The San Francisco 49ers travel to the Big Easy this week to take on the New Orleans Saints in what should be a very entertaining game between two contenders. Hats off to Rob Ryan for the job he’s done in New Orleans this year. He’s taken a defense that was historically one of the worst ever last year and transformed it into a respectable unit this season. The 49ers’ offense has been erratic, so they’ve certainly got their work cut out for them in this one.
I honestly think that in order for any of the 49ers’ players to have fantasy success this week, Vernon Davis has to play. Davis hasn’t exactly been a fantasy superstar this season, but the effect he has on the entire offense is profound. Colin Kaepernick has been up and down, and it’s partially because he’s lacking weapons in the passing game.
Anquan Boldin looked like a young man in the first week of the season, but that faded almost immediately. His age has really shown as he’s struggled regularly to gain separation from defenders. Aside from him, Davis is really the only other guy worth throwing to, so defenses key in on him every week.
Whether he manages to get open or not, his presence on the field at least commands significant attention and opens up space for other players on the offense. If Davis doesn’t play, the whole machine is likely to break down.
The 49ers also need to commit to the run game in order to have success against the Saints. New Orleans hasn’t been nearly as good against the run as they’ve been against the pass, allowing roughly 5.0 yards per carry to their opponents. Frank Gore needs to be fed early and often not only because he’ll be their best means of moving the chains, but also because it will keep the ball out of Drew Brees‘ hands.
All signs seem to be pointing towards Davis suiting up for this game, which is huge news for the 49ers and also anyone who has a 49ers player in their lineup. Davis has to be on the field to keep the Saints honest and create room for Gore to operate, because the only way the 49ers will have success through the air is if they have success on the ground first.
If they can execute that plan, it will not only give them a chance to win, but will more importantly (for us) yield solid fantasy production as well.