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49er Fantasy Football Preview: Colin Kaepernick - 4th Round Pick, 1st Round Potential

The bad news - most of us are going to miss out on drafting a top 5 fantasy football quarterback this year. The good news – there are plenty of QBs with top 5 potential available in later rounds. San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick falls into this group. Here is how he stacks up against the competition.

Stephen Dunn

If you haven't started researching for your upcoming fantasy football draft it's time to get on the trolley. Start by checking out the previous 49er previews on Frank Gore and Vernon Davis.

Depending on what site you frequent for fantasy news, Colin is ranked between the 5th and 9th best fantasy QB going into the 2013 season. Many fantasy pundits are preaching patience when it comes to drafting a QB this season. It's a wise strategy given the depth at the position. Aaron Rodgers should finish with more points than Kaepernick, but is the difference in points so significant that it warrants taking a Rodgers 3 to 4 rounds earlier? This depends on your strategy and league settings, but if you plan to play the waiting game I don't see a better value pick at QB with higher potential than CK7.

Currently, Colin is being selected in the 4th or early in the 5th round. That's a pretty low price for someone who has a legitimate shot at finishing the year as a top 3 fantasy quarterback. Here are a few reasons he is being ranked so low:

1. The inherent injury risk that comes from drafting a mobile QB

2. With Michael Crabtree out until late in the season, he only has two proven targets on offense (Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis).

3. Kaep's passing attempts (approx 27/game in 2012) are limited by the Niner's focus on the running game.

All valid reasons to be concerned, but the pros outweigh the cons:

1. Kaep is a shade larger than your typical duel threat QB and we should see him make better choices to put his body out of harm's way when he needs to use his speed.

2. Kaepernick complements his ability to run with a surgically accurate deep ball and an improved touch pass. The 49ers know how to use all of their offensive assets. Look for plenty of passes to LaMichael James and Boldin; plus a steady diet of Kyle Williams and Vernon Davis on deep routes. More experience in the system means more trust from Greg Roman and Harbaugh. Look for those passing attempts per game to go up to at least the low 30's.

3. Given the changes on defense you could expect the unit takes a step back this year. If the Niners find themselves in close games, or even playing from behind, look for the points per game to go up along with the passing attempts.

4. Kaep's size and speed is an effective combination in goal-to-go situations. In most leagues rushing TDs are more valuable than passing scores and #7 will have plenty of both.

Here is how I stack Kaepernick up to the other QBs being selected in rounds 4 and 5:

Kaepernick vs. Matt Ryan

Matty Ice is perhaps the safest option out of the five as he has the best supporting cast and no troubling injury history to consider. With 32 TDs and 4719 yards passing, Ryan had his best year finishing 7th among fantasy QBs. He has no lack of weapons with Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Steven Jackson to complement his improving short game. Also, the NFC South isn't exactly home to best defenses in football. Those 6 games against Tampa Bay, Carolina and New Orleans are mighty attractive. Ryan is in a great situation and one of the few QBs I would take over Kaepernick if I miss out on the top 5 passer.

Kaepernick vs. Robert Griffin III

Until his injury, RG3 was actually the best QB in fantasy. Those who rolled the burgundy and gold dice on draft day were handsomely rewarded. Keep in mind all those rushing yards came at a price and Mike Shanahan knows he can't let Griffin get molly whopped on a consistent basis again. If Pierre Garcon can stay healthy and if Fred Davis comes back to form, Griffin should be able to make up the difference with increased passing numbers. Kaepernick slightly edges RG3 out in my book with a better arm, less injury worries and better receiving options. Yes, better receiving options. Boldin and Davis are proven, but look for Kyle Williams' speed and versatility to be on display as he develops chemistry with Kapernick. Also, don't forget Mario Manningham actually looked like a good fit with Colin under center last year.

Kaepernick vs. Russell Wilson

This rivalry could easily become synonymous with Johnson/Bird, Ali/Frazier or even Ken/Ryu. Until we heard the news of Percy Harvin's injury, we could ignore the fact that the only QB to have fewer passing attempts in 2012 was Christian Ponder. Similar to the Niners with Alex Smith, Wilson benefitted from an elite defense and running game in 2012. Pete Carroll admitted that he wanted to limit Wilson's throws early in 2012, but the playbook opened as the season went on. Even with few attempts he threw more TDs than Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford and RGIII. Then you add on the 489 rushing yards and 4 rushing TDs and you see why he is the conversation as a potential top 10 QB. However, the absence of Harvin is a huge blow and Seattle's offense will once again run primarily through Marshawn Lynch.

Kaepernick vs. Stafford

When it comes to passing attempts, Stafford is the anti-Wilson. Detroit's pass happy approach should have led to a bigger fantasy year for Stafford, but erratic play, injuries to receivers and Calvin Johnson being tackled inside the 1 yard line 6 times hindered his overall production. If the team stays healthy, Stafford's 2013 should be closer to his 2011 performance. Stafford will beat Kaepernick in passing yards, but they should be about equal in total touchdowns and in most leagues rushing yards are worth more than those gained in the air. Stafford will bounce back, but Kaepernick will be the better fantasy option when it's said and done.

Here is how my QB rankings work out for the five QBs typically going in the 4th round:

Matt Ryan
Colin Kaepernick
Matthew Stafford
Russell Wilson

2013 is a great year to wait on drafting a quarterback. I don't believe any of the 5 signal callers in this article will finish significantly below Brees, Rodgers or Newton. Hell, a few of them could be in the top 5 by the end of the season. If for some reason Colin Kaepernick is still available in the 4th round, draft him and prepare for good things...very good things.