Fantasy football: Sit-start advice for Thursday's St. Louis Rams-San Francisco 49ers game

It's Thursday night and NFL Network has yet another divisional match-up, this time between the 1-2 St. Louis Rams and the surprisingly 1-2 San Francisco 49ers. A loss could send either team reeling early in the season, but would be especially difficult for the defending NFC Champion 49ers, who have struggled since defeating Green Bay in their season opener. But enough about the real-world implications, if you're reading this, you want to know who to start and who to bench from either team for tonight's tilt.

Start 'em if you got 'em
QB Colin Kaepernick. Yes, he's been pretty bad the past two weeks, but opposing quarterbacks aren't exactly struggling versus the Rams, with 7 touchdowns to just 1 interception through three games. If you drafted Kap, you drafted him to be your starter, and with both Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton on byes this week, he's an unquestioned Top 10 at the position. You have to start him.
RB Frank Gore. Last week, Frank was, well, goring the Indianapolis Colts run defense before he was inexplicably handcuffed by the coaching staff, giving him just 4 second-half carries. Gore made his frustrations known and, if we've learned anything through the first three weeks of fantasy football in 2013, it's that players who whine about not getting the ball one week usually get fed the rock the next (Hi Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown!). So yeah, get Gore in your line-up too and hope he has a day like DeMarco Murray did against the Rams last week.
WR Anquan Boldin. Don't expect output like week 1 again, but he should be a solid start as a WR3 and could find pay dirt this week against a St. Louis defense that has yielded at least one touchdown reception to every opposing team's No. 1 receiver so far this year. If TE Vernon Davis plays, give Boldin a bump, because the defense has to at least respect Davis, even if he's not fully healthy, and that will pull safety help off Boldin.


Take a seat, son
QB Sam Bradford. Despite the Niners' struggles so far, they've been able to lock down to pretty good quarterbacks the last two weeks in Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. Bradford hasn't exactly been setting the world on fire either, despite all his new toys. Keep him on the pine.
WR Chris Givens. In his only other game against the 49ers last season, Givens hauled in a whopping 11 passes, but only for 92 yards, and didn't find the end zone. He's struggled a bit so far this season and needs to earn your trust before inserting him into your line-up on a regular basis. He's a WR3 at best.
WR Tavon Austin. The rookie from West Virginia has consistently pulled in 6 passes in each of his first three games in the NFL, but has yet to exceed 47 yards. Even in a PPR, where that would get you 10 points, I'm not sure it's enough to put him in my starting lineup.
TE Vernon Davis. I may end up regretting this one, but VD is still questionable for tonight's game as of this writing, and even if he does play, how effective will he be? St. Louis has already played two top 10 TEs in Tony Gonzales and Jason Witten and didn't allow either to get into the end zone. If you have another option, I'd wait on Davis another week.
TE Jared Cook. How nice would it be to know which Jared Cook would show up week to week? The monster who dropped a fantasy nuke in Week 1, or the pedestrian player who has put up duds the last two weeks? I'd be more content with starting him in a PPR, since he seems to get a lot of targets, but I don't envision him getting into the end zone tonight.
WRs for San Francisco not named Anquan Boldin. If you have Kyle Williams, Marlon Moore, Jon Baldwin or Quinton Patton on your fantasy football roster and you play in anything less than a 16-team league (I'll forgive Patton in a dynasty league), then ask the person next to you to kick you in the shin. You deserved that. Now, promptly log onto your fantasy football team's website, click drop as fast as you can and add someone, anyone, with fantasy relevance to your roster. You're welcome.

Taking a flier
RB Daryl Richardson and RB Isaiah Pead. Shockingly, San Francisco's defense is having major problems stopping the run. On the other hand, St. Louis has struggled to establishing a running game and Richardson has been banged up, playing just two snaps last week after re-aggravating a foot injury. He's practiced in full the past two days and is probable for tonight. Pead replaced him last week and was very average. The two of them should split carries tonight and, while the Niners are currently giving up the most fantasy points to running backs of any team, I think that's more of an illusion than reality. So, I'm not starting either one of these guys with confidence.
However, if you're looking for a flex option or a bye-week fill-in (maybe you've been rolling DeAngelo Williams, who is on bye) you could do worse than one of these two. The sloppy play on Thursday night's as a result of the short week could work in their favor as well (missed tackles).
For the record, even with his foot injury, I like Richardson more than Pead, if you have both on your team for some reason. Richardson has flashed big play ability in the past and I just don't think Pead is a very good NFL running back.
Still, if the Niners defense continues to struggle stopping the run (and with Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis questionable, it very well may), you may not get a better match-up for these guys than tonight.

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