With the news that 49ers WR Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles' tendon in Tuesday's OTAs, the 49ers go from a team that was close to becoming the clear-cut favorites in the NFC West to a team that is scrambling to find a new identity with their offense. After a career-year in 2012 and developing major chemistry with QB Colin Kaepernick, Crabtree finds his fantasy football draft value all but gone as the hopes of him playing at all this year dwindle.
With that said, here are a few 49ers players who will see their stock rise and fall over the next few months in the wake of Crabtree's absence.
A. Boldin - The 49ers trading for Boldin and giving up a sixth rounder in this year's NFL Draft was a good move at the time. Now it looks brilliant. With Crabtree on the shelf, Boldin becomes the teams new No. 1 receiver. A distinction he was able to live up to in his last year as a Raven. Turning 33 this season, Boldin has a lot of mileage on his tires, but he could provide owners with at least one more year of WR3 value if he and Kaepernick develop chemistry in training camp.
F. Gore - The 49ers could wind up going with a more smash-mouth running attack to replace Crabtree's absence. Like Boldin, Gore is also getting up there in years. But coming off back-to-back 1200+ rushing seasons, there is no reason to think he can't be productive for a third-straight season. Gore had RB2 value going into May. While he still remains at that level, his value is slowly going to creep back up to the upper-half of the Tier-2 cheat sheets.
Honorable Mention: Vernon Davis
Colin Kaepernick - Over the last five games of the 2012 regular season, Kaepernick and Crabtree hooked up for 35 receptions and four touchdowns. In the post season, Crabtree was second only to Boldin in total receptions with 20. That's a lot of missing catches this year. If AJ Jenkins can live up to his first-round hype going into his sophomore year, Kaepernick could remain a steady QB1. His rushing yards will help keep his value somewhat high. And he may have to use those legs even more. As of right now, however, Kaepernick's value is going to slide after many considered him a top-5 quarterback going into the summer.
Michael Crabtree (DUH): Crabtree's current ADP was as a low-end WR1. With his on-field presence after Alex Smith was benched, many predicted Crabtree would top the 85 catches, 1105 and 9 touchdowns from a year ago. But now that there is a better than 50% chance he will be put on injured reserve sometime during the year, or even before, those owners who drafted Crabtree already will be scrambling like the 49ers are with trades to make up for the loss. For those in leagues that have an IR spot while players are out, I can see many owners taking a gamble, drafting Crabtree late and putting him in that spot in the hopes he will make a comeback just in time for fantasy playoffs. Don't bet on it.