Crash Of The Crab
May 23, 2013 | Jeff
The offseason can be a cruel, cruel thing. One day you’re a top 12 fantasy receiver and the next day brings a snap to your Achilles tendon like the elastic band on a husky guy’s Fruit of the Looms. Yes, I am referring to the unfortunate incident involving San Francisco 49ers rising star Michael Crabtree. In case you aren’t hip to the fantasy world’s biggest breaking news, Crabtree will miss the majority, if not all, of the 2013 NFL season after tearing an Achilles tendon during team OTAs on Tuesday. In addition to being a horrendous setback to the career of Crabtree, as well as the 49ers 2013 Super Bowl ambitions, the injury jumbles up our preseason fantasy football rankings here at The Fake Football. With that being said, I invite you to grab a chair (and a stiff mixed drink) and join me as I adjust my personal preseason rankings in our new, Crab-less world.
After losing his top target, Colin Kaepernick’s 2013 fantasy football outlook has taken a hit. From week 11 of the 2012 season on (when Kaepernick became the full-time starter), Crabtree was the recipient of 6 receptions and 88 yards per game to go along with eight touchdowns as the young quarterback showed a liking to the budding star. Currently, I have Kaepernick slotted as my seventh overall fantasy quarterback for the upcoming season but the loss of a top target won’t impact Kaepernick in fantasy terms as it could potentially impact other signal callers. Kaepernick’s lofty ranking is due in part to his incredible wheels and ability to rack up points running the ball. If Crabtree had been lost for a strictly pocket passing quarterback, a greater drop in ranking would be in order but not so much in this scenario. Due to his top notch rushing skills, Kaepernick should still produce as a QB1 in fantasy so I am only sliding him two slots, down to number nine. Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan receive a one slot boost for the time being…they better enjoy it!
The Crabtree injury news could make a fantasy football owner assume a greater reliance on the run for San Francisco in 2013, since their leading wide receiver will be watching games alongside Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines. However, when it comes to running back rankings, I don’t see much of a change. It’s not like we are discussing a pass heavy team with a newfound necessity for running production, as the 49ers were seventh in the NFL in rushing attempts per game in 2012. Really, how much higher can they go? Harbaugh likes to bang the rock on the ground and would have continued to do so with or without Crabtree. For now, Frank Gore will continue to reside in the 21st spot in my running back rankings and Kendall Hunter/LaMichael James will stay outside the top 50.
This is where the impact of Crabtree’s absence gets interesting. Before we get too deep, I am removing Michael Crabtree from my redraft rankings completely, but if you are in some wild and crazy super-duper deep league or have spare I.R. slots, feel free to think about snagging him in the late rounds of your draft this summer. As for the remainder of the 49ers wide outs, we are left with a jumbled mess. The new look crew is primarily made up of four wide receivers that are either old/crusty (Anquan Boldin), injured (Mario Manningham), or unproven (A.J. Jenkins and Quinton Patton). We can essentially scratch Manningham from the equation as he tore up his knee in week 16 and is questionable for the start of 2013. That leaves us with Boldin, Jenkins and Patton. Boldin is coming off a fantastic post season with Baltimore but will be 33 years old a month into the season. However, I have Boldin at 51st at the moment and am sliding him up a few notches due to the availability of additional targets, despite his age. Boldin now sneaks up to number 47 in my receiver rankings in between Sidney Rice and Michael Floyd, and would probably be higher if it weren’t for the ancient date on his birth certificate. Jenkins and Patton are outside my top 60 redraft wide receivers and will stay there, although this presents a great opportunity for each player. Jenkins failed to record a single catch during his 2012 rookie season, and Patton was just drafted in April, making both young receivers questionable draft targets at absolute best. Stay tuned to San Francisco’s training camp reports and preseason games to get a handle on who will take over the WR2 slot for the 49ers but I would temper expectations for both of their young receivers for the time being unless you are playing in a dynasty format.
Vernon Davis was a perplexing character over the course of the 2012 season as the ultra-talented tight end had a few nice performances but was mostly non-existent for fantasy teams. In 2013, Kaepernick will have no choice to utilize Davis as he will be the best receiving option on the team alongside Anquan Boldin. I have Davis sitting at 10th overall, but will slide him up one notch to number nine overall, ahead of my ambitious ranking of Rams tight end Jared Cook. Although Davis should absolutely see a rise in targets, his 2012 inconsistency still leaves me a bit hesitant. Perhaps that will change by draft season but nine seems to be a safe spot for the 49ers tight end.
Stay tuned to The Fake Football for more analysis of the injury and offseason news that will shape the fantasy football draft landscape and follow us on twitter @TheFakeFootball.