"Andrew Luck and Kaepernick owners need not worry" - (taken from my Twitter account); boy, I was all types of wrong last week. The 49ers didn't wear their throwback jerseys week 3, but that performance was straight from the Singletary era (with 80% less running). Outside of Frank Gore, San Francisco didn't provide any notable fantasy starts in Week 3 as they continue to struggle to keep the offense on the field.
This week, they hit the road to take on another struggling team in St. Louis. Who is ready for a Thursday night barn burner? The Niners couldn't beat the Rams in two tries last season, but they do present an appealing opportunity for Kaep and the gang to gain some confidence. The Rams are looking for their second division win and always seem to give the 49ers all they can handle. Here is a quick fantasy football preview for the players most likely being rostered:
One of the few bright spots in week 3 was Gore's first half performance. After seeing DeMarco Murray shred the Rams defense, the fantasy community is pleading for Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh to follow suit. With the team going on the road, on a short week, against a team they couldn't beat in 2 contests last season the need to get back to power running has never been more apparent. Despite a slow start to the season I still have confidence Gore can be top 15 back, but that depends on if he can get the touches. Hopefully, the Niners can figure out a way to keep him involved for Thursday night after averaging over 7 yards on 11 carries, hopefully. Gore is RB2 this week, but keep your expectations in check while the offense tries to regain their form.
Those of us who drafted Colin certainly didn't Colin being ice cold after week one. It's not all his fault, but he could certainly be doing more to boost his stock. Even with a lack of quality receiving options, we haven't seen him unleash his running ability this season. When he does make an attempt to sprint downfield, he looks apprehensive. CK7 still has the talent to be a top fantasy QB, but it's clear it will take a bit longer than we expected. The good news is St. Louis has allowed Carson Palmer and Matt Ryan to get 300 yards and 2 TDs each. Tony Romo only put up 210, but that was because the team was able to run it at will. Kaepernick played well against the Rams in 2012 (65% completion rate and 154 rushing yards), but I can't recommend Kaepernick as a top 8 QB until we see him rediscover a groove on offense. A good performance against a divisional foe might just be the cure for what ails the young QB.
People slight Boldin for his lack of speed, but when you have the carry the weight of being the team's only viable receiver it tends to add a couple of ticks to the 40 time. He isn't flashy, but Boldin is reliable and that has been good enough to put up decent WR3 numbers thus far. He'll probably see a lot of Courtland Finnegan Thursday in a winnable matchup, but if I own Boldin, I'm looking at all my options including sneaky plays on the waiver wire. Boldin is a high end FLEX/Low WR3 until the offense clicks again.
Davis is a game time decision, but is desperately needed sooner rather than later. He participated in warm-ups on Sunday and has been listed as "limited" during practice this week, but we won't know if he is playing until an hour before the game. If he goes he will likely not be at 100%, but you still feel comfortable starting him, because even if this team goes back to relying on the run, it sets him up for some shots out of play action. Given the injury worry his ceiling isn't very high. 4 receptions 70 yards and you hope for a TD to save the day.
Don't look now, but St. Louis' trouble with the running game and being forced to play catch-up early in games has led Bradford to a good start in fantasy football. With 6 TDs to 2INTs on the season, Bradford is slowly creeping up the ranks just in time for bye weeks. He has never picked apart the Niners defense, but he tends to play steady throughout the game. If you need a 1-week sub for Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton you could certainly do worst than Bradford. Expect something close to 250/2/1 against a Niner defense trying to regroup on the road.
Daryl Richardson/Isaiah Pead
If there was ever a game for the 49er run defense to get their strut back, it is this week. Richardson has been an unspectacular replacement for Steven Jackson and may be losing touches to Isaiah Pead due to a foot ailment. Pead is developing a role in the offense after his 1-week suspension, but most of his value has come from the passing game. Even given the defensive woes in San Francisco, neither back stands out as a sleeper or anything more than a FLEX option. If I had to start one I'm tempted to roll the dice with Richardson until we have a better idea of Pead's workload. Don't count on either accounting for more than 70 combined yards with the slight chance of a TD.
6 receptions in each of his first 3 games? I bet he likes to play heavy metal records backwards too. Austin isn't a yardage monster as of yet, but has caught numerous passes on short routes topping out at 14 yards. With his ability to move the chains and find the open spots in the red zon, I could see the rookie having a decent game given what the slower Reggie Wayne was able to do with his short targets. He doesn't have Wayne's hands or route running ability, but his speed makes him a YAC superstar waiting to happen. Hopefully, he won't have his coming out party on Thursday night. Start safely as a WR3/4.
If you follow Cook's trends, he is due for a big week. The perpetual fantasy sleeper pick had a huge day week 1 going 7/141/2, but has since been limited to less than 50 yards receiving and no TDs. This is another area where Aldon Smith's absence could be felt. If the Niner's don't get creative with their pass rush, tight ends will be called on to block less. If Patrick Willis can't go or is limited due to his groin injury, Cook could be the game changer. We've been here before though, the situation sets Cook up for a big day and then he finishes 3/30/0. I would expect much more until we see him string together multiple weeks of useful fantasy stats.
I've picked Niners here the first 3 weeks going 1 for 3 (thanks Kendall Hunter!) so it's time to switch up. Givens has only had 1 big play this year, but hauled in 11 receptions for 80+ yards against the Niners the last time they met up. San Francisco's secondary hasn't allowed too many deep plays (sorry for overhyping T.Y. Hilton last week), but the fantasy community and the league are in the process of downgrading the Niner defense. For those looking to replace a Packer or Panthers receiver, consider taking a flier on Givens who can add a ton of yardage with few targets.
Okay, let's hope the Niners put an end to this recent trend. Until then, drop your fantasy questions in the comment section and we'll tell you what we think.