This weekend, the Patriots head to Seattle to face the Seahawks. You may remember Seattle from their infamous primetime match-up against Green Bay when the replacement refs staged their Waterloo. Lost in all of the controversy about the game’s final play was how good their defense looked against the Packers. Aaron Rodgers was sacked 7 times in the first half alone and the Packers were unable to establish the run.
So where does this leave you from a fantasy perspective? First off, you should curb your expectations for Stevan Ridley and the running game. Given Seattle’s run defense, New England’s history with running backs in fantasy and the fact that Ridley is a fumble away from grabbing some bench, you really shouldn’t expect much from Rids. It’s always risky to bench a player of his caliber and in the midst of bye weeks, you may not have a better start on your roster- but if you have a better option and/or matchup, benching him is certainly in play. Given the Patriots’ newfound running prowess, there may be a week where you can get away with starting Brandon Bolden or a different Pats rusher in a pinch, but it is not this week.
Tom Brady is always a match-up proof start, but as with Ridley this week, you should expect fantasy numbers on the lower end of his spectrum because of the relentless Seattle pass-rush. Further making Brady’s life difficult on Sunday will be the Seattle cornerbacks. The wide receivers will deal with a very good and a very physical secondary, most likely making life miserable for Brandon Lloyd. After being a non-factor against Champ Bailey last week, Lloyd faces another tough assignment lining up on the outside against Seattle this week. With Antonio Cromartie on the docket next week against the Jets, Lloyd owners will most likely have to shine it on a few more weeks with lowered expectations. Where the Patriots offense may find their most success is in the middle of the field and underneath. That said, Wes Welker should continue posting good fantasy stats by doing his usual routine of always being open underneath – and the tight ends should see some success with over the middle passes and seam routes. But with Aaron Hernandez potentially returning this week and Rob Gronkowski banged up with a hip injury, it’s anybody’s guess as to which has the better game. Hernandez seems headed towards the dreaded game-time decision label so a close eye will have to be kept on his health before kickoff.
Week 6 Patriot Start of the Week:
The New England defense. Yup, the New England defense. Before giving up garbage time points and yardage to Peyton and the Broncos last week, the Patriot defense was fantastic. Look for that to continue against a very one-dimensional offense that likes to pound the football on the ground and throw sparingly.
Bill Belichick’s defense notoriously attempts to eliminate the one thing that an offense does best. In this case that means running the football with Marshawn Lynch. Fortunately for the defense, stopping the run is their strength, ranking eighth against the run and giving up just 3.4 yards per carry.
Any modicum of success against Seattle’s running game will result in added pressure on their rookie quarterback – and despite being very athletic and sharing the names of two major sports equipment manufacturers, Russell Wilson is far from a football superstar. Wilson is averaging 163 yards passing per game and has mediocre talent at the receiver position. The Patriots are likely to keep the pressure on Wilson and even with just an average performance stopping the run on Sunday, the defense looks poised to put up some points for fantasy owners this week. Projection: 10 points allowed, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 touchdown scored.