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Week 14 Fantasy Advice: Injured Seahawks still pose a challenge for Packers’ receivers

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Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson will look to exploit the hole created by the injury to Earl Thomas.

NFL: Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers Green Bay Press Gazette-USA TODAY Sports

There are still a few fantasy football leagues out there that are playing the final week of the regular season, but most leagues have started their playoffs this week. That changes the advice just a little bit for this week. By now, most of you are locked in to the players you have. Also, we are all done with bye weeks. While you may not be looking for players to cover your byes, you are definitely looking for that little edge that gets you to the next round.

PACKERS-SEAHAWKS

Aaron Rodgers

There is nothing to be said now that you do not already know. If you have Rodgers and you are still playing, he was likely a big part of your team over the last seven weeks or so. Rodgers has reversed his early season trend of not reaching 300 yards by averaging just over 301 yards per game from the Chicago game on. Last week’s game in the snow against a decent pass defense did not do great things for your team and this week the Packers face the Seahawks’ secondary (though without Earl Thomas). What you do not like in a fantasy lineup is uncertainty. You obviously start Rodgers, but the Packers have tended to throw shorter passes when facing the Seahawks and it is less likely receivers will be breaking tackles this week. This week, he will likely be close to the stat line he put up last week. (200 yards, 2 TDs).

Russell Wilson

Wilson has not been the fantasy hero you hoped. You were expecting far more rushing yards at this point, but Wilson was less mobile in the early going while dealing with injury. Wilson had one rush more than Rodgers, but Rodgers has 112 more yards and two more touchdowns. Wilson is a far better real quarterback than fantasy quarterback at this point. Furthermore, Wilson has been held to 11 points or fewer in four of Seattle’s six road games (against amazing defenses like Tampa Bay and New Orleans no less). You would likely be better off with Andy Dalton in Cleveland this week (Dalton is far more available than Wilson and has outscored him this year).

James Starks/Ty Montgomery

I am going to put Montgomery here since he out-snapped Starks last week and should see significant time in the backfield again. Montgomery has good speed and should be an interesting matchup against K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner. Still, Montgomery is really a flex option. He is not going to get enough touches or consistency to be a huge value and there is virtually no chance he approaches 100 yards. Also, Starks or Christine Michael (or even Aaron Ripkowski) will be getting the goal line touches. Starks is droppable.

Thomas Rawls/Troymaine Pope

Thomas Rawls will be the clear focal point of the Seahawks’ offense this week. Seattle has been very good at feeding a lead back over the last five years. Rawls is also coming off his best performance of the season with 15 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns. This was assisted by a 45 yard run. Rawls will now be in his fourth game back since returning from an injury that kept him out eight weeks in the heart of the season. Pope is just a guy and there is no reason to start him or even own him. While the Packers had difficulty with Ezekiel Elliott and DeMarco Murray, they did contain Lamar Miller last week (though Miller was not supported by the quarterback play Rawls will have). Rawls is an RB2 this week.

Jordy Nelson/Davante Adams/Randall Cobb

The injury to Earl Thomas makes the passing matchup far more interesting. We all know Richard Sherman does not switch sides of the field and the defense is predicated very much on scheme over individual match ups. Thomas covered up the middle of the field and allowed the Seattle corners to play press coverage underneath. Meanwhile, Steve Terrell is no Earl Thomas. This could be an interesting twist of fate as the Packers are usually the team deflated by secondary injuries. This should help Nelson most of all, as he has been the consistent deep target for Rodgers this year. Nelson has been hot of late: double digit targets four of last five games, 90+ yards five of his last seven, touchdown in five of his last six, 15+ fantasy points in four of his last six. Adams is not far behind Nelson and has established himself as a trusted red zone target. Nelson and Adams are both being targeted with the 50/50 ball with frequency. Nelson is a low-end WR1 and Adams will still likely retain WR2 value even with the strong defense. Cobb could be interesting too as he now falls in as the third wide receiver. Cobb could present some matchup issues and he has been valuable against other strong pass defenses by exploiting the quick passing game.

Doug Baldwin/Tyler Lockett

Doug Baldwin is a WR2 at best and Lockett is someone you are starting if you need a miracle. Baldwin continues as being one of the most highly thought-of wideouts who puts up average numbers - he has just two games over 100 yards this year and he scored three of his five touchdowns in a single game at New England. Consider that it takes an average of 62.5 yards per game to reach 1,000 for a season and then realize that Baldwin has failed to even reach 60 yards in six of twelve games this year. Baldwin has only reached double digits in fantasy scoring four times. The upside is the Packers have an Achilles heal against WR1s and Tight Ends (speaking of which, absolutely start Jimmy Graham this week). Baldwin has a chance for a decent game here. Lockett got people excited with his first 10+ point game of the year last week, but most of it came from a fluky play - a 75 yard rushing touchdown.

THE REST OF THE LEAGUE

Quarterbacks

Look, if you are a top seed in your playoff bracket, you do not need much advice right now. This is mostly for those eighth seeded teams looking for a miracle. One thing in your favor this week is that many top quarterbacks are playing good pass defenses. Starting Drew Brees this week might be the best possible option. If you somehow got in the playoffs in spite of your quarterback play, take a look at Andy Dalton this week. The Bengals face the Browns. Cleveland seems to have just given up. Dalton is without Green still, but there is enough talent there to get him some numbers. He put up big numbers against Philadelphia last week and they are far better than Cleveland. Dalton is likely available in your league. Jameis Winston is another name to consider. He will be out there keeping pace with Drew Brees this week.

Running Backs

Ryan Matthews is back and practicing. That adds something to the Eagles offense and puts a lead back out there in several leagues. Matthews is available in about 25% of leagues. Matthews will have a home game against a Washington defense that has not been all that good at stopping people. There may not be much to pick through in the discount bin, but Robert Kelley is worthwhile if you are desperate. Coach Jay Gruden has signaled that he intends to get Kelley more involved. Kelley’s best games were the three straight where he carried the ball at least 20 times. If his touches can go up from the 14 he has been getting recently he should see success.

Wide Receivers

In recent weeks, Tyrell Williams has been one of the highest scoring wide receivers in the league. Still, he is only owned in about 85% of leagues at this point. If he is out there, grab him. Taylor Gabriel is a name that has not gotten much press, but he has been a key part of the Atlanta passing attack over the last five weeks and he is available in about 65% of leagues at this point. He had four straight double digit games before last week. He should get good looks with teams focusing on Julio Jones. Also, I will mention again that you need to have Jamison Crowder. Possible low-end WR1 and he is still available in about 80% of leagues.