2013 San Francisco 49ers Fantasy Football Projections

QB Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco)

In 10 starts last year, including playoffs, Kaepernick threw for 2406 yards, with 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with 502 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. Over 16 games, that’s 3850 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 803 rushing yards, and 8 touchdowns. Michael Crabtree is out, but Vernon Davis, who did nothing for him until late in the playoff run last year, should be able to make up for his absence along with veteran Anquan Boldin, 2nd year receiver AJ Jenkins and a pair of rookies Quinton Patton and Vance McDonald. I’m not going to quite project those stats for him because he won’t catch anyone by surprise this year, but he’s still a projected top-5 fantasy quarterback.

Projection: 3600 passing yards 22 touchdowns 9 interceptions 700 rushing yards 7 touchdowns (326 pts standard, 370 pts 6 pt TD leagues)

RB Frank Gore (San Francisco)

For the 3rd straight year, the 49ers have drafted a running back. While Marcus Lattimore might not play a snap this year due to injury, it’s just another reminder that the 49ers feel Gore doesn’t have much left. Heading into his age 30 season, Gore has played all 16 games in each of the last 2 years after doing so just once in his first 6 seasons, but the reason for that is because the 49ers have cut his touches per game in each of the last 2 years, from 22.6 in 2010 to 18.7 in 2011 to 17.9 in 2012. Expect that number to shrink down even more in 2013 with Kendall Hunter returning from injury and LaMichael James getting a bigger role and he’s no lock to play all 16 games.

It’s also worth noting that he’s tired out down the stretch in each of the last 2 seasons. In 2011, he averaged 4.9 YPC in his first 8 games and 3.6 YPC in his last 8 games, while in 2012, he went from 5.5 YPC to 4.0 YPC. He’s also not as big a part of the passing game under Jim Harbaugh as he used to be, catching 45 passes in the last 2 years combined after averaging 51 per year in the previous 5 years. Colin Kaepernick, who rarely checks down, threw to him even less, as he caught just 11 passes in his 10 starts. Gore is a RB2, but one with little upside and a lot of downside considering his age and the amount of competition in the backfield.

Projection: 220 carries for 990 rushing yards 8 total touchdowns 20 catches for 160 yards (163 pts standard, 183 pts PPR)

WR Anquan Boldin (San Francisco)

Anquan Boldin had a great post-season last year and is their #1 wide receiver after the injury to Michael Crabtree, but he’ll probably be overdrafted. He turns 33 in October and while his production has been hanging in the 837-921 yard range over the last 3 seasons, I think it’s unlikely he gets across that 1000 yard threshold this year and he certainly won’t match Michael Crabtree’s 1105 yards. Vernon Davis is a better bet to lead the 49ers in receiving yards.

Projection: 65 catches for 880 receiving yards 6 touchdowns (124 pts standard, 189 pts PPR)

TE Vernon Davis (San Francisco)

Vernon Davis caught just 41 passes for 548 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2012 and was even worse in the 2nd half of the year as he didn’t show any chemistry with new quarterback Colin Kaepernick, catching 16 passes for 174 yards and 1 touchdown in the final 8 games of the regular season. However, that changed in the post-season, as he caught 12 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown in 3 games. With another off-season working with Kaepernick, Davis should continue that kind of production and is the favorite to lead the team in receiving with Michael Crabtree out. He and Boldin are the only veteran receivers they have and Davis is simply more talented, younger, and more familiar with Kaepernick.

Projection: 58 catches for 900 receiving yards 7 touchdowns (132 pts standard, 190 pts PPR)

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2013 Arizona Cardinals Fantasy Football Projections

QB Carson Palmer (Arizona)

Carson Palmer is a better fantasy quarterback than real quarterback. In reality, he turns the ball over too much, is too inefficient inside the red zone, and produces too much of his production in garbage time, which is why he was able to throw for 4000 yards with a 85.3 QB rating on a 4-12 team that scored 18.1 points per game last season in Oakland. He’s a year older now and there won’t be as many chances for garbage yards in Arizona, where the defense isn’t nearly as atrocious as the Raiders’ league worst in 2012.

However, he’ll have a much better group of supporting playmakers as Larry Fitzgerald is one of the game’s best receivers, Andre Roberts has emerged as a solid complimentary option, and Michael Floyd and Rob Housler both have big time upside. He also gets a great offensive minded Head Coach in Bruce Arians who is going to give him a lot of opportunities to make things happen downfield and accumulate yards. He should approach 4000 yards again and be a solid QB2, albeit one with minimal upside.

Projection: 3900 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 40 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns (222 pts standard, 270 pts in 6 pt TD leagues)

RB Rashard Mendenhall (Arizona)

Mendenhall was an overrated running back thanks to fantasy football in his first 4 years in Pittsburgh. He would accumulate a lot of yards and touchdowns, but benefitted largely from the offense he played on and the large volume of carries he received, averaging just 4.2 yards per carry and doing little in the passing game. Last year he bottomed out, limited to 51 carries by injury, averaged 3.6 yards per carry, and didn’t score, but he lands in a good situation in Arizona.

He’s a year and a half removed from the torn ACL and reunites with his former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians on a team that ranked dead last in rushing yards and yards per carry last season. Ryan Williams still has some upside on the depth chart behind him if he can ever stay healthy and they drafted a pair of intriguing backs in the late rounds, but Mendenhall will get the first crack at early down work, with Williams serving as the chance of pace back so there’s some value here. He’s the Arizona back to own if you’re into that kind of thing.

Projection: 180 carries for 740 rushing yards 7 total touchdowns 20 catches for 140 receiving yards (130 pts standard, 150 pts PPR)

RB Stepfan Taylor (Arizona)

8/25/13: Ryan Williams just can’t get healthy. The Cardinals are shopping him ahead of final cuts and could cut him if they can’t find a taker. He’s not worth drafting anymore. 5th round rookie Stepfan Taylor is the handcuff you want for injury prone Rashard Mendenhall.

Projection: Projection: 120 carries for 520 receiving yards 4 total touchdowns 15 catches for 110 receiving yards (87 pts standard, 102 pts PPR)

WR Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona)

One of the great receivers of his generation, Larry Fitzgerald has sadly never really had great quarterback play, except for those couple Warner years, but he’s always produced. Last year, however, was too much for even him to handle as Arizona’s pathetic quarterback play limited him to 71 catches for 798 yards and a career low 4 touchdowns. From 2005-2011, Fitzgerald averaged 94 catches for 1309 yards and 10 touchdowns per 16 games and he’s only missed 4 games with injury in his career. Carson Palmer isn’t great or anything, but he should be able to allow Fitzgerald to bounce back in a big way and approach those averages.

Projection: 80 catches for 1200 receiving yards 8 touchdowns (168 pts standard, 248 pts PPR)

WR Andre Roberts (Arizona)

8/26/13: With Floyd locking up the starting job, Andre Roberts will mostly just be the slot receiver this year. There’s still room for production with him in that role because the Cardinals will be passing a lot and passing out of 3-wide sets, but he’s just a late round pick.

What was lost in Arizona’s miserable 2012 season was that wide receiver Andre Roberts had a breakout year, as so many receivers do in their 3rd year in the league, just no one noticed because his production was limited by the guys throwing him the ball. Roberts’ 64 catches for 759 yards and 5 touchdowns not only  were all career highs, but they are pretty close to what Larry Fitzgerald produced and he did so on 40 fewer targets and 80 fewer pass snaps. Like the rest of this Arizona receiving corps, Roberts will benefit from improved quarterback play. He’ll probably rotate snaps in 2-wide sets with promising 2nd year Michael Floyd, but there will be enough 3-wide sets and enough yards to go around for both young receivers to get theirs.

Projection: 57 catches for 750 receiving yards 4 touchdowns (99 pts standard, 156 pts PPR)

WR Michael Floyd (Arizona)

8/26/13: Michael Floyd has locked up a starting job. He has big upside opposite Larry Fitzgerald in Bruce Arians’ offense.

Because of this fantasy football centric/immediate results world we live in, Floyd was seen as largely a disappointment as a 1st round rookie last year. However, when you look at history, there is nothing disappointing about his rookie year. Receivers, even 1st round picks, take at least a year to come around.  Since 2005, 28 receivers have gone in the 1st round. They’ve averaged 40 catches for 557 yards and 3 touchdowns per season. Floyd’s 45 catches for 562 yards and 2 touchdowns are actually right in line with that and he got better as the season went on, catching 32 passes for 435 yards and a touchdown in his final 8 games, culminating in a 8 catch for 166 yards and a touchdown performance week 17.

Plus, he did that despite some of the worst quarterbacking in the NFL. The Cardinals ranked dead last in the NFL, averaging 5.6 YPA, 28th totaling 3005 yards, 31st totaling 11 touchdowns, and led the NFL with 21 interceptions. The only serviceable one of the bunch, Kevin Kolb, only played the first 6 weeks of the season and Floyd only played 162 of 424 snaps in those 6 games, 38.2%. The rest of Arizona’s quarterbacks threw 3 touchdowns to 18 interceptions. It’s no surprise that Floyd’s big game week 17 came in the first game he played serious snaps with even a legitimate NFL backup caliber quarterback under center in Brian Hoyer.

Projection: 65 catches for 900 yards and 6 touchdowns (126 pts standard, 191 pts PPR)

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Potential Breakout Player of 2013: Da’Quan Bowers

The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many positions that every year, there is almost always at least one player who has a breakout year on every team, no matter how good or bad the team is. This is one part in a 32 part segment detailing one potential breakout player (rookies don’t count) for the 2013 NFL season on each NFL team. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that player is defensive end Da’Quan Bowers.

When Da’Quan Bowers tore his Achilles in May of 2012, he was presumed to be lost for the season. However, as has been happening more and more often lately, Bowers was able to return within 6 months and played in the Buccaneers’ final 10 games. Bowers didn’t play much, serving mostly as a situational pass rusher, but returning for a partial season undoubtedly helped Bowers in his long-term development. Heading into his 3rd year in the league, that should prove to be very valuable for Bowers, a 2nd round pick out of Clemson during the 2011 NFL Draft.

Bowers also played pretty well in limited action last year, with 3 sacks, 5 hits, and 9 hurries on 200 pass rush snaps and 5 run stops on 60 run snaps. Overall, he graded out above average on ProFootballFocus. Now even further removed from that injury and fully healthy, Bowers could easily have a breakout 3rd year in 2013, assuming he stays healthy. Injury concerns were the reason for his fall from the top-10 to the 50th pick in 2011, but he’s certainly got plenty of talent.

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Chicago Bears Potential Breakout Player of 2013: Major Wright

The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many positions that every year, there is almost always at least one player who has a breakout year on every team, no matter how good or bad the team is. This is one part in a 32 part segment detailing one potential breakout player (rookies don’t count) for the 2013 NFL season on each NFL team. For the Chicago Bears, that player is safety Major Wright.

Major Wright’s season was very similar to the Chicago Bears’ season. The Bears started the season 7-1 before finishing the season 3-5 in their final 8 games and missing the playoffs. Wright, similarly, had a great start to his season, but finished but just above average. In his first 8 games, Wright graded out above average on ProFootballFocus 6 times, including 3 games above +1.0 and 2 games above +2.0. He was only -1.0 once in those 8 games.

Overall, he was my mid-season pick to represent the NFC in the Pro-Bowl from the strong safety position. He had 14 tackles for offensive failure, also known as stops (within 4 yards of the LOS on 1st round, 6 yards on 2nd down, and the full distance on 3rd or 4th down) and only missed 3 tackles on the season. In coverage, he was thrown at 17 times, allowing 11 completions for 132 yards and no touchdowns, while picking off 3 passes, deflecting 1 pass, and committing 1 penalty.

However, in the final 8 games, he was positive in just 4 games, above +1.0 twice, never above +2.0, and below -1.0 twice, including a season worst -5.2 game against the 49ers week 11 that killed his chances of being a very highly rated player on the season. In that game, he allowed 4 completions for 54 yards and his first touchdown of the season on 4 attempts, missing 2 tackles, committing 1 penalty, and only recording 1 stop. Combined in his 8 games, he missed 7 tackles to 11 stops, allowed 12 catches for 131 yards on 20 attempts for 2 touchdowns, 1 interception. He deflected 1 pass in those 8 games and had 2 penalties.

He finished the season above average in both coverage and against the run, but was only 23rd among safeties on ProFootballFocus. Now heading into his 4th year in the league, Wright, a 2010 3rd round pick, doesn’t turn 25 until July and still has plenty of upside. He’ll need to improve his consistency and his tackling, but he has a chance to grade out as one of the better safeties in the league.

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Cincinnati Bengals Potential Breakout Player of 2013: Mohamed Sanu

The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many positions that every year, there is almost always at least one player who has a breakout year on every team, no matter how good or bad the team is. This is one part in a 32 part segment detailing one potential breakout player (rookies don’t count) for the 2013 NFL season on each NFL team. For the Cincinnati Bengals, that player is wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.

Mohamed Sanu had a very nondescript rookie year, catching 16 passes for 154 yards and 4 touchdowns as a 3rd round rookie out of Rutgers. However, he did not really play much, playing only 209 snaps, including just 116 pass snaps. He played more than 50% of his team’s snaps just 3 times, weeks 10-12, when he caught 11 passes for 98 yards and 4 touchdowns. Following that week 12 game, he missed the rest of the season with a foot injury.

However, going into 2013, he’s expected to win the starting job opposite AJ Green with Andrew Hawkins on the slot and he has a good chance to pick up where he left off when he was finally getting playing time and even improve. I love his fit in Cincinnati, with Andy Dalton having a weaker arm than most franchise quarterbacks, with Jay Gruden leading a West Coast Offense as offensive coordinator, and especially with AJ Green opposite him.

Before the draft, I gave Sanu a 2nd round grade and compared him to former Bengal receiver TJ Houshmanzadeh, saying that the perfect fit for him would be for him to play opposite a deep threat like Houshmanzadeh did with Chad Johnson/Ochocinco and just eat up all the underneath targets. Little did I know that Sanu would be drafted by the Bengals, who were in need of a possession receiver like him to play opposite deep threat AJ Green.

He was incredibly productive at Rutgers despite poor quarterback play. In 2011, he caught 115 passes, which was almost 50% of his team’s 256 catches. The #2 guy on his team in terms of catches had 32. However, of the 210 career catches he had at Rutgers, only 4 went for more than 20 yards. He has absolutely no speed to burn and he’s not a vertical threat at all, running a 4.67. He’s really, really good at what he does though, which is getting open short, making tough possession catches. In his 2nd year in the league, he should be able to display those abilities in 2013 and lock down the starting job opposite Green.

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Cleveland Browns Potential Breakout Player of 2013: John Greco

The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many positions that every year, there is almost always at least one player who has a breakout year on every team, no matter how good or bad the team is. This is one part in a 32 part segment detailing one potential breakout player (rookies don’t count) for the 2013 NFL season on each NFL team. For the Cleveland Browns, that player is guard John Greco.

Guards don’t get a lot of glory in the NFL, especially when they play for losing teams, but every chance Greco has gotten, he’s shown himself to be a very good guard. A 3rd round pick of the Rams in 2008, Greco graded out positively on ProFootballFocus on 174, 279, and 153 snaps from 2008-2010 as a valuable reserve of the Rams. The Browns acquired him for a late round pick after the 2010 season, but he didn’t really play much in 2011, playing 52 offensive snaps and primarily being a special teamer. However, in 2012, when injuries struck left guard Jason Pinkston, Greco got his first chance to be a full-time starter, starting the final 10 games of the season.

Greco made the most of his opportunity, grading out as ProFootballFocus’ 19th rated guard, with no one playing fewer snaps than him and grading out higher. He did his best work as a run blocker, grading out as ProFootballFocus’ 7th best run blocking guard, but also held his own as a pass protector, allowing just 3 sacks, 7 hits, and 7 hurries on an overall very underrated Cleveland offensive line. He was a big part of the reason why the Browns averaged 4.19 yards per carry behind left guard, as opposed to 3.86 yards per carry elsewhere.

Heading into his age 28 season in 2013, Greco is expected to be week 1 starter for the first time in his career. He’ll head over to right guard to play his natural position and replace long term turnstile Shawn Lauvao with Jason Pinkston returning at left guard to compete with Lauvao. If he plays like he has every time he’s gotten a chance in the past, he’ll finish the season as one of the league’s better guards, possibly in the top-10 or top-15.

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Arizona Cardinals Potential Breakout Player of 2013: Michael Floyd

The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many positions that every year, there is almost always at least one player who has a breakout year on every team, no matter how good or bad the team is. This is one part in a 32 part segment detailing one potential breakout player (rookies don’t count) for the 2013 NFL season on each NFL team. For the Arizona Cardinals, that player is wide receiver Michael Floyd.

Michael Floyd was a 1st round pick of the Arizona Cardinals last year, taken with the 13th pick at the urging of Larry Fitzgerald, who felt that Floyd could be what Anquan Boldin once was, someone to take the bracket coverage off of Fitzgerald. However, because of this fantasy football centric/immediate results world we live in, Floyd was seen as largely a disappointment.

However, when you look at history, there is nothing disappointing about his rookie year. Receivers, even 1st round picks, take at least a year to come around.  Since 2005, 28 receivers have gone in the 1st round. They’ve averaged 40 catches for 557 yards and 3 touchdowns per season. Floyd’s 45 catches for 562 yards and 2 touchdowns are actually right in line with that and he got better as the season went on, catching 32 passes for 435 yards and a touchdown in his final 8 games, culminating in a 8 catch for 166 yards and a touchdown performance week 17.

Plus, he did that despite some of the worst quarterbacking in the NFL. The Cardinals ranked dead last in the NFL, averaging 5.6 YPA, 28th totaling 3005 yards, 31st totaling 11 touchdowns, and led the NFL with 21 interceptions. The only serviceable one of the bunch, Kevin Kolb, only played the first 6 weeks of the season and Floyd only played 162 of 424 snaps in those 6 games, 38.2%. The rest of Arizona’s quarterbacks threw 3 touchdowns to 18 interceptions. It’s no surprise that Floyd’s big game week 17 came in the first game he played serious snaps with even a legitimate NFL backup caliber quarterback under center in Brian Hoyer, who went 19 of 34 for 225 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions.

This off-season, the Cardinals went out and added Carson Palmer to play quarterback. Palmer isn’t a great quarterback or anything. He’s an average at best quarterback declining as he heads into his age 34 season. He turns the ball over too much and isn’t good in the red zone, but at least he has enough throwing ability to get the ball to a very, very underrated receiving corps in Arizona and he’s always been good in garbage time.

Floyd is expected to win the starting job over Andre Roberts, though the two will probably rotate snaps and work together in 3-wide receiver sets. Palmer threw for 4000 yards on a 4-12 Oakland team that only scored 18.1 points per game and could do something similar this year in Arizona (they have more supporting talent though). They might not win a lot of games, but their receivers should be able to get theirs and show their ability. Floyd figures to see plenty of single coverage and could have a breakout year as a complement opposite Larry Fitzgerald.

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