San Francisco continues to do what it knows best, run the ball and play strong defense. Last week Frank Gore carried the offense while the other side of the ball stifled the Seahawks, limiting them to just six points.
Arizona enters Monday night riding a three-game losing streak, and injuries are starting to take a toll. Kevin Kolb is out with a rib injury, and the Cardinals also watched two starting running backs go down in the first five weeks.
Fantasy stars aren't abundant among these two teams, but there will certainly be a few key names you need to keep an eye on in Week 8. Let's take a look at who you need to start in your lineup, and who needs to take a seat on the bench.
Alex Smith, quarterback - Smith has thrown just one touchdown in the past two weeks. The Cardinals have allowed only one passing touchdown in the past two weeks. Should you feel confident about his matchup? Probably not. He's had a finger issue to deal with, so that may have hindered his value. However, you should probably search for another quarterback for your lineup until he proves otherwise.
Frank Gore, running back - The Cardinals have given up huge numbers to running backs in recent weeks. Gore is coming off a dominant game against the Seahawks stout run defense, and he should continue pouring in fantasy points this time around. It's not like you're considering sitting him this week. Feel confident about his matchup in Week 8.
Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, wide receiver - After going off against Buffalo, Crabtree's fantasy stock has taken a hit in the last two games. Obviously his value goes along with Smith's, but it's concerning for his owners. Manningham didn't play last week with a shoulder injury, though he should be good to go on Monday night. Starting either wide receiver is a risky play with the current state of the 49ers passing game. Crabtree is the one you want to start if you need a wideout from this bunch.
Vernon Davis, tight end - A blank stat line in Week 7 didn't sit well with Davis' owners, or Davis for that matter. He wants the ball, and the Niners will likely try to get him more involved. That being said, the Cardinals have only given up two touchdowns to tight ends all season, and kept Kyle Rudolph completely out of the picture last week. You should abandon all hope in Davis because of one bad outing. Just understand his numbers are going to be up and down with this offense. You can't sit a tight end of this caliber unless you have another big-name backup.
49ers defense/special teams - They only give up 14.3 points and and 272.3 yards per game. Why you ever sit the Niners D/ST?
John Skelton, quarterback - The 49ers have allowed one passing touchdown in their last four games. That should give you an indication as to what you should expect from Skelton this week. He turned the ball over twice against Minnesota, and will probably continue that trend on Monday night. Skelton did throw for 282 yards and three touchdowns against San Francisco last year at home, but given the way things are going right now, it would be wise to stay away from him with your fantasy team.
LaRod Stephens-Howling and William Powell, running back - The "Hyphen" surprised everyone against the Vikings with a huge outing, taking over after it looked like Powell was going to be the one to own. San Francisco hasn't been it's typical, dominant self against the run in the past two weeks, but we've still only seen one running back find the end zone all season long against the Niners. Stephens-Howling is worth a flex play at best, keeping in mind that the Cardinals might change their mind at running back again. It's tough to feel confident about either back this week.
Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Roberts, wide receiver - Fitzgerald scored a touchdown in both of his games against San Francisco last season. He struggled last week with Skelton under center, and to make matters worse, the 49ers have allowed just two scores to wideouts all year. Don't expect 29 yards again from Fitz, though. You have to start him every week. Roberts went off last week, but we've seen him quickly disappear in the past after big performances. Roberts is a risky play against the No. 1 pass defense in the league.
Rob Housler, tight end - With five catches for 54 yards in Week 7, Housler finished with career-highs in both categories. Skelton might have to continue looking for his tight end as a safety valve a tough Niners defense. Until we see more consistency from Houlser, though, he's an afterthought in the minds of fantasy owners.
Cardinals defense/special teams - Arizona ranks fourth overall in points allowed per game, sitting at 16.9 through seven games. However, the Cardinals 120.9 rushing yards allowed per week doesn't bode well to take on Frank Gore and the ground and pound style of Jim Harbaugh's squad. This D/ST is still worth a start of course, considering the Cardinals only give up 191.3 yards on average.