Dynasty Stock Market: Colin Kaepernick
Jim Harbaugh’s midseason decision to bench incumbent Alex Smith in favor of raw sophomore Colin Kaepernick was the league’s most scrutinized move this past year. As it turns out, Harbaugh couldn’t have been more right in doing so. Kaepernick led San Francisco to the Super Bowl and was the offensive piece that the coach knew he needed to take the 49ers’ offense to the next level, allowing the unit to catch up to the team’s already dominant defense. The young signal caller submitted a historic statistical performance against the Packers and showed the poise of a veteran in a 17-point comeback against the Falcons on the road in the NFC championship game.
Rightfully so, Kaepernick has been a hot topic in fantasy football circles since the season ended, particularly in dynasty leagues. He is among the head of the class of new age, read-option quarterbacks that have taken the NFL by storm the past few years. Following a full offseason for defensive coordinators to plot against the read option after the breakout seasons of Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, and Kaepernick, next season will be a true test to see if the scheme is sustainable at the professional level. I for one believe that it is.
The three quarterbacks mentioned above, along with Cam Newton, are what I would consider the “elite” category of read option passers. All four of these players are attractive fantasy assets as a result of their running ability, especially in dynasty with their young age. While his price is certainly not cheap, the University of Nevada alum is being undervalued relative to these other quarterbacks in dynasty leagues, in particular Cam Newton and Robert Griffin. Given his documented work ethic, brilliant head coach, mauling offensive line, and strong supporting cast of playmakers, the sky is the limit for Kaepernick, and he should be a target to acquire in dynasty leagues.
The following is a chart of stats from each of these quarterback’s first 11 starts in the NFL. I wanted to look at them on an even playing field as “rookies.” Considering that this is all data from only the past two NFL seasons, I think that it’s a fair measurement tool. Cam Newton’s stats are from the 2011 season and the other three are from this year, including Kapernick’s playoff games.
|Player||Drop Backs||Yards||TD||INT||Comp %||Rushes||Yds||TD||Pts|
|Robert Griffin III||367||2492||16||4||72||100||642||6||259.9|
Other than Russell Wilson, the other three are in the same range for total fantasy points. The efficiency stats are what separate these players. As can be seen in the chart below, Kaepernick stands out no matter what way you slice it. He is tied with Robert Griffin with 0.71 points per drop back, significantly above Newton and Wilson. He also ranks at the top in terms of fantasy points per rushing attempt and per total opportunities (drop backs + rushing attempts).
|Points Per Opportunity (Drop Backs + Rushing Attemps)||Points Per Drop Back||Points Per Rushing Attempt|
|Robert Griffin III||0.56||0.71||2.60|
Over their first 11 starts, Kaepernick had 127 fewer opportunities than Cam Newton but only scored 20 less fantasy points than he did. If we project out 127 more opportunities for Kaepernick at his average of 0.59 points per opportunity, it adds 74 points to his total and puts him 55 points ahead of Newton. Going into next season, I do not expect there to be that sizable of a gap in touches between the two. Jim Harbaugh didn’t even unveil his full read-option package until the playoffs! There is no doubt in my mind that there are wrinkles that Harbaugh has been dying to add to his offense but wasn’t able to because of the physical limitations of Alex Smith. With Kaepernick, he has the Swiss Army knife he has waited for.
In terms of dynasty, I have noticed that Kaepernick is still being taken well behind Cam Newton and Robert Griffin in start-ups. I think this provides a great opportunity to go and get him. He has Griffin’s speed but is better suited to take the pounding of rushing in the NFL like Cam. He has already proven in my mind that he is a better passer than Newton. If you are in an existing dynasty league and are a Newton or Robert Griffin owner, talk to the Kaepernick owner and see how much he would throw in on top of Kaepernick. If you can get a good first-round rookie pick or more, I would seriously consider taking it.