The 4-4 New Orleans Saints are back in the Dome after TNF divisional clash against the Carolina Panthers. They will host the 4-4 San Francisco 49ers, who are desperate for a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Let’s start our position-by-position analysis to see the most interesting fantasy football matchups that this game offers.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Despite a few disappointing performances Colin Kaepernick is still a top-15 fantasy quarterback. His 274 rushing yards are 2nd-best in the league (behind Russell Wilson) but he has yet to score a rushing touchdown this season, exactly what used to boost his numbers in previous years.
Kaepernick’s success relies heavily on the ability of his offensive linemen to block perfectly, which is something that we’re not seeing this year. He’s a risky start this week: he’ll play in a unfriendly -to say the least- environement and against a revamped Saints’ defense.
The once-mighty San Francisco rushing attack is struggling this year. Gore and Hyde (combined) scored less than 100 fantasy points, partly because they’re both a liability in the passing game.
Frank Gore ran for 107 yards on 39 carries (2.7 yds/carry) in the past three games and his hip injury is something to keep an eye on. Carlos Hyde scored just 10.30 fantasy points in his last four games.
According to NFL.com’s fantasy guru Michael Fabiano you should not start Gore:
"Has Gore finally hit the cliff? In his last three games, he’s recorded no touchdowns and has scored a combined 11.6 fantasy points. Next on the schedule is a date with the Saints, who have surrendered an average of fewer than 15 fantasy points per game to road running backs this season. If possible, find an alternative runner."
Kaepernick’s struggles are having a bad influence on his receivers too, obviously: Michael Crabtree and Steve Johnson have a 1-point differential in fantasy points (54.60 and 53.60, respectively) and neither of them is in the top-40 list of fantasy wide receivers.
Vernon Davis is almost a must-sit, Michael Fabiano says:
"Davis has been a massive disappointment in fantasy land this season, scoring zero touchdowns since Week 1 and fewer than four fantasy points in all but one game. His string of bad stat lines figures to continue in a contest versus the Saints, who have surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points (3.83 PPG) to opposing road tight ends."
I can’t disagree here: Davis has been a fantasy bust so far (partly because of injuries) and if Kaepernick won’t play better, neither will Davis.
Phil Dawson managed to score 10+ points only twice so far: I don’t think he should start this week, even if the game is indoor.
Starting a defense that will play in the Dome is never a good idea: those defenses have averaged fewer than four fantasy points per game against the Saints in New Orleans.
Oct 30, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) reacts after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
San Francisco has the 5th-best fantasy defense vs. quarterbacks but don’t worry too much about the stats: Brees in the Dome is a sure bet.
Thomas and Robinson are ruled out for the game in spite of the long week of rest they were given. It’s Igram time once again! He is listed as questionable but practiced all week and is expected to carry the ball a lot Sunday. Even if the Niners have the 4th-best fantasy defense vs running backs Ingram should be able to put up double-digit points and therefore you should start him.
Travaris Cadet is not gonna get enough touches to be considered a player you can start.
Mark Ingram’s Projections
NFL.com – 15.50 pts
ESPN – 14.00 pts
YAHOO – 14.97 pts
This is always the toughest section to figure out. After a huge game against the Packers rookie receiver Brandin Cooks was targeted only three times (three catches for 38 yards) against the Panthers.
Since the bye week Stills has received for 50+ yards in each game but only had one touchdown.
Colston “disappeared” in the last two games as he scored less than 8 fantasy points (combined).
So who should get the start this week? Because of his big-play ability I’d go with Cooks. Stills could be a nice sleeper in deep leagues.
The matchup is good although not great. Also, Jimmy Graham is a beast.
After being named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month in October, should you sit Graham now? You should definitely consider other options: San Francisco has tied to allow the third-fewest fantasy points (6.0 PPG) to kickers in 2014, per Michael Fabiano.
This unit has scored 10+ fantasy points in its last two games: will they be able to extend the streak? I believe it’s a good streaming option for sure, especially because they’re playing in a loud environement that will put Kaepernick even more under pressure.