It's a glorious day.
The regular season kicks off tonight when the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks take on the Green Bay Packers in Seattle. Your fantasy lineup is set and you're ready to rock ... or are you? Did you draft Aaron Rodgers* and * the Seahawks defense? Uh oh. Do you sit Rodgers, arguably one of the best fantasy quarterbacks in the league during your Week 1 matchup? Find out as we key in on some fantasy players to watch in Thursday night's game.
According to coach Pete Carroll, "Beast Mode" is ready to "let it rip" against Green Bay. We didn't see much of Marshawn Lynch during the preseason. Three carries for 16 yards and a touchdown to be precise. But we all know what he's capable of and despite some preseason whispers of 2014 being his season of decline, Lynch is still poised to be an elite fantasy running back. Don't believe the decline rumors until you actually see real signs of a decline. Fantasy owners should feel confident starting him tonight.
Second-year running back Eddie Lacy went in the first round of most fantasy drafts this year and for good reason. At 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, Lacy is set for a heavy workload as the Packers featured back all season. Green Bay's offensive line has improved this offseason too, which helps his potential. The 24-year-old has looked amazing in preseason action averaging 5.5 yards per carry on the 11 attempts he received. Fantasy owners should be confident in Lacy's potential this season but should temper their expectations for him against Seattle's defense tonight. If the game remains close through the first half, Lacy should get a good amount of work, but if Green Bay falls behind early, they may have to lean on their passing game.
Russell Wilson looked better than ever in the preseason completing 78.6 percent of his passes and scoring a total of six touchdowns -- three passing and three rushing. With a deeper receiving corps this season than in 2013, Wilson is a fantasy breakout candidate at his position and was a great value draft pick going in Round 9 or later in most drafts. Seattle is giving him more responsibility this year and he seems more than ready for it with a Super Bowl win under his belt at age 25. Look for Wilson to fire a few deep balls tonight against the Packers.
Defense wins championships, right? The Legion of Boom is back and ready to take the league by storm once again. Seattle's defensive unit has an ADP of Round 5 in NFL.com leagues, which is a bit of a reach. Green Bay arguably has one of the best offenses in the league under the direction of Rodgers so this matchup is an interesting one. In three starts against the Seahawks, Rodgers has never thrown an interception. That may change tonight, but as a fantasy owner, you absolutely cannot bench Rodgers, who likely cost an early round pick. Start him! He's got Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to throw to for (expletive) sake!
Nelson inked a four-year contract extension with the Packers worth about $39 million at the start of training camp. He had career highs in receptions (85) and yards (1,314) last season but was unable to reach double-digit touchdowns. That probably had to do with the fact that Rodgers missed almost the entire second half of the season with an injury. Even without Rodgers, Nelson still averaged 11.2 fantasy points per game. Look for the Nelson-Rodgers connection to make up for lost time tonight.
Cobb also missed much of the second half of 2013 due to a leg injury, but returned in Week 17 to connect with Rodgers for two touchdown catches -- his only two receptions of the game. Since the Packers parted ways with James Jones and tight end Jermichael Finley has not returned, Cobb is locked in as Rodgers' No. 2 option in the passing game. At age 24, the young wideout is in a contract year looking to prove worthy of a big payday come 2015. Rodgers will have to spread the ball around tonight so expect Cobb to get a good amount of work if he can separate himself from defenders.
Wideout Percy Harvin left a lot of fantasy owners wondering what could have been last year as it took him longer than expected to recover from a hip injury. He looked pretty decent during the Super Bowl though. Sorry Broncos fans, I realize you've probably tried to erase that one from your memory. Well, Harvin is back and fantasy owners are licking their chops at his potential for 2014. If Seattle can just get the ball in his hands a few times tonight, those who start him should be rewarded handsomely. Harvin is one of those special players that have the natural ability to turn nothing into something on short screens and plays out of the backfield, so we expect the Seahawks to use him in some creative ways tonight.