Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com is in his seventh season of Fantasy Football analysis on seahawks.com. Scott is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association’s Hall of Fame and a former FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year Award Winner. He can be heard on FNTSY Radio every morning and seen on FNTSY Sports Network daily on CenturyLink’s sports package and Dish Network.
The journey begins anew this week. The Seahawks embark on a quest to win their second Super Bowl title this Sunday at Green Bay. And you, the Fantasy Football player, starts out on a path that can lead to a championship this season, too. We’ll be here every week to guide you with the best plays and choices to help you make those tough calls. Not the obvious ones, because you know to start Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin no matter the opposition.
Week 1 becomes even more challenging than usual because Dolphins and Buccaneers players will not be available. Here are your season-opening Fantasy value plays and gutsy starts.
*Sam Bradford vs. New Orleans: *The Saints allowed 18.27 standard Fantasy Points Per Game (FPPG) last year on NFL.com to opposing QBs, the third-most in the NFC. The Saints still have a vulnerable secondary and Bradford has a dependable target in Stefon Diggs and a downfield playmaker, Adam Thielen, plus TE scoring threat Kyle Rudolph. Start Bradford if you are without Jameis Winston.
Marcus Mariota vs. Oakland: The Raiders surrendered 17.41 FPPG to the QB position in 2016 and should be involved in many shootouts this season as well. The Tennessee receiving crew has improved its depth and could overmatch the Raiders secondary.
*Carson Wentz vs. Washington: *He is another prime option if you have to replace Winston and if you waited long to draft a QB. You can start Wentz and feel pretty comfortable about it. He threw over 600 times last year, and Washington allowed 16.80 FPPG to the QB position last season.
Eli Manning vs. Dallas: The Cowboys allowed 4,376 passing yards last season and the secondary and pass rush will be highly challenged against a Giants team that is likely to throw frequently. Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and impressive rookie TE Evan Engram give Manning a lot to work with.
*Todd Gurley vs. Indianapolis: *You are not going to bench Gurley, but we want you to start the season feeling good about drafting him, starting in the opening week. The Colts allowed 21.30 FPPG to opposing RBs on NFL.com last year, second-most in the AFC. The Rams improved their offensive line and added weapons to the passing game so defenses can no longer stack their fronts against the run.
C.J. Anderson vs. Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers allowed 20.52 FPPG to RBs last year and Denver will prefer to initially test the Chargers at linebacker rather than in the secondary. The Broncos will want to establish offensive balance and ease pressure on the passing game.
Tevin Coleman vs. Chicago: The Bears allowed 19.34 standard FPPG to RBs in 2016, and Coleman is even more of a threat in PPR formats. Both of the Atlanta running backs, Coleman and Devonta Freeman, will have big openers as Atlanta lights up the scoreboard.
Bilal Powell vs. Buffalo: The Bills yielded the most rushing yardage in the AFC last year, and Powell is a versatile performer and the best Fantasy player on the Jets. If New York sticks close, he will gobble up rushing yards. If they play from behind, he will catch frequent passes out of the backfield.
Paul Richardson vs. Green Bay: The Packers allowed an NFL.com-high 28.89 FPPG to opposing WRs last season. The secondary can be exploited by Russell Wilson and Richardson has earned a starting nod this year. When Wilson looks for a big play downfield this week, he’ll be looking for Richardson as one of his prime reads. Richardson should be a viable starter if you need to replace any Miami or Tampa Bay WRs and can be useful in larger leagues.
*Sterling Shepard vs. Dallas: *The Cowboys secondary will likely be peppered by Eli Manning as he tests them following an offseason of changes. Shepard caught eight TD passes as a rookie and could play a significant role in the season opener for New York on Sunday night.
Martavis Bryant vs. Cleveland: The big-play receiver is back for Pittsburgh and will instantly challenge defenses again with his unique combination of size and tremendous speed. The Browns allowed 20 TD passes last season, second-highest in the AFC, and will have much trouble handling both Antonio Brown and Bryant.
Cooper Kupp vs. Indianapolis: Watch this savvy-looking rookie make an instant impact. He has obvious football smarts, is fundamentally strong and gives Jared Goff a much-needed target he can trust on key downs. The Colts defense may spend a lot of time on the field and Kupp will challenge the Indianapolis secondary for sure.
Tight Ends, Kickers & Defense/Special Teams To Consider
Giants rookie TE Evan Engram looked impressive in the preseason and should also figure into the passing attack. … K Matt Prater should figure to get a healthy amount of field goal opportunities against Arizona. … K Dustin Hopkins is somewhat underrated and a must-start. … The Rams D/ST are a top play against the Colts, and the improving Atlanta D/ST should fare well against Chicago.
Seahawks Week 1 Fantasy Spotlight
Russell Wilson opens the season as a Top 4 Fantasy QB, trimmed down and evasive and with a myriad of options to challenge the Green Bay secondary. He is a must-start. Doug Baldwin is a Top 5 Fantasy WR play against a vulnerable Green Bay CB crew, and while the Packers are solid at safety, Jimmy Graham is a force vs. any opponent and is coming off a healthy and quiet offseason. He should start off his best year in a Seahawks uniform with a fine outing. Eddie Lacy is a good bet to find the end zone against his former team and is a viable replacement play if you are missing Jay Ajayi this week. Monitor C.J. Prosise to see how he is worked in early in the season. Blair Walsh had a fine preseason and is a very unheralded Fantasy option heading into 2017. Do not reserve the Seahawks defense against any opponent. Earl Thomas is back, all key players are healthy and the defensive line looks more fearsome with the addition of Sheldon Richardson. In Fantasy Football, you are often reminded not to bench your studs. That applies to defenses as well in this case.
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Photos of the Seahawks playing the Packers throughout the years leading up to their Week 1 game at Lambeau Field.