A lot has been made about Michael Crabtree's lack of production since being selected with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Prior to a breakout performance in 2012, the talented receiver struggled a great deal upping his game from that of a solid No. 2 wide receiver on a good team.
That being said, Crabtree was tasked with being San Francisco's go to guy on the outside in the meantime because it lacked the necessary weapons at wide receiver.
This couldn't have served Crabtree any better. Once the young receiver started to improve his understanding of coverage and route-running skills, he showed everyone why he could be counted on as a top target for a good team.
Of course it took over three years for this to happen.
Once it did, Crabtree took the football world by fire. He dominated the latter half of the 2012 season, putting up numbers similar to the best receivers in the game. In the process, Crabtree showed everyone why San Francisco was so high on him.
As you can see above, Crabtree was among the most productive overall (and fantasy) wide receivers in his last eight games. While Calvin Johnson was above every single player, receiver or not, in the final two months of the season, Crabtree continued to make his name known with Colin Kaepernick under center. It seems that the two have built quite a relationship in the passing game.
This is evidenced by Crabtree's receptions per target ratio.
Once Crabtree and Kaepernick become more comfortable with one another, which should happen during the offseason, their connection in the passing game will only get better.
While Andre Johnson might put up more yards than Crabtree, he has tallied a total of just six touchdowns in his last two seasons, less than the amount that Crabtree has put up in his last eight games. As you already know, touchdowns in fantasy football is about as important as Red Bull and vodka is to Lindsey Lohan on a Saturday night.
It's also important to take into account the fact that Crabtree's production has increased in each of his first four NFL seasons. Based on these increases in production, using a scaled model, he will tally 101 receptions for 1,450 yards and 14 touchdowns. Those are top-five wide receiver numbers right thre.
Expect it to happen and plan accordingly.