Most fantasy football managers are ready to enjoy a relaxing weekend of football without obsessing over stat lines. The rest of you are doing it wrong. Despite my letters to Roger Goodell and Congress there are a few leagues that play until week 17.
The 49ers wrap up the regular season with a home game against the Cardinals. The good news is that the Niners need to win this game so you can rely on the starters. The bad news is that the opponent offers very little in the way of fantasy relevance. Once more with feeling, here is a breakdown of the key players in this match-up:
Fitz will get the award for most disappointing fantasy performance by a wide receiver in 2012, but he'll share it with 4 underachieving quarterbacks. Brian Hoyer is set to start at QB and that might be good news for Fitzgerald who generally performs well against San Francisco and is coming off an 8 receptions 111 yard game. Fitzgerald is a WR3 this week, but there are better birds on the waiver wire (Riley Cooper and Justin Blackmon to name two).
Final Line: 5 receptions 70 yards 1 TD
Arizona Running Backs
At this point you have to be in a NFC West only league to be in the position to start a Cardinals running back. The best option is Larod Stephens-Howling, especially in PPR leagues. With 4 carries last week, Beanie Wells ran for only 3 more yards than me. Given his recent comments, Beanie might not even sniff the field after warm-ups. William Powell should get an uptick in snaps, but avoid this backfield if at all possible. If you need a back, I like LaMichael James far more than any Cardinal this week.
Larod Stephens-Howling: 12 carries for 42 yards, 3 receptions for 15 yards
William Powell: 4 carries for 15 yards
Beanie Wells: 3 carries for 9 yards.
I don't know much about Hoyer, but I do know it's been 6 games since the Cardinals threw for a TD. I also know that 3 weeks ago Hoyer was claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Steelers who had their share of injuries at QB. Hoyer could improve with a full week of first team reps, but his greatest advantage is that there isn't much tape on him. It's a tough match-up so Hoyer will be looking up at almost every other starting QB this week in rankings. If you are desperate at QB - Chad Henne, Jake Locker and if he is available, Michael Vick make good spot starts.
Final Line: 175 yards passing, 1 TD 2 INTs
The Niners need a win, but they also need to keep everyone healthy for the playoffs. Gore will get the majority of carries, but expect to see James and Anthony Dixon if this game goes down as expected. Arizona is still decent against the run and they'll be motivated for the final game of the year. Gore ends the season as a low RB2 or a high Flex play.
Final Line: 75 yards rushing 2 receptions for 15 yards, 1 TD
Not a great game last week, but he gets a favorable match-up to finish the season and tune-up for the playoffs. Kaep should play the majority of the game and even with Patrick Peterson and Kerry Rhodes lurking in the secondary he should have ample scoring opportunities.
Final Line: 250 yards passing, 30 yards rushing 2 TDS (combined)
Let's see: Manningham is out, Vernon Davis is coming off a concussion and the Niners have everything to play for against a defense that gave up 2 TDs to Crabtree earlier in the year. Yes, I like Crabtree as a high WR2 this week. He only needs 67 yards to hit 1000 for the season. The team could lean on him in an attempt to get that milestone. Crabs will end the regular season with a game that summarizes his surprising 2012 campaign.
Final Line: 9 receptions 90 yards, 1TD
For what it's worth, Kaepernick is taking deep shots in Vernon's direction. Unfortunately, one of those shots landed Davis an appointment with a neurologist. VD should be available for the finale, but you can't count on him for your fantasy team. Manningham's absence should open up a few more looks, but this has been a miserable second half of the season for Davis.
Final Line: 3 receptions 60 yards
Do you have one of these fine gentlemen on your roster for the final week of the season? Drop a question in the comment section and we'll hash out your options. Good luck gamers.