Fantasy football can be a frustrating experience, but that's part of the fun. Last week Gore and Lynch moved down the rankings with the belief that defense would rule the day. Despite the predictions both backs finished in the top 15 with over 100 yards of offense. Not many experts saw that coming. All we can do is minimize a risk which isn't nearly as much fun as taking a stab in the dark and nailing a pick. Just ask anyone who started LaRod Stephens-Howling last week. Speaking of shifty Arizona running back - what's the over/under on Halloween, werewolf, Howling references Monday Night? How about Skelton/Skeleton references?
The Niners face another difficult task on Monday. Arizona's defense may not be as hot as they were at the beginning of the season, but they step it up for home games. The San Francisco offensive line will be put to the test against an aggressive defense that ranks 3rd in sacks. However, San Francisco will aim to run the ball against the blitz and find options underneath in the passing game.
For the second straight week the 49ers enter a game with very little fantasy relevance. There aren't many sleepers and the only must starts are Larry Fitzgerald and Frank Gore. I didn't forget Vernon Davis we'll get to him later. However, those in deeper leagues may have to look at guys like Michael Crabtree and Andre Roberts as options. Those two guys will be pleased to know that I analyze a few sleepers along with safer options below.
Can Patrick Peterson shutdown Michael Crabtree?
Shutdown corners are few and far between. Peterson is an excellent corner, but he hasn't reached shutdown status yet (see Brian Hartline's week 4 performance and Stevie Johnson in week 6). Crabs had two solid performances against the Cardinals last year, including a 7 reception 120 yard effort. I'm keeping Crabtree in a WR3 role this week, but don't be surprised if he puts on a show Monday night.
Final Line: 6 receptions for 70 yards, 1 TD
*IDP/Special Teams Extra - Given San Fran's recent problems on special teams I love Peterson in the return game this week*
Can John Skelton and Larry Fitzgerald get on the same page against one of the best pass defenses in the league?
Fitz is one of my favorite players in the league, but his current situation is maddening. He would be an automatic WR1 on most other teams, but the guy can't throw the ball to himself (I'm assuming). To further complicate matters Arizona is giving up the most sacks in the league. Not that San Fran is exactly generating a ton of sacks, but it's hard to develop plays down field when your QB is on his back. Larry is an elite talent, but he will perform more like a WR2 in fantasy week 8.
Final Line: 5 receptions for 70 yards, 1 TD
Does the Frank Gore continue his surprising 2012 campaign against a tough run defense?
Out of all the bad ideas I had during my fantasy drafts avoiding Gore hurts the most. What Lazarus pit is this guy dipping into after practice? Adrian Peterson, albeit a better runner at this point, grinded out over a 100 yards against the Cardinals last week. I like Gore's chances to match that performance. Heads up PPR players - Gore is at 15 receptions this year as opposed to his total of 17 in 2011. Roll with Ra's Al Gore (Batman reference anyone?) this week even with a scary match-up.
Final Line: 110 yards rushing, 3 receptions for 20 yards, 1 TD.
Who is the better reach at wide receiver in this game: Andre Roberts or Mario Manningham?
Neither quarterback inspires much confidence coming into this one. However, Roberts is the better fantasy receiver at this point and is the safer option. This game could get away from the Cardinals in the second half and Roberts excels in garbage time.
Final Line: 6 receptions 70 yards
Manningham was a late scratch last week, but he should be ready to go on Monday night. Prior to week 7 Mario was getting into the groove of the offense. He isn't a great play this week as Harbaugh and Roman appear to be going back to the basics of ball control football. Roberts is your play here.
Final Line: 4 receptions 50 yards.
Where the hell is Vernon Davis?
By the looks of the guy I would say check the weight room or GNC. Defenses are locking down on Vernon for good reason. Take away Alex's security blanket and make him go to through his reads or check down. Apply pressure consistently and you can shake Alex out of his comfort zone. Vernon had a combined 6 receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown in the two games against the Cards last year. A stat strongly skewed by his 5 receptions for 67 yards performance in their first meeting in San Francisco. Vernon is due for another big game, but I just don't see that game coming Monday Night.
Final Line: 4 receptions 60 yards