• Inside the Locker Room
With Bay Area NFL Correspondent Eric Gilmore
We all know Frank Gore’s injury history. So is it Anthony Dixon or Kendall Hunter to take as the handcuff?
At this point, Dixon would likely have the slight edge in what could turn into a training camp battle for the No. 2 job. At 6'1" and 233 pounds, he’s built for new coach Jim Harbaugh’s power running scheme. Hunter stands 5'7" and weighs just 200 pounds. He’s not built to take consistent pounding in the NFL. Dixon has a year of NFL experience, too, carrying 70 times for 237 yards and two touchdowns last year. Hunter has yet to go through a single NFL practice. He’ll likely have a role as a third down back or a change-of-pace runner.
Is it even worth looking at the No. 2 receiver for the 49ers or is it just going to be Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis getting the targets?
No. 2 wideout Josh Morgan has done little to get fantasy team owners excited, but he has a combined 96 catches over the past two seasons, and the question now is whether he can take his game to a higher level playing in a West Coast offense. He averaged 15.9 yards per catch last year, while Crabtree averaged just 13.5.
Should Patrick Willis be the No. 1 overall IDP taken?
Willis has racked up 595 tackles in four NFL seasons, and it’s a good bet that this textbook tackler will put up more big numbers this season. The fact that he had a career-low 128 tackles last year could be seen as a red flag, but he played two games with a broken hand and missed the season finale. If not for that injury, his tackle total would have been much higher.
• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: @ARI, PIT, @SEA
Seeing Pittsburgh on the schedule in the fantasy postseason is always scary, and even scarier when the key guy from this team is RB Frank Gore and the Steelers consistently shut down the run. Arizona (26.5 ppg) and Seattle (24.0 ppg) gave up the second- and sixth-most points per games to RBs, however, and at least 9.0 points per game to TEs.
• Athlon Best Bets
Sleeper: Kendall Hunter, RB
Deep-Sleeper: NaVorro Bowman, LB
Overvalued: Michael Crabtree, WR
Top Rookie: Kendall Hunter, RB
Bounce-Back: Frank Gore, RB
Top IDP: Patrick Willis, LB
• Try to Avoid
Alex Smith, QB
Not even Jim Harbaugh’s Midas touch will be good enough to land Smith on any fantasy roster. He has never topped 3,000 yards or 20 TDs in a season, and he has more career INTs (53) than TDs (51).
WAIT UNTIL: 18th RD
• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
Colin Kaepernick is expected to be the quarterback of the future but needs a year or two to develop. He should be on the radar in keeper drafts this fall. With Frank Gore coming off a hip injury, Hunter should be good insurance and will push Anthony Dixon for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.
More Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets and Rankings:
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 280
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 240 w/ IDPs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams