Three of the NFL's biggest fantasy football superstars will be on the field during Monday Night Football's tilt featuring the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints.
This game couldn't be bigger in terms of playoff implications. The Seahawks currently possess the No. 1 seed in the NFC (10-1), while the Saints are in second place (9-2).
The team that comes away from CenturyLink Field with the victory on Monday night will be in first place with four games remaining, and the prize for that achievement is home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Considering neither team has lost at home this year (and Seattle hasn't lost at home since Dec. of 2011), while both have run into trouble on the road, the stakes are high, indeed.
Bright lights often bring out the best in the league's top stars, however, meaning fantasy football owners could be ecstatic by the end of the contest. With that in mind, here's a look at what you should expect from the top fantasy players competing on Monday Night Football.
Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints
This is how great Graham has been this year: Despite the fact that Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas has scored 10 touchdowns, Graham has scored 41 more fantasy points this year. Barring injury, he'll easily be the top tight end of 2013.
To this point in the season, he's scored 14.2 points per game, catching 65 passes for 946 yards and 11 touchdowns. Incredibly, the former basketball star from Miami has done all this while dealing with a painful foot injury, but he's found a way to gut through the pain.
This week's matchup isn't favorable, though.
The Seahawks rank No. 8 in the NFL in fantasy defense against tight ends, allowing just six points per game. The defense has allowed double-digit fantasy points just twice this season, giving up 19 points to the Houston Texans back in Week 4 and 17 points to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 9.
But this isn't the same Seahawks team that has been playing all year.
The secondary will be without Walter Thurmond, who is serving the second game of his four-game suspension (as noted by Si.com's Doug Farrar), and Brandon Browner, who is out with a groin injury, per the team's injury report.
Given the success Graham has had throughout the season, it seems safe to assume he'll have another big game against Seattle's depleted defense.
Projected Stats: Six catches for 90 yards and one touchdown.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks
The Saints come into the game with the No. 15-ranked fantasy defense against running backs, allowing 15 fantasy points per game. On the other side, Lynch averages 15.2 points per game, having scored double-digit fantasy points in all but three games this year.
New Orleans recently shut down Frank Gore and the potent rushing attack of the San Francisco 49ers back in Week 11, allowing just four points, so Saints fans have some hope their team will be able to shut down Lynch on Monday night.
But Steven Jackson was able to gain purchase in Week 12, scoring 13 points, and Atlanta Falcons running backs score 18 points as a unit. Furthermore, it was only a few weeks back that Chris Ivory scored 19 points, rushing for 139 yards and a touchdown for the New York Jets.
Lynch is coming off a two-game stretch in which he scored 21 and 23 points, and he'll have another big game on Monday night. He's going to be the featured offensive weapon for the Seahawks at home, as Pete Carroll will do everything he can to keep Brees and his offense off the field.
Projected Stats: 165 total yards (110 rushing and 55 receiving on four catches) with two touchdowns.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
As was mentioned above, Seattle's defense will be missing two key defensive backs, which means Brees will likely be given the green light by Sean Payton to attack mercilessly through the air.
Even without Thurmond and Browner, though, Seattle features a formidable trio in cornerback Richard Sherman, safety Kam Chancellor and safety Earl Thomas, who has been making a strong case for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award.
The Seahawks come into the game with the league's No. 2-ranked fantasy defense against quarterbacks, allowing an astonishingly low total of just 9.9 points per game. Only the Carolina Panthers have been better, allowing 9.6 points per game.
It's worth noting, however, that this impressive defense has given up five touchdown passes the past three games to Mike Glennon, Matt Ryan and Christian Ponder.
Meanwhile, Brees has been humming along as one of the most consistent high-scoring fantasy players in the NFL. He hasn't failed to hit double-digits a single time this season, and the streak isn't likely to stop against Seattle on Monday Night Football.
Projected Stats: 300 total yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
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