Thursday Night Football
Seattle @ Arizona
Thursday's Seahawks-Cardinals game pits against each other two division rivals playing on short weeks coming off physical football games. Seahawks sub-package end Chris Clemons won't play with a hyperextended elbow. MLB Bobby Wagner (ankle) will join Clemons in street clothes. Cardinals RE Calais Campbell, an All Pro-caliber performer, suffered a scary Week 6 neck injury, though he has been medically cleared. ... Playing through a tweaked hip in last Sunday's win over Tennessee, Marshawn Lynch totaled a season-high 155 yards with two TDs, showing nary an ill effect. Arizona is playing top-five run defense, but Lynch has historically had this unit's number. Over their past three meetings, Beast Mode has diced up the Cardinals for 299 yards and three scores on 51 runs (5.86 YPC). Third in fantasy running back scoring behind only Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy, Lynch should be treated as an elite matchup-proof, every-week RB1. ... The Cardinals' defense has faced dual-threat quarterbacks in each of the past two weeks. It stifled Cam Newton (3 INTs) in Week 5, but was picked apart by Colin Kaepernick (270 total yards, 2 TDs) in last week's loss at Candlestick. 12th in fantasy quarterback scoring and 23rd in pass attempts, Russell Wilson is a borderline QB1/2. I'd view him as a shaky Week 7 play in standard leagues. Wilson remains an every-week starter in two-quarterback settings. Wilson has buoyed his recent fantasy production by averaging 80 rushing yards a game over the past three weeks.
Wilson's target distribution over the last month: Golden Tate 31, Sidney Rice 20, Doug Baldwin 19, Luke Willson 12, Lynch 10, Jermaine Kearse 6, Robert Turbin 3. ... Due to their run-first ways and Wilson's consistent tendency to throw to the open man rather than force footballs to a "No. 1" receiver, Seahawks wideouts are a weekly crapshoot. Tate is the best bet in this particular game because Patrick Peterson figures to body up Rice, while slot man Baldwin is only a 60% player on offense. Tate is a dice-roll WR3, but is the Seahawks' weekly favorite for targets and is capable of delivering a big game assuming he draws struggling RCB Jerraud Powers on most of Thursday's snaps. ... Not that there was much in the first place, but Zach Miller's (hamstring) Week 7 return takes the wind out of Willson's fantasy sails. Although Arizona has permitted the most fantasy points in the league to tight ends, no Seahawks TE is a realistic option. ... There is an outside chance Seattle will get back Percy Harvin (PUP, hip) in Week 8. Harvin needs to be rostered in all leagues, though expectations should be tempered due to the way the Seahawks play offense, and the manner in which Wilson treats receivers. Will Harvin quickly pass Tate as Seattle's target leader? Probably. Will Harvin score fantasy points like he did in Minnesota? The jury is out. Coach Pete Carroll has stated publicly Harvin is "here to be one of the fellas. He's gonna complement a terrific receiving crew. ... They're not going to worry about who's getting it but just how many points we can score and how many games we can win, and hopefully everybody will understand that it will be how we fit these guys together that will make this happen, not just one guy showing up."
Editor's Note: FanDuel is hosting a one-week $300,000 Fantasy Football League for Week 7. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.
Rookie scatback Andre Ellington has fantasy land buzzing after playing a year-high 32 Week 6 snaps and scoring a second-quarter rushing TD at San Francisco from 15 yards out. Ellington is an exciting talent, but he's a timeshare back who's yet to receive more than 12 touches in any game, and coach Bruce Arians has stated he doesn't envision Ellington developing into more than a 30-32 snap-per-game player. If Arians is to be believed, there'll be a significant lid on Ellington's re-draft upside. That said, he's worth low-end flex consideration against a stout Seattle defense all but certain to bottle up lead back Rashard Mendenhall. Arizona might have a chance to formulate a Week 7 run game by getting Ellington into space. Slamming Mendenhall into a brick wall probably won't work. ... With 134 yards on his last 49 carries (2.73 YPC), Mendenhall has little or no prayer of generating viable fantasy stats on a consistent basis behind Arizona's sub-average line while losing more and more snaps to his backup. He's a flex option in plus matchups, and an RB3/4 when faced with opponents like Seattle. ... The Seahawks are even better in pass than run defense, with a 5:9 TD-to-INT ratio against and suffocating 56.6% completion rate allowed. Only the Chiefs have held enemy quarterbacks to a lower passer rating than Seattle (65.1). Carson Palmer deserves credit for playing his best game since Week 1 against the 49ers. Unfortunately, he doesn't deserve your Week 7 attention beyond desperate two-quarterback-league scenarios.
Palmer's target distribution since Rob Housler returned from injury in Week 3: Larry Fitzgerald 35, Michael Floyd 29, Ellington 22, Housler 12, Andre Roberts 11, Mendenhall 8, Jim Dray 5. ... The Seahawks are so good in pass defense because they combine explosive up-front pass rush with smothering perimeter coverage via CBs Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. Floyd's value is on the rise because he's established himself as Palmer's No. 2 pass option, but this isn't a good week to use him. ... Fitzgerald is a boom-or-bust WR2/3 option this week, but has a better shot at success because Arians moves him into the slot, where Fitz can avoid LCB Sherman's coverage and play snaps against Seattle slot CB Walter Thurmond III. Fitzgerald's hamstring concerns are obviously lessened after he lit up the 49ers' defense for a 6-117-1 stat line in Week 6. Fitzgerald is the No. 10 overall fantasy wideout on the season. ... In an attempt to create more favorable pass-protection looks for Palmer, Arians has resorted to two-tight end offense in place of his historically preferred three-receiver sets. We're seeing a lot more of Dray and less of Roberts. Roberts hasn't cleared 40 yards since the opener and is waiver-wire material in 12-team leagues. Housler did set season highs in catches (4) and targets (5) in Week 6, but isn't yet in the TE1 conversation.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 20, Cardinals 13