Things have been relatively quiet in San Francisco this offseason and considering that there is a new head coach in town that may not be such a bad thing. Rather than grab headlines and fry under the media spotlight Chip Kelly and his staff should be focused on making the 49ers a better team than they were a year ago. As for Fantasy Football in San Fran it starts and may very well end with Carlos Hyde.
RB Carlos Hyde
After flashing during his rookie season in 2014 behind Frank Gore, Hyde’s start to the 2015 season was as impressive as any. Against one of the NFL’s best defenses in Minnesota; Hyde demonstrated his speed, power, burst and lateral agility to the tune of 26/168/2. Outside of a strong Week 5 effort against the New York Giants that would mark the only noteworthy performance by Hyde last season. An injury shortened campaign was further marred by a non-existent passing attack, underwhelming offensive line, and a defense that struggled to get off the field consistently. Enter Chip Kelly whose offensive scheme smacks of the running game Hyde exceled in during his days at Ohio State. From 2013-2015 the former Eagles head coach’s offense ranked in the Top 11 in rushing attempts (1st in 2013). With the battery of Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert at quarterback and no substantial threat to siphon carries on the depth chart, Hyde should be given all the carries he can handle.
WR Torrey Smith
2015 was a season to forget for the former Baltimore Raven. Smith set career lows in receptions (33), targets (61), and yards (663). The speedster also matched his career low in TD receptions (4) in a single season. Inconsistency has always been the knock on Smith but the abysmal play of his quarterbacks in San Francisco are substantially more to blame than the 27-year-old wide out in this case. Never one for efficiency, Smith did post his highest catch per target percentage in his career at 54% in 2015. He also averaged over 20 yards per reception which demonstrates the one thing you can’t coach. Speed! Chip Kelly’s offensive scheme typically creates large throwing windows by using motions, misdirection, smoke and mirrors which helps mitigate accuracy deficiencies. Ask Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez. Consider that the Eagles’ receiving leaders over the last three seasons: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Jordan Matthews. Despite Matthews’ struggles in 2015 he still finished with an 85/997/8 line. Smith should be roster worthy in 2016 particularly with the quarterback crutch that is Anquan Boldin no longer in to town. But his QB play makes him more of a bye week fill-in rather than a weekly starter.
QB Colin Kaepernick/Blaine Gabbert
I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Colin Kaepernick will be fantasy relevant in 2016. I would also like to say that he will NOT be on any of my fantasy teams. While I firmly believe that you cannot consistently win in the NFL if you cannot play from the pocket this is about Fantasy Football. Considering the system he will be playing in suits his skill-set and rushing TDs for quarterbacks are a thing of beauty in fantasy, I expect Kaepernick to be the first signal-caller claimed off the waiver wire this season. Assuming he beats out the greatness that is Blaine Gabbert of course…
Others of note:
- TE Vance McDonald