Jeremy Kerley
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When Jeremy Kerley started the season off with seven catches for 61 yards I was skeptical. He followed that solid performance with 29 and 24 yards in the next two games. Week 4 he returned to form with six catches for 88 yards and a score. I still wasn’t putting him on the add list. Did last night’s performance do enough to put him over the edge?
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Kerley turned in a strong effort in the Thursday Night Game catching a season-high eight passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.
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With three games out of five with at least six receptions, Kerley is clearly a viable option for PPR leagues. He’s averaging 5.2 receptions per game. With that kind of volume, along with being the clear-cut number one option in the passing game, he is worthy of a spot in standard leagues as well.
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Kerley is averaging 60.8 yards and 0.4 touchdowns per game. Not starting fantasy value, but he’s worth a spot on your bench. He can be a plug-in option during the bye weeks.
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Vance McDonald
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Vance McDonald is a popular tight end sleeper heading into the season. In part because the San Francisco 49ers have a shortage of pass-catching talent and in part because Blaine Gabbert doesn’t have the big arm to stretch the field.
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Anquan Boldin  left for Detroit leaving Torrey Smith as the returning leading receiver for the 49ers with 33 receptions for 663 yards and four touchdowns. He’s not really a great fit for Gabbert’s skillset. Bruce Ellington (hamstring) is shut down for the year. Quinton Patton and Jeremy Kerley are far from reliable fantasy options.
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That leaves McDonald because Gabbert is going to have to throw the ball to somebody. Vance tied for third (with Patton) with 30 receptions last year while finishing fourth with 326 yards and tied for third (with Garrett Celek) with three touchdown catches. At 6’4 and 267 pounds McDonald is a solid option for Gabbert working the middle of the field.
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He did have relative success with Gabbert at the helm. From Week 11-17 McDonald caught 21 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns. He did miss Week 14, but in the final six games he played, McDonald averaged 3.5 catches for 43.7 yards and 0.5 touchdowns.
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Not exactly TE1 numbers, but certainly worthy of TE2 numbers if he can maintain similar production. I have him inside the top 20 for Week 1 and just outside of the TE2 range for the year.
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Keep him in mind should you suffer an injury or need a bye-week fill-in.
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We have been waiting Mr. Crabtree. Waiting for the monster numbers that justified your angst for being taken with just the tenth pick of the 2009 NFL Draft.
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After two years and 27 games Crabtree has 103 catches for 1366 yards and eight touchdowns. He has just two 100 yard games under his belt and has yet to deliver a multiple touchdown game.
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It’s not all Crabtree’s fault. The holdout was silly, which got him off on the wrong foot, but he hasn’t exactly had the kind of quarterback play that reminds 49ers fans of Jeff Garcia, let alone Montana or Young. Alex Smith is wildly inconsistent, which is not ideal for a young receiver looking to make his mark.
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Crabtree’s overall numbers don’t illustrate how bad his season was. He averaged 46.3 yards per game, but he was below that mark in half of his game. In six more games he failed to top 61 yards. That’s 14 games with 61 or fewer yards for those of you keeping score at home. In four of the games he bailed himself out with a touchdown, but that only gives him six games in which he had more than six fantasy points (non-PPR scoring).
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With speculation that his foot is bothering him and concerns that he keeps himself isolated from the team, the question marks start to pop up. Fantasy drafts aren’t taking place any time soon so you should have ample time to monitor Crabtree before deciding whether or not he’s right for your fantasy team.
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One thing to keep in mind is the 49ers’ move to the West Coast Offense. Without a big time burst, Crabtree is better suited for this offense. Crabtree’s Mock Draft Central ADP is 27th among wide receiver, which appears to be a pretty good slot. I probably wouldn’t want him as an WR2, but  he’s not a bad option for a WR3.
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Frank Gore running
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Frank Gore headlines the running back scene in the NFC West, but he has some pretty serious injury concerns. He has missed nine games over the past three years, and didn’t reach 250 carries in any of those seasons. While he is very active in the receiving game averaging 51 catches per season over the past five years, he only has 32 rushing touchdowns over that stretch. He brings the average just over eight total touchdowns a year over that stretch thanks to his receiving scores, but he is a low end RB1 in non-PPR leagues and a middle of the pack RB1 in PPR leagues. Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter will battle for handcuff duties, but neither present much fantasy value as long as Gore remains healthy.
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Steven Jackson is a true workhorse back for the Rams, averaging 327 carries and 48.5 receptions over the past two years. His 3.8 yards per carry as well as his low touchdown totals (six per year over the past four season) keeps him from the top tier of fantasy backs. The talk has been that the Rams will add a veteran running back to compliment S-Jax. He’s still a solid RB1, especially in PPR leagues.
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The Cardinals must have  seen enough from Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower as the team overlooked several needs and selected Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams with the 38th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. It will be interesting to see how Beanie responds to the challenge. Beanie could be a nice value pick this year if he can stay healthy and finally prove his worth.
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Marshawn Lynch had some moments for the Seahawks, especially in their thrill upset of the Saint. Despite the feeling the he’s been in the league for a long time, he’s just 25. Justin Forsett will still get plenty of touches, especially in the passing game, but isn’t a threat to Lynch or a player with considerable fantasy value.
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You might as well call it the NFC Mess. Aside from St. Louis, this division is riddled with questions.
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Sam Bradford set the rookie completion record and truly delivered as the first overall pick. Bradford still has a ways to go before he can be considered a QB1, but he certainly has the makings of one. He only had six multiple touchdown games and just one 300-yard effort. Amazingly he did it without many weapons. The Rams added  tight end Lance Kendricks and receivers Austin Pettis and Gregory Salas in the NFL Draft.
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Matt Hasselbeck would probably be the second best quarterback in the league, if he returns to Seattle. That has become a major question mark. Charlie Whitehurst didn’t quite cut it. We’ll have to wait and see who wins the starting gig next year we can say if their quarterback has fantasy value next year.
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Alex Smith is expected to be back with the 49ers, but Colin Kaepernick is expected to be the future. Smith can be a decent spot starter if he wins the job, but he may not respond well to looking over his shoulder. Seems like a situation to avoid.
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Then you have Arizona, who is in dire need of an upgrade at the position. They are rumored to be the front runners in the Kevin Kolb sweepstakes. If he does land in the desert, he would instantly become the second best quarterback in the division. Other than St. Louis, this really is a wait-and-see division.
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The fantasy playoffs continued as the Chargers destroyed the 49ers last night.
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Having players go in the Thursday night games gives you a little bit of an advantage. If your players do well, you can perhaps be a little more cautious with your team. If your players failed to put up good numbers, perhaps you will want to take a bigger risk, hoping to make up some ground. You also get a feel for your matchup depending on how your opponents players did. Let’s take a look at how fantasy owners will be feeling about their players.
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Quarterbacks:  Philip Rivers (273 yards, three touchdowns) didn’t have Antonio Gates or Malcom Floyd in his arsenal, but it did not matter. He just reunited with an old flame in Vincent Jackson to put on a clinic. If you used Alex Smith (165 yards, INT), you’re in some serious trouble.
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Running Backs: There were four possible running back choices in this one. Mike Tolbert (46 yards, TD) was the top ranked of the quartet and he delivered the best score. Brian Westbrook (30 total yards, TD) did well enough for those of you who took a chance on him. Ryan Mathews (56 yards) was OK, while Anthony Dixon (35 total yards) was a letdown.
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Wide Receivers:  Vincent Jackson (112 yards, 3 TDs) was a beast. I bumped him into the top 15 when news broke of Floyd and Gates inactive status. I just wish I bumped him higher. Josh Morgan (106 yards) once again was the top wide receiver threat. He has becoming one of those unheralded players that make fantasy football playoffs legends. Michael Crabtree (17 yards) was a dud. Legedu Naanee was a major letdown.
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Tight Ends: Vernon Davis (4 yards) was nearly invisible. Tough break for his fantasy owners. You’ll have to make up those points. Randy McMichael (55 yards) did an admirable job filling in for Gates.
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Kickers:  Nate Kaeding kicked two field goals (25, 39) and had four PATs. Solid start. Jeff Reed was held to one lonely PAT.
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Defenses:  San Diego was a beast holding the Niners to seven points. They racked up six sacks and forced on turnover (INT). The Niners got blitzed allowing 34 points. They had just one sack and did not force a turnover.
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Written by Eric Stashin of www.rotoprofessor.com

 

 

When Glen Coffee suddenly retired, it looked like the 49ers would be left with little behind star running back Frank Gore.  Less then three weeks later, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

Not only did they bring Brian Westbrook into the mix, but sixth round pick Anthony Dixon has emerged from obscurity.  While a lot of his impressive preseason statistics came against marginal NFL players, at best, it still is hard to overlook.

 

He led the NFL with 300 rushing yards (Michael Bennett was second with 236). He led the NFL with four rushing touchdowns.

 

Then again, he had 20 more carries then any other running back, at 74.  When you have that big of a lead in carries, it’s easy to out rush the competition by such a great margin.

 

Despite coach Mike Singleton telling Comcast Sports Net California that, “When you have a guy like that, there’s going to be a role”, it’s impossible to think the role is going to be anything too special at this point.

 

With the options that the team has in front of him, it’s going to take a lot for Dixon to get regular touches.  Granted, Westbrook certainly is an injury risk, but even if he were the primary understudy to Gore would you expect him to develop into usability?

 

Gore has played in 14 or more games each of the past four years, only once having less then 1,100 yards during that span (1,036 in 2008).  He’s a workhorse, and should remain to be the main man in San Francisco.

 

Coffee, as the primary backup to Gore in 2009, got just 83 carries for 226 yards and a touchdown (plus 11 catches for 76 yards).

 

An impressive preseason is nice, but Dixon just isn’t likely to make an impact in 2010.  Don’t bother getting caught up in any attention he may be receiving.  There are much better options that should be available to you.

 

Keep an eye on him, just in case, but there certainly is no reason to be making a move right now.

 

What are your thoughts of Dixon?  Is there any chance he develops into a usable option in 2010?  Why or why not?

 

Make sure to check out Rotoprofessor’s 2010 rankings:

 

 

You can also check out my Week 1 Rankings:
Week 1 QB Rankings
Week 1 RB Rankings
Week 1 WR Rankings
Week 1 TE Rankings
Week 1 K Rankings
Week 1 DEF Rankings
Week 1 IDP Rankings

Written by Eric Stashin of www.rotoprofessor.com

 

 

Michael Crabtree sits atop many people’s 2010 breakout candidate lists, and with good reason.  Despite not yet playing in a preseason game due to a neck strain (though he has returned to practice) and playing in just 11 games in his rookie campaign due to a holdout, there is no doubting his talent.

 

Last season he had 48 receptions for 625 yards and 2 TD, only twice having as few as three receptions (and never having more then six).  He was consistent, and that came despite questionable quarterback play and no preseason to get a rapport with his teammates.

 

While he has missed time during camp this year, he already has worked with Alex Smith.  The two know each other and now just need to get their timing back on track.  It doesn’t take four preseason games to do that.

 

The team has also improved the talent on the offensive side of the ball.  Added are Ted Ginn, Jr. and Brian Westbrook, not to mention Vernon Davis’ 2009 breakout.  Throw in a healthy Frank Gore, and the 49ers actually produce matchup issues for opposing defenses.

 

We’ve discussed Smith as a potential sleeper in the past (click here to view), and the former first overall pick is finally showing signs of living up to his draft position.  In three preseason games he has gone 21-37, completing nearly 57% of his passes.  All he needs to do is distribute the ball around the field and put his teammates in position to make plays.

 

At 6′1″, 214 lbs., Crabtree is a big target with the potential to make big plays.  No receiver had more then 22 catches of 20+ yards last season.  Despite his limited playing time and receptions, he had 10, the same number as Anquan Boldin.  Just imagine what he has the potential to do now that he is fully immersed in the offense?

 

The sky is truly the limit, and as a WR2, he is a great get.  He currently has an ADP of 43.3 according to Mock Draft Central, the fourteenth receiver coming off the board.  While that’s slightly higher then I have him (16th on the most recent rankings, which you can view by clicking here), he is still a terrific pick.  By year’s end, he has the opportunity to emerge as a WR1 in all formats.

 

What are your thoughts on Crabtree?  Do you think he’ll live up to the hype?  Or do you expect him to be a fantasy bust?

 

Make sure to check out Rotoprofessor’s 2010 rankings:

 

Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Westbrook Soars
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

Brian Westbrook finally has a new home. After spending his first eight seasons with Philadelphia, Westy is headed West to San Francisco to join Frank Gore in the Niners’ backfield. Westy is an electric playmaker when healthy. He has dealt with an assortment of injuries in the past, but it is his string of concussions that have his career in jeopardy. Even when he was limited to eight games last year, he managed 25 catches as well as a 4.5 ypc on 61 carries. One more concussion could end his career so don’t expect him to be much more than an insurance policy should Frank Gore go down. Anthony Dixon had a strong showing in the Niners’ preseason opener, and will challenge Westbrook for the backup spot.

 

Westbrook wasn’t he only former NFC East runner moving westward. Ladell Betts also spent eight years with his first team, in his case the Washington Redskins. Betts only topped 100 carries once in his career, and isn’t expected to do so with his new club. Betts will essentially replace Lynell Hamilton as RB depth for the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. While Westbrook has limited fantasy value, Betts has even less. Even if Pierre Thomas were to go down, I would not expect Betts to even match the production Mike Bell had last year.

 

A typical fantasy football league consists of 12 teams nine starters (QB, two RBs, three WRs, TE, K, D) and anywhere from five to seven bench players. If you go with the latter bench allotment, you’re looking at 16 roster spots or 192 draft picks. By that definition, any sleeper should have an average draft position about 180 or lower.

 

San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith sports an ADP of 185, which means on average he’s the fifth pick of the 16th round. He has the 24th highest ADP of any QB behind the likes of Josh Freeman, Matt Cassel, and Kyle Orton.

 

I know he has been a disappointment, especially given his first overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft, but I think we’re being kind of harsh on the young man, though personally I  have him as the 15th ranked fantasy QB. He showed enough last year to justify that ranking in my mind.

 

Smith completed 60.5 percent of his passes for 2350 yards, 18 TDs vs. 12 INTs, and a 81.5 passer rating. Those numbers don’t exactly bring Niner fans back to the days of Joe Montana or Steve Young, but they should lead fantasy owners to draft him before the likes of Josh Freeman, especially when you consider the weapons Smith has to work with.

 

Michael Crabtree was able to learn on the job last year, and is primed to have an even bigger impact in 2010. Josh Morgan is an adequate #2 receiver. Vernon Davis had nearly 1000 yards and 13 TDs. Frank Gore is very capable of catching the ball out of the backfield. Few teams can offer that assortment of weapons and yet he’s being drafted about sixty picks after Matthew Stafford.

 

Smith had at least 28 pass attempts in the Niners’ final seven games, which shows they aren’t afraid to open the offense up. Over that span he averaged 220.3 yards, 1.7 TDs, and 0.86 INTs. He didn’t do much with his feet last year, but he did average 10.6 rushing yards per game his first three seasons.

 

Is he a guy that I would target as a #1 fantasy QB? Of course not. I’d gladly take him as a QB2 though.

 

Prediction: 3600 yards, 22 TDs, 12 INTs, 120 rushing yards, 2 TDs

 

Where do you have Alex Smith ranked?

 

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