Posted: 9:00 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013
By Daniel Kelley
Two playoff teams from a season ago enter Monday night having lost a combined four straight. For one, the season is all but over, but the other could still make a run.
The Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers both made the playoffs a season ago in large part behind the strength of new starting quarterbacks. Both quarterbacks have struggled this year, going a long way to explaining why the Redskins are now basically out of the playoff race, while the 49ers are trying to end a two-game losing streak and improve their potential playoff positioning. The game -- in Washington Monday night at 8:30 p.m. ET -- also has a handful of fantasy-relevant players:
It's been a surprisingly rough season for Kaepernick; after a dominant first half-season as a starter and a huge Week 1, he's only topped 200 passing yards once since and ranks only 17th in fantasy scoring among quarterbacks in 2013. Still, it's a dream matchup for a quarterback to go against the Redskins. This is the week Kaepernick should get back to a high point. ... Last week, when the New Orleans Saints shut the entire team down, Gore had his second-worst game of the season, and his rushing attempts have decreased for five straight games. Still, only the Dallas Cowboys have allowed more points to opposing running backs than Washington, giving up 20 or more points six times. ... With Davis finally looking healthy, he's clearly the best pass-catching option San Francisco has, and should prove it Monday night. ... They struggled early in the season, but the 49ers' defense has scored double-digit fantasy points five times in seven games. It might not be the dominant unit it once was, but it's still an every-week start.
Boldin finally had a decent game Sunday, his first in at least seven weeks. Even then, he only had 56 receiving yards. His 208-yard 49ers debut now seems like an aberration, and he's a dicey start no matter what defense he's facing. ... Dawson's performance has improved as the season has gone on, but he still ranks only 22nd among fantasy kickers.
Periodically this season, it has looked like the team was going to ramp up Hunter's involvement in the offense, but for every good game, there has been awful production as well; he has negative-two fantasy points since the team's Week 9 bye. ... The team eagerly awaited Manningham's return from injury, but he has only four catches and 38 yards in two games. He's potentially helpful in real football, but not a fantasy-relevant player at all.
Start if you're desperate:Robert Griffin III
The 49ers stop passing attacks insanely well, but they struggle a little more against rushing games, and Morris is the best offensive weapon the Redskins have. Even with other running backs sniping his touchdown chances, he has at least seven fantasy points in every game this season, and has hit double digits six times in 10 games. ... Garcon has played himself into No. 1 WR position; even against a good pass defense, he ought to be fine.
Griffin hasn't been dominant in his second year, but has topped 20 fantasy points four times, including each of his last two games. The 49ers' defense is scary for a quarterback, which is why Griffin isn't a sure thing, but most of his owners will be starting him.
Helu and Young have both vultured touchdowns this season, with each having three-score games at different points, but neither has topped 42 rushing yards in a game. ... Robinson and Moss have some value in general, but facing a tough pass defense really negates it. ... Reed is going to come down to a game-time decision, making it way too late for fantasy owners to bet on a tight end who really hasn't proven himself yet, and whether he goes or not, Paulsen is far too inferior to use as a backup. ... Neither Redskins' kicker -- Forbath has missed time with injury, but should be fine for this game -- is anything to write home about. ... The Redskins' defense hasn't scored more than two fantasy points since Week 8, and has only topped six points once since Week 4. There's got to be a better option.