Fantasy impact: Crabtree torn Achilles

I was away from my desk for two, two-and-a-half hours yesterday because of a split-shift. During my absence, I made a point of disconnecting from the fantasy sports matrix. I chose the blue pill for 120 minutes.

Big mistake.

The red pill of reality struck me 30 seconds after I sat back down at my desk.

“Michael Crabtree tears Achilles” the Twitter headline read as it mocked me for a) ignoring it for the past 1,304,259 characters b) recently naming Crabtree as my breakout wide receiver for 2013 (“sleeper” isn’t the right word).

The 49ers top wideout finally lived up to expectations once Colin Kaepernick started behind center and the duo found a groove towards the end of the regular season and on into the playoffs. Crabtree averaged over 100 receiving yards with seven touchdowns the final eight games of the season (including playoffs).

He popped his Achilles’ in the midst of Organized Team Activities on Tuesday and, considering the 24/7 sports cycle, news of his Wednesday surgery slowly oozed out instead of the typical “wham!” in-your-face report. Reports suggest he’ll be out a minimum of six months – meaning a late-season comeback is possible.

So, who steps up in place of Crabtree on the 49ers fantasy football depth chart? I think it currently breaks down like this (subject to change):

  • Colin Kaepernick – 3rd / 4th Round Draft Pick
  • Vernon Davis – 3rd Round Draft Pick
  • Frank Gore – 4th / 5th Round Draft Pick
  • Anquan Boldin – 5th Round Draft Pick
  • A.J. Jenkins – Middle-rounds Draft Pick
  • Quinton Patton – Late-round flier

I believe Kaepernick’s fantasy draft stock could have reached the second round had Crabtree stayed healthy through training camp. Take a look at the chemistry CK7 and Crabby possessed in regular season games Kaepernick started:


Crabtree Stats Weeks 11-17 (2012)


11 3 5 31 1
12 3 5 26 0
13 7 11 101 0
14 9 11 93 0
15 7 12 102 2
16 4 9 65 0
17 8 12 172 2

Now, take a look at Vernon Davis’ regular season stats from that same stretch of games with Kaepernick starting.


Davis Stats Weeks 11-17 (2012)


11 6 8 83 1
12 0 0 0 0
13 2 3 15 0
14 1 2 4 0
15 1 3 10 0
16 1 1 27 0
17 1 2 5 0


However, the quarterback and his tight end did start to click those final two playoff games.  Perhaps, a positive sign of things to come for Davis owners who were drastically unimpressed with the tight end’s fantasy production in 2012.

Davis 2012 Playoff Stats


vs. Green Bay 1 5 44 0
vs. Atlanta 5 6 106 1
vs. Baltimore 6 8 104 0

The fantasy trickle down effect of Crabtree’s injury will most directly impact Anquan Boldin. The wide receiver failed to record a 1,000-yard receiving season in three years with Baltimore after eclipsing the plateau five out of seven seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Aside from Davis, Boldin will make up a huge chunk of the targets Crabtree left behind. Check out the attention Kap gave Crabtree during his seven regular season starts:

Kaepernick: 136 completions – 218 attempts
Crabtree: 41 receptions – 65 targets

Crabtree accounted for 30 percent of CK’s completions and 30 percent of his pass attempts in the final seven games of the regular season.

There have also been whispers of Randy Moss returning after the two parties parted ways and/or the addition of former 49ers’ receiver and current free agent Brandon Lloyd signing in San Francisco.  All of it is speculation, but I’m not convinced, at the moment, if Kaepernick can reach his full fantasy potential with only Davis and Boldin as targets.

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