The 49ers didn’t have a roster chalked full of fantasy football talent last season. Carlos Hyde was injured and Colin Kaepernick fell of the map completely. All the other positional players on offense underwhelmed at an alarming rate and the defense was not consistent at all. It was a fantasy football train wreck and that’s stating it mildly.
With all that said, the future of some of these players is bright under Chip Kelly’s high octane, fast-paced offense. The 49ers defense may not be a good option because of that however.
Let’s look at a few players in which I believe could be big factors in 2016 as far as fantasy football is concerned.
CARLOS HYDE – 2015 was very disappointing for Hyde as he struggled with a significant injury to his foot. In Week 1, against the Vikings, Hyde seemed like he was poised to breakout. He was the leading rusher in the NFL prior to his injury.
Hyde’s 2015 Stats: 7 games, 115 carries, 470 yards, 4.1 avg, 3 TD’s.
Hyde’s 2016 Projection (based on last years numbers): 16 games, 262 carries, 1074 yards, 7 TD’s.
The projected stats, assuming Hyde plays all 16-games, could potentially be a bit higher. He came from a very similar system in Ohio State where everything was predicated on a fast pace and zone blocking scheme. Hyde’s numbers were ridiculous at Ohio State. Under Chip Kelly, Hyde could be poised for a breakout year should he hold up and stay healthy through the course of the season.
TORREY SMITH – Much like Hyde, and the rest of the 49ers offense, the stats here were deflated considerably. Smith seemed to have very little chemistry with quarterback, Colin Kaepernick but came alive to a degree once the switch was made to Blaine Gabbert. The season as a whole was a disaster. Smith still has something left to offer an offense though. Pending the quarterback situation, Smith could be a potential nice option in a flex spot on a bye week. He might be a decent bench player on your fantasy squad to consider.
Smith’s 2015 Stats: 33 receptions, 663 yards, 20.0 avg, 4 TD’s.
Smith’s 2016 Projection (Based on offensive scheme change): 75 receptions, 1200 yards, 8 TD’s.
The expectation here may be slightly lofty but we should see more shots downfield under new head coach, Chip Kelly. It cold go either way for Torrey but he will be the oldest veteran receiver on the team. There will be a lot of younger talented wide receivers competing with Smith for receptions. And the difference between Tomsula and Kelly is that Kelly will actually give young talent a shot to prove themselves which in turn could carve away a chunk of Smith’s projected outcome.
49ERS QUARTERBACK – Chip Kelly’s style of offense and scheme is enough to warrant some consideration of having whichever QB winds up behind center to do well in yards and potentially touchdowns as well. Whether it is Kaepernick, Gabbert, or a newly added rookie, the Niners air attack could very well place fantasy value here as a whole.
Sam Bradford’s Stats in 2015 (Under Chip Kelly): 346 completions, 65%, 3,725 yards, 19 touchdowns, 14 interceptions.
2016 49ers QB Projection: 375 completions, 60%+, 4,000+ yards, 25 touchdowns, 15 interceptions.
There are still a lot of contingencies that will need to happen to warrant the projected numbers but in the past 3 years of Kelly’s NFL system, the quarterbacks have actually done quite well. Had Sam Bradford not missed 2 games last season, chances are that he would have been very close or over the projected stats.
*Note: This projection in drafting whatever QB winds up on the roster would strictly be for your bye week.
VANCE MCDONALD/ GARRETT CELEK – These two players were one of the very few bright spots last season for the 49ers. It is hard to tell which will emerge as the Niners clear-cut number one tight end. They both have showcased that they’re more than competent in both the passing attack and blocking in the run game. The only caveat here is that they may split time straight down the middle in terms of fantasy production which could make picking one of them a gamble.
Vance McDonald’s 2015 stats: 30 receptions, 326 yards, 3 touchdowns.
Garrett Celek’s 2015 stats: 19 receptions, 186 yards, 3 touchdowns.
Vance McDonald’s 2016 Projection: 50 receptions, 540 yards, 5 touchdowns.
Garrett Celek’s 2016 Projection: 35 receptions, 460 yards, 4 touchdowns.
There is also the factor of former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback turned tight end, Blake Bell a.k.a. the Belldozer. He had his share of action as well and could prove to be not only a very intelligent asset on the field but a prime athlete in this position. With the other two ahead of him, it’s tough to conceive the thought that he would emerge past either. Anything could happen though. As of now, McDonald and Celek are the two top guys barring any significant injury.
PHIL DAWSON – While this kicker is 932 in football years, he has still remained one of the top tier kickers and most efficient in the league. With that said, he will not be drilling 60 yard field goals left and right next year. But with the league moving to its new extra point distance, many more kickers have been missing them; with exception to Dawson. Last season, he was 88.9% on field goals and only missed one extra point.
He most likely will increase his stats for next season in a new offensive scheme which most likely will average more than 14 points per game on offense.
Phil Dawson’s 2015 stats: 92 points.
Phil Dawson’s 2016 projection: 130 points.
At 40-years old, Dawson remains as reliable as Old Faithful. This should be an p year for the seasoned veteran heading in to his 18th NFL Season.
BRUCE ELLINGTON – Kelly’s offense (when effective) has had a very quick and shifty or fast receiver (i.e. Jeremy Maclin, Desean Jackson). This could very well be a breakout year for Ellington in this system. I do not expect him to have the same production as say a Julian Edelman, however he could wind up putting up some decent numbers and be on some people’s fantasy radars by mid season.
Bruce Ellington’s 2015 stats: 13 receptions, 153 yards, 0 touchdowns.
Bruce Ellington’s 2016 projection: 45 receptions, 550 yards, 4 touchdowns.
I full expect to see a huge jump in production in this offense as indicated by the 2016 projection. Ellington’s fastest ever recorded 40 yard dash time was 4.31 – though he only ran a 4.45 at the combine officially. You can see his potential when he does get his opportunities. Kelly will be the right coach to bring out his full potential.
There may be a few considerations outside of what is here after the 2016 draft is completed. Players such as Laquon Treadwell or Ezekiel Elliott could wind up in the red and gold as well. There’s always the chance of that late round guy that went under everyone’s radar that explodes on to the scene out of nowhere as well.
The options here for the 49ers fantasy football players are limited of course. There will be other better options in the beginning of your drafts. The players listed should of course be considered for your bench at the very least though.