San Francisco enters Thursday night riding a three-game win streak against divisional foe Seattle. Last season the Seahawks put up only 17 points in each of their two matchups with the 49ers, but this is a different team we're seeing in 2012.
After a disastrous-looking performance on offense last week, the Niners will presumably return in Week 7 looking to jump onto the scoreboard right out of the gates. Both defenses in Thursday night's game rank toward the top of the league, so fantasy points might come at a premium.
Six teams are on a bye this week, so you're likely looking for some spot starts and general insight to your matchup. Let's take a look at who you need to start between the Seahawks and 49ers, and who needs to find a spot on the bench.
Russell Wilson, quarterback – Where did 293 yards and three touchdowns come from? Wilson looked like a viable fantasy starter against the Patriots. He didn't throw a pick for the first time in three weeks, which is a huge plus for his value. Don't get ahead of yourself, though. The Niners' pass defense is far superior to the Pats' secondary. Wilson may be making strides, but he will certainly be tested on the road this week. You can find a better quarterback for your lineup.
Marshawn Lynch, running back – Lynch has just two touchdowns on the season, while the Niners gave up their first rushing score just last week. He only managed 41 yards in Week 6 against the Patriots, and we can expect him to struggle again in San Francisco. His last game at Candlestick Park didn't do fantasy owners much good, as he ran for 33 yards on 13 carries in Week 1 of 2011. The 49ers looked surprisingly weak against the Giants ground game last week, so we can only expect Jim Harbaugh's defensive unit to really lock down this time around. Lynch shouldn't ride the bench in Week 7. Just understand Beast Mode may not live up to that title.
Sidney Rice, wide receiver – Until Wilson proves he can put up consistent passing numbers, we can't expect any of his receivers to do much good for fantasy owners. Rice caught three passes for 81 yards and a touchdown against New England. Can he do it again? Sure. Will he this week? Probably not. The Niners gave up two touchdowns to wide receivers through the first six weeks. Unless you're willing to take a risk on Rice, find another wideout.
Zach Miller, tight end – Miller hasn't caught over three passes in a single week this season. San Francisco actually allowed four touchdowns to opposing tight ends in the first three weeks of the season, so we know it's not impossible for the position to come away with decent numbers. Miller can't be trusted, though, by anyone in any league.
Seahawks defense/special teams – Name one of the two teams that is allowing less points per game than the 49ers. If you guessed the Seahawks, you were correct by the slimmest of margins. Seattle is yielding only 15.5 points and 294.7 yards each week. San Francisco isn't likely to repeat its three-point offensive debacle from Week 6, but this is a tough matchup. Start the Seahawks D/ST just like you've hopefully been doing every week.
Alex Smith, quarterback - Well, last week was a disappointment. Not much else you can say for Smith's numbers against the Giants. He threw three picks and basically killed any matchup he was starting in. Aside from the 395 yards given up to Tom Brady, the Seahawks pass defense hasn't yielded big numbers to opposing passers. In two games against Seattle last season, Smith failed to throw a single touchdown or surpass 200 yards in either contest. It would be wise to look elsewhere for help with your lineup this week, unless you're completely out of options.
Frank Gore, running back - Seattle's defense does not break against the run. It barely bends. The Seahawks are allowing a measly 70 yards per game to opponents. We saw them dominate Stevan Ridley last week, holding him to just 34 yards on 16 carries. Gore's second game against Seattle in 2011 actually went well, as he rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown. However, this is a better defense in 2012, and only two rushing touchdowns have been scored on Pete Carroll's squad. You have to start Gore every week with the Niners leading the league in rushing, but be sure to temper your expectations in this matchup.
Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, wide receiver – As he's the best option at receiver for the Niners, Crabtree is typically worth a start. Obviously we understand he's going to be up and down in this offense, but he's seeing plenty of targets each week. PPR owners should feel safe with him in their lineup. Manningham is listed as questionable right now, so if he does play it's hard to tell how effective he'll be in this shortened week. You can probably find another option at wide receiver, especially against a defense that has only allowed four passing touchdowns all year.
Vernon Davis, tight end – Davis can be roped into the same expectation as Crabtree, as his performances will fluctuate depending on how the offense, i.e. Alex Smith, fares. He is a must-start at tight end, though, given the depth of the position and his ability to find the end zone. The Seahawks gave up their first touchdown to a tight end last week in Aaron Hernandez. If Smith does throw a touchdown this week, Davis would be the first person you'd expect to be the recipient.
49ers defense/special teams – You always start a defense giving up just 183 passing and 93 rushing yards. It's that simple. Sure, the Giants put up 26 points in San Fran this past Sunday. Is that really going to deter any owner from starting the Niners D/ST? Seattle only averages 18.3 points per game. You should feel good about this one.