The not so great 49er offense travels east to face the not so great Washington defense, Monday night. It's as good as it gets in regards to matchups across the board, but San Francisco's offense hasn't won over many fantasy football players much lately. Washington isn't in much better shape, but there are playmakers present. Here is a breakdown of the key fantasy players:
Gore didn't exactly live up to expectations in week 11. The Saints stacked the box and effectively kept him from breaking huge runs. The bright side is that was only the second time Gore didn't put up double digit fantasy points in standard scoring this year. The Niners badly need to find a rhythm on offense to get the win on Monday night. It would be wise to assume Frank gets a ton of work, but trying to figure out San Francisco's offensive strategy isn't a task for mortal men. It's an excellent matchup if the 49ers can find an identity early on. Look for Frank to get around 80 yards and a TD Monday night.
The struggle is real. Kaepernick saved his owners last week with the two TDs, but the troubles with the offense were on full display. Washington's secondary and pass rush aren't on the level of the Saints, so you can expect the numbers to improve. Still, Kap remains in the "hard to trust" crowd and isn't a must start in 10 or 12 team leagues. There is a good chance he tops 200 yards passing and at least 1 TD. Not a strong projection, but it's hard to hype up one of the league's worst passing attacks.
It was good to see Boldin get back in the end zone last week and maybe...just maybe, the return of Vernon Davis and Manningham are starting to open up more opportunities for the vet. The list of things less scary than Washington's pass defense is short (puppies, sunshine and Fig Newtons are the only things that come to mind). Boldin remains the second option in the passing attack and could flirt with WR2 numbers this week. I would play it safe and start in m WR3 or FLEX spot. Expect 6 receptions for around 80 yards.
Vernon remains the safest San Francisco fantasy option behind Frank Gore. However, his production is closely tied to Kaepernick's performance. Washington hasn't been able to contain opposing tight ends, surrendering 7 TDs on the year. Unless you own Gronk or Graham, Davis is a must start this week.
Robert Griffin III
Growing Pains...I tell yah. Kap isn't the only young QB struggling to evolve with opposing defenses. Ole' Bobby 3 Sticks in DC is having his share of troubles too. Though his fantasy stats are better than Kaepernick's, Griffin has helped fantasy players largely through garbage time production. The Niners held Drew Brees to his second lowest fantasy total of the season and have been a headache for quarterbacks most weeks. RG3 loses Hankerson and as of writing this Jordan Reed is questionable coming back from a concussion. Griffin is still a playmaker, but this doesn't look like the matchup where he puts together a solid fantasy game. His rushing ability, should he choose to use it, is always a threat so he remains in the top 12 QB discussion. Not a must start, but probably a better bet than anyone you can find on waivers at this point.
This could be the night of the running backs in Washington DC. Both teams boast two of the more punishing rushers in the league. The 49ers are a better team at stopping the run, but these aren't the 2011 Niners; running backs are having success against this defense. Alfred Morris seems to always be good for 80-90 yards rushing, but the touchdowns haven't been there this season. It isn't a horrible matchup for Morris, but he'll need volume to get it done this week in fantasy. If Washington fails to keep pace Alfred will lose snaps to the Roy Helu, the better pass catcher. Morris rusher should remain a low RB1/high RB2 this week. 75 yards rushing and 1 TD is a safe projection should Darrel Young not vulture any goal line carries.
Not a great matchup on paper and he is recovering from an ankle issue, but the targets are going to be there. Garcon could see even more attention with Hankerson out and Reed questionable. He is normally a lock at WR2 in PPR leagues and is by far the best WR start in this game.
Not looking good for the young tight end. I'm referring to his potential to play Monday, not his ability. Reed has been one of the better mid-season fantasy waiver finds this season. He is essentially what everyone though Fred Davis would be; a great athlete and pass catching tight end. It's a tough call to start Reed this week, though. A Monday game leaves very few alternatives if he becomes a game time decision. Even if he does suit up he will face a Niner defense that has been able to eliminate tight ends with speedy coverage linebackers. Should he pass all concussion protocols and plays, he is certainly in the top 10 TE discussion, but don't expect the world.
If I'm Kyle Shanahan, I look at the success teams have had against the Niners with passes in the flat along with check downs and screens to the running backs. Roy Helu is the change of pace back, but he could be FLEX worthy against the 49ers in PPR formats.
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