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Seahawks and fantasy players look to nail it down this week

Posted Dec 20, 2013

Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com previews Week 16 around the NFL from a fantasy football perspective.

This is a big week for both the Seahawks and Fantasy Football players. Seattle can wrap up the top seed in the NFC and win the NFC West title. Meanwhile, it is already Super Bowl week in many Fantasy leagues, and top Seahawks players can be a key to winning it all.

Marshawn Lynch has taken a large amount of Fantasy owners to their title games with another very strong overall performance this year. His 215.60 standard points put him fourth among all running backs on NFL.com, and he ranks highly in most other scoring formats as well. Once again, Lynch proved to be rock solid as a first round draft pick who has been very dependable throughout the season. Now, his Fantasy owners need him to finish strong, as do the Seahawks, but it will not be easy against the Arizona run defense.

The Cardinals are the best in the NFL in run defense, and allow the least Fantasy points per game to opposing RBs in NFL.com standard scoring (12.01 points per game). They have surrendered 83.2 yards per game with just five rushing scores allowed. Since Lynch rushed for 91 yards against the Cards in Week 7, no other opposing top runner has come anywhere close to that mark. LeSean McCoy’s 79 rushing yards in Week 13 have been the best since Lynch’s outing on Oct. 17.

Yet as we have advised before, you simply cannot bench your best players in a game of major Fantasy significance, and it doesn’t get any bigger for most players than what they face in Week 16. Lynch scored against the Cardinals in Week 7, and also got in the end zone against the sixth-ranked 49ers run defense in Week 14. The Seahawks want to put a bow on their NFC playoff seeding this week, and Lynch will be a central part of their push to sew up the NFC’s top seed. Don’t get daunted by the matchup, this is a big game in front of the home crowd, and Lynch will thrive on adrenaline and boost his team with his production, helping your Fantasy teams in the process. The numbers could get overshadowed by the magnitude of what can be procured, and expect Lynch to be in top form when you need him most.

Arizona is 17th against the pass, so the Seahawks may use the passing game to loosen up the Cardinals defense and benefit Lynch with more open running room. Russell Wilson threw three TD passes with no interceptions in the Week 7 meeting, and has a healthier offensive line in this matchup. Wilson is quite a safe play in Week 16 as his Fantasy owners look to lock up a championship.

Doug Baldwin caught six passes for 71 yards and a TD in the Week 15 win over the Giants, and could draw some additional defensive attention from Arizona this week as a result. Golden Tate should enjoy more room to get open if Arizona gives Baldwin the increased respect he is demanding. Tate caught four passes for 77 yards in the first meeting between the teams this season. Both top Seattle WRs deserve strong consideration as third wideout options in your Fantasy lineups this week. Even if the Cards clamp down on Baldwin early, Tate could begin burning them, and there’s a very good chance that the Arizona secondary will not be able to contain both of them all day, especially as Wilson continues to use play-action fakes very effectively.

The top Fantasy sleeper on the Seahawks roster this week may be TE Zach Miller. He caught five passes for 40 yards in the first meeting, and the Cardinals have become notorious and well-known to Fantasy players for allowing the most points to opposing tight ends this year. Arizona’s 14.27 ppg is the highest surrendered in NFL.com standard leagues, and the Cards prove to be very vulnerable to the TE in just about every scoring system.

Arizona is also very banged up on offense, with many key offensive players trying to work through injuries to prepare for this week’s game. The Seahawks sacked Carson Palmer seven times and intercepted him twice in the first meeting this year. Seattle also forced two fumbles, even though neither was recovered by them. Obviously, the Seahawks defense is ready to put on a Fantasy championship-like performance for those who use them.

Let’s also not forget now elite Fantasy kicker Steven Hauschka, who is fourth in NFL.com standard scoring with 136 points. The Seahawks will surely move the ball into his range frequently this week, and if they build a big lead early, you could see a few very welcomed field-goal opportunities pile up later in the game.

In other games, Tony Romo is a top start at QB as the Cowboys try to keep their season alive against a very shaky Washington defense. Jay Cutler is a strong option as the Bears take on a very vulnerable Eagles secondary. Ryan Tannehill has been playing well and has a fine matchup against Buffalo. Kirk Cousins has shown the willingness to sling the ball and the Dallas defense is struggling badly.

Ryan Mathews is coming on strong at RB and should continue to roll against Oakland. Jordan Todman looked good last week in place of an injured Maurice Jones-Drew and has another attractive matchup against Tennessee. Shane Vereen should rebound from last week’s disappointing outing and may be very busy against Baltimore. Dennis Johnson will start at RB for the Texans and deserves some flex play consideration.

Pierre Garcon is a lock at WR against Dallas, and Keenan Allen is also a must-start in all situations as he takes on the Raiders. Torrey Smith will burn the Patriots for a score, and Denver’s Andre Caldwell is worth the flier if you need some WR help. He may score again this week as the Broncos face the Texans. Reuben Randle is a quality WR3 play with an increased role against the Lions, and Tennessee’s Justin Hunter is a sneaky option as he faces the Jaguars.

At TE, expect a very good outing from Delanie Walker against Jacksonville. Charles Clay remains a steady play against Buffalo. On defense, the Rams play well at home and have a good matchup against Tampa Bay. Cincinnati is a very solid play against Minnesota.

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