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Fantasy: Major tasks for defense, Lynch
The Seahawks defense has been a top-ranked Fantasy unit so far this season, ranking sixth overall in Fantasy points on NFL.com. They are second in the NFL in points allowed, at 14.0 per game. But the Seattle defense faces its toughest test yet in Week 6, when the best offense in the league comes to town.
The New England Patriots are averaging 33.0 points per game, so some owners of the Seahawks defense are considering other options for the upcoming Fantasy week. What’s scary about the Patriots attack is that it is displaying more balance than in previous seasons. The Pats actually are averaging 165.4 yards per game on the ground with an NFL-best 10 rushing TDs. Stevan Ridley has emerged as a very productive lead RB, with Brandon Bolden offering a healthy change of pace and Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen also figuring in the mix depending on the game plan.
The Seahawks do rank third against the run defensively, and defensive line focal points Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant will be fired up for this challenge. MLB Bobby Wagner has also displayed excellent range so far, and the Seattle safeties always add solid run support. But there is also the matter of Tom Brady being able to use play-action passing and the unique talents of Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski to test even the best of defensive backfields like Seattle’s. So owners of the Seahawks defense will have to concede that there will be some points allowed totals that may go above the usual norms.
Savvy Fantasy players, though, know that defensive units do not live by points allowed alone. The Patriots have allowed 12 sacks so far, and no offensive line can fully contain the furious Seattle pass rush, especially with Bruce Irvin making such a notable impact early in his career. Tom Brady, however, has thrown only one interception, so pickoffs may be tougher to come by.
Experienced Fantasy gamers, though, know you always depend on your top players no matter the matchup. So the Seahawks defense will still be a solid play this week, and you cannot reserve them for the likes of a lesser unit. Don’t go with Cincinnati or Indianapolis based on the perceived strength of the opposing offense over the Seahawks. I was able to grab Miami in one league because they face St. Louis at home, and will likely use them this week, but I tend to stick with the Seahawks in most matchups.
Defensively, the Patriots have a stout front wall, anchored by defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love. They are primary reasons why New England has allowed just 82.2 rushing yards per game and two rushing scores. Marshawn Lynch, however, has not backed down to any level of opponent in the past two seasons, and should still work hard for at least respectable yardage totals. Lynch always seems to battle his way close to the 90-100 yard range even when defenses key on him consistently.
Ball control will be a primary objective for the Seahawks offense, as keeping the New England offense off the field as much as possible will be the goal. Look for Russell Wilson to operate a high percentage passing game, which will make Golden Tate and Sidney Rice viable bye week replacements in PPR formats. Tate has been a more regular threat than to score than some of the other Seattle pass-catchers with Wilson at QB.
Looking around the league for other Week 6 options, Brandon Weeden is my top QB sleeper for Week 6 if you need to replace Drew Brees or Cam Newton. The Browns will be primed for their first win at home against the rival Bengals, who are vulnerable in the secondary. Andrew Luck has also arrived as a useful Fantasy starter, and should be used as he’ll throw a lot against the Jets. Matthew Stafford should also bounce back after a bye week to perform well against Philadelphia.
Michael Turner should score at least once as the Falcons steamroll the Raiders. At RB, also strongly consider C.J. Spiller to get back into form at Arizona. The Cowboys will play with urgency at Baltimore, and that means some quality production from DeMarco Murray. Vick Ballard gets the start for the Colts on the road vs. the Jets, and should get flex play consideration.
Among wide receivers, keep faith in Andre Johnson, as the Texans should get him involved more in the offensive flow this week, and look for Eric Decker to be a TD threat on Monday night vs. San Diego. Mike Williams is a good bet to score against Kansas city, and Mario Manningham is worth strong consideration if you need a bye week plugger. Players who square off against their former teams are always worth the gamble when you need a fill-in. A primary example was Robert Meachem against the Saints last week.
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