At first glance, the Houston Texans defense seems like one for the Seahawks to exploit, with naturally productive results for Fantasy purposes. The Texans are allowing 27.3 points per game and allowed 30 in a loss to the Ravens last week. Time to plug in all your top Seahawks and expect terrific returns, right?
No, it’s not going to be easy as the surface numbers would indicate. Of course, you come to this space every week because we take you far beyond the surface numbers. A closer examination of Texans trends so far indicate the rest of the team has indeed contributed to making the defense work harder than it should, and has helped the final point totals look more bloated than they truly are. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub comes into his matchup with the Seahawks having two interceptions returned for touchdowns in his past two games, and he has four overall. The special teams allowed an 82-yard punt return for a score last week as well.
Meanwhile, led by stalwarts such as DE J.J. Watt and ILB Brian Cushing, the Texans defense ranks second in the NFL to only the Seahawks in total defense and passing defense. They are also ninth overall against the run. The Texans can certainly help themselves by netting more turnovers, as they have just one takeaway so far. But it’s apparent that despite their high amount of points allowed, Houston is getting the job done in terms of making the opposition earn their yardage.
Of course, the Texans impressive LB crew will be heavily focused on containing Marshawn Lynch. Carolina and Jacksonville have been able to keep Lynch from exploding statistically and give the Texans a good blueprint to work with in terms of scheming. Yet as the 49ers well know, Lynch seems to turn up his play when he senses the stakes are higher. This road matchup against a tough defense and a team that is still considered a true AFC contender could bring out the best in Lynch. As we have seen with him before, his intensity often overcomes what pure matchups would seem to indicate. So start your superstar Seahawks Fantasy RB with much confidence.
Russell Wilson delivered his first 300-yard outing in the road opener at Carolina this year, and will be ready for what could be another physical test away from home this week. The Panthers harassed and hit Wilson often in efforts to disrupt his rhythm, yet ultimately he prevailed with quality Fantasy totals. The Texans have not been forcing mistakes and Wilson is well-known for his ultra-smart decision-making. Wilson certainly is not going to hurt you as a Fantasy starter this week.
With the Packers on a bye this week, many Fantasy owners will be looking for viable replacements elsewhere. The Seahawks WRs face a tough test against the AFC’s best pass defense to this point, so it may be best to look elsewhere at this one position. Seattle’s pass-catchers will certainly make timely plays if they win this one, but Wilson may spread the ball around a lot this week to the point where the timely receptions may not quite translate into enough statistical bulk for the Fantasy types.
Of course, the Seattle defense is a must-start every week, and look for Bobby Wagner to stack up his usual impressive tackle numbers for those playing in Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues. Wagner will be quite busy spearheading the charge to contain Houston RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate. The likely approach will be for Seattle to limit the ground game and put the ball in the hands of Schaub, a strategy that can lead to big plays for the Seahawks defense. Standout Texans WR Andre Johnson (shin) will be a game-time decision, and if he cannot play, the Seattle defense only gets a boost from Fantasy perspectives, especially in terms of total points and yardage allowed, where applicable to your league.
In other games, Tony Romo is one of the top QB starts of the week against a very shaky San Diego pass defense. Michael Vick is looking like a must-start no matter who he faces, and it’s the Broncos this time. He’ll get knocked around, yet will still produce quality Fantasy totals. If you have Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton on a bye this week, consider Jay Cutler, who may engage in a high-scoring affair with Detroit, or Ben Roethlisberger, who faces a very vulnerable Minnesota defense.
At RB, Alfred Morris should roll up some impressive numbers against the Raiders, and Reggie Bush’s owners can likely look forward to his return against the Bears. He will be a must-start in PPR formats. DeMarco Murray will follow up his big Week 4 with another good outing against San Diego, and Bilal Powell is a decent plugger against Tennessee. Le’Veon Bell will make his debut with the Steelers, but it’s wise to hold him out until you see how he performs in his return from a foot injury.
Victor Cruz should bounce back at WR as the Giants try to shake the doldrums at Kansas City, and Larry Fitzgerald has returned to full practices, so you can start expecting better production. Torrey Smith will have a huge week against the Bills, and Dwayne Bowe should be able to bounce back from a very quiet week and score against the Giants. If you are looking for a super sleeper, Dwayne Harris of Dallas will be a big-play threat against the Chargers, especially if Miles Austin (hamstring) cannot go.
This could be the week that TE Coby Fleener has a breakout game against the Jaguars. The Colts defense is also a strong start in that same game, and the Jets will be a good start again this week as they face the Titans.
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