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Marshawn Lynch ready to provide more Fantasy excellence vs. Green Bay in Week 1
Last year, Marshawn Lynch was the fourth-highest scoring Fantasy running back on NFL.com with 239.30 total points. This season, he was the fifth overall pick on average in NFL.com drafts. Still regarded as a top-shelf player at a critical position in Fantasy Football, Lynch has earned his status with annual high-level production and reliability. He will head into the 2014 season opener as the centerpiece of the Seattle game plan again, and will be primed for another classic Lynch outing against the Packers.
The Seahawks will likely focus on controlling time of possession against the Packers and will attempt to keep their offense off the field as much as possible. That sort of approach will lead to lots of work for Lynch against a Green Bay defense that can be vulnerable to the running game. Last season, Green Bay ranked 25th against the run, and while they reshaped their defensive front in the offseason, the unfortunate loss of nose tackle B.J. Raji means opponents will look to exploit his absence consistently.
So if you were one of those fortunate or smart owners who nabbed Lynch in the second round, your Fantasy season should get off to a fine start behind him. Robert Turbin also had an impressive preseason and you should see some of him as well this week. He will make certain Lynch gets enough breathers and does not get overworked, and his presence and role can mean Lynch will remain durable and dependable this year.
We saw the Seahawks show increased promise in the passing game this preseason, and a strong running game will allow Russell Wilson to pick his spots to attack the Packers pass defense with timely strikes. Green Bay has formidable cornerbacks, but Wilson will be able to use play-action effectively and won’t hesitate to take some downfield shots. This will be a real opportunity for Wilson to work in tune with Percy Harvin after he completed the preseason and is ready to go for the opener with much more time to work with his teammates. With a healthy Harvin and increased speed in the passing game, Wilson looks like a solid starter for Week 1 in Fantasy Football. You should expect more than one TD pass, as the Seahawks should be good for three offensive scores, with the other likely coming from Lynch.
Harvin’s owners should be excited, as he enters the season opener with no health concerns. He’s a must-start for Fantasy owners who drafted him as their WR3. One of the most dynamic and thrilling players in the league with the ball in his hands, Harvin has the best supporting and complementary cast of his career around him as a Seahawk. Wilson will look to get him involved in various ways, including screens, underneath routes and high percentage passes where he can make things happen after the catch. Plus. he can utilize Harvin as a deep threat the likes of which Wilson has never operated with before. Wilson is masterful at unleashing the pretty deep ball on a play-action fake. When you factor in his additional abilities as a runner, Harvin is a terrific and versatile playmaker who offers lots of statistical upside for Week 1.
In this space in the preseason, we mentioned that Jermaine Kearse has serious Fantasy sleeper potential. A smart Fantasy player not only watches his starters when they are in action, they also scout potential waiver adds or future contributors every week. Keep your eyes trained on Kearse in the opener. Baldwin is not the only one who may benefit from Lynch and Harvin drawing heavy defensive attention. Kearse is a playmaker who may be snatched up by other teams after he starts showing early regular season promise. Add him to your bench now if you have the room, before he starts to stir more Fantasy buzz when play begins for real.
You should also be scouting Luke Willson for Fantasy TE2 purposes when you watch Thursday night’s opener. It was apparent during the preseason that the Seahawks intend to work Willson into the offensive flow more. He’s a big target who could get a healthy amount of opportunities to score, and he has flashed speed and quickness after the catch. Working with veteran Zach Miller can only help accelerate his progression as a pro player, and he’s a player to monitor for a possible waiver pickup in the upcoming weeks.
The Seahawks defense/special teams unit is considered to be the best at the position in Fantasy Football, and as we saw in the Super Bowl, they come prepared to give any offense a hard time. So you cannot consider reserving them at all, even though they face Aaron Rodgers and a battering ram like Eddie Lacy. Look for the ‘Hawks to focus heavily on containing Lacy, and the secondary is obviously capable of dealing with the impressive Green Bay wideouts. The Packers do have some concerns on the interior of the offensive line, and the Seahawks will be well prepared to deal with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. With the added threat of Harvin as a kick returner, you have yet another reason you can never bench the Seahawks DST.
Elsewhere around the league, Colin Kaepernick looks like a very strong Week 1 quarterback against a Dallas defense that can certainly be exploited. Tony Romo should keep pace against Kaepernick against a 49ers defense that is hurting without some key personnel. Jay Cutler will roll up some quality numbers as the Buffalo defense spends a lot of time on the field against the Bears. Andrew Luck will have to throw frequently to keep pace with Peyton Manning and the Denver offense.
Running back Montee Ball should get a big breakthrough year off to an impressive start against the Colts. Andre Ellington should be very busy as both a rusher and receiver against the Chargers. Zac Stacy will shoulder a heavy load against the Vikings, and Reggie Bush should make some big plays against the Giants. Chris Johnson is a nifty start as he could rip off some sizable gains against the Raiders.
At wide receiver, you should expect an explosive opener from Dez Bryant against the 49ers. Andre Johnson should approach the 100-yard mark against the Redskins. Marques Colston will flash his better form against the Falcons. Julian Edelman will build a quality statistical line against the Dolphins, and Golden Tate will look good in his first game in a Lions uniform as he faces the Giants.
Tight end Julius Thomas should have a terrific opener against the Colts. Look for Zach Ertz to start his Fantasy rise to prominence against the Jaguars. Travis Kelce, who faces the Titans, and Dwayne Allen, who goes up against the Broncos, are other rising TE options to strongly consider early in the year.
New England’s defense is a prime start against Miami. Tampa Bay is another excellent choice as they face Carolina. The Jets are a favorite of many Fantasy analysts as they take on the Raiders. Dan Bailey (vs. SF) and Matt Bryant (vs.NO) should have strong openers, and Greg Zuerlein (vs.Minnesota) deserves to be considered as well.
Scott Engel is an 18-year veteran of the Fantasy industry and was an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association’s Hall of Fame. For more in-depth Fantasy Football analysis from Scott and his team at RotoExperts.com, register now for the Xclusive Edge Fantasy Football package right here and take advantage of a very special discount offer for Seahawks fans!