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Rice shapes up as Seahawks' best fantasy gamble

Pro Football Weekly
Key matchup: Seahawks WR Sidney Rice vs. Vikings secondary

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Key matchup: Seahawks WR Sidney Rice vs. Vikings secondary

It’s like one big fantasy puzzle in the Pacific Northwest.

Will RB Marshawn Lynch, a fantasy heavyweight down the stretch last season if there ever was one, dodge a suspension that would greatly diminish his appeal as a top-of-the-line fantasy back this season?

Who the heck is going to be the starting QB: holdover Tarvaris Jackson, high-profile free-agent addition Matt Flynn or intriguing third-round rookie Russell Wilson? Pete Carroll has to make a decision sooner than later, doesn’t he?

The QB situation seems downright stable compared to the chaotic goings on at wide receiver, where no less than seven serious contenders — Golden Tate, Ben Obomanu, Deon Butler, Ricardo “Rocket” Lockette, Kris Durham, Antonio Bryant and, most recently, former Pro Bowler Braylon Edwards, who was signed at the end of July — were battling for the starting No. 2 WR job behind Sidney Rice.

Edwards, who bombed with the 49ers last season, and Bryant, who last played in the NFL in 2009, would not be considered “serious” contenders anywhere else but Seattle, where reclamation projects at the WR position have displayed a knack for catching lightning in a bottle, so to speak.

Can Edwards, who once scored 16 TDs as a member of the Browns, or Bryant, who had 83 catches for 1,248 yards and seven TDs with Tampa Bay in 2008, follow in the footsteps of Mike Williams, a former first-round draft pick who burst out of the woodwork two years ago with a team-leading 65 catches before crashing and burning last season?

Will there be enough balls to go around at tight end for both newly acquired Kellen Winslow and holdover Zach Miller, an accomplished pass catcher before becoming primarily a glorified blocker last season because of O-line injuries?

Tired of all these questions?

Here's one more big one well worth pondering: Can Rice, who missed seven games last season with shoulder and concussion issues and has played 16 games only once in his five pro seasons in Minnesota and Seattle, stay healthy enough to be a potentially formidable fantasy force?

Like all the preceding questions, it’s really hard to predict what to expect of Rice.

However, with the possible exception of steady second-year slot machine Doug Baldwin, who came out of nowhere to lead the team in catches last season, Rice seems like the one fantasy gamble in Seattle that really is worth considering.

Team insiders believe Rice’s health is as big a key to success this season as any for the Seahawks. If Rice can just stay on the field, game in and game out, whoever ends up being the QB figures to be throwing in his direction a lot.

The big-play pop he displayed when healthy last season — five catches of 30 or more yards, including a 52-yard TD … 100-yard efforts vs. the Cardinals and Bengals — is the reason why opportunity could be knocking so loudly for him.

With reconstructed shoulders and 10 pounds of added muscle, it says here a strong case can be made for taking a fantasy chance on Rice — certainly more than any other Seahawk.

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