With the excitement of any upcoming NFL season comes the additional rush knowing that another season of fantasy football is approaching. In the Bay Area, there will be some stars that are worth drafting high in fantasy - or that will prove to be worthy.
Even though quarterbacks are a hot commodity in fantasy, both Carson Palmer and Alex Smith might not be worth drafting until later rounds. However, there are some weapons on both offenses that would be worth a look this coming season.
Vernon Davis: A top-three tight end in the league in an offense where he is no longer the primary focus of opposing defenses. Davis could be in for a career-year, statistically speaking. Players like him, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski should go higher because they are hybrids at an evolving position. Davis also really started peaking with quarterback Alex Smith at the end of 2011, finishing the last three games (including playoffs) with 410 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns - averaging 22.7 yards per catch. If you want Davis, you might have to reach for him but I highly recommend it as he could have a 1,000-yard season with double-digit scores.
Frank Gore: This is a curious selection because as football fans everywhere know, the 49ers backfield is now loaded. But that does not necessarily mean Gore won't be getting 20-25 touches a game; he is the franchise's premier back and all-time leading rusher - he won't be disrespected like that. If anything, Gore will be fresh and more productive on the touches he does get. I expect Gore to fall out of the first two rounds possibly due to the notoriously crowded backfield, but should still be a factor and worth picking up in any league.
Darren McFadden: After suffering a season-ending injury in 2011, McFadden looks ready to rebound and in a big way. Before his injury, he was arguably the league's top back at the time and only looked to be getting better. He ran through defenses with ease, with the stride of some sort of racehorse. McFadden will be a top-10 pick in most leagues, so I advise selecting him when your first turn comes. Having Palmer behind center might alleviate pressure in some of the heavy fronts he typically faces. Like Davis, McFadden could be in for a career year.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: The Raiders finally got themselves a quarterback and someone has to benefit from it. Even in an organizationally fluctuating regular season for Oakland in 2011, Heyward-Bey had 975 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. He could have a great year with a full offseason to get in rhythm with Carson Palmer. McFadden will also create opportunities for Heyward-Bey to make plays downfield with his great speed. He's an off-the-radar pick for most, but could be a great flex, if not No. 2 receiver in 2012.
49ers D/ST: The No. 1 defense in the NFL and the No. 1 defense in fantasy. They lead in every fathomable category, but most importantly for fantasy, they lead in takeaways and scoring. It was a playmaking defense that showed Hall of Fame potential with all eleven starters returning under the same system in 2012. The 49ers defense will be the first one off the board. They have playmakers at every position and sent the majority of their starters to the Pro Bowl in 2011. Their uncanny ability to stay strong in red zone situations is also very appealing to fantasy owners.
Whichever route your fantasy draft takes you; don't forget that there is some real talent to be had from the two Bay Area teams. There will be certainly be other worthwhile fantasy players from these squads, but these 5 are definitely worth roster spots.