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Welcome back for Week 9 of the 2015 NFL season. The San Francisco 49ers face a bit of a crossroads this week. They have benched Colin Kaepernick and inserted Blaine Gabbert as the starting quarterback. Whether you are looking at this from a 49ers fan perspective or a fantasy football perspective, this is not a good thing.
That being said, there is a small part of me that wonders if this is one of the few weeks where Blaine Gabbert can actually put together some kind of decent fantasy performance? I am not skeptical that will happen, but this matchup does provide some possibilities. The Falcons do not have a strong pass rush, and Gabbert's worst enemy is defensive pressure. Furthermore, the Falcons have a knack for playing down to crappy teams. I wouldn't recommend starting Gabbert in any notable money leagues, but if you do feel like rolling the dice, maybe play with fire?
Start 'em: Nobody
Maybe start 'em: K Phil Dawson, QB Blaine Gabbert - Dawson is a decent option for some field goals ... Gabbert is on the low end of "maybe", but consider it just a hunch against this Falcons team. In a non-money league I'm rolling him out, but I don't have the stones to start Gabbert in my money leagues.
Sit 'em: Everybody else - I could see tight ends getting some action from Gabbert, and maybe a little Smith, but none has any real upside right now.
Start 'em: QB Matt Ryan, RB Devonta Freeman, WR Julio Jones, Falcons D/ST, K Matt Bryant - The 49ers defense is certainly not awful, but if the Falcons offense shows up in proper form, Ryan, Freeman, Jones and Bryant all should put up quality efforts. Those four are must-starts in any week, and given the 49ers offensive issues, there is no reason to think they won't get plenty of chances to put points on the board ... The Falcons defense faces an abysmal 49ers offense that decided switching to Blaine Gabbert might shake things up. I don't know that we'll see a ton of turnovers, but this could help the Falcons pass rush get out of their funk a bit.
Maybe start 'em: TE Jacob Tamme, WR Roddy White - Both are decent bye week and injury options. Tamme faces a 49ers defense that Football Outsiders ranks No. 26 in defending tight ends. The 49ers are not particularly good defending the passing game over the middle of the field ... White should see more passes his way with Leonard Hankerson sidelined. He's no longer a great fantasy option, but there is some upside there.