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Offseason Primers: San Francisco 49ers

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The 49ers fell three points short in Super Bowl XLVII last year in a 34-31 loss against the Ravens. And now San Francisco will try to become the first Super Bowl loser to make it back to the big game the following year since Buffalo did it four years in a row from 1991-94.

The 49ers will have plenty of weapons to make another Super Bowl run. Colin Kaepernick, who took over for Alex Smith midway through the season last year, will start from Week 1, and he has the potential to be a Fantasy stud. Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis -- all starting Fantasy options -- return to lead the offense, and the 49ers replaced Randy Moss with Anquan Boldin, which is an upgrade.

2012 Touches Leaders
781 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Frank Gore 286 (258 car., 28 rec.) 36.6%
Michael Crabtree 86 (1 car., 85 rec.) 11.0%
Kendall Hunter 81 (72 car., 9 rec.) 10.3%
Mario Manningham 45 (3 car., 42 rec.) 5.7%
Vernon Davis 41 rec. 5.2%
All Others 242 30.9%

The defense is again stacked even with the loss of safety Dashon Goldson as a free agent to Tampa Bay, and the inconsistent David Akers was replaced by Phil Dawson. The 49ers also have 14 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, so there's a lot to like about this team.

Fantasy owners will look at Kaepernick, Gore and Crabtree as must-start options, and Davis should rebound to be a No. 1 Fantasy tight end. Boldin is a key reserve, but he'll be an upgrade over Moss based on his all-around receiving skills. The 49ers also could get a boost if Mario Manningham (knee) returns at 100 percent or A.J. Jenkins steps up in his second year. And we may even get some production from backup running backs LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter, depending on how much the 49ers want to rest Gore during the season.

Michael Crabtree -- Worth the price

2012 Target Leaders
436 pass attempts
Michael Crabtree 127 29.1%
Vernon Davis 61 13.9%
Mario Manningham 57 13.0%
Randy Moss 50 11.4%
Delanie Walker 39 8.9%
All Others 102 23.3%

Kaepernick being named the starting quarterback for the 49ers helped Crabtree become a star last year, and we expect him to play well again this season. In the seven starts Kaepernick made in 2012, Crabtree had 41 catches for 595 yards and five touchdowns. If you project that over 16 games, Crabtree would have finished with 94 catches for 1,360 yards and 11 touchdowns. That equates to 202 Fantasy points, which would have made Crabtree the No. 3 Fantasy receiver last year in standard leagues behind Calvin Johnson (214) and Brandon Marshall (210). Crabtree also had double digits in targets in four of the seven starts with Kaepernick. Crabtree enters this season as a low-end No. 1 Fantasy receiver. He's worth drafting as early as Round 4 in the majority of leagues, and we look forward to his rapport continuing to grow with Kaepernick as the two spend more time together.

Vernon Davis -- Bounce-back candidate

Will the real Vernon Davis please stand up? Davis was a huge disappointment in 2012 based on his regular-season stats, but he was a star in the playoffs. Davis finished the regular season with 41 catches for 548 yards and five touchdowns. It was easily his worst stats since 2008, the year before his breakout campaign. Davis struggled to develop a rapport with Kaepernick -- until the postseason, when Davis took off. In his final two postseason games he had 11 catches for 210 yards and one touchdown against the Falcons and Ravens. We hope he can build off that performance coming into this season, and Davis is too talented to overlook as anything but a No. 1 Fantasy tight end. He has a lot to prove based on last year's down stats, but he's definitely capable of being a standout option. And maybe with Delanie Walker now gone, Davis could get more attention as those 39 targets Walker had last year have to go somewhere. Plan on drafting Davis with a pick in Round 7 or 8.

Colin Kaepernick -- Breakout

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Colin Kaepernick 57-63 overall
Frank Gore 23-30 overall
LaMichael James 115-122 overall
Kendall Hunter 128-134 overall
Michael Crabtree 37-44 overall
Anquan Boldin 127-133 overall
Mario Manningham Undrafted
Vernon Davis 90-99 overall

Kaepernick gets the chance to start for the 49ers from Week 1 this year, and there's a lot of optimism for his Fantasy value this season based on his play in 2012 when he took over for Smith. He had five games with at least 18 Fantasy points in seven starts in the regular season, and he carried the 49ers to the Super Bowl with two standout playoff games. If you project Kaepernick's regular-season stats over a full 16-game season he would have finished with 4,146 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions and 948 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns and seven fumbles. That equates to 435 Fantasy points, which would have made him the No. 1 Fantasy quarterback in standard leagues, ahead of Drew Brees (423 points). Kaepernick is a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback and a breakout candidate, and we like him with a pick beginning in Round 6 in the majority of leagues. Since he's unproven, you'll still want to pair him with a quality backup option later (think anyone from Eli Manning to Jay Cutler), but Kaepernick has the look of a standout Fantasy quarterback heading into this season.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Good luck with Michael Floyd
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:07 am ET) Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd caught two passes in Week 11, which at face value would give no one the impression he was back to form. But because both happened to go for touchdowns, including one of more than 40 yards, some of his owners couldn't be talked out of starting him Week 12 at Seattle. And those owners are filled with remorse right now.

That's because, with backup Drew Stanton again under center for the Cardinals, Floyd went without a single catch. He was targeted twice but failed to connect -- and with fellow wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald sidelined by a a sprained knee, no less.

That's the lowest of lows for him in what has been by and large a disappointing season. With this performance, he's averaging 2.1 catches for 28.9 yards over his last seven games. He's had a few touchdowns during that stretch to soften the blow, but ultimately, all they've done is given his owners false hope.

Unlike Fitzgerald, Floyd's production didn't improve for those five games when starting quarterback Carson Palmer was back from injury, and now Palmer is out for the year. Between Stanton's shortcomings and John Brown's emergence, you shouldn't be hoping for any sort of rebound from Floyd.


Giants K Josh Brown limited to extra points in Week 12
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:58 am ET) Giants kicker Josh Brown didn't attempt a field goal in his team's 31-28 loss to the Cowboys in Week 12 but managed to successfully convert all four of his extra-point tries.

It's the fifth time this season Brown hasn't received a field-goal attempt, and he's managed multiple attempts just twice in his 11 games this year. Brown will square off with the Jaguars in Week 13.


Keenan Allen turning over a new leaf?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:56 am ET) For the second time this season, Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen topped 100 yards in a game Week 12 against St. Louis, and for the second time this season, he found the end zone, scoring on a 29-yard catch in the fourth quarter. It was the first time he did both in the same game, which was the kind of production Fantasy owners expected from him coming into the season.

So is he finally delivering on his potential? Oh, who knows?

Here are the positives for Allen: With another nine targets in Week 12, he has averaged 10.8 over his last five games, a clear improvement from his first six, and his primary competition for red-zone looks, tight end Antonio Gates, has been conspicuously absent the last three weeks.

Here are the negatives for Allen: Even with all those extra targets, he has still averaged just 69.0 yards over his last five games, and quarterback Philip Rivers has stopped throwing touchdown passes not just to Gates but in general.

I have enough confidence in Rivers and the Chargers offense as a whole to keep Allen on my roster, but I'm not activating him based on this performance.


Giants' Rueben Randle paces secondary targets in Week 12
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:55 am ET) Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle caught all three of his targets for 36 yards in his team's 31-28 loss to the Cowboys in Week 12.

Eli Manning was locked in on rookie Odell Beckham (10 catches, 146 yards, two TDs) and running back Rashad Jennings (eight catches, 68 yards), and Randle was one of the quarterback's six other targeted receivers to split 11 catches. Tight end Daniel Fells also secured three receptions for 35 yards, while tight end Larry Donnell managed just two receptions for 24 yards. Wide receiver Preston Parker caught one of his three targets for 16 yards, while tight end Adrien Robinson caught his only target for a one-yard touchdown.

Randle, Parker and the team's TE corps should continue to play a complementary role behind Beckham moving forward. The Giants will take on the Jaguars in Week 13.


Giants RB Andre Williams scores touchdown in Week 12 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:50 am ET) Giants running back Andre Williams rushed for 35 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown and added a 12-yard catch in his team's 31-28 loss to the Cowboys in Week 12.

Williams was out-touched 27-11 by starter Rashad Jennings but managed to bounce a carry to the right side late in the first half for a three-yard score. The touchdown was his third in his last four games, but he's still hovering around 3.0 yards per carry for the season. Williams will square off with the Jaguars in Week 13.


Giants RB Rashad Jennings totals 120 yards in Week 12 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:47 am ET) Giants running back Rashad Jennings rushed for just 52 yards on 19 carries but caught eight of his 10 targets for 68 yards in his team's 31-28 loss to the Cowboys in Week 12.

Jennings drew the start and out-touched rookie Andre Williams 27-11 but watched his teammate score from three yards out in the second quarter. Despite averaging just 2.7 yards per carry, Williams was able to stay involved by being the second-most targeted receiver on the team. Though Jennings hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3, his total yardage represented his best performance since rushing for 176 yards in his third game of the year. Jennings is set to face the Jaguars in Week 13.


Ryan Mathews pulls away from Branden Oliver
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:45 am ET) Even though Chargers running back Ryan Mathews was more effective than Branden Oliver in his return from a shoulder injury, he split carries almost evenly with his replacement Week 11 against Oakland. That wasn't so much the case Week 12 against St. Louis, though, when Mathews took his first carry 11 yards and never looked back en route to 105. He also scored a touchdown on a 32-yard run in the third quarter.

He injured his shoulder on that play, which was a big reason why Oliver got the six carries he did, but Mathews returned and still finished with twice as many. Imagine how many yards he would have had if he had gotten 15-to-18 carries.

If Mathews had struggled to keep up with Oliver after the long layoff, the Chargers might continue to ease him in, but since he's been far and away the more effective of the two in two games back, he looks like he'll take the job and run with it, reducing Oliver to just a handcuff option in Fantasy.

Mathews falls a little short of must-start status with an especially tough matchup Week 13 at Baltimore, but for most owners, he's probably still worth running out there.


Giants QB Eli Manning tallies 338 yards, three TDs in Week 12
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:42 am ET) Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed 29 of his 40 pass attempts for 338 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in his team's 31-28 loss to the Cowboys in Week 12.

Manning hooked up with rookie Odell Beckham on a pair of touchdowns in the first half, including an outstanding one-handed, 43-yard catch that will certainly find its way on every Play of the Year list. The Giants took a 21-10 lead into halftime before the Cowboys scored two touchdowns in the third quarter. Manning was able to bring his team back by connecting with Adrien Robinson from one-yard out with just three minutes remaining, but the Giants defense was unable to stop the Cowboys from responding one more time.

Manning's one interception came on an overthrow to a wide-open receiver who looked like he had a clear lane to the end zone with an on-target throw. Even with that mistake, it was an excellent rebound performance after throwing five interceptions in his previous game. He's set to face off with the Jaguars in Week 13.


Cowboys K Dan Bailey scores seven points vs. Giants
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:37 am ET) Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey kicked four extra points and made his only field-goal attempt in his team's 31-28 win over the Giants in Week 12.

Bailey put his team on the board with a 38-yard field goal in the first quarter, but the Cowboys were able to reach the end zone four times thereafter and needed all four touchdowns in a high-scoring game against their division rivals. Bailey had missed field goals in each of his last two games coming into the Sunday night matchup. He's set to face the Eagles at home Thursday.


Cowboys WR Terrance Williams catches just one pass vs. Giants
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:34 am ET) Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams managed just one reception on two targets for 18 yards in his team's 31-28 win over the Giants in Week 12.

Williams has struggled to emerge of late, following up a targetless performance in Week 11 with just one catch Sunday. He's managed just 37 yards on three receptions over his last three games. Williams will look to get back on track Thursday against the Eagles.


 
 
 
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