Fantasy

Fantasy Football Week 1: Season-Opener Fantasy Preview

Russell S. BaxterContributor ISeptember 4, 2014

Fantasy Football Week 1: Season-Opener Fantasy Preview

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    Fantasy owners are hoping that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers can stay healthy in 2014.
    Fantasy owners are hoping that Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers can stay healthy in 2014.USA TODAY Sports

    The 2014 NFL season kicks off with the teams that have combined to win two of the last four Super Bowl titles.

    That’s the reality of Thursday night’s season debut by the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.

    But this is fantasy. And we are here to preview each club and what their performers can do to keep Week 1 of your league off to a good start.

    It’s interesting to note that both the Packers and Seahawks scored exactly 417 points a year ago, just over 26 per game.

    But that’s where the similarities end, and that could be the difference in not only tonight’s matchup but building up a little lead in your own personal fantasy clash as well.

Starting Quarterbacks

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers

    We saw the talented signal-caller make just nine regular-season appearances this past season, and he managed to still throw nearly three times as many touchdown passes (17) than interceptions (six).

    Since 2011, Rodgers has made 40 regular-season appearances and threw for an impressive 101 scores while being picked off just 20 times. And in 21 of those outings, the productive quarterback has thrown at least three touchdown passes.

    Fantasy Prediction: 23-of-32, 262 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT; 3 carries, 15 yards, 0 TD

     

    Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson

    In two years at the helm, Wilson has been remarkably consistent. He’s thrown exactly 26 touchdown passes each year compared to 13 turnovers in his rookie campaign and 14 turnovers in 2013.

    All told, the third-round pick in 2012 has obviously combined for 52 touchdown passes and been picked off 19 times in 32 regular-season contests. And it’s worth noting that 31 of those scores (seven interceptions) have come in his 16 home tilts over that span.

    Also worth a mention is the fact that while Wilson has run for 1,028 yards in two seasons, he’s totaled only five rushing touchdowns, four of those in his rookie year.

    Fantasy Prediction: 16-of-22, 198 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 7 carries, 55 yards, 1 TD

Running Backs

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Green Bay Packers Starter: Eddie Lacy

    The 2013 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year finished eighth in the league in rushing yards a year ago. In his last 13 games, the 2013 second-round pick ran for 1,127 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’ll get his chances against Seattle’s aggressive front.

    Fantasy Prediction: 20 carries, 71 yards, 0 TD; 2 receptions, 13 yards, 0 TD

     

    Green Bay Packers Backup: James Starks

    Lacy will need to be spelled on occasion, especially against such a physical defensive unit. Starks could also be a factor late in the game if things go the Packers' way.

    Fantasy Prediction: 8 carries, 23 yards, 0 TD; 0 receptions

     

    Seattle Seahawks Starter: Marshawn Lynch

    There’s no reason to think that Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will stray away from what his team does best—especially against a defensive unit that was 25th in the NFL versus the run in 2013 and is without nose tackle B.J. Raji this season.

    Fantasy Prediction: 22 carries, 112 yards, 1 TD; 2 receptions, 23 yards, 0 TD

     

    Seattle Seahawks Backup: Robert Turbin

    With Christine Michael out, Lynch and Turbin expect to be busy against Green Bay’s suspect defense. Expect more carries than usual from the backup runner with this being Week 1, and some extended down time before the next game.

    Fantasy Prediction: 11 carries, 43 yards, 0 TD; 1 reception, 4 yards, 0 TD

Wide Receivers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Wide Receivers

    Green Bay Packers: Jordy Nelson

    Facing the Seattle secondary is a tall order for any player. Nelson led the Packers with career highs in catches (85) and receiving yards (1,314 yards), good for eight scores in 2013.

    Fantasy Prediction: 5 receptions, 69 yards, 1 TD

     

    Green Bay Packers: Randall Cobb

    Injuries limited the explosive performer to six games last season, but he still managed to catch 31 passes for 433 yards and four touchdowns. Look for him to make a few big plays in this contest—and one could come via the run.

    Fantasy Prediction: 4 receptions, 63 yards, 1 TD

     

    Green Bay Packers: Jarrett Boykin

    The former undrafted free agent started eight games for Mike McCarthy’s team a year ago and wound up with 49 receptions and three scores. He’s clearly the third wideout on this club these days, but finding the end zone in this matchup could be a tall order.

    Fantasy Prediction: 3 receptions, 41 yards, 0 TD

     

    Green Bay Packers: Davante Adams

    The second-round pick from Fresno State will be getting a crash course against the Seattle secondary in more ways than one. It will be interesting to see if Adams has any impact in this game.

    Fantasy Prediction: 2 receptions, 29 yards, 0 TD

     

    Seattle Seahawks: Percy Harvin

    We got to see Harvin in just one regular-season game a year ago, so an appearance tonight would be a plus. He will make his impact on special teams as well. Given he began his career with the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers are more than familiar with what he can do.

    Fantasy Prediction: 3 receptions, 69 yards, 1 TD

     

    Seattle Seahawks: Doug Baldwin

    Some may not realize that Baldwin led the Seahawks in receiving during the preseason, totaling 13 catches for 202 yards and a touchdown in three games. By season’s end, he could be Russell Wilson’s top target.

    Fantasy Prediction: 3 receptions, 41 yards, 0 TD

     

    Seattle Seahawks: Ricardo Lockette

    The run-heavy Seahawks may not need a lot of catches from their wideouts, and Lockette doesn’t figure to be a major factor this week.

    Fantasy Prediction: 1 reception, 11 yards, 0 TD

     

    Seattle Seahawks: Jermaine Kearse

    Kearse totaled only 22 receptions this past season, but four went for touchdowns. He also added seven receptions for 134 yards and two scores in the playoffs last year. He’s certainly worth a look.

    Fantasy Prediction: 2 receptions, 23 yards, 0 TD

Tight Ends

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Green Bay Packers Starter: Andrew Quarless

    Quarless' experience (39 games in four seasons) gives him the edge over Richard Rodgers this week. The fifth-year pro played in 16 games in 2013 and totaled a career-high 32 catches.

    Fantasy Prediction: 4 receptions, 38 yards, 0 TD

     

    Green Bay Packers Backup: Richard Rodgers

    The Packers added Rodgers in the third round in May, and his first regular-season action comes against the league’s No. 1 overall defense and pass defense of a year ago. Good luck.

    Fantasy Prediction: 1 reception, 9 yards, 0 TD

      

    Seattle Seahawks Starter: Zach Miller

    We all know of the Packers’ issues on defense last season, and most 3-4 defenses are susceptible to the tight end. Keep in mind that Miller could take advantage of outside linebacker Julius Peppers, who could find himself in coverage on occasion.

    Fantasy Prediction: 4 receptions, 38 yards, 0 TD

     

    Seattle Seahawks Backup: Luke Willson

    The fifth-round pick from a year ago was found at several spots last season, playing all 16 games, totaling 20 catches for 272 yards and a score in his rookie campaign.

    Fantasy Prediction: 2 receptions, 16 yards, 0 TD

Defense/Special Teams

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Green Bay Packers Defense/Special Teams

    In some ways, the Packers defense has been a liability in recent seasons, and last year it was a problem area for numerous reasons.

    Still, Seattle will start a rookie at right tackle in Justin Britt, so don’t be shocked if the Green Bay pass rush makes its way into the Seahawks backfield on occasion. The key will be forcing turnovers, and Mike McCarthy’s club managed only 22 takeaways a year ago.

    Fantasy Prediction: 20 points allowed, 3 sacks, 0 INT, 1 FF

     

    Seattle Seahawks Defense/Special Teams

    It’s hard not to like this unit against any club, especially one starting a rookie center. It should be deafening at CenturyLink Field, and you can look for that Seattle pass rush, keyed by defensive end Cliff Avril, to make its presence felt.

    Pete Carroll’s club led the NFL with 39 takeaways in 2013. Look for free safety Earl Thomas and the champs to get off to a good start in that department on this evening.

    Fantasy Prediction: 16 points allowed, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 2 FF

Best Sleeper Adds

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    Tom Lynn/Associated Press

    Looking for a little last-minute insurance when it comes to your roster this week? Some of these players may be worth grabbing at the last minute.

     

    1. Jarrett Boykin, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers (Owned in 47.3 percent of ESPN leagues)

    This is far from a reach, and Boykin showed what he could do last season when called upon. Still, he’s available in more than half of ESPN leagues.

     

    2. Jermaine Kearse, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks (Owned in 2.2 percent of ESPN leagues)

    Percy Harvin and Doug Baldwin grab all the attention when it comes to the Seattle wide receivers. But it’s hard to ignore Kearse’s ability to find the end zone. A year ago, including playoffs, six of his 29 total receptions went for scores.

     

    3. DuJuan Harris, Running Back, Green Bay Packers (Owned in 0.4 percent of ESPN leagues)

    The Packers have Eddie Lacy and James Starks, but it was hard to ignore what Harris did during the 2014 preseason. It’s a long shot, but he may be a nice addition. His big-play ability as a runner, receiver and return artist may surprise some.

Injury Report

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Here is a look at the latest injury report regarding the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, focusing on key performers.

     

    Green Bay Packers

    Player

     

    Status

    Brandon Bostick

    TE

    Out

    Demetri Goodson

    CB

    Out

    J.C. Tretter

    C

    Out

    Brad Jones

    LB

    Probable

    While Bostick is the only skill player listed for the Packers, that doesn’t mean that there is not a very significant name on this list come fantasy impact.

    The loss of Tretter on Green Bay’s offensive line forces rookie Corey Linsley into the starting lineup. Granted, Tretter was entering just his second season and did not play in a game in 2013, but it’s still a bit of a blow for a team that was expecting him to supplant free-agent defector Evan Dietrich-Smith.

    We’ll see how much the presence of Linsley affects the rest of the Packers offensive line. In any case, Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin is apparently very concerned about the rookie pivot, as Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk explains.

     

    Seattle Seahawks

    Player

     

    Status

    Christine Michael

    RB

    Out

    Tharold Simon

    CB

    Out

    Bruce Irvin

    LB

    Probable

    Jeremy Lane

    CB

    Probable

    Kevin Norwood

    WR

    Probable

    The defending champions will be down one-third of their running back corps with Michael out for this contest. Of course, that means plenty of carries as usual for Marshawn Lynch, who will have to share his Skittles with Robert Turbin.

    Seattle’s talented secondary could also be down a couple of backups depending on the availability of Lane (groin), who did participate in full in Wednesday’s practice. Simon has been ruled out with a knee injury.

    We’ve already mentioned Irvin, who when available can make life miserable for opposing quarterbacks in terms of getting around the tackle.

Sit or Start

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    We know who the stars are when it comes to this contest. But is there a pivotal player or two who may be on your roster? Can’t decide whether to start or not? Here’s a little help.

     

    TE Richard Rodgers (Packers): A rookie tight end facing the Seahawks in Seattle. Common sense says sit the talented newcomer, at least this week.

    Verdict: Sit

     

    RB James Starks (Packers): Eddie Lacy will get the majority of the carries in this contest. But Starks will need to be ready against arguably the most physical team in the league. Don’t be surprised if he winds up with double-digit carries.

    Verdict: Start

     

    RB Robert Turbin (Seahawks): Like Lacy, Marshawn Lynch is the main man in the backfield. But this is Week 1 of the regular season, and Lynch didn’t see a ton of action in the preseason. Turbin will get his chances.

    Verdict: Start

     

    TE Luke Willson (Seahawks): Willson is an intriguing and versatile player who could line up in a variety of spots. But look for the champs to use the second-year pro more as a blocker than a pass catcher this night.

    Verdict: Sit

     

    Some statistical support provided by Pro-Football-Reference and ESPN.com.

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