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State of the 49ers - Fantasy football edition

We review the relevant 49ers fantasy seasons to this point and discuss thoughts on the second half of the season.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers are on bye this week to lick their wounds after another disastrous loss at home. The fantasy season is at the halfway point with most fantasy leagues having their Superbowl in Week 16 of the NFL’s regular season. We look at how 49ers players have fared thus far and how we expect them to help, or hurt, you win that fantasy trophy and ultimate bragging rights.


Blaine Gabbert started the first five games for the 49ers and, from a fantasy perspective, was better than expected. While he threw only five touchdowns to six interceptions he was able to find the endzone twice on the ground. In most leagues, rushing touchdowns are worth more points so Weeks 2 and 5 saw Gabbert having decent fantasy production. Barring some unforeseen catastrophic event, Gabbert should not play another snap for the 49ers this year (let’s hope).

Colin Kaepernick took over the reins in Week 6 and has not done much to instill confidence in fantasy owners. Hopefully, anybody who grabbed Kap off the waiver wire has not played him this year. In two starts Kaepernick has thrown for only 330 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Yes, that was his total for two games. The one upside to Kaepernick’s games is his ability to find running lanes. He has 150 yards on the ground over his two starts. Since rushing yards are weighted more heavily in most fantasy leagues that gives fantasy owners a small glimmer of hope moving forward.

The second half of the season does not get much better with games against the Patriots, Cardinals, and Rams all on the horizon. There are some games down the line where Kaepernick may have an opportunity to bounce back. Defenses will most likely aim to spy Kaepernick and force him to beat them with his arm. The next couple weeks should give fantasy owners a good idea of whether Kaepernick can play a part in their fantasy victories. Since he has only played in two games this year it is too soon to close the book on him completely, but at this point he should be dropped or stashed in leagues that only play one quarterback. If Kaepernick can find more of a rhythm, he may be a viable fantasy option to close out the fantasy season against teams like the Dolphins, Bears, Jets, and Falcons.

Running Backs

Carlos Hyde started the year exceeding expectations as the 49ers bellcow running back. Last year he missed nine games to injuries and was unavailable last week against the Buccaneers. With the 49ers bye he has an extra week to get healthy but his overall health for the season will be a concern. He already has two games with multiple touchdowns this year so the major question that remains is if he can continue putting up similar numbers the second half of the season. He will most likely see plenty of stacked boxes in the coming weeks but should see plenty of opportunities when healthy. If fantasy owners are not confident in his ability to stay healthy the rest of the way this may be a good time to sell high. If Hyde can play the rest of the season I would expect him to continue putting up RB1/RB2 numbers with very few other offensive weapons on the 49ers.

That leaves us with Mike Davis, Shaun Draughn, and DuJuan Harris. Unless Hyde is inactive for multiple games none of these guys are even worth stashing. In Hyde’s absence last week Davis got the start and an early touchdown, Draughn caught a touchdown pass, and Harris had the most carries. None of them looked worthy of a start and it highlights the fact that Chip Kelly would most likely split carries among the three of them.

Wide Receivers

Over seven games Torrey Smith has 199 yards and two touchdowns, Jeremy Kerley has 331 yards and two touchdowns, and Quinton Patton has 187 yards and zero touchdowns. Since Kaepernick has started Smith has looked like the best option with 93 yards and a touchdown over the past two weeks, while Kerley has faded into oblivion with a combined 27 yards and Patton has not totaled more than 60 yards in any game this year. With a quarterback throwing for less than 200 yards it is difficult for receivers to have much success in fantasy land.

At this point it would appear that that none of the receivers can be a reliable start week in and week out. Patton is clearly not worth a roster spot even in deeper leagues. Kerley had some value in PPR leagues with Gabbert at the helm but does not appear to have the same rapport with Kap. Smith looks to be a boom or bust candidate and with the Saints on the docket the 49ers will need to put up plenty of yards and points to keep pace with Drew Brees and Co. Moving forward, fantasy owners should allow Kerley and Patton to languish on the waiver wire while considering Smith for spot starts in place of bye-week receivers on more productive offenses.

Tight Ends

Vance McDonald has recovered from his injury earlier in the year and will most likely be the starter moving forward. He had a decent start to the year catching touchdown passes in the first two games. He is still seeing targets, but with poor quarterback play his upside is rather limited. His two games with Kaepernick he totaled 49 yards. Unless the 49ers passing attack can show some semblance of a threat he should ride the pine the rest of the fantasy season. What is there to say about a second string tight end in an anemic offense?

Garrett Celek has mostly been used in a blocking role since the return of McDonald and is a non-factor in fantasy.


While many had high hopes for an improved defense this year, the 49ers defense has been anything but stalwart. With the losses piling up and running backs running roughshod over the 49ers front seven, their defense should be an afterthought in all fantasy leagues.


With so few chances, Phil Dawson is at the bottom of the pack when it comes to fantasy kickers. He only has eight FGs made and 16 PATs. In fantasy, as in real football, every little point can make a difference so fantasy owners should continue using a turnstile of kickers unless they have an Adam Vinatieri, Matt Bryant, Josh Lambo, or Justin Tucker.


The 49ers season has a bleak outlook but fantasy owners can console themselves with fantasy trophies and weekly triumphs. If you are still optimistically waiting to see Kaepernick return to fantasy relevance, continue stashing him in hopes that he finds some juice for your playoff push. Don’t stash Christian Ponder unless your fantasy season has the same outlook as the 49ers season.

Carlos Hyde owners should continue starting him with confidence or trading out now, to avoid injury risks, for another high caliber player. Torrey Smith owners need to review upcoming games and weigh his value against the oppositions pass defense and their confidence in the signal caller.

Fantasy sports are value-driven, instinctual, and can be validating when we have successes. Unfortunately, when we start putting our own emotions and likes/dislikes for players in the mix it can be a messy business. I’ll be rooting for the 49ers defense to improve all year but I won’t be adding them from the waiver wire, even in the most dire situation. Good luck to everyone in bringing home those fantasy trophies!