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Offseason Extra: The Crabtree effect

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Michael Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles on Tuesday during an offseason workout, and he already underwent surgery Wednesday. He's expected to be out a minimum of six months, and that's a terrible loss for the 49ers and Fantasy owners.

In the four drafts I've done following the NFL Draft at the end of April, Crabtree was being selected on average at the end of Round 3. He finished 2012 on a tear thanks to the addition of quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the starting lineup, and he was looking like a No. 1 Fantasy receiver coming into this season.

In the seven starts Kaepernick made in 2012 in the regular season, 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).

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Now, all that potential is gone. Crabtree could still return this season, with the timetable getting him back on the field sometime in November. And keep in mind Baltimore's Terrell Suggs and Tampa Bay's Da'Quan Bowers came back last year from Achilles injuries suffered around the same time.

But they play defensive line, which isn't comparable to the starting and stopping a receiver has to do while running routes. This is basically a lost season for Crabtree, who is only worth drafting in deep Fantasy leagues with a late-round pick.

His absence will have a huge impact on the rest of the 49ers, especially Kaepernick. We had Kaepernick as a Top 7 quarterback prior to Crabtree's injury, but now he's barely a Top 10 option. He should still be considered a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback, but he will miss his No. 1 receiver.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that in the 10 starts Kaepernick made last season, including the playoffs, he targeted Crabtree 94 times. The next most-targeted option was a tie for Vernon Davis and Randy Moss with 39.

The 49ers could look at a free agent to replace Crabtree, with Brandon Lloyd the most attractive option based on experience. Moss could also be brought back, or the 49ers could explore a trade. Otherwise they will just bump everyone up on the depth chart.

Anquan Boldin, who was acquired in a trade from Baltimore, is the likely No. 1 option, although you should use that term loosely. He's 32 now and is not the dynamic playmaker he once was in Arizona, despite his big playoff performance with the Ravens last year (he had 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns).

Boldin clearly gets a boost in Fantasy value if he is the top receiver, but he's just a No. 3 option at best worth a mid-round pick. He told me in April at his charity event that he was looking forward to playing with Kaepernick, but he obviously was expecting Crabtree on the field with him.

"I embrace change," Boldin said. "For me, I think it's a great opportunity. I feel like the job that I was brought to Baltimore to do, I accomplished that. I feel good in that aspect. It's on to another challenge in life."

Davis might benefit the most with Crabtree out. When Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith, Davis struggled. He had one game with double digits in Fantasy points with Kaepernick under center in the regular season, but they looked great together in the playoffs. In his final two postseason games Davis had 11 catches for 210 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons and Ravens.

Davis was always a No. 1 Fantasy tight end, but he's now at the top of Tier 2 behind Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez. Plan on drafting Davis as early as Round 6 or 7 in the majority of leagues.

As for the other San Francisco receivers, there are question marks. Mario Manningham is coming back from a torn ACL and PCL in his left knee from Week 16. He might not be ready for training camp. Second-year receiver A.J. Jenkins went his entire rookie season without a catch. And fourth-round rookie Quinton Patton is considered a raw talent. Maybe even Ricardo Lockette gets a look following this injury.

Jenkins has the best chance to improve of this group, and he should be considered a late-round flier in all formats. If the 49ers don't add another receiver, Jenkins could start opposite Boldin and make some plays.

Also, we know the 49ers are a run-heavy offense to begin with, and this should only increase the workload for Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James. Gore remains a solid No. 2 Fantasy running back, and he might also see a few more receptions this season to help replace Crabtree in the passing game.

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
Seahawks to go with Will Tukuafu at fullback
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:52 am ET) The Seahawks will insert fullback Will Tukuafu into the starting lineup, according to the Associated Press. 

Will Tukuafu signed with the club Wednesday, and will replace Derrick Coleman. Coleman began the year as the team's primary option, but was placed on the IR Saturday. Robert Turbin had served as the team's temporary option at the position with Coleman out, but will assume his normal role as backup running back with Tukuafu in tow. 


Saints K Shayne Graham not asked to do much Week 9
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:46 am ET) Saints kicker Shayne Graham was not asked to do much in his team's 28-10 victory over the Panthers in Week 9. Graham, who converted three field goals his last time out, was not summoned for a field goal the entire night. He added four extra points.

The Saints will host the 49ers in Week 10.


Saints WR Robert Meachem makes late-game grab in Week 9
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:43 am ET) Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem, who has been an afterthought in the aerial attack, came down with his first grab since the third week of the season in his team's 28-10 victory over the Panthers.

Meachem broke free down the middle of the field for a comfortable 25-yard reception late in the fourth quarter. He was targeted twice in the win. He has five catches for 85 yards on the season.


Saints RB Travaris Cadet does little in Week 9 victory
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:39 am ET) Saints running back Travaris Cadet failed to make much of an impact in his team's 28-10 Week 9 victory over the Panthers Thursday night.

The team heavily relied on Mark Ingram, who took 30 handoffs on the night. As a result, Cadet was only limited to five touches. He took two handoffs for only 1 yard and caught three of the five passes thrown his way for 29 yards.

The Saints will host San Francisco in Week 10.


Saints WRs Colston, Cooks each limited to three grabs Week 9
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:36 am ET) Saints wide receivers Marques Colston and Brandin Cooks each had quiet performances in a Week 9 victory over the Panthers on Thursday.

Colston came down with a 22-yard pass from Drew Bress on the second offensive series of the night and only had two catches the rest of the way. He caught all three of his targets for 36 yards. Cooks had a similar night, as he came down with two receptions -- one for 18 and another for 5 yards -- on back-to-back plays on the opening drive, but was limited to only one grab the rest of the way. He caught all three targets for 38 yards in a 28-10 victory.


Saints WR Kenny Stills racks up 72 yards Thursday night
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills enjoyed another productive performance, cracking the 70-yard mark in a Thursday night victory over the Panthers in Week 9.

Stills had a costly drop on the opening drive which resulted in an interception by D'wan Edwards. He bounced back with catches of 16, 9 and 17 yards in the second quarter. He was targeted eight times and finished with five catches for 72 yards in a 28-10 victory. He has 373 receiving yards through eight games, most by any other rookie receiver this year.

The Saints will host the 49ers in Week 10.


Saints TE Jimmy Graham scores, looks like old self in Week 9
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:13 am ET) Saints tight end Jimmy Graham appeared to be back to his old self, scoring his fifth touchdown of the season Thursday night against the Panthers in Week 9.

After a pass interference penalty that brought the team to the 1-yard line, Graham came down with a reception in the end zone for a 1-yard score with three seconds remaining in the first half. He caught five passes for 50 yards and a score at halftime. He only caught two passes the rest of the way and finished with seven grabs for a team-high 83 yards and score on seven targets in a 28-10 victory.

Graham has scored in back-to-back games. He'll look to extend his scoring streak to three at home in Week 10 against the 49ers.


Saints' Mark Ingram cracks century mark, scores twice Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:06 am ET) Saints running back Mark Ingram found the end zone for the second consecutive game, scoring twice and leading his team to a 28-10 victory over the Panthers in Week 9 Thursday night. 

Ingram barreled into the end zone from 3 yards out late in the first half. He also aggravated a right shoulder injury in the first half and played through the pain in the second half wearing a sleeve. walked into the end zone from 3 yards out on a draw play with 5:34 remaining in the game to secure the win.

He took 30 handoffs for 100 yards and two scores, notching back-to-back career highs in carries over a five-day span. He caught one of two targets for 10 yards. He has 272 yards and three rushing touchdowns over that span.

He'll look to stay red-hot Week 10 at home against San Francisco.


Panthers K Graham Gano hits his only field goal Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:03 am ET) Panthers kicker Graham Gano hit his only field goal attempt Thursday against the Saints. 

The Panthers offense had a tough time getting anything going, limiting Gano's chances. His only attempt came with 12:57 left in the contest. Gano managed to hit from 31 yards out. He also managed one extra point attempt.

Gano will look for more Week 10 against the Eagles. 


Saints' Drew Brees overcomes early mistakes to secure first road win
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:02 am ET) Saints quarterback Drew Brees worked past a couple of early turnovers and scored two touchdowns to lead his team to their first road win of the season Week 9 at Carolina.

Brees had two turnovers over the first 10 minutes of the game. He was picked off by Dwan Edwards on a tipped pass from Kenny Stills on the opening drive of the night. On the ensuing drive, he lost a fumble after Erik Lorig got pushed back into him while trying to pass protect. 

Brees bounced back with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham with three seconds remaining in the first half. He gambled on a 4th and goal in the third quarter, leaping over the goal line for a 1-yard score -- his first rushing touchdown of the season.

Brees compiled 297 yards through the air while completing 24 of 34 passes. He added one touchdown and one interception, registering a 94.9 passer rating. He was sacked four times and rushed for 2 yards and a score on four carries in a 28-10 victory.

The Saints will host the 49ers in Week 10.


 
 
 
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