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Legion Of Boom Doesn’t Spell Doom For WRs

RotoExperts Staff September 7, 2014 6:16PM EDT
In terms of volume of questions on Twitter and through our “Ask The Xperts”, no team was mentioned more than the Green Bay Packers … and not because of their high-powered offense. Despite a unit that can light up a scoreboard, I was peppered with questions about the start-ability of nearly every skill position player, with the pass catchers being the most common inquiry. Hindsight is 20/20, but I was recommending starting both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, and believe it or not, I had reason to do so.

Richard Sherman scares QBs away from his side of the field. Photo Credit: Bill Hunter

Richard Sherman scares QBs away from his side of the field. Photo Credit: Bill Hunter

The Legion Of Boom!

“Mediocre”

Don’t Mess With The Best!

Well, you don’t have to worry about it. What makes the Seahawks a great unit, their willingness to stick to what they do and force opponents to adjust, is exactly why you need to start your top receivers against them. As we saw again on opening day, Richard Sherman was glued to his spot on the field, regardless of the fact that Jarrett Boykin was the only player Green Bay would send over that direction. Did he lock him up? Sure. Boykin wasn’t targeted even one time, as Aaron Rodgers treated him like a homeless drunk, refusing to acknowledge his presence. But does that really mean anything to Fantasy owners? Even if you decided to draft Boykin, you probably/hopefully didn’t start him here (if I’m getting Nelson and Cobb questions, I’ll go ahead and assume that Fantasy nation was low on Boykin this year). As good as Sherman is, he can’t be in two places at once, thus leaving second and third corners to determine your Fantasy fate. And this is nothing new!

Last season, in nine games against non-divisional opponents that had a healthy top pass catcher, Seattle gave up 43 catches for 619 yards and four scores to that top threat. Not only is that very reasonable production, it is actually a slight improvement on a per game basis (0.07 PPR Fantasy points) over what  those nine players averaged against all other opponents last year. Refine the study to include just pass offenses that had reasonably effective quarterback play in 2013 (sorry Mike Glennon/Josh Freeman, Eli Manning, and Matt Cassel/Christian Ponder/Josh Freeman), and the number one pass-catcher actually averaged 35.1 percent more PPR points against the Legion Of Boom than the rest of the NFL.

This must mean that, by default, Aaron Rodgers was a must-start Thursday night … right? Not so fast. In those six aforementioned games last season, the starting quarterback, despite routinely finding his top option, experienced an average 25.4 percent decline in Fantasy production compared to what he produced in all other starts. Starting your stud quarterbacks is still the percentage play against this unit, as 74.6 percent of Peyton Manning’s 2013 production would have still resulted in him being the second best QB in all of football and 74.6 of Drew Brees would have been Top 10, but I’m benching just about anyone else.

Does it still surprise you that both Cobb (6-58-1) and Nelson (9-83-0) found ways to produce despite a down statistical day from Rodgers? The Seahawks are going to be ahead in a lot of games this season, thus forcing opponents to throw the ball with consistency. If the best cornerback is guarding your best receiver, common logic would dictate that the top option is going to see plenty of targets and thus be in a good spot to produce the type of Fantasy numbers you’re looking for. Seattle’s Legion Of Boom owns the best defense in the game, and I’m not sure it’s close, but that doesn’t doom your pass catchers in Fantasy, no matter what the “projected points” on your gaming website may say.

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