Fantasy NFL

The Crabtree will bear fruit

By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - There are plenty of fantasy points hidden in the Crabtree. Fantasy owners just have to shake it.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman's opinion of him aside, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree is on the verge of a breakout.

It seems like a decade ago that the Oakland Raiders foolishly took all-speed- and-no-hands receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey ahead of Crabtree, but it was 2009 and Crabtree is still just 26 years old (he'll be 27 on Sept. 14).

Last season was supposed to be Crabtree's year. After Colin Kaepernick took over as the 49ers' starting quarterback in mid-2012, he and Crabtree formed a bond rivaled only by Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, but Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles tendon in May and we never got the full 16-game version of the Kap and Crabtree show.

Crabtree was rusty when he returned from his injury on Dec. 1 last season, but his big-play ability was still there.

In eight games (including playoffs), Crabtree had 34 catches for 487 yards (14.3 ypc) on 61 targets. Eleven of his catches went for at least 10 yards and four went for at least 20.

In 18 games with Kaepernick as the starting quarterback, Crabtree has accumulated 95 receptions for 1,367 yards and nine touchdowns on 154 targets.

He only scored one touchdown last season, but he had 12 over 19 games in 2012. With Vernon Davis receiving a lot of attention in the red zone, Crabtree should score at least seven times this season.

The best part about Crabtree is his average draft position (ADP). He has low- end WR1 upside but is going at an ADP of 48.4 in fantasyfootballcalculator.com mock drafts. His ADP puts him 20th among receivers and 16.1 picks behind San Diego Chargers second-year wideout Keenan Allen, who has similar upside this season.

Crabtree also has plenty of motivation to have a huge year.

After tipping the ball away from Crabtree to send the Seahawks to the Super Bowl, Sherman called the receiver "mediocre" on national television. Since then, Sherman's popularity has exploded -- he won a Super Bowl ring, was voted to appear on the cover of "Madden 15" and got paid.

That last thing is most important because a new contract is what Crabtree is searching for.

San Francisco should try to lock him up now, because his value is going to be much higher after the season.

08/13 15:17:36 ET