Year after year, I always heard about how Frank Gore was too old, too heavy, too slow, or too prone to injuries to draft. Yet year after year, Gore has remained a top running back in fantasy football.
It is a common theme to hear that the San Francisco 49ers are going to try and lessen Gore’s workload, but he is simply too valuable to remove from the game plan for any time period. The 31-year-old back led the rushing attack for San Francisco with 1,128 rushing yards, while backups Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James made a contribution with their combined 417 rushing yards.
Gore finished the 2013 season as the 13th-highest scoring running back in standard scoring leagues, and that is impressive for the simple fact that he mainly scores his owners’ points from rushing the ball. His reception totals have taken a huge hit since Jim Harbaugh came to town, and that does reduce some of his value. Gore went from 46 receptions for 452 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in 2010 to 16 receptions, 141 receiving yards and no touchdown receptions in 2013. Reducing his dual-threat abilities doesn’t make much sense, but he still is able to get it done on the ground for his owners.
I won’t hold the decline in receptions against Gore, as even dump-off specialist Alex Smith seemed to not even target his running back under Harbaugh, but Gore’s other statistics, however, are worrisome. He obtained the third-most rushing attempts in his entire career this past season, but he wasn’t able to top his previous stats as he had the lowest rushing yards per carry average of any season that he has played, as well as the lowest rushing yards per game average since his rookie season.
Facing some of the most difficult defenses in the NFL, it will be not be a picnic for Gore to run against the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams twice a season. A major concern behind new running back addition Carlos Hyde was that he still needed to work on his receiving skills, but having a dual-threat back has obviously not been a priority for the 49ers in the past three seasons. Hyde is tank that will just pound through defenders if a hole isn’t open, and Harbaugh is not one to shy away from playing the hot hand.
After constantly hearing that Gore would not be a solid fantasy option, I think this is the year that all his detractors will be right. It isn’t that he can’t be productive, but his lagging statistics and new competition are some major red flags. If he falls beyond the sixth round, I think he is fine to pick up, but I would not risk drafting him any earlier than that.
He has proved the haters wrong season after season, but 2014 is not the year to draft Gore on your fantasy football team.