It’s hard to think Frank Gore is anything more than a flex running back this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
You would have to hope for the 49ers defense to force some turnovers deep on Pittsburgh’s side of the field — which is possible with the battered offensive line the Steelers must send out there Monday night, or Charlie Batch possibly starting at QB for Ben Roethlisberger — for Gore to have much chance at success.
San Francisco brings the seventh-ranked rushing offense (126.9 YPG) into the game to try and get past the Steelers’ sixth-ranked rushing defense (97.0 YPG) that has allowed just six TDs this season and only two to running backs since Week 5.
And you’d be hard pressed to think the 49ers’ 29th-ranked passing offense (182.1 YPG) will open up much for Gore as the Steelers are No. 1 in the league against the pass at 179.1 yards per game.
So you can thank Gore for staying relatively healthy as a second-round pick and producing four straight games of 19.4 points or more right before the midway point of the schedule and seven double-digit games altogether through 14 weeks this season. He is now battling knee and ankle injuries and has Pittsburgh to contend with in the semifinals of most fantasy football leagues.
When others tell you in the preseason, “in prepping for your draft, that you can’t look to the fantasy playoffs as part of your draft,” I’m here to tell you that’s wrong. Look who are still the top run defenses against fantasy running backs as we enter the semifinals: Baltimore’s No. 2, Pittsburgh’s No. 6 and the New York Jets are No. 7.
If you have a back facing one of these three defenses over the next two to three weeks, good luck.
Like Gore, hope that your guys did a good enough job to keep you afloat through the regular season and you drafted depth or built it on the waiver wire to be able to push names like Gore, Ryan Mathews and now Rashard Mendenahll having to face the No. 1 49ers rush and fantasy RB defense aside this week in order to slide in that depth this week as a starting RB1 or RB2.
By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter