Strategy session: Six-pack of fantasy insight from Standig, Murphy
1) Matchup aside, is Colin Kaepernick a must-start at this point in the season?
Brian Murphy: Not right now. He still can be, but the 49ers have to let him run more. Kaepernick has 11 carries for 45 yards in his past three games combined. And he can't make up for that drop with his arm because his accuracy has declined sharply. The Niners just aren't asking him to do all that much right now, so he's more of a player you start depending on the matchup. His next two games -- versus Arizona, at Carolina -- don't look very attractive.
Ben Standig: Until he starts running, nope, nope and nope. Take out Kaepernick's 87 yards in Week 2 and he's averaging 16.7 per game on the ground. By comparison, Robert Griffin III (a player owners are waiting to crank it up as he kicks off the rust) is averaging 18 per game. Rushing for 40 yards per game is a free touchdown pass. Less than 20 is a blip - especially for a QB not in a pass-first attack. San Francisco has returned to a Frank Gore-centric approach. Even when it's time to pass, Kaepernick has but two down field options. The schedule eases up, but not so much over the next two weeks. If I have the guts, I'll be starting Chad Henne against Denver this week over Kaepernick against the Cardinals.
2) Contender/Pretender: Keenan Allen
Standig: As I wrote in this week's "Pickups" article, rookie receivers are typically a tricky bunch to count on week-to-week. Allen, a third-round selection from Cal, may be no different, but his situation is all kinds of promising. The Chargers are not exactly loaded with proven wide receivers - Eddie Royal does not count - and Allen is already picking up lots of snaps. Oh, he's also picking up lots of yards, 195 over the last two games. Over the next four weeks, the Chargers face Washington, Jacksonville and Denver, meaning more booming matchups. As a WR3 option with upside for more, sign me up.
Murphy: Pretender. Allen has 15 targets in the past two games, but he is still behind at least Danny Woodhead, Antonio Gates, and maybe Vincent Brown in the pecking order for catches. He'll have some big games because the Chargers' defense is so bad and he's a big-play threat with first-round talent. But if you are looking for a consistent WR3 for the rest of the season, you're probably asking for too much. Stash him on your bench, but he will be up and down.
3) Week 6 decision: Vincent Jackson or Justin Blackmon?
Murphy: Both have stellar matchups this week, but I would take Blackmon because I trust Chad Henne. That's right, I said it. Henne is not Peyton Manning (or Eli Manning. I'd give him the edge over Cooper, however). He is also not Blaine Gabbert. Blackmon put together a big game last week (largely with Gabbert slinging it), but he played better last year when Henne was under center, and this game has all the makings of a lot of glorious junk-time points. Mike Glennon targeted Jackson often in his debut, but he looked in over his head often. Perhaps the bye week shortened his learning curve, but I don't think he's better than Chad Henne right now.
Standig: This one comes down to the quarterback. It's not often a head-to-head comparison benefits Chad Henne - unless the other party is Blaine Gabbert. It does here against rookie Mike Glennon, who will make his second career start against the Eagles. That's a great matchup for Jackson and owners should use him. Meanwhile, if Vegas is correct, garbage time starts for Jacksonville in the second quarter against Denver. Expect a Rex Grossman-like day for Henne, meaning he will make plays for both teams. Also, expect 40-50 passes, meaning lots of chances for Blackmon and Cecil Shorts.