There are only nine unbeaten teams left in this early NFL season. This weekend two undefeated teams face off, when the Niners travel to Minnesota to play the Vikings. It’s not much of a surprise the Vikings are 2-0 at this point in the season, after starting off against the Browns and Lions. To some, the 49ers 2-0 start is a bit of a surprise, as they have been one of the worst teams in the NFL the past few seasons. But since Mike Singletary took over last year in San Fransisco, the team has responded to his disciplined structure. They’ve beaten two divsion rivals in a row and are looking to build on that start. This game features the two best running backs in the NFC squaring off against solid defenses. So let’s take a look at what this game has to offer – from A Fantasy Perspective.
Adrian Peterson (RB) Minn – Is this even a question? Sure, All Day had the worst game of his career against the 49ers in 2007, putting up a total of three yards on fourteen carries. But this one game should not discourage anybody from starting Peterson in this game. He’s the best runner in the game, he’s averaging over six yards a carry on the season, and is even contributing in the passing game a bit. Start him, sit back, and watch him battle Patrick Willis all day long. He’s usually a good bet for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Frank Gore (RB) SF – He’s carrying the offensive load for San Fransisco, and has so far been able to fulfill the role of punishing runner for Mike Singletary’s desired smash mouth, grind-it-out offense. The Glen Coffee changeup hasn’t occurred yet, only getting a handful of unproductive carries per game. Gore is also catching about 4 balls a game and has accounted for over 50% of his teams offensive yards. He’s facing the duo of Pat and Kevin Williams of the Vikings, but they haven’t been the wall they’ve been in the past, as the Vikes are allowing an average of 109 yards a game to the likes of such luminaries as Kevin Smith and Jamal Lewis. Gore will produce.
Worth a Shot:
Vernon Davis (TE) SF – I may end up regretting suggesting Davis, as he has burned me numerous time in the past. But he’s been got eight receptions on the season already and has been targeted in the passing game more this year than ever before. He finally seems to be “getting it” and Singletary called him one of the team leaders. This is a game where his team will need its leaders to stand up, so let’s see if he can respond. The Minnesota pass rush is elite and should be hounding Shaun Hill everytime he drops back. Given that Hill is only a mediocre quarterback, he will not be able to stretch the field, resorting to dumpoffs to his backfield and tight end.
Brett Favre (QB) Minn – He’s only averaging 130 yards through the first two games this season. And Brad Childress would’ve been stupid to take the ball out of Peterson’s hands and force the ball through the air, as AP has been doing all the work so far this year. However, this game could be a little different. Patrick Willis and the San Fransisco defense will be focused on AP and I think after a few weeks of getting back in game shape, the baby gloves will come off and Favre will be allowed to air it out. He’s got the weapons (Harvin, Berrian, Shiancoe, and Rice) and just need the opportunity. This week, opportunity knocks.
Guys I’m Avoiding:
Shaun Hill (QB) SF – I feel guilty even mentioning this, as I hope nobody is starting him in a fantasy league. And he isn’t losing game by throwing picks (he’s thrown zero) or throwing for a poor completion (about 65%). But he’s so unimpressive, attemping only 30 passes a game, averaging 175 yards, and completing one touchdown this year. The pass catchers on San Fransisco is uninspiring, consisting of Reverand Ike (Isaac Bruce), Josh Morgan and Arnaz Battle. Who? You should be able to do better on the waiver wire in most leagues.
Visanthe Shiancoe (TE) Minn – He broke out last year, with 7 touchdowns on 42 receptions, but has not yet built the rapport he needs with Brett Favre. He’s certainly talented and a good red-zone threat, but fantasy leaguers want predictability and consistancy from their players. Shiancoe can’t offer that yet this year with his 4 yards on 2 receptions. Plant him on the bench until he shows some signs of life. Good news though, Favre likes throwing to his tight ends, it just takes him a while to find one he trusts (See Dustin Keller’s second half last season).
This game will be an answer game for many football fans. Obviously, we want to see if the 49ers can keep beating talented teams (yes, I think the Cards are talented…). Also, we want to see what kind of stats to expect from Vikings players against servicable defenses, as the Lions and Browns hardly qualify to be considered respectable. It’ll be interested to see the athletically vulnerable Shaun Hill responds to a big-time pass rush. Can he avoid the sack and make a play down field? And finally, this game will be interesting because we get to count how many bodies Adrian Peterson is able to leave in his wake. The matchup of the most physically dominating runner in the league versus the most physically dominating linebacker in the league will sure be fun to watch.