Fantasy Football: The Curious Case of Vernon Davis
Vernon Davis should be one of the top scoring tight ends in fantasy football every single year. At 6’3” and 250 pounds with blazing speed and the ability to literally leap over defenders, there are few NFL players with the blend of athleticism and skill that Davis has.
However, Davis has only had one elite season in fantasy football, and that was back during the 2009 campaign. In that season he posted 965 yards, 13 touchdowns, and a whopping 174.5 points in standard-scoring leagues. As you can see in the chart below, his overall numbers have dropped significantly since the 2009 season.
|Vernon Davis By The Numbers|
|Year||Targets||Receptions||Catch %||Receiving Yards||TDs||FF Points|
Over the past six months, Davis has seen his average draft position (ADP) rise from 6.07 to 5.08, almost a full round. The lowest round he’s been drafted in has been the eighth round with the highest draft pick happening at the end of the third round.
The 2013 season definitely holds promise for owners of Davis’ services, but there are also major concerns that need to be considered. Simply put, Davis is one of the most curious cases in fantasy football this season.
You could easily make a case for his ranking being too high or being too low, and today we’ll look at both those cases and make a final verdict.
The Case for Too High a Ranking
Davis is coming off a 2012 campaign that saw him finish with only 548 receiving yards and five touchdowns. His final points for standard scoring were a pedestrian 84.8. To put that in perspective, running back Doug Martin had more than half of Davis’ total points in one single game (51 points during Week 9).
And it wasn’t just the fact that Davis had Alex Smith throwing him the ball at the start of the season that caused him to play so poorly. In fact, during Colin Kaepernick’s 10 games as quarterback, he only targeted Davis 39 times. That’s the same amount of targets that Randy Moss received from Kaepernick, fewer than four targets a game.
So, it wasn’t so much poor quarterback play keeping Davis from dominating fantasy football, but rather the fact that his quarterbacks simply weren’t targeting him throughout the entire season. Will that change in 2013?
That’s the question that everyone will be pondering, and until he sees more targets there is no reason for him to be drafted as early as his ADP suggests.
The Case for Too Low a Ranking
Despite only seeing 39 targets while Kaepernick was at quarterback last year, all signs point to that number drastically improving in 2013. For starters, Kaepernick will be without his favorite target in wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
Crabtree saw 94 targets in 10 games last year, over twice as many as Davis. However, Crabtree tore his Achilles during the offseason and San Francisco will be lucky to get him back before the start of the postseason. That leaves only Anquan Boldin and Davis as the experienced receivers on the 49ers’ depth chart.
Furthermore, the 49ers have been lining Davis up at wide receiver throughout the offseason where his size and athleticism will give him an even bigger advantage. All signs point to Davis becoming the No. 1 target for Kaepernick, which will drastically improve his targets and overall fantasy production.
If Davis is still available in the middle of the fifth round, the trigger needs to be pulled. With everything that took place this offseason and the near guaranteed improvement of Kaepernick, Davis should be in for an extremely productive season.
He’s let us down in the past, but his situation in 2013 is about as ideal as they come. While it’ll be hard for him to overtake Jimmy Graham as the No. 1 tight end in fantasy football, it shouldn’t be a surprise at all for him to be the No. 2 scoring tight end by season’s end.
2013 Predicted Stats: 114 targets; 81 receptions; 1,069 yards; 11 touchdowns