It’s pretty easy to diagnose where skeptics are going to pick and poke and prod when it comes to the 2012 San Francisco 49ers — the passing game, specifically Alex Smith and the receivers he’ll throw to who aren’t Vernon Davis. This is due in part to the fact that everything else is fine.
— The defense is as stable as any unit could be in the NFL, with the added bonus that they were quite good last year.
— Same with the special teams, unless you really think the loss of Blake Costanzo is going to send the whole thing crashing down.
— At running back, the Niners have a mix of experience and youth, size and speed, dependability and explosiveness.
The offensive line has some pieces yet to shuffle, but you’ll put everyone in your favorite watering hole to sleep rambling about protection schemes, especially from June through August. And despite the protests from your friends who won’t stop talking about the “All-22” camera angle, there won’t be any o-linemen taken in your fantasy league this summer.
That brings us back to the passing game, and Yahoo’s Brad Evans. Evans is one of those “yeah, I’m a fantasy nerd … but I can be funny and provocative, too” guys, and he sent out this tweet over the weekend:
I’m sure that last line has been used several times before by others, but it’s actually new to me. Very clever.
Evans backed up his Twitter assertion with a column on why Moss is “fool’s gold” and “almost completely avoidable.” In said column he provides five reasons why we shouldn’t expect a fantasy renaissance from No. 84. Here are Evans’ reasons in shortened form, with a snarky response from yours truly underneath:
1. Alex Smith “is the consummate game-manager.”
How many games will the 49ers play this year where Smith isn’t called a “game-manager” by one of the TV announcers? I’m setting the over/under at 1.5.
2. Moss won’t get targeted enough to be a fantasy force because the 49ers play “within a West Coast spread-the-love scheme.”
The 49ers go with big formations all the time and run more than they pass … but they reside in the Pacific Time Zone. Continue.
3. The 49ers’ defense means they’ll be a ball-control team in the late parts of games: “A heavy dose of Frank Gore and Brandon Jacobs will be deployed often to salt away the clock, limiting scoring opportunities for the six-time Pro Bowler.”
Hard to disagree with Evans here. Just thought it was interesting that Evans mentioned Jacobs, since if Jacobs is on the active roster on Week 1, Tre9er owes me a 49ers t-shirt of my choice. If he gets cut before then, I owe Tre9er a 49ers t-shirt. It seems that Evans likes my chances.
4. He’s old.
True story, at least by fantasy WR standards.
5. He’s lazy.
While Evans is right that Moss has mentally checked out on several occasions, I have a hard time throwing Moss into the dustbin of entitled athletes, at least yet. Why? Because he had no problem getting a job after missing a full season, something that wouldn’t have been possible if he didn’t come into his tryouts in phenomenal shape. Doesn’t mean he won’t act like an ass after catching one pass for 8 yards in a game against the Rams or the Seahawks, but personality-wise I think Moss deserves the benefit of the doubt since he has been on his best behavior so far.
Evans is right on his general premise: Moss probably shouldn’t be drafted in the first seven or eight rounds of your fantasy draft (or, in other words, the part of your draft where everyone is still sober and mostly coherent). Even he admits near the end of the Moss portion of his column that people are drafting him in a pretty sensible spot “(93.4 ADP, WR36).”
Here’s the reason Evans left out as to why we shouldn’t be in any hurry to call Moss a No. 1 WR in fantasy: Michael Crabtree was the team’s leading receiver in 2011, so he’s going to start. Mario Manningham was signed as a free agent after a decent season that ended with one of the best grabs in Super Bowl history. Many figure that Moss will start from Week 1, but there’s no guarantee of that. And if you’re drafting the 49ers’ No. 3 WR and expecting him to produce for your fantasy team, you’re going to be disappointed.