Let’s get this out of the way immediately: if you have even the slightest need at quarterback or if you’re worried about the decline of your starter that you paid so heavily and so painfully for on draft day (hi, Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford), add Colin Kaepernick. Go make the waiver claim now, but please come back. I’ll wait.
It really is that simple. I understand why some of the more conservative among you are still clinging to your hesitancy, and your lingering, strangling fear. It’s natural really, especially when we’re talking about a quarterback who’s essentially still a rookie in terms of his game experience. It’s a position where the unpredictable reigns supreme, with unexpected brilliance one week — like, say, last night — and then a spiral the next.
But let yourself go, and embrace Kaepernick with his throwing motion that’s still a little wonky but it works so we should all give zero shits. He has fantasy dynamo potential down the stretch.
Kaepernick’s 243 passing yards and two touchdowns last night along with 12 rushing yards lead to 18 fantasy points. That alone is impressive for a quarterback in his first start, regardless of the opponent. But about that opponent: the Bears lead the league in interceptions (19), and total turnovers (30), while allowing only 95.4 rushing yards per game and 216.7 passing yards. So yeah, the matchup was something far less than ideal, and despite his unique skillset, Kaepernick was set for utter, crushing death.
Yet there he was, escaping pressure in the pocket, and consistently finding open targets. Kaepernick needed only 16 completions on 23 attempts to finish with a passing yardage number better than Smith’s output this year in all but one of his 10 starts, and he did it at a pace of 10.6 yards per attempt.
Surely that number will decline, because video game numbers only belong in video games. But if we take the entirety of the small sample size Kaepernick has given us since he entered the game for Smith last week and played pretty much one half of football, he’s still averaged nine yards per attempt. Smith, meanwhile, is a full yard lower on the season.
The root of that difference last night lied in Kaepernick’s ability to stretch the field consistently against an aggressive, ball-hawking secondary led by Charles Tilllman. He completed four +20 yard passes, an overall number that sits at eight over just his two periods of extended game action, and he had completions of 32, 57, and 37 yards Monday. Where’s Smith at? He’s averaging 2.4 completions of 20 yards or more per game.
There hasn’t been a definitive word yet from head coach Jim Harbaugh, but strong hints indicate that Kaepernick will remain the starter, as he spoke of staying with the hot hand, and disregarding some archaic code that a player can’t lose his job due to an injury. We’ll take it. Employ this man.
In a week when three quarterbacks exploded for more than 30 fantasy points (Chad Henne, Matt Schaub, and Robert Griffin III), Kaepernick’s output still ranked eighth. Kaepernick was ahead of Aaron Rodgers in the Week 11 fantasy point standings (15 points) after the Packers quarterback was a first overall pick in many leagues, and he was well ahead of Matthew Stafford (nine points). He was also only two points behind Drew Brees, and within reach of Tom Brady (25 points). All of that is great fun, but it gets better when we take a little gander at the 49ers’ schedule.
There are some unfavorable matchups down the stretch that now seem to matter so very little, with the Rams, Seahawks, and Cardinals upcoming, although Arizona is slated for Week 17 when most fantasy leagues have concluded the season. But their remaining sked also includes the Patriots, Dolphins, and Saints, all secondaries currently ranked 26th or lower while giving up more than 260 passing yards per game.