I almost feel silly for having to write this column after last week's game in which the Cleveland Browns only scored six points. How is this team worthy of a fantasy starter? Believe it or not, Cleveland actually did have three quality players -- Cleveland's defense had the fifth most fantasy points in the league (15 points), kicker Phil Dawson was tied for a respectable 11th place with two 50+ yard field goals (10 points), and running back Montario Hardesty also ranked 11th among running backs due to his total of 122 yards from scrimmage (12.2 points). What about this week?
I see this week as being almost identical to last week in terms of who you might want to take a chance starting on gameday.
- RB Montario Hardesty - The 49ers have the best run defense in the league in my opinion, so this is definitely a tough matchup for the YPC-challenged Browns running game. I anticipate the game being low-scoring though, and in that situation, I think Shurmur will keep feeding Hardesty. If that leads to 70 yards and maybe 30 yards receiving, Hardesty makes for a good option as a flex running back. I do have a personal feeling that Peyton Hillis will be active though, so monitor that situation on gameday.
- K Phil Dawson - I see the Browns figuring out a few things with their passing game this week, but their one-dimensional play (too tough to run on the ground) could set up Dawson with several field goal situations just like last week. Remember, Dawson could've had 17 fantasy points last week had his two kicks not been blocked.
- DEF Cleveland - The Browns had a season-high in points last week, but they were facing a terrible quarterback in Charlie Whitehurst and broke a team record for the expansion-era Browns (fewest yards allowed). That won't happen every week, and the 49ers have had success this year by not turning the ball over. Cleveland might be able to manage to keep this a low-scoring game and get a couple of sacks, but if you can't find a better match-up for your defense this week, you might not be looking hard enough.