How Will Fantasy Players Replace RB Frank Gore?

By NFL fantasy football analyst- Russ Bliss

That's the sound of many fantasy owners' hearts dropping after learning San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore had suffered a fractured hip injury week 12 against the Arizona Cardinals and was going to miss the rest of the season.

Gore wasn't having an awesome fantasy season but was proving once again to be a reliable every week starter who provided solid points with the upside for great points. He was well on his way to having an awesome game against Arizona before the injury took him out, and subsequently ended his season.

Brian Westbrook Will Carry the Ball?

So what do the 49ers do now? In the game against Arizona, they relied on Brain Westbrook. And Westbrook responded by reminding owners of the days when Westbrook was one of the best producing fantasy football RB's for the Philadelphia Eagles. Westbrook's 23 carry, 136 yards, and 1 touchdown performance was so great, many went scrambling to their free agent wires to grab him immediately. The visions of Westbrook returning to his former glory of being one of fantasy football's must start RB's every week.

How quickly some forget. Forget about the injuries, the constant listing of Questionable week after week on the NFL injury report with this ailment, that ailment, or some other ailment that perpetually frustrated owners when making starting lineup decisions.

Anyone who thinks Westbrook will be able to assume Frank Gore's feature role in the 49ers offense is delusional. The 49ers themselves have stated that they realize he can't be relied on to carry the football 20 times in a game. It will be a split between Westbrook and rookie Anthony Dixon. Westbrook can't take the pounding of running between the tackles and likely will get about 11-14 carries and also be in on passing situations. Considering the 49ers run the ball an average of 26.5 times per game, that leaves 12-15 carries for Dixon. Dixon is a bigger RB and likely to take over in short yardage and goal line situations. This type of expected even split between them means neither can be relied upon as anything more than RB3 considerations each week going forward.

Brian Westbrook vs. Anthony Dixon

So who has the most fantasy football value between Westbrook and Dixon? It depends on your scoring system. In PPR leagues, Westbrook is the better option. In non-ppr, I'd say Dixon probably has the higher fantasy potential.

But overly enthusiastic owners expecting reliable production out of either are going to likely be disappointed.