Fantasy Reaction: Michael Crabtree Tears Achilles
News has surfaced today that San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles tendon during OTA’s this week, resulting in widespread panic on Twitter. Welcome to the NFL offseason. What impact will this injury have on the fantasy scene? Specifically, how does it impact Colin Kaepernick, Vernon Davis, and Anquan Boldin?
Much of the fantasy chatter surrounding the injury includes the 49ers’ offseason trade for Boldin, which looks mighty smart right about now. Prior to Crabtree’s injury, Boldin was lining up to be a WR4 or WR5, at best. With Crabtree potentially done for the season, 80-plus receptions have been left on the table in San Francisco.
While Crabtree was excellent down the stretch last season, he was only shaping up to be a WR2—with WR1 upside—in 2013. This injury is not a complete game changer. You can shrug off the incoming flood of Boldin hype as nothing more than May excitement. He certainly gains more value, but is nothing more than a WR3 for the season as a whole.
Keep in mind that the 49ers offense will still revolve around running the football. Last season, the team ran the ball 62.5% of the time. Additionally, Vernon Davis has proven himself as a viable option for the 49ers to lean on with their passing game. He was only targeted 56 times last season (compared to Crabtree’s 118), but I would argue that he benefits more than Boldin as a result of this injury.
When it’s all said and done, the Crabtree injury will have a greater impact on real football than fantasy football. Most of Kaepernick’s fantasy value came from his legs, so this injury doesn’t have too great of an impact on him. However, if Boldin is unable to find a rhythm with Kaepernick, it could have a bigger negative impact on the QB than fantasy owners would like. Davis rises up tight end boards to flirt with TE1 territory, and Boldin rises as well, but not high enough to be considered more than a weak flex option.