ESPN's Matt Bowen wrote an interesting piece for ESPN Insider today entitled How Chip Kelly turned Colin Kaepernick into an elite fantasy QB (ESPN Insider subscription required). The article takes a look at how Kaepernick has flourished – as far as fantasy football numbers go – within Chip Kelly's system.
Kaepernick has put up the statistics to rank well among quarterbacks for fantasy football. Bowen points out that Kaepernick ranks 3rd overall in fantasy points per game (23.8) and 2nd overall in total fantasy production (95 points) during his limited number of starts. Kaepernick has started just six games this season. All were losses, but his production has notably improved.
Among the contributing factors for Kaepernick's value in fantasy football is his ability to give owners a good number of rushing statistics in addition to his passing numbers. Bowen points out that Kaepernick has run the ball 20 times on designed runs during his six starts. While that ranks 8th overall, again, he did not play in five games. Bowen implies that the statistic is all due to Kelly's offense and points out that Blaine Gabbert, who started at quarterback for the 49ers during the first five games of the season, had 23 carries on designed runs.
On his designed runs, Kaepernick has 89 yards (4.45-yard average) and one touchdown. He has 373 yards on 46 total carries (8.11-yard average) this season. 223 of those yards have been since Week 9. Those are some impressive numbers for a quarterback that has played in a limited number of games.
Bowen states that Kaepernick's ability to run with the ball gives an advantage to fantasy owners of running back Carlos Hyde. That threat presents more opportunities for Hyde to get big numbers.
Kaepernick is doing well throwing the ball as well. Since Week 9, Bowen notes that Kaepernick has thrown for 1,110 yards with eight touchdowns and only two interceptions. If you average that out over a 16-game season, that comes out to 4,440 yards, 32 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. "But given the lack of top-tier talent at the wide receiver position in San Francisco, the 49ers have utilized the tight ends and running backs often in the passing game," Bowen wrote.
How do things look for Kaepernick from a fantasy perspective going forward? "In Week 13, Kaepernick gets the Bears, a unit beaten down by injuries that is giving up an average of 16.4 points per game to opposing quarterbacks," Bowen wrote. "In Week 14, it's an underachieving Jets defense that is giving up 16.1 points per game."
If you have ESPN Insider, you can read Bowen's entire article here which features great breakdowns of Kaepernick plays as well as other interesting fantasy statistics related to the 49ers quarterback.