mario could become a factor later in the season.
One final note - It's been a boatload of fun writing for Niners Nation this season. Fantasy is just the icing on the football shaped cake, but I truly appreciated combing my love for the Niners and gaming into about 700 words each week. I'm looking forward to the playoffs, but not so much that horrible part of the year between football and baseball. In the words of Don Cornelius I bid you "Peace, Love and Soul" until next season.