There are certain relationships in life that are just too, too beautiful. Cory and Topanga, peanut butter and jelly and Bill Belichick and Tom Brady come to mind, but another burgeoning couple is on the horizon in the NFL.
Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree.
The San Francisco 49ers duo continues to emerge as one of the better tandems in the league today, and when both are on the field, they truly bring out the best in each other. Crabtree, a top-12 pick back in 2010, has gotten better in each season he’s been in the league, and, of course, we’ve seen what Kaepernick has done for the 49ers and the NFL. Since taking over the starting job for Alex Smith, Kaepernick has led San Francisco to two NFC title games, as well as a Super Bowl appearance. He’s been great for this team in terms of real life, and has been an emerging star in fantasy land, as well.
During his first full season last year, Kaepernick finished as the 11th-best fantasy signal caller, which isn’t even close to his ceiling. He’s always been serviceable for fantasy owners, but with Crabtree in the lineup, he’s been great. According to CBS leagues, in the 12 games Crabtree missed last year, there were only five outings where Kaepernick had at least 19 fantasy points. However, during the eight games (including playoffs) with Crabtree, Kaepernick posted 19 or more fantasy points in seven of those contests. That, via Jamey Eisenberg. Also, if you go back to 2012, when Kaepernick first took over the quarterback position, he posted 20 points or more in six of his 10 starts– all with Crabtree, of course.
Fantasy numbers are fun, but Kaepernick needs Crabtree to post those numbers.
The 49ers offense, as a unit, is better with Crabtree, too. According to Tyson Langland, the 49ers averaged 308 total yards of offense (173 passing) during the first 12 weeks of the 2013 season, but when Crabtree returned to the lineup, they averaged 361 yards of total offense (214 passing). Of course, it would be great for Kaepernick’s fantasy prospects if the 49ers actually threw the ball more, as they ranked second-to- last in pass attempts per game last year (26.4).
So what does this all mean?
Simply put, Colin Kaepernick, on his own, is a good fantasy passer. However, with Crabtree on his side, he can be an elite fantasy passer. Via ESPN Stats and Info, once Crabtree returned in Week 13 last year, Kaepernick was 3rd in the NFL in QBR (76.9), and from that time on, Kaepernick posted four top-15 fantasy finishes, including a few top-five. Combine all of this with the fact that he is a deadly runner, rushing for 937 yards over the last two seasons, and Kaepernick again makes for an intriguing passer to target towards the 9th or 10th round of your fantasy drafts.
Just pray that Crabtree can stay healthy.