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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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WEEK 13
2012
NO at ATL (THU) *CLE at OAK *MIN at GB *SEA at CHI
*ARI at NYJ HOU at TEN NE at MIA *SF at STL
CAR at KC *IND at DET *PHI at DAL TB at DEN
*UPDATED *CIN at SD *JAC at BUF *PIT at BAL NYG at WAS (MON)

Prediction: SF 27, STL 13 (LINE: SF by 7)

Players Updated: David Akers, Danny Amendola

Players to Watch: Brandon Jacobs

This is a replay of week 10 when these teams combined for the only tie in the last five years. The Rams have won this matchup only once in the last five years and was the favored team in 2010.

San Francisco 49ers
Homefield: Monster Park
Grass
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @GB 30-22 10 STL 24-24
2 DET 27-19 11 CHI 32-7
3 @MIN 13-24 12 @NO 31-21
4 @NYJ 34-0 13 @STL -----
5 BUF 45-3 14 MIA -----
6 NYG 3-26 15 @NE -----
7 SEA 13-6 16 @SEA -----
8 @ARI 24-3 17 ARI -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
SF @ STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Colin Kaepernick 40,1 240,1
RB Frank Gore 80,1 1-10
WR Anquan Boldin 7-70
WR Michael Crabtree 4-60,1
WR Steve Johnson 6-90,1
WR Brandon Lloyd 5-60
TE Vernon Davis 3-40
PK Phil Dawson 2 FG 2 XP

Pregame Notes: The 49ers were held to a tie in week ten but have been on a mission in the last two weeks scoring over 30 points in each while the defense has been back to its dominating ways. The 49ers are still the current #2 seed in the NFC but there is nothing easy about the final schedule. The way they are playing now mean it may not matter - the change in quarterback appears to have added a new element that the offense needed.

HC Jim Harbaugh says he is going to name a starting quarterback mid-week instead of waiting to tab Colin Kaepernick last Saturday as everyone expected. The problem here is that you can replace Alex Smith with Kaepernick and get something more, something additional since he has a bigger arm and can run as well. But you cannot replace Kaepernick with Smith because there is nothing that he does that is any better other than maybe manage the end of a game. So - my take is that Kaepernick has to start as he is the best weapon for the 49ers. But if he doesn't, that could set the stage for a change in quarterbacks during the game if the 49ers are struggling at all on offense.

The 49ers also placed Kendall Hunter on injured reserve with a torn Achilles. That should open the door for Brandon Jacobs to try on his 49ers jersey finally. Hunter was only being used for four to six runs per game and had minor impact on the offense, so this is not like a chance to see Jacobs suddenly getting 20 carries in a game. LaMichael James might get called up as well. More will be known later in the week but Frank Gore will remain the primary runner anyway. Now if Gore gets hurt...

Kyle Williams has also been lost for the season with a torn ACL and that means the 49ers first round pick of A.J. Jenkins at least gets to be active in games. Williams was only the little-used #4 in the offense and Jenkins will do well enough to catch a few passes before the season ends.

The previous game against the Rams was when Smith was knocked out of the game and Kaepernick finally got some real playing time. They combined for 189 yards and one passing score with a second touchdown rushed in by Kaepernick. The Rams at home should be better against the pass but these are divisional rivals and the 49ers have a point to make. Gore rushed for 97 yards and one score in that game while Michael Crabtree led all receivers with his 70 yards and a score on five catches. Vernon Davis was held to only 30 yards on four catches in that game.

Davis is publicly expressing a desire to go back to Smith over Kaepernick. Davis showed up the Bears with six catches for 83 yards and one score in week 11 but then was specifically targeted by the Saints last week who held him to only one pass and no catches .

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points SF 12 9 25 5 11 12
Preventing Fantasy Points STL 16 21 10 18 17 14

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Colin Kaepernick, SF SD 40000023020 ***
Kaepernick's last fantasy game of note came in Week 6; in eight subsequent games he's failed to throw multiple touchdowns, topped 240 passing yards only twice (topping out at 263) and rushed for more than 26 yards once. Nothing in that stat line suggests he warrants fantasy consideration here
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF SD 6004300000 ***
Update: Gore practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday as he works his way back from a concussion, but the Niners expect him to go on Sunday. He hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire anyway, so unless someone planted a hypnotic suggestion that he's Eric Dickerson you'll be better served finding fantasy help elsewhere.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Bruce Miller, SF SD 1002200000 *
With Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde both iffy at best this week the backfield load falls on Miller and Alfonso Smith--who combined for 10 yards on six carries last week. At least Miller produced a little something as a receiver with four catches for 56 yards, so if you're in a PPR league and desperate for backfield help he's your guy.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF SD 006801000 **
It's been a month since a 49ers wideout produced a fantasy helper, and the way Colin Kaepernick is playing further fantasy help is far from imminent from the San Francisco passing attack. If you must start one Boldin has the most recent touchdown and 100 yard game, but even he would be a stretch at this juncture.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF SD 004501000 **
The Niners haven't produced a fantasy helper in quite some time, and the Chargers have been allowing only one fantasy helper per game. If that's the case, Crabtree falls behind Anquan Boldin in the passing game pecking order, though neither has a tremendous shot at a productive fantasy outing.
Update: Crabtree is listed as questionable with a knee injury. He practiced only on a limited basis this week, and there's not enough upside to offset this risk.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Johnson, SF SD 003300000 ***
A Colin Kaepernick-led passing game barely goes two-deep; three deep seems like a wish upon a star.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF SD 002200000 *****
Remember when Vernon Davis used to be good? And... fantasy relevant? It's all a bit hazy at this point.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF SD 1122 ***
The Bolts have given up double-digit kicker points in three straight, four of six, and five of the last eight games. So we're sayin' there's a chance... likely torpedoed by Colin Kaepernick's quarterback play.

St. Louis Rams
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
FieldTurf
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @DET 23-27 10 @SF 24-24
2 WAS 31-28 11 NYJ 13-27
3 @CHI 6-23 12 @ARI 31-17
4 SEA 19-13 13 SF -----
5 ARI 17-3 14 @BUF -----
6 @MIA 14-17 15 MIN -----
7 GB 20-30 16 @TB -----
8 NE 7-45 17 @SEA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
STL vs SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Sam Bradford 190,1
WR Kenny Britt 3-40
TE Jared Cook 1-20,1
TE Lance Kendricks 3-40
PK Greg Zuerlein 2 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: The Rams have been better this year if only on defense and yet the tied game in San Francisco has to be considered a trap of sorts since they were crushed in the three previous games and the one right afterwards. With three road games left and this home game against the 49ers, the 4-6-1 Rams are a lock for a losing record this year but at least have something to grow on for HC Jeff Fisher's second season.

There were two main reasons why the Rams did so well in San Francisco. First was that Danny Amendola had been out for five games and returned that week to post 11 catches for 102 yards against a defense that clearly did not think he was going to be such a big factor. Secondly, Steven Jackson rushed for 101 yards and one score in that game. He had never gained more than 76 yards in any game previous this year and had scored just once.

Jackson has continued to shine later in the year with a season best 139 yards in Arizona and 81 yards against the Jets in week 11.

Amendola has been hampered by a foot injury that prevented him from practicing last week but he still played enough to get one catch for 38 yards and then stick around for a handful of plays as a decoy in Arizona. HC Jeff Fisher said there is a chance that Amendola may practice this week which sounds like he will play some role, but how limited he may be will be the question and he may end up as a decoy yet again. At least the 49ers should see him coming this time.

Brian Quick also scored in that first meeting though it was on his only catch in the game and he only has seven receptions all year. Brandon Gibson was held to 47 yards in that game. Austin Pettis also scored but only gained 15 yards on three catches.

Normally a home version of a divisional matchup is better but in this case the Rams had a great game in week 10 while the 49ers had a rare bad one. That will get rectified here and the Rams really will face a top 5 defense against all positions. Jackson is the only apparently good play here and that relies on him continuing his unexplained late season surge. Amendola may be a decent start but needs to get practices in this week to feel comfortable about starting him.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points STL 24 27 11 29 23 20
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 2 2 4 5 1 8

  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
QB Shaun Hill, STL NYG 0000022010 ***
If not for his rushing score in a 52-0 blowout of the Raiders, Hill wouldn't have a single fantasy helper to his credit. Only one of the last six quarterbacks to face the Giants has thrown double-digit touchdown passes; unlikely Hill winds up the second.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tre Mason, STL NYG 10012100000 ****
Mason continues to get the bulk of the workload, so when there's a favorable matchup--like against the Giants, who have allowed four 100-yard rushers--he's the primary beneficiary.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Stedman Bailey, STL NYG 004601000 **
If Shaun Hill puts up enough yardage to generate a fantasy-worthy receiver--and that's a reasonably big "if"--Bailey is the most likely candidate; he's been the Rams' top receiver three of the past four games.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Britt, STL NYG 005700000 ***
Britt remains in the mix, but he's wildly inconsistent and dependent on a quarterback who doesn't exactly churn out tons of helpful fantasy stats.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Tavon Austin, STL NYG 3002100000 ***
The Rams are becoming more creative in getting the ball to their top pick from a year ago, but he's largely a non-factor as a receiver so you're banking on returns and gimmick plays for him to get you fantasy points--always a risky proposition.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jared Cook, STL NYG 002200000 ***
Cook will be the most targeted tight end in a reasonably favorable matchup, but he still has to fend off Lance Kendricks and Cory Harkey--as well as hope Shaun Hill throws enough for them to be fantasy relevant.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Greg Zuerlein, STL NYG 2222 ***
Aside from his five-field goal outing against the Broncos Zuerlein has been mostly ordinary with no more than two field goals in any other contest since Week 2. It's not an overly favorable matchup, so no need to go out of your way to get Legatron into your lineup.

WEEK 13
2012
NO at ATL (THU) *CLE at OAK *MIN at GB *SEA at CHI
*ARI at NYJ HOU at TEN NE at MIA *SF at STL
CAR at KC *IND at DET *PHI at DAL TB at DEN
*UPDATED *CIN at SD *JAC at BUF *PIT at BAL NYG at WAS (MON)

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