With Gore doubtful, Niners' backfield can't be trusted

Tribune staff reporter

If there's a flaw in the fantasy handcuff theory, it's when your starter's backup is DeShaun Foster.

The award for really bad injury timing goes to 49ers running back Frank Gore, who hasn't practiced this week because of a sprained ankle, earning the dreaded "game-time decision" label.A real hand-wringer for fantasy owners. And Foster offers no solace.

Not so for owners of the Colts running backs. Starter Joseph Addai is unlikely to play Sunday because of a shoulder injury. His backup Dominic Rhodes is a great play against the Lions.

Same goes for Giants backup Derrick Ward with Brandon Jacobs dealing with a knee issue.

But stay way from the 49ers' backfield this week.

Dry in the desert: Expect the Vikings' passing game to struggle at Arizona -- even though the Cardinals have allowed the most passing TDs in the league (27).

Here are the reasons: The skittish Tarvaris Jackson likely gets the start at quarterback (strike one); Bernard Berrian has done another disappearing act (strike two); the Cardinals are playing angry after that Thanksgiving debacle, scoring two defensive TDs last week (strike three).

Where does that leave Adrian Peterson? In your starting lineup, as always.

Extra pointers: This is the week we see the Steven Jackson we remember. ... Thinking the Jets have packed it in? They haven't. Brett Favre has had a rough couple of weeks, with no passing TDs and two picks. But with the AFC East title within reach, Favre gets it going -- even against a solid Bills pass defense. ... It's seems Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel is likely to play following his father's death, but the best way to beat the Raiders is on the ground anyway. Look for Sammy Morris to run for a TD in a third straight game. ... As much as the Redskins' Clinton Portis was a must-sit last week, he's a must-start now. He's upset and he's hungry with just 54 yards on 22 carries over his last two games. The best cure is the Bengals. ... I don't trust anyone in the Steelers-Ravens game, except the defenses and Le'Ron McClain, who'll get his usual 60 yards and a score.

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