The San Francisco 49ers are trying to kick a bad habit… losing down the stretch. Jim Harbaugh came aboard the organization in January of 2011. Since then, they have made it to the conference championship every single year. Close, but no cigar. In 2011, they lost the NFC championship to the Giants, the eventual Super Bowl champs. The next year, they made it to the big dance, but lost to the Ravens. In 2013, they made it to the conference championship again, only to lose to the eventual Super Bowl victors, the Seattle Seahawks. Losing is a tough habit to break. The question the 49ers TRIBE is asking… Can they kick it?
One thing to keep in mind with their running game. For the first half of the season, they have the 8th best strength of schedule. However, for the second half, they are rated #31 in rushing strength of schedule. So, if you draft a 49er RB, keep them in mind for a mid season trade. You might want to capitalize on the schedule. This type of fantasy goo is what is available for you on the Pyro draft kit. If you are looking for a weapon to bring into your draft room, look no further. When that all important day rolls around at the end of August, and the guy next to you pulls out a magazine published in early July, you will feel a Zen-like calm wash over you. Pyro’s draft kit gets updated 5 times, right up until the season opener. No matter when you buy the kit, you will be sent all the updates when they come out.
As James Brown almost said: “I don’t know karate, but I know (Kaepernick)”…. And so do you, thanks to this site. If you have been on the Pyro brand for awhile, you know the name Colin Kaepernick. D-rx called this one long before the Alex Smith injury, long before anyone was talking about him. I drafted him as a late round flier his 2012 season. He was not even drafted in most leagues. Although last season did not go as well as hoped for (sans week 1), Kaepernick ended up as the 9th best fantasy quarterback, with 264 total points. Chances are, he will finish about the same spot this year. He completed 243 passes after 416 attempts. All in all, he had 3,197 yards through the air, and 21 TDs. He added 524 rushing yards and another 4 TDs on the ground. One big plus is his lack of INTs. Last year, he only threw 8 picks. This was the lowest for guys in the top 10 at the position. This only resulted in a loss of 16 total points. Heck, Andy Dalton lost 40 points for his interceptions (most for the top 10 at the position). This year, Kaepernick should run the ball more, as the team was perhaps a bit too cautious with him last year. Statistically, 19.7% of his total fantasy value came from his rushing yards. That’s what guys like Kaepernick and a Russell Wilson give you. However, we always stress “know your league”. If quarterbacks score the full 6 points for passing touchdowns, then a running quarterback is not as valuable, unless they are also throwing for 30 or more.
This year, a healthy Crabtree could spell fantasy success for Kaepernick. The two have an obvious chemistry. If Crabby can stay healthy all year, than fantasy QB #9 might just be Kaepernick’s floor. Plus, he is carrying a serious chip on his shoulder after coming so close the past few years, yet not getting that ring. Colin Kaepernick was back in the weight room 4 days after they lost to the Seahawks, the boy is determined and that equals fantasy goo. If James Brown was the hardest working man in show business, Kaepernick might be one of the hardest workers in the NFL.
Another factor in Kaepernick’s favor this year, he has his favorite target back. The Crabby-Patty cometh. Crabtree returned for the last five games of the regular season. If you ranked fantasy quarterbacks for just those weeks, Kaepernick was #5, right behind Nick Foles and ahead of Andrew Luck. The fact is, Crabtree is undoubtedly their #1 receiver and he boosts the performance of players around him. In 2014, Crabby-Patty will be looking to tear it up on the turf after missing the first 11 games last year. Plus, many Americans remember the Super Bowl as the play where Richard Sherman handed Crabtree his own ass. If that is not incentive enough, this is also a contract year for him, and Lord knows money is a motivator, especially for him. We all remember his holdout as a rookie. The 49ers have the 23rd easiest schedule for wide receivers, but they bump up to #14 during the fantasy playoffs. He was trending upwards last year. Once the team made it to the post season, he seemed to have his confidence back. In their three playoff games (including the Super Bowl), he scored a total of 3 touchdowns, and had 20 catches for 285 yards. Crabtree should pick it back up from where he left off. Pyro likes him as a solid WR #2. He is slightly undervalued in ADPs. As of early August, he is going at the end of the 4th round in 12 team leagues.
Crabtree’s on-field presence seems to up the play of his teammates. Anquan Boldin, when Crabtree was on the field for those last five games, was ranked the #9 fantasy wide receiver. Boldin does not receive enough accolades for his hands. In 2013, he caught 66.4% of his passes. Not only that, on average, Boldin was 9.21 yards downfield when he was targeted. That is almost 2 yards farther down field from where the average receiver was targeted. Plus, the league average catch rate is 58.6%. Boldin is a tough SOB. The dude played with a broken face.
Now, I have not had anything that severe, but I like to think I have what it takes. I once had a wicked paper cut. When we went out for tacos, I still used that hand to open the packet of hot sauce… A little bit got in there. I didn’t care. That’s just how I roll. But you have to give it up for Boldin.
The rest of the receiving crew consists mainly of Stevie Johnson, Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington, and Brandon Lloyd. It is hard to believe Lloyd was actually a top receiver just four years ago. Last year, he was not even in the league. Patton was a rookie in 2013, he started out with some promise, broke his foot in week four, and showed a little bit here and there in the end. He and Ellington have been talked about in camp. But, if I were putting money down, I would back Johnson. The best of this group, Jonson had a decent three year run. Last year was a down year as he was injured, but from 2010-2012 he broke 1,000 yards each year and totaled 23 receiving TDs in that same span. He should be on the field for most three receiver sets, and if anyone goes down with an injury, I think he can still put up a decent fantasy season. Chances are, someone might take a flier on him in the last round. Personally, you can get guys like him off the waivers, if I am taking a flyer, I like to swing for the fences.
The 49ers have a great deal of talent in their back field as well. If all of them were healthy, this would be one hell of a committee. But as of now, Kendall Hunter went unclaimed off waivers, thus he reverted back to San Fran. He is out for the season on IR. He will rehab and hopes to return in 2015. Unless you run a deep roster in a dynasty league, don’t bother. I don’t think he is worth eating up a roster spot for a full year. To continue with dynasty leagues, Marcus Lattimore has been burning up bench space for a year now. There is still no time table on his return. He is a good kid and people are holding out hope he may return to his dazzling South Carolina form. But it appears doubtful he sees time on the field this year. Harbaugh has gone on record saying he will be on the team in “some form or fashion”. Those are not exactly reassuring words for fantasy. There is a chance he makes the PUP list, in which case, the earliest he could contribute would be game 7. Many times however, guys just coming off the PUP list do not see actual game time until weeks later. Odds are, Lattimore does not make a legitimate fantasy contribution until 2015. Keep your eyes on camp for this one. Finally, the last of the walking wounded is LaMichael James. After dislocating his elbow, an injury that he has sustained three times, James is expected to be ready for the start of the season, but he is likely on ice until week 1.
So, essentially the last two men standing are Gore and rookie Carlos Hyde. If Lattimore is indeed saved for legitimate playing time in 2015, this would be Gore’s last real year as the main guy in San Fran. He is 31 years old. Because of the organizations success in the last three years, they have made deep runs into the playoffs. These added games have taxed his body. In that time, Gore has accumulated 1,035 touches. The average back has not taken the same abuse. Gore has proven amazingly resilient and has been fantasy relevant throughout his career. In seven out of the last eight seasons, he has rushed for over 1,000 yards. Even in the one down season, he still saw enough action in the receiving game to go over 1,200 all purpose yards. Frank “the tank” is a rarity in the NFL these days. There are few guys who are those 3-down backs anymore. While our Pyro proverbial hats are off to him, it is better to jump off early than go down with the ship. He is definitely a bust candidate this year. As of early August, he is going in the first part of the 5th round in 12 team leagues. I would rather draft Joique Bell, Pierre Thomas, or Lamar Miller all of whom are currently being drafted after Frank “the Tank”.
The other back still firing on all cylinders is rookie Carlos Hyde. This guy is not going until the 9th round in current ADPs (as of early August). Both D-rx and Dawg have Hyde just one tier below Gore. That equals value. Coming from Ohio State, he was the Big Ten’s running back of the year. The conference is not what it once was, but the Buckeyes went up against some serious defenses last year, and Hyde put up some impressive stats. He ran the ball 208 times for a total of 1,521 yards and 15 touchdowns. In case you have not updated your calculator app, he averaged 7.5 yards a carry. Let me say that again, 7.5 yards a carry was his average last season. He played in 11 games counting the bowl game. He rushed for over 100 yards in all but his first two games. He even cracked 200 yards twice. Hyde was the first running back taken in this year’s draft. Seriously, researching this guy got me so excited, when I retired for the evening, my wife thought I was making amorous advances. While you never want to tell your wife another lady got you excited, how the hell do you say, “no honey, it’s not you, it’s Carlos Hyde… I mean damn!”
Take a look at Hyde’s rushing ability from their first preseason game in 2014.
Last year, San Fran had the 11th best schedule for a tight end. This year they come in at #26. Vernon Davis ended up the #2 fantasy tight end last year. There is no way this is happening again. In fact, Smaug has a better chance of blazing it up as a fantasy tight end this year, and he’s a freakin’ mythical dragon!
Out of the top 10 rated fantasy tight ends last year, Vernon Davis was the most touchdown dependant. In fact, 48.4% of his fantasy points came from touchdowns. Looking at the exact same group, he had the least amount of receptions (52) and the least amount of targets (84). Don’t build a team on last year’s stats. Let the lumps in your league do that. They are the guys that look backwards, they are the guys that buy into the douche canoe sites, some of which are ranking Davis as their #4 tight end. His average ADP currently has him going as the 5th TE off the board, usually being picked in the 6th round for 12 teamers.
A side note on those aforementioned douche canoe sites. While indeed they supply all the lumps in your league with their outdated information, it is important to pay attention to those ratings, out of whack as they may be. Here’s how you can use it to your advantage when it comes to tiers. First, make Pyro tiers your own. Use them as a basis, but certainly make adjustments. You have to keep in mind your personal league and how they score. Also, maybe you have favorites, or want get a guy or two off your home team. Those tiers are a guide for you, they are not the Ten Commandments written on stone tablets.
Thou shall draft like this! So after you make some adjustments and make the tiers your own, I like to write down what the douche canoe site rates the players and place that ranking in parenthesis.
|Tier VI - 19 - 21|
|Eric Ebron (13)|
|Garrett Graham (23)|
|Jared Cook (24)|
This will give me an edge. In the above example, my tier VI shows the three guys I feel are about equal. Yet, the douche canoe site clearly ranks Ebron at the #13 spot, way above the other two guys. So I have a fairly good idea that Graham and Cook are going to be hanging around for awhile. I can go ahead and use my pick at another position, because chances are, Graham and Cook are still going to be waiting for me next time around. Remember on draft day, you want to use any bit of info you can to give you an advantage.
Now, Davis is entering his 9th year. He has been dependable, only missing 9 games in 8 years. But he does have an interesting back up. If you had a working flex capacitor and the 1.21 gigi-watts necessary to fire up that bad boy, you would see that Vance McDonald was on Pyro’s deep sleeper list last year. He was a rookie so naturally he did not get much playing time. But he does become an interesting waiver wire grab if Davis happens to miss any time.
Finally, they are an NFC West team and that means a big time defense. Again, while defensive fantasy production is so hard to predict, they are definitely one of the better real defenses in the league. With their talent, they should end up inside the top five if not the top three (if healthy). However, they will play the first portion of the season without some of their brightest stars. NaVorro Bowman tore his ACL in the NFC Championship game last year. It was one of those injuries that almost hurts to watch, the human body is not supposed to bend certain ways. Currently he is on the PUP list. If he begins the season there, he will not be eligible until week 7. Glenn Dorsey, their nose tackle, is also out for the first portion of the season. Finally, they should be without Aldon Smith for some time as well. These losses will undoubtedly be felt on the field. If so, we could see them fall outside the top 5 for fantasy. Aldon Smith is awaiting a suspension decision by the henchman, Roger Goodell. The comish has made some curious decisions as of late, so who knows how long the Smith suspension will be. Personally, I think Goodell went light on Ray Rice because he using that to set up an even lighter slap on the wrist for disgraced Colts owner, Jim Irsay. Although Irsay’s actions may have given a black eye to the organization and the league, he is still the kind of guy I want to roll into Vegas with on a Friday night.