San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick attracted the attention of fantasy football owners with a terrific performance against the vaunted Chicago Bears defense last week. The impressive showing makes him worth starting in Week 12.
Ed Werder of ESPN reports incumbent starter Alex Smith is healthy enough to return from a concussion, but states the team is likely to stick with Kaepernick. It's in line with an earlier report from Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter, who said he would start this week.
BREAKING: Jim Harbaugh has informed Alex Smith that Colin Kaepernick will start Sunday, per source. Said decision not based on health.— Jim Trotter (@SI_JimTrotter) November 22, 2012
While it's fair to debate the merits of the move given Smith's solid play over the past couple seasons, it's impossible to ignore what the second-year QB was able to accomplish against one of the league's best defenses. It apparently tipped the scales in his favor.
Kaepernick completed 70 percent of his passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't throw an interception against a defense that was averaging more than two per week. He rushed for just 10 yards, but gained 66 the previous week in relief duty.
All told, it was a great start. It's easy to see why Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff were forced to make a tough choice instead of simply slipping Smith back into the lineup.
Fantasy owners now face an interesting quandary. Based on what Kaepernick achieved against the Bears and a favorable matchup against a New Orleans Saints secondary that ranks 31st in passing yards allowed, he would seem like a must-start option.
Yet, nobody outside of the 49ers' facilities knows exactly what type of leash he's going to have or if the team's going to work Smith in during certain situations. So there will definitely be some risk involved with putting him in fantasy lineups.
Don't put any elite options on the bench for him based on the hype. Top starters like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and all the way down to the Andrew Luck range should remain ahead of him on fantasy depth charts.
That said, if owners don't have anybody on that level, Kaepernick is worth the risk. The Saints are giving up almost 50 yards more per game than any other team, putting the 49ers' newest fan favorite in a position to succeed.
It's crunch time in fantasy leagues as the playoffs rapidly approach, so it's understandable if owners feel the need to go with a safer option. But, unless Harbaugh has a sudden change of heart, Kaepernick will reward owners who take a chance with another strong start.
Prediction: 18 fantasy points