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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 STL 30000026021 ***
Kaepernick's best fantasy outing of the season came three weeks back against these very Rams. Now he'll face the same D on his home turf with an extra week of prep and rest; no reason to think he can't do something similar this time around as well.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Frank Gore, SF STL 6011100000 ***
Run defense: don't leave home without it. The Rams don't heed that advice, giving up an average of 30-134 to opposing backs when they leave St. Louis, as well as another 4-26 receiving. Gore, who has 100 rushing yards or a TD in all three home games this year, should handle the bulk of those stats; that makes him a very nice fantasy play this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Carlos Hyde, SF STL 200000000 ***
Hyde has 10 carries in each of the last two home games and could carve out a chunk of what should be a healthy dollop of RB stats this week against the Rams.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Anquan Boldin, SF STL 006701000 ***
The last time these teams met three different 49ers wideouts scored, including Boldin. He's edging Michael Crabtree for most targeted Niner; the confluence of those two trends make him at least a viable fantasy option in a six-team bye week this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Michael Crabtree, SF STL 003401000 ****
Crabtree is battling Anquan Boldin for target supremacy as Colin Kaepernick is getting a bevy of 49ers involved in the passing game. Fortunately, as proven by the last meeting between these two teams, it's a matchup where there should be more than enough to go around, allowing multiple Niners wideouts to be fantasy relevant.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Steve Johnson, SF STL 005500000 ****
With the talent heard thinned by a six-team bye week you could do worse than reaching for Johnson, who has scored in three of the last four games and had 53 yards the last time these teams met.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Vernon Davis, SF STL 003300000 ***
Davis has done nothing of fantasy note since the season opener, a stretch that includes 3-30 when these teams got together three weeks ago. St. Louis isn't surrendering much of anything to the position so no reason to expect a change in Vernon's fortunes this time around.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Phil Dawson, SF STL 3333 ****
Dawson has kicked multiple treys in every home game this year and should have little difficulty doing so again against a Rams' squad that has surrendered double-digit kicker points in three of the last five, including both of its last two road tilts.

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 Austin Davis, STL @SF 0000018011 ***
Peyton Manning is the only quarterback to do anything of fantasy note against the Niners in the past month--a stretch that includes Austin's own 236 & 1 against San Francisco--and Davis clearly ain't Peyton Manning.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Tre Mason, STL @SF 500000000 ***
Mason has emerged as the lead dog in this backfield triumvirate, but the trio was ineffective in an earlier meeting with the Niners--78 rushing yards, 41 receiving yards and a Benny Cunningham TD dive--and there's no reason to expect things to change in San Francisco this time around.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
RB Benny Cunningham, STL @SF 2002200000 ***
These teams met back in Week 6, at which point the Rams unveiled their three-pronged running back approach. Cunningham scored but it was the only glimmer of fantasy help amongst the bunch, and you shouldn't bank on a repeat on the road this week.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Kenny Britt, STL @SF 004400000 ***
WR TDs come in bunches against the Niners--four by the Broncos in Week 7, two for John Brown back in Week 3, three for Brandon Marshall in Week 2. What the Rams have is a bunch of receivers, none of whom can be counted on for a fantasy contribution. Britt's 39 yards paced the pack the last time these teams tangled; hopefully you have a better fantasy option at your disposal.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
WR Tavon Austin, STL @SF 004300000 ***
The Rams still haven't figured out how to use Austin, and an epiphany is unlikely this week in San Francisco.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Lance Kendricks, STL @SF 001101000 ***
The Rams have ordered a Code Red Zone in three straight and four of the last five games, including the earlier meeting with San Francisco. It's not as if the St. Louis wideouts threaten to steal looks, so if you're desperate for tight end help in a TD-heavy scoring system you could do worse than Kendricks.
  Opp RuYDRuTDRecReYDReTDPaYDPaTDInt ConFac
TE Jared Cook, STL @SF 005600000 ***
Cook's 74 yards in the earlier meeting were the most the Niners have allowed to an opposing TE all year. He's the yardage guy in the Rams' TE equation and with no real WR threat to speak of there's no reason he couldn't push for a repeat in the back end of the season series as well.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Greg Zuerlein, STL @SF 1111 ****
Legatron's been more of a Micro Machine this season, with one field goal in the past four games and no double-digit points efforts in the past five. You could build a better fantasy kicker out of parts from guys cut by the Lions.

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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