By Adam Pfeifer on May 16, 2014
There is no better way to describe Frank Gore. The 49ers running back continues to age, continues to see a heavy workload (not to mention a workload that goes deep into the postseason), yet there he is-- finishing as a top-13 running back in each of the last three seasons. He's been a safe and consistent source of fantasy production for years, but 2014 is the year where Gore's fantasy stardom is slayed.
The 49ers, who already had four running backs in the picture, decided it was necessary to grab another bruising back in Carlos Hyde in the draft. Now, in a real football perspective, it's a good move. San Francisco continues to get more physical to compete in that tough NFC West, and the 49ers tend to just load up on talent. But for fantasy, it's annoying, because even though Gore is the top back, Hyde, Kendall Hunter and others will be invovled.
Gore has already carried the ball 2,187 times for his career, and he just turned 31-years old. The guy has been workhorse, ranking top-10 in carries in five of the last six seasons. Not to mention the fact that the 49ers have gone to two straight NFC title games. Reports out of San Francisco indicate that they don't want one man to do it all this year, and that Carlos Hyde will see short-yardage work. The volume may see a decrease in 2014.
It's common sense, but running backs with a ton of tread on their tires tend to break down a lot faster. Via Jamey Eisenberg of CBS Sports, over the past 10 years, 27 rushers have seen 400 total touches in a year, and only five improved their fantasy numbers. Gore is averaging 243 carries over the course of his career, and 280 total touches during that span. There is no reason to believe that he can get better from here on out.
A 31-year old back with a ton of wear and tear on his body tends to translate to some injuries. Gore has played in three straight full seasons, but it hasn't been perfect, as he's dealt with some nagging injuries that he fought through. And when you consider the fact that the 49ers have ranked top-five in rushing attempts per game in each of the last three seasons, you know he is going to get hit a ton, once again.
Look, Frank Gore is pretty darn safe, and if he falls to you, there is nothing wrong with scooping him up. However, even though running back is shallow, there are still a handful of higher upside guys available that I'd rather prefer, such as Giovani Bernard, C.J. Spiller and Andre Ellington. Gore is good, but never finished as a top-five fantasy back. These guys have that upside and potential.
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