Monday night’s 49ers-Cardinals showdown may not jump off the page, but, believe it or not, it actually has NFC playoff implications.
Yes, a pair of 3-7 teams squaring off has playoff implications. Oh, you crazy NFC West.
Trying to set your last-minute lineup to help you overcome a deficit? You’ve come to the right place, as you know by now.
Troy Smith (San Francisco 49ers) vs. Derek Anderson (Arizona Cardinals)
We’ve seen Alex Smith, David Carr, and Troy Smith all play quarterback for the disappointing Niners this season.
For the Cardinals, first it was Matt Leinart (now holding a clipboard in Houston), then Derek Anderson, then Max Hall, and now they’re back to Anderson.
Smith followed an impressive 356-yard performance against St. Louis with a lackluster effort in the loss last week to the Buccaneers, and may be playing for his starting job at this point.
The Cardinals are amongst the dregs of the league in terms of defending the pass, so there’s at least a favorable matchup here.
Anderson has always had a knack for turning the ball over, but he’s been able to put up respectable fantasy numbers in each of the last three games.
Also factor in the fact that he’ll be throwing to Larry Fitzgerald and (possibly) Steve Breaston, and there’s some real potential here.
While the 49ers’ defense is more stingy against the pass, I’m still leaning in the direction ofAnderson over Smith.
Frank Gore (49ers) vs. Beanie Wells/Tim Hightower (Cardinals)
Gore is the only 49er that qualifies as a weekly must-start, so this one is a no-brainer.
Wells and Hightower have shown flashes at times in the past, but they’re both too inconsistent to be taken seriously here, especially in comparison to Gore.
Wells is “the guy” as long as his knee holds up, but he’s still scored just twice on the year and hasn’t run for over 75 yards in any single game to this point.
Gore is the guy here, without a doubt. If you must rank the Cardinals, you go Wells and then Hightower.
Michael Crabtree (49ers) vs. Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals)
We’re all still waiting for the greatness that was college football’s Michael Crabtree to show himself in the NFL, but not much has gone well thus far.
It certainly can’t help that the 49ers have had problems establishing a quarterback, and Crabtree has just one game this season in which he picked up more than 61 receiving yards.
Fitzgerald, a fantasy football staple during the Kurt Warner years, has seen his stock fall this season.
Fitzgerald’s production dip can be attributed to shaky quarterback play as well, but he’s still actually putting up decent WR2 numbers.
He’s recorded at least six catches in seven of Arizona’s 10 games this season, and has scored five touchdowns.
Fitzgerald over Crabtree. I’d rank Steve Breaston No. 3.
Vernon Davis (49ers) vs. Ben Patrick (Cardinals)
Davis, one of last season’s biggest surprises, has been battling an ankle injury of late, but it looks like he’ll try to play.
A limited Davis (38 catches, 516 yards, four touchdowns) is still a far superior fantasy option to Patrick, who has just 15 catches for 123 yards without a score on the season.
Needless to say, Davis over Patrick.
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