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Week 3 Fantasy Spotlight: Packers' Defense

Clay Matthews makes the Packers' defense a good play this week.
Clay Matthews makes the Packers' defense a good play this week.

In Week 3, the Packers travel to Seattle for a Monday night battle with Pete Carroll's Seahawks. Seattle's defense is filled with playmakers, including three starting defensive backs who stand 6'3" or taller. They have a physical defensive line as well, with veterans starting and talented youngsters like Bruce Irvin coming off the bench. But instead of analyzing any of the Packers' offensive players this week, I'll focus on one of the less-heralded fantasy positions: the defense.

The Packers defense showed its ability to get to the quarterback last week, with seven sacks of Jay Cutler against the Bears' struggling offensive line. Here is the likely starting line for Seattle this week:

LT Russell Okung (or Frank Omiyale)
LG Paul McQuistan
C Max Unger
RG John Moffitt
RT Breno Giacomini

Okung is rehabbing a knee injury that he suffered in week 1 which made him miss the game this past Sunday against the Cowboys. If he can't go, Omiyale (the former Bears turnstile) will start in his place. Do you recognize the right tackle? You should, because he was bad as a Packer in the first few years of his career. Whether he takes the majority of his snaps against a hobbled Okung or a healthy Omiyale, Clay Matthews should be able to get some solid pressure on QB Russell Wilson on Monday, and the tandem of Nick Perry and Erik Walden should also be able to beat Giacomini with some regularity. I expect at least three sacks for the Packers' defense on Monday, and several more hurries of Wilson.

One of Wilson's best traits is his ability to remain calm under pressure and use his legs to escape the pocket rather than put passes up for grabs (are you listening, Cutler?). That said, with consistent pressure, the Packers defensive backs should be put in a position to make a couple of plays on the ball and produce some turnovers.

Don't count on the special teams for a score this week, though. The Seahawks' coverage teams are some of the best in the NFL, and their special teams as a whole earned a rare "perfect grade" from their coach last week. If you get credit for points allowed, this might be a decent week as well. I expect this game to be fairly low-scoring, with the brunt of Seattle's offensive damage coming on the ground with Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin.

All in all, I see the Packers allowing 17 points, with three sacks and two forced turnovers. In a standard Yahoo! league, that would be good for 8 points, a very respectable score for a defensive unit. However, there's certainly potential for a big game with a defensive touchdown.

If your league plays individual defensive players, there are three who should be considered as strong plays this week, and probably every week: Clay Matthews, Tramon Williams, and Charles Woodson. Each of these players has strong potential: Williams and Woodson for interceptions and potential returns and Matthews for sacks and tackles for loss. Start any of these three players with confidence in your IDP league.