The San Francisco 49ers lost a key offensive weapon this week, as wide receiver Michael Crabtree suffered a torn right Achilles’ tendon on Tuesday during an OTA practice. He reportedly underwent surgery on Wednesday and will be sidelined for at least six months. Crabtree emerged as a primary target for 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick late last season and during San Francisco’s run to the Super Bowl, so he will be missed as the team looks to put themselves in position for another deep postseason run.
The 49ers looked toward the opposite sideline during February’s Super Bowl to bolster their wide receiver group this offseason, trading a sixth-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for Anquan Boldin. He did not have a terrific regular season with the Ravens in 2012 (65 receptions for 921 yards and four touchdowns), but a strong postseason (22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns) may have put rumors of his demise to rest.
Boldin now becomes by far the most proven wide receiver on the 49ers’ roster with Crabtree out, but should fantasy football owners view him as a top option for 2013?
Boldin will turn 33 during the coming season, and he has not topped 1,000 yards or had more than 65 catches in a season since 2009 with the Arizona Cardinals. Durability is also a primary concern for fantasy owners, as he has played all 16 regular season games just once in the last six seasons, and that will definitely not go away even after the production he had late last season.
San Francisco attempted the second-fewest passes in the NFL in 2012 (436-27.3 per game), and that is unlikely to change much in 2013 with running back Frank Gore still around and the running ability Kaepernick brings to the table. Young wide receivers A.J. Jenkins and Quinton Patton should have a chance to earn more playing time with Crabtree out, but Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis are the two players who stand to benefit most in terms of increased targets.
Crabtree’s injury has little impact on my overall opinion of Boldin for 2013, as I already considered him a solid WR2 or WR3 in standard leagues. It’s easy to bump Boldin up preseason rankings based on the likelihood for increased production, and there is certainly good reason to do so, but he has just 18 touchdowns over the last four seasons and I think his fantasy value will only change significantly in PPR leagues.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.