Last week, most Fantasy analysts, including myself, expected a high quality Fantasy performance from Marshawn Lynch against the NFC’s lowest-ranked run defense. Yet as we sometimes are, we were reminded that nothing can be assumed when divisional rivals meet up. The Rams limited Lynch to 23 rushing yards on eight carries as they won the battle of field position and forced the Seahawks into many adverse passing situations.
The Seahawks won a brutal, low-scoring matchup with a team that always seems to play them tough. In the process, they were denied the ability to play to their usual offensive strengths of running effectively and spreading the ball around consistently in the passing game. This week’s home game against the winless Buccaneers offers opportunities to start imposing their will on defenses again. Where the Buccaneers rank defensively is not the emphasis as we scout this matchup for Fantasy purposes. It’s about the Seahawks fixing what seemed to be broken on Monday Night in Week 8, and what Fantasy players can derive from the repair process.
First and foremost, the Seahawks will do whatever they can strategically and scheme-wise to re-establish the ground game. That means Lynch will get a lot of work, and will eventually wear down the Tampa Bay defense even if they can limit him in the very early stages of the game. The Buccaneers defense will spend a lot of time on the field, as the offense figures to flame out on many drives against a superior defensive unit. Lynch’s knee injury is not expected to keep him out of action, and he is going to want the ball to get the offense rolling. His success may be derived from a combination of consistent work, lots of opportunities and pure determination. Lynch is set to have a fine outing, and if you don’t own him, it’s a good time to deal for him, taking him off the hands of a reactionary Fantasy owner who may be willing to move him after his unusual outing against the Rams.
In recent weeks, while the Seahawks have tried to adjust to some offensive line injuries, Russell Wilson has been at his best when he challenges defenses with his scrambling and running abilities. The Cardinals and Rams were able to keep Wilson in check in those regards in the last two games. I would not be surprised to see Wilson take off and run more frequently this week as another method of loosening the defense up. Some designed runs are very possible. But Wilson may need to make things happen with his legs and decide to run sooner than in the past two games when he could not find an open receiver.
Quick-hitting and flat passes will also help stave off some pass pressure. Look for high percentage throws on slants and other short patterns for the receivers to make things happen on screens and swing passes. Wilson should be very efficient overall and will pad his Fantasy stats with some rushing totals. He is a solid Fantasy starter for Week 9. Wilson knows how to preserve himself when he runs and has put an emphasis on protecting the ball when he gets hit, so do not overly concern yourself with him taking a pounding or turning the ball over. Getting rid of the ball quickly and being smart about when to slide or run out of bounds should certainly be high on his list of fundamental objectives this week.
How Wilson will move the ball via the pass this week, however, should really intrigue and interest Fantasy players. In another week when six teams are on a bye, you’ll be able to find quality replacement resources in the Seahawks passing game. Tampa Bay’s superstar cornerback, Darrelle Revis, will likely be locked onto Golden Tate, somewhat suppressing his statistical ceiling this week. So Wilson may often look to other potential playmakers that can be nifty bye week options for Fantasy owners searching for some assistance.
Jermaine Kearse has made his name known to Seahawk fans as a timely playmaker on special teams. He has also caught some key passes as well, most notably what proved to be a game-winning TD in the season opener at Carolina. Kearse has an apparent knack for the big play, and with Sidney Rice out, Kearse now gets an opportunity to take on a more featured role at wide receiver. Look for the opportunistic Kearse to welcome an expanded role, and he could be a Week 9 Fantasy surprise to many average players. Those who have watched Kearse shine in some spots, though, know he is very capable of making the most of more chances.
Zach Miller will certainly be needed to block, but he will also be very important in the passing game this week as well. Getting rid of the ball quickly means also getting into the hands of the most reliable possession receivers he has. That includes Miller, who has long demonstrated he can be a go-to guy for a tough catch. Doug Baldwin, who has become this generation’s version of Bobby Engram, should also be worked frequently into the offensive flow. Baldwin is a receiver who has stepped forward in the past when needed to take on an increased amount of responsibility. He is a very viable Week 9 bye week option for those in point-per-reception leagues. Both Miller and Baldwin deserve your Fantasy consideration this week.
Defensively, the Seahawks will be facing a rookie backfield, QB Mike Glennon and RB Mike James. Glennon’s emphasis will be to manage the game and not turn the ball over. James runs well in short space and has some power. But the Seahawks defense will be primed to stuff the run after springing some leaks at St. Louis. The one major concern will be to limit the big plays of WR Vincent Jackson. Richard Sherman may get some safety help for double-teams as the secondary does not have to be worried about any other top targets in the passing game. The Seahawks defense is again a top-level Fantasy start this week, maybe the best in the league for limiting points surrendered in this matchup. Turnovers may be harder to come by, though, as Glennon is a smart young passer who only may take what the defense gives him.
In other games, Tony Romo should be a top QB start against the vulnerable Vikings, and gets a slight nod over Philip Rivers, who has a very attractive matchup against the Redskins. If you are looking for a bye week replacement QB, Terrelle Pryor is an upside play against the Eagles. Jake Locker and Case Keenum should also be considered. Keenum should be able to post respectable Fantasy totals against the Colts.
At running back, look for Le’Veon Bell to get a very healthy workload for quality numbers against the Patriots. Danny Woodhead is a very strong RB2 start against Washington if you play in a PPR league. The Ravens may put a renewed emphasis on getting Ray Rice involved against the Browns. Darren McFadden will find the end zone again this week.
San Diego’s Keenan Allen is ascending among Fantasy WRs and should deliver stellar numbers this week. Terrance Williams has become a consistent TD threat and should find the end zone again. Jarrett Boykin has seized an opportunity in Green Bay, and will certainly provide quality Fantasy totals as he faces the Bears. DeAndre Hopkins should work well with Keenum and should be started as a WR3. Ted Ginn Jr. has shown the ability to make big plays this year and deserves WR3 consideration this week. He could be good for another TD strike as Cam Newton fares well against Atlanta.
TE Coby Fleener may continue to emerge as the Colts move on without Reggie Wayne against Houston. Heath Miller will at least give you adequate production. The somewhat underrated Titans defense should serve you very well against the Rams. New Orleans is also a top defensive start against the Jets.
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