The NFC West is home to two of the top teams in the NFL in the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, and each are led by a top young quarterback in Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. Fantasy football owners were certainly happy to have either one last year, as Wilson became draftable after winning the starting job while Kaepernick became a top waiver wire addition after replacing Alex Smith as the 49ers’ starter.
Wilson and Kaepernick are both in line for big seasons in 2013, but is one a better fantasy option than the other?
The Case For Colin Kaepernick
Kaepernick had some good moments early last season in a specialized role, but his performance in his first career start against the Chicago Bears in Week 11 (16-for-23 for 243 yards and two touchdowns) allowed him to keep the starting job even after Smith was healthy enough to play. In his seven regular season starts, Kaepernick averaged nearly 230 passing yards and 34 rushing yards per game with 12 total touchdowns (10 passing, two rushing) over that span.
Kaepernick continued to shine during the 49ers’ postseason run, particularly in the Divisional Round against the Green Bay Packers (263 passing yards, 181 rushing yards, four total touchdowns), and his first 300-yard passing game came in Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Case For Russell Wilson
Wilson only attempted more than 30 passes in a game three times in 2012, but he completed over 64 percent of his passes and only had two games where he did not account for a touchdown. Apart from his 26 passing touchdowns, which were more than more heralded rookie signal callers Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III had, Wilson also had 489 rushing yards and four touchdowns to further bolster his fantasy value.
Seattle had the most run-oriented offense in the league last season (536 attempts), due in part to Wilson’s 94 carries, but the addition of wide receiver Percy Harvin may lead to a more diverse offense in 2013.
The conservative offenses run by the 49ers and Seahawks keep Wilson and Kaepernick out of the elite class of fantasy quarterbacks, but both are solid choices as a low-end QB1 in 12-team leagues due to the value they add with their running ability. Of course that mobility also leads to increased chances for injury, which adds extra risk for fantasy owners.
Since he has a group of skill position players around him that are healthy right now, and for the most part still in the prime of their careers, Wilson is my choice over Kaepernick. San Francisco lacks proven pass catchers, even with the addition of Anquan Boldin, and wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who was Kaepernick’s favorite target last season, tore his right Achilles’ tendon during OTAs and is unlikely to return until late in the season.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.