A friend of mine called me the other day and asked me what my fantasy football team's record was – I told him it was 5-2, which is pretty good but certainly not good enough to rest on any laurels. Far from it. Week Eight of the NFL campaign began Thursday with Tampa Bay traveling to Minnesota to meet the Vikings. No matter how well or poorly your fantasy team is performing, make every effort you can to shore up your roster – the playoffs in most leagues commence in Week 14 and it will be here before you know it.
Explore trade possibilities. Handcuff that elite running back. Make sure you have depth at each position because injuries are really starting to take their toll (ask owners of Maurice Jones-Drew, Greg Jennings and Pierre Garcon, right?). And, of course - always play your studs. Always.
The Cardinals host the 49ers Monday night (on ESPN) in an enormous NFC West battle in Glendale. Let's take at look at which of their players can help your squad take home a possible key victory this week:
Larry Fitzgerald: The great #11 had a disappointing game last week vs. the Vikings – four receptions for 29 yards – so his homecoming was far from special. This week's matchup looks even tougher. The 49ers have the top-ranked pass defense in the NFL, allowing just 173 yards a game. Normally Fitzgerald would be a no doubt WR1 in a standard 12-team league but not this week. Even with four teams on a bye, I have the All-Pro wide out ranked 14th overall so he makes a very solid WR2. Keep one thing in mind though – Fitzgerald usually plays very well against San Francisco – he had seven catches for 149 yards and a TD last December – so he certainly can end up with stats that are worthy of a WR1 Monday night.
Arizona defense: This should be a defensive tussle against the Niners and the Red Birds rank as a Top 12 defense this week. Arizona is allowing just 16.9 PPG (fourth in the NFL), third in sacks (22) and fourth in pass defense (191 YPG). Expect the 49ers to try and establish the run game with Frank Gore and use play action from Alex Smith. The Cardinals are shaky against the run (121 YPG to rank 20th overall) so they have to be careful that Gore does not elude the point of attack and break a long run. The home crowd will be fired up and loud which should make it difficult for Smith, who has not played well his last two games.
Everyone else. With four teams on a bye, wide receiver Andre Roberts could possibly be used as a flex play in a 12-team league but I don't have a lot of confidence in him this week against a stout Niners defense. LaRod Stephens-Howling had an excellent game last week against the Vikings but there are better options out there. Keep an eye on him though in future weeks. I would stay away from John Skelton this week – the matchup is just too tough.
Good luck this week!
Tags: Alex Smith, Andre Roberts, Arizona, Arizona Cardinals, Football, Frank Gore, John Skelton, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Larry Fitzgerald, NFL