- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Initial thoughts on those NFC West players (or teams) listed as potential 2012 busts by at least one of 13 ESPN fantasy panelists:
Seattle Seahawks defense/special teams: Seattle was pretty good in this area last season. I see no reason to expect a big drop in performance. The pass rush should improve with Bruce Irvin and Jason Jones joining Chris Clemons. Seattle already has Pro Bowl-caliber players throughout its secondary. Improving the pass rush should create more turnovers. I was surprised to see the Seahawks listed in the potential bust category for fantasy defense/special teams.
Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers: This one does not compute unless you think an improved receiving corps will siphon off opportunities for Davis. That is overthinking things, in my view. Davis plays just about every snap in every personnel group. He re-emerged as a dynamic threat after getting a better feel for the 49ers' new offense. Davis had 28 receptions for 536 yards and five touchdowns in his last five games, counting playoffs. I would expect his 2012 numbers to exceed his 2011 numbers.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: It's tough to know how a potentially mercurial player will respond to receiving financial security through a long-term contract. That would be my only concern for Lynch. He's going to get the football. The Seahawks are going to build their offense around the run. Lynch topped 1,200 yards despite a slow start to the season. I'd be surprised if he did not approach that total again.
David Akers, K, 49ers: Akers belongs on this list only for those expecting him to duplicate his record-setting numbers from 2011. Akers should remain a strong fantasy option, but if the 49ers' improve in the red zone, Akers will have fewer opportunities for field goals. That would be good for the team, but not for Akers' fantasy owners.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Gore has had some injury issues over the past couple seasons. He's 29 years old and the 49ers have new options in their backfield. It's likely Gore's production will fall off dramatically in the not-too-distant future. It might not happen this season, however. Better to beware a year early than be sorry a year late.
Any omissions here?