Monday Night Fantasy Football Versus: Week Two
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Following a fairly wild slate of Sunday action, we now turn towards Monday night's matchup between the defending champion New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers.
Each team came into the season with grand aspirations, but were headed in different directions after Week 1.
The Saints eked out a gritty, hard-fought win in the season opener two Thursdays ago against Minnesota, while the 49ers were trampled in surprising fashion by what appears to be a completely average Seahawks team.
There's a chance that you're on the fence with regards to who should start for your fantasy team this evening, and, if you're either down by a few or you're in danger of being overtaken by your opponent, NFL Soup is here to help.
Obviously, Drew Brees is the no-brainer starting quarterback over Alex Smith. If this comes as a surprise to you, then you should probably just stop trying.
Let's run down the rest of the positions.
Pierre Thomas (Saints) vs. Frank Gore (49ers)
Thomas ran 19 times for 71 yards with a touchdown against the Vikings. He's also a receiving threat out of the backfield, having caught 70 passes combined in the last two seasons.
Gore is a more hard-nosed type of runner, but opened the year with a lackluster 17-carry, 38-yard performance. He did more damage through the air, hauling in six passes for 45 yards.
The Saints, with their bevy of scoring options, may be more inclined to spread the ball around.
Gore, on the other hand, is a much more integral part to San Francisco's offensive game plan, especially considering how atrocious Alex Smith looked against Seattle.
As we are well aware, New Orleans puts up lots of points, but it's exceedingly difficult to pick one player to find the end zone on any given week.
You can't really go wrong with either of these guys, but if you have just one spot open, go with Gore.
Reggie Bush (Saints) vs. Anthony Dixon/Brian Westbrook (49ers)
It's tough to categorize Reggie Bush as a running back, especially when he's only picking up a handful of carries per game.
Obviously, he's most productive catching the ball out in the flats with space to run.
As he's also one of the league's more dangerous return men, he's a threat to score any time he gets his hands on the football.
Bush's explosiveness and versatility, combined with the lack of field time for either Brian Westbrook or Anthony Dixon, makes this an easy call.
Note: Marques Colston is the best option on either team by far. Start him over anybody else.
Devery Henderson/Robert Meachem (Saints) vs. Michael Crabtree (49ers)
Henderson and Meachem are often fantasy darlings one week, and complete duds the next.
Henderson caught two passes for 38 yards against the Vikings, one of which went for a touchdown.
Meachem wasn't on the field much, but saw enough time to deliver three catches for 33 yards.
Crabtree wasn't much more effective, catching three for 42 yards against Seattle.
It would be dangerous to expect much from any of these guys, but if you must, it would likely be a better choice to go with one of the Saints receivers, given their aforementioned scoring habits.
Which Saints receiver, you ask? Your guess is as good as mine, but Henderson has been more of a big-play threat at times.
Lance Moore (Saints) vs. Josh Morgan (49ers)
Moore had three catches for 23 yards against Minnesota.
Morgan had three catches for 32 yards against Seattle.
Josh Morgan's status as San Francisco's No. 2 wide receiver makes him a tad more appealing than Moore, and, with the 49ers likely playing from behind, they may need to air it out a little bit.
He's been a deep threat in the past, so don't be surprised to see Alex Smith look for him downfield a few times.
Moore has made some plays in the past, but with Colston, Henderson, and Meachem ahead of him on the receiver depth chart, he can easily get lost in the shuffle.
There isn't much upside for either guy here, but Morgan seems like the safer play.
Jeremy Shockey (Saints) vs. Vernon Davis (49ers)
Shockey was able to find the end zone against the Vikings, and, if the 49ers defense looks like it did last week, don't be surprised to see No. 88 in there again Monday night.
However, Vernon Davis is just about as close to a No. 1 target as any tight end in the league at this point, making him essentially a must-start.
Despite Smith's poor showing, he was still able to find Davis eight times for 73 yards, and as we mentioned above, the 49ers should be throwing a decent amount should they fall behind.
If the 49ers plan on keeping up with the Saints, they're going to have to go with a heavy dosage of Frank Gore and Vernon Davis.
Start Vernon Davis with confidence.
The Saints didn't allow Adrian Peterson to kill them in Week 1, holding the All-Pro to 87 yards on 19 carries without a touchdown.
As we saw against the Vikings and Colts in the playoffs last year, that secondary is also quite capable of making big plays.
Reggie Bush is also a very good returner, as we touched on earlier.
If Alex Smith is as bad as he looked last week, the New Orleans defense is in for quite a night.
The 49ers' defense is what kept them competitive last season, but it looked like a completely different group against the Seahawks.
The Seahawks are certainly not the Saints, so we can only imagine what's in store for Patrick Willis and Co. tonight.
Start the Saints, a no-brainer.
Garrett Hartley (Saints) vs. Joe Nedney (49ers)
Hartley, who famously propelled the Saints to the Super Bowl with a 40-yard game-winner in overtime of the NFC Championship Game, struggled in Week 1, missing his only two attempts.
Nedney accounted for the 49ers' only points against the Seahawks last week, kicking a pair of 23-yard field goals.
However, we go back to the Saints' prolific offense against the 49ers' seemingly porous defense.
The scoring opportunities will be there for Hartley, and hopefully, he will be able to redeem himself.
Take Hartley over Nedney.
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