Wild, Wild NFC West QB Battle: Wilson vs Kaepernick

By Nicholas Kaminski

Last season, the world bore witness to the development of two astounding young signal callers. Both being former MLB draftees, rookie Russell Wilson and second year gunslinger Colin Kaepernick captured the hearts of countless fans on their way to NFL stardom. After being entrusted with the leadership of their respective franchises, the two young men evolved into something extraordinary, and with their dominance on the field came supremacy in fantasy football.

So who should you like better in fantasy football coming into their second seasons as NFL starters? Let’s first take a look at each of these amazing quarterback’s 2012 seasons.

2013-01-03-russell-wilson-2-seahawks-4_3_r536_c534[1]Russell Wilson emerged from the Seahawks’ quarterback battle with Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Flynn as the Week 1 starter after a stellar preseason in which he led the Seahawks to an undefeated 4-0 record (536 yards passing and 5 TDs and 150 yards rushing with another TD). After the reins were taking off in the second half, Wilson would go on to lead the Seahawks to a 7-1 record to finish the year, with their only loss coming by three points to the Dolphins. He unloaded on teams, averaging just over 206 passing yards, two TDs and 45 rushing yards and 0.5 TDs per game over the span. He led the team to five double-digit wins, including a three game span in which the offense averaged 50 points a game. He concluded this immaculate season with a win over the Redskins before losing to the Falcons in the NFL Divisional round.

Russell Wilson was largely downgraded due to his lack of size entering the 2013 NFL Draft, but has proven that he can overcome that minor setback, much like Drew Brees, with a powerful and accurate arm. He also draws comparisons in his scrambling ability, occasionally being linked to Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton. He finished 10th among quarterbacks in fantasy points (3,118 passing yards, 26 TDs, 489 rushing yards, 4 TDs) last season despite not having a reliable number one passing option. With the offseason acquisition of the dynamic Percy Harvin, assuming that he can stay healthy, Wilson has the dependable receiver that he was missing, someone sure to help him improve on his numbers in 2013. Although he loses some reps to running back Marshawn Lynch, his potential in both the passing game and with his scrambling makes him likely to finish in the top 10 in fantasy points yet again.

 

Earning his starting job after an injury forced Alex Smith from the lineup, Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to a 5-2-1 record, with the lone tie coming in the game he took over for the injured Smith. In his seven starts, he quickly became someone for defenses to fear, as he averaged around 230 passing yards and a TD and a half per game, while rushing for an additional 34 yards and 0.3 TDs. His most notable performance was easily his record shattering game against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs. He rushed for a quarterback record 181 yards with two TDs, while throwing for 263 yards and two more TDs. He continued to shine throughout the 49ers playoff run, leading them just shy of a comeback in the Super Bowl bid in which he dug his team out of a 21-6 halftime deficit, to lose by just three points.

Colin Kaepernick, already known for having an astounding arm strength given his background as an MLB draftee, slipped into the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft after having an amazing college career at lightly regarded Nevada. Especially now that Alex Smith has been traded to the Chiefs, Kaepernick has a secure hold on the starting job for one of the NFL’s most dangerous teams. The emergence of Michael Crabtree and the acquisition of Anquan Boldin, give him two great outside threats with versatile players like Vernon Davis and LaMichael James providing some quality on the inside.

In his seven starts in 2012, he averaged 18.6 fantasy points per week. Extrapolating his stats over the whole season, would have he would have finished 8th among quarterbacks with 296.8 points. In the playoffs, his fantasy starts were even more impressive, as he averaged 29 fantasy points a game, including a 46 points in that record-breaking effort against the Packers. His ability to perform well under pressure, coupled with his immense talent ceiling make him a viable option to finish top 5 in fantasy points in 2013. At the very least, I’d expect him to finish in the top 10 given he has an entire offseason to work out the kinks in his game.

Given that Kaepernick and Wilson are both extremely effective as both passers and scramblers, which player would you rather have lead your fantasy team this season?

 

The Verdict:

Given their relative similarities, both quarterbacks would make for fantastic options to lead your fantasy team in 2013. However, when breaking down each player’s abilities and stats, I would rather draft Colin Kaepernick than Russell Wilson as my starting quarterback.

Despite Russell Wilson not being let loose until the second half of the season, Kaepernick still holds an edge over him based on the immense potential Kaepernick displayed both passing and rushing leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl. Kaepernick is a more effective runner who looks to punish teams by getting out of the pocket more so than Wilson does, which in turn makes him a much more consistent and reliable fantasy QB. Additionally, their team’s offensive philosophy gives Kaepernick a much better opportunity to succeed. Pete Carrol likes to build around the power running game, with Seattle running more than any other team in the NFL. Despite trading for Percy Harvin, expect this to continue in 2013. As such, while I love both quarterbacks as starting options in 2013, Kaepernick grades out as my fourth ranked quarterback, while Wilson is currently sitting as my eighth. When you’re looking at these two options for 2013, go Colin Kaepernick. Expect to see him take another step forward in 2013 and since he’s currently going in the 6th round in offseason mocks, he could be quite a steal for your fantasy team.

Have a question about our assessment of Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick? Do you think we’ve pegged them all wrong? Give us your feedback in the Comments section below.

You can also follow us on Twitter @kamifootball and @TopTeamFantasy to get the latest fantasy news and advice.

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