Welcome back to another edition of Fantasy Football Preview. This is our fourth installment and it should be a good night for fantasy action. It's not Thanksgiving, but Thursday Night Football has a lot of topics worth discussing and we'll break it down from several angles. The Eagles are coming in extremely banged up while Seattle just put their most talented receiver on IR. Of course this game has two must-start backs this week and provides an interesting option at QB with Vince Young getting the start. The receiving options in this game aren't your household names and really only deep league owners should count on these guys with so many injuries concerns on the horizon for Sunday (excluding DeSean Jackson). We'll get you familiarized with these guys and let you know which guys could take advantage of matchups in this game.
Analysis of every relevant player after the jump:
Philadelphia Eagles (by @MikeSGallagher)
Vince Young- V.Y. is coming off a productive start with a 400-yard, one-TD game against the Pats last week. He also tacked on 40 yards rushing and there's a good chance we'll see more of that tonight. Previously, he wasn't too shabby in his first start with 258 yards, two scores and three picks against the Giants. It was his first start and it's pretty clear that there's a learning curve for former suicide-watch QB.
Young doesn't have the weapons that Vick usually has and he is facing a young and improving secondary. The Seattle secondary and pass rush has limited their last three opposing quarterbacks to an average passer rating of 74.8. They're currently ranked 20th against the pass, but again, they are improving with their young secondary headlined by one of the greatest safety tandems in Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. Young's success hinges greatly on how the Eagles can protect him from Chris Clemons at defensive end. Clemons is one of the D-ends in the league with his 8.0 sacks (ranked sixth among DE) and four forced fumbles (ranks third for DE). Besides Clemons, there really isn't a whole lot to fear as the Seattle D ranks 26th in sacks.
Young should be able to get some time since the Eagles are doing a decent job of protecting him. The Eagles on the season are ranked 25th in sacks allowed despite having quarterbacks that like to scramble. The Longhorn was only sacked three times in the last two weeks combined as well. There's a lot to like here for Young and he really is a nice option for owners that don't want to play Matt Ryan against the Houston pass D (ranked second) or aren't comfortable starting Tebow. He should be good for about 279 yards passing, 38 rushing yards and two total touchdowns.
LeSean McCoy- Shady is leading the league in rushing. That's really all fantasy owners should be concerned with for tonight. Yes, the Seahawks are ranked fourth in YPC allowed and have some swarming linebackers in stuffing the run. The bigger concern for fantasy owners is probably his sprained toe. While this may sound painful, a sprained toe really shouldn't hinder him much once he gets taped up, throws on the cleats and gets the adrenaline pumping. Start him with confidence and expect over 130 yards from scrimmage and a score.
UPDATE: NFL Network reported that LeSean McCoy is moving gingerly and is in some pain. McCoy owners still have really no choice but to play him unless they were planning on benching another RB1-type guy (here are my rankings for backs this week)
Ronnie Brown- Brown will be fielding the kicks for the Eagles and there could be quite a few kickoffs in this one. The other intrigue to Brown is if McCoy aggravates his injury, Brown would likely take over as the goal-line back and would share carries with Lewis. Even in return leagues, you'd have to be extremely desperate to start him. However, deep-league owners that are looking for a handcuff and want to beat the waivers, feel free to try and grab him in exchange for dead weight on your roster (I'd prefer a guy like Deji Karim over Brown).
Dion Lewis- Lewis could get some snaps on third down should something happen to McCoy. There's absolutely no way you'll be starting him tonight and owners in 20-team leagues or deeper should even consider stashing him.
DeSean Jackson- DeSean Jackson used to be known for his feast or famine fantasy production in previous years. This year? Let's just say his owners might think he's from Somalia and not California. Jackson is ranked 30th in fantasy leagues for points and has just 39 receptions on the year. That said, things have actually set up nicely for him tonight. The Seahawks size in the back four bode extremely well for him and his chances of possibly connect with Young on a bomb. D-Jax was targeted 10 times last week which is also another positive sign for him this evening. He's obviously not a must-start WR, but you'd be hard pressed to find 15 better receivers for Week 13 with the Eagles being so depleted in the pass catcher department. Five catches for 94 yards and a TD sounds about right. I wouldn't be shocked if he explodes though.
Jason Avant- Jason Avant was a huge surprise in Week 12 by posting a league-high 14 targets vs. the Pats. Of course the Eagles were on the comeback trail and Avant was setting up shop on the underneath routes as New England kept playing soft coverage. This week he won't have as much success
Riley Cooper- Cooper has seen a lot of pub this week since he'll be lining up at the Y in two-wide sets tonight. Last week Cooper and Young caught the eye of many football fans with their quick strike of 58 yards from the jump. Cooper did eventually fizzle and only finished with three catches for 71 yards. Cooper doesn't really have a great matchup with his lanky frame going up against the tallest tandem at corner in the league. Brandon Browner is 6-foot-4 and Richard Sherman stands 6-foot-3, so don't expect Young to utilize him in the red zone. Cooper should probably mimic his line from last week with about four catches for 78 yards.
Steve Smith- Smith played just seven snaps against the Patriots. There's a good chance he will have a repeat performance. He did have a 10-target game earlier in the year; sadly those days are gone. His upside is about two catches this week.
Chad Hall- Hey, he had five targets, a catch and even ran it once. If you're going to play him though, you're in the running for craziest fantasy owner of the year.
Brent Celek- Celek has really picked up his game as the season has progressed. In his last six games he has been targeted at least six times and is averaging 64 yards per game. He also has two scores in that span as well. The Seahawks are also 27th in allowing fantasy points to tight ends as well. Celek is a top-10 option this week and he should find the end zone with about five catches for 71 yards.
Clay Harbor- The only reason you should own Clay is to team him up with Earl Bennett so you can name your team "Earl Harbor" to dedicate the tragedy of December 7th. Thanks to all you vets out there. We appreciate you!
Eagles D/ST- The Seahawks recently lost two of their offensive linemen for the year and they have really not been challenged with a top-notch pass rush. Trent Cole and Jason Babin should pack a sack lunch for this game and put pressure on T-Jax. The Seahawks are tied for second in sacks allowed for the season and their average of 3.3 sacks per game should be climbing after tonight. The Hawks are also 10th in turnovers on the season. They're not elite because they can't stop the run, but they're certainly worth starting in 12-team leagues.
Alex Henery- The running game could stall and Henery could hit three field goals tonight. He's a low-end K1.
Seattle Seahawks (by @Casetines)
Tarvaris Jackson-The Eagles are a very giving pass defense. Despite the fact that they added Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha in the offseason on top of Pro Bowler Asante Samuel, their pass defense is very average. Still, Tarvaris isn't a very good QB and he just lost his favorite target for the season. What will the result be? I tried to find out how the absolute worst QBs have done against Philly this year.
John Skelton was 21 of 40 for 315 yards, 3 TD/2 INT.
John Beck and Rex Grossman combined for 260 yards, 0 TD/4 INT.
Alex Smith (who is not terrible this year, but not a big time fantasy QB) had 291 yards, 2 TD/0 INT.
Jackson is coming off of his worst game of the season, and has had little time to prepare. But so has the defense of Philadelphia, with Nnamdi is nursing a sore knee (if he plays) and Rodgers-Cromartie is out. I'd guess that TarTar is going to throw for 300 yards, 2 TD/2 INT. Something along the lines of that. Unless you're in a 2 QB league or super deep league though.. why did I bother writing so much on Tarvaris Jackson?
Marshawn Lynch- Hello there Seahawks offensive MVP of 2011. Lynch has scored a TD in seven straight games and had 100 yards rushing in three of the last four. The Eagles are not an elite rush defense either, and one of the worst at stopping running backs that can catch the ball out of the backfield. Lynch is not typically one of those players, but he's not bad at it either. I would guess that he goes for 110 yards rushing, 30 yards receiving, and a TD. Must-start.
Leon Washington- In return leagues, Washington will have good value because this could be a high-scoring game, and whether its on kicks or punts, he's one of the most dangerous returners in the NFL. Washington is not a threat to do anything on offense however. He has 179 total yards on the season.
Justin Forsett- Forsett scored a TD two weeks ago. It was more important to him personally than to anyone who plays fantasy football. There isn't a league deep enough for Forsett.
Doug Baldwin- Now that Sidney Rice is on IR, who stands to benefit the most from his absence? I don't see it necessarily being Baldwin, as a slot receiver who benefits from the presence of a number one wide receiver, not the absence of one. Still, Baldwin is going to have to get more work now, and he received a career-high 10 targets against the Redskins on Sunday.
As the Eagles dig deeper into the cornerback pile, that means less talent covering Dougie Fresh. He has had at least 50 yards in four of the last give games but hasn't scored since week 5. That ends tonight. He's not a WR2 in my book, but more of a solid WR3 play.
It's amazing that we get two undrafted free agent wide receivers having breakout years. Victor Cruz was undrafted in 2010, but getting his first action this year. While Cruz has become a legit WR1, and Baldwin has not, Fresh is still well on his way to being one of the top undrafted players in the last decade. He's REALLY good.
Ben Obomanu- Obo has been around the league for a lot longer than you think and never been more than a situational role player that occasionally has a nice game. He was targeted 10 times against the Giants, but Charlie Whitehurst played much of that game. That's the only time since week 2 that he's topped 4 targets. I expect him to maybe catch a ball or three, but not much else.
Mike Williams- As a Seahawks fan, I might have no bigger disappointment than the disappearance of BMW. He had put up his best season as a pro in 2010 after being out of the league for two years, and though I didn't expect him to be major, I expected more than this. He has 14 catches for 192 yards and a touchdown. He has been catchless three times this season. He has not had a game where he was targeted more than 5 times. He catches less than 50% of his targets. He's not explosive. He doesn't make the big play. He'll make a 10 yard catch for a first down and celebrate like he's a big deal, but he should be more humble than that. He's become the #4 WR after being the #1 last season. After he had all the talent in the world at USC. After being a top draft pick and eating himself out of the NFL and then returning with what seemed like true passion and vigor. We just haven't seen it this year. Will that change with Rice out? We'll have to see. He could never be more than a 5 catch, 70 yard guy on his best day as it stands. I'll be surprised if he gets that tonight. He might get 50 yards.
Golden Tate- Tate has the most to gain with Rice out. He played the most snaps of any skill player on Sunday and coach Pete Carroll has said that he earned more PT. He'll get it now that Rice is out.
Golden was a great athlete and receiver at Notre Dame and that's why the Hawks drafted him in the second round last year. But he was consistent and then just consistently bad, then rumors during preseason popped up that he could be cut. The Hawks didn't go that far, but he hasn't been much of a factor this year. He caught his first TD since week one on Sunday, but it was his only catch of the game. He averages 2.8 targets per game, 1.6 catches, and 17.3 yards. However, the game has changed with Sidney on IR. Someone has to step up.
I am not a fortune-teller though. I can only suggest that you monitor the situation, see how many looks Golden gets tonight, and see if his hard practice is paying off. See if Tarvaris finds Golden to be his new favorite target or not. You never know. The talent always seemed to be there, and if the hard work matches the talent, Golden is a good player and a super sleeper for the rest of the year.
Zach Miller- You gonna play Zach Miller? Really? Even if he was doing good, the Eagles strength of the defense is stopping tight ends. And that's about it.
Seattle D/ST- You probably wouldn't realize this unless you were a fan of the team like I am, but Seattle has a good defense. It's actually the strength of the team, and has the potential to be elite. Yes, I mean it. They will have their struggles against a player with the skillset of LeSean McCoy, but they've got talented players everywhere. Richard Sherman is the best cornerback in the league that you've never heard of. A rookie out of Stanford that's shutting down opponents, after injuries thrust him into a starting role. Kam Chancellor has gone from unknown to perhaps being one of the most feared safeties in the league. He's racking up fines for hard hits, but that's just the way he plays. Even Earl Thomas at safety, the star rookie last year, has been lost in the shuffle though he's still one of the best up-and-comers in the league. Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane lead a defensive line that stops the runs up the middle. A running back absolutely has to be able to make the edge if he's going to gain anything on the Hawks.
What they do NOT do is sack the QB. Chris Clemons will get some over the course of a year, but that's really it. Vince Young shouldn't have any problem staying on his feet. But the Eagles have thrown a lot of interceptions this year, and Seattle's young corners have caused havok back there. I expect Seattle's D to give up points but also cause 2-3 turnovers and potentially score a TD. It's a decent play, though not an elite one. Also because of the short week.
Steven Hauschka- I've got Hauschka on some of my teams because he's a good kicker and he's the home town guy. Seattle is average in the red zone, but Philly is one of the worst red zone defenses. Again, he's not a bad play, but maybe not an elite one.