This summer, we’re going to be doing team by team fantasy previews. They’ll be filled with individual player breakdowns, projections and more. As the summer moves along, these will be updated if injuries occur, roles are changed or if the team makes any transactions. If there’s something or someone that isn’t covered, feel free to shout it out in the comments or find me online and we’ll get that taken care of for you. As usual, be careful using big picture projections as a crutch for how you handle your fantasy drafts. Projections are best used to spot ADP discrepancies.
We’re kicking off our team by team outlooks with the Super Bowl Champions, the Seattle Seahawks. For fantasy purposes in 2013, Seattle produced the overall eighth ranked scoring quarterback, the fourth highest running back, two top 40 receivers and even had the fourth highest scoring kicker as well as the second best fantasy defense. Although it seems that sometimes they hate fantasy football, there was cumulatively enough nectar to squeeze out for our fake game.
Seahawks 2014 Schedule
|1||Green Bay Packers|
|2||@||San Diego Chargers|
|7||@||St. Louis Rams|
|10||New York Giants|
|11||@||Kansas City Chiefs|
|13||@||San Francisco 49ers|
|15||San Francisco 49ers|
|17||St. Louis Rams|
Predictability of strength of schedule is a tough nut to crack, but not something you want to just totally disregard either. Year to year changes in pass defense and points allowed are generally all over the place, but you can at least map out a ballpark feel for things. From week eight onwards, Seattle faces some pretty stiff competition on paper outside of Oakland and the Giants. Not something that will lead to you fading everyone on the roster, but there could be a plethora of low scoring tilts in the back half of the season.
Before we do some dissection at each position, let’s take a brief look at the play calling splits for the Seattle offense over the past three seasons under offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
[table id=65 /]
Seattle has ranked in the bottom third in the league in offensive snaps per game in each of the past two seasons as they’ve suffocated teams with their defense and running game. For 2014, it’s hard to see either of those two things shifting radically.
Russell Wilson has been one of the most effective fantasy quarterbacks per drop back since the middle of his rookie season in 2012, which makes him an intriguing target for many owners. His rushing ability adds with the cheat code for fantasy factor, but was also the third best passer in terms of adjusted yards per aimed pass. The only issue has been that the low volume of those drop backs and attempts has muffled his weekly impact a great deal. 71.3 percent of his pass attempts came while Seattle was tied or had a lead.
Wilson notched seven top 12 weekly finishes, with four coming during their four game stretch in weeks 9-13 (week 12 bye). In Bevell’s eight seasons calling plays while in Minnesota and Seattle, his quarterbacks have attempted 510 passes in a season only twice.
There’s also the slight bugaboo that it’s hard to score fantasy points through the air during interdivision games in the NFC West, and Wilson hasn’t been an exception.
Russell Wilson vs NFC West Opponents
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Through 12 games in division, Wilson has thrown for multiple scores only three times and thrown for over 200 yards just twice. He struggled mightily for the first half of his rookie season, but even in 2013, points were very hard to come by through the air.
I just want to get this out in the open very early. Outside of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, all of the other 29 quarterbacks are streaming options for me this season. Wilson is going to look very tempting if he’s on the board in rounds nine and ten this summer. Although his overall totals are going to look ripe, he’s just not a player that you can set in your lineup for 13 consecutive weeks and forget about because of the lack of volume he’ll see consistently.
When Does Beast Mode Finally Become Least Mode?
Marshawn Lynch has been the staple of what the Seahawks do on offense for the past three seasons. Since 2011, Lynch has 988 regular season touches since 2011, the most in the NFL. Massive rushing attempts are no surprise from lead backs under Bevell, check out his history.
[table id=67 /]
Outside of Adrian Peterson’s rookie season, there has never been a sniff of a timeshare under Bevell. Having Lynch and Peterson helps that cause mightily, but he also gave Chester Taylor 300 carries in 2006.
It’s not all rosy for Lynch, however. Not only has he accumulated a lot of miles and will be 29 this season, but the Seattle offensive line was really awful a season ago. Lynch had his lowest YPC while in Seattle as well as his lowest rushing output per game. His 2013 game log was very pedestrian during the final third as he battled chronic back ailments. He turned it on in the postseason, but it’s something to be wary of.
He was able to mask those by maintaining his stellar touchdown production, but Lynch got his real fantasy boost by having a career high in receiving yardage (316 yards) and going over 30 receptions for the first time since 2008. His 79.6 PPR receiving points were more than 20 points higher than any year he’s been in Seattle and were the second highest total of his career. I expect his reception totals regress back to normal with Harvin’s return. Lynch has had an amazing fantasy run, but I just can’t see myself using a top 20 draft pick on him when there’s so many red flags surrounding his age, health, competition and the Seahawks offensive line issues. He could still very well produce, but it’s unlikely to be on any of my teams.
All of Christine Michael’s rushing attempts last season came while Seattle was leading and 16 of the 18 came with them up in the fourth quarter. Even with Pete Carroll suggesting he will get “a ton” of work this year, Michael is strictly an expensive handcuff for Lynch this season judging what we know about Bevell and the fact that they can use Lynch up this season, making Michael the new Ben Tate. I’m not one to take coach speak in OTA’s too far, so I’ll still need more proof that Michael will really be used significantly before I treat this as the committee that Seahawks brass is suggesting it could be .As a later round option, he’s the highest of upside picks for those going zero RB early based on raw talent and expected usage if Lynch falls, but a true committee is the worst news for both parties.
Robert Turbin is locked into his role as a pass protector and change of pace back. If Turbin strictly became the passing down only back, Michael could have a chance to pilfer a few more carries away, that’s what you really want to monitor going forward. If he can;t pass protect, then Turbin will still get snaps over him. Michael will likely have to wait until Lynch finally becomes a cap casualty in 2015 to have his moment in the fantasy sun for an entire summer.
Percy Harvin will see a smattering of carries as well and averaged four percent of the team’s rushing attempts in his first two seasons while Bevell was in Minnesota. With his recent sketch injury history and team investment in him, I can’t really see that total increase. He’ll see unique touches, but he won’t be relied on in the run game other than keeping defenses honest.
Everyone Has a Role
With Golden Tate moving on to Detroit, Doug Baldwin will move to playing outside more frequently in the offense. Baldwin has had an efficient start to his career, but nearly all of his production has been aided by his work inside.
Doug Baldwin Career Slot Usage
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While his reliance on strictly slot work has decreased yearly, he’s still leaned on scoring his points from that area of the field and that’s where his skill set is better served being used. We only have the Super Bowl to judge how he and Harvin will be used together, but in that game Harvin ran 78.6 of his routes from the slot while Baldwin ran only 28 percent. That’s a small sample to base his future use off of, but Evan Silva of Rotoworld has reported he’s working outside during early summer sessions.
@LordReebs I noticed Baldwin is playing primarily outside at OTAs with Harvin in slot.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) May 29, 2014
If Baldwin is outside more often like we expect, you can anticipate his catch percentage to take a slight drop. The good news is that all five of scores last season came from the outside.With Harvin gobbling up short range targets; the expectations for him overall should be very lateral from last season with more of a chance to drop off than really increase.
Harvin is in a curious place because his best fantasy output came with immense volume immediately after Bevell left the Vikings. Primary slot receivers in his offenses average 56 targets per season while inside, so Harvin will still be busy catching the football when combined with the targets see he’ll see when moved around. Just how busy is the real rub, because Bevell has rotated his receiver usage around plenty. Even with some injuries, his offenses have been one to spread the ball around.
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That information combined with low volume in the passing game really doesn’t give Harvin much room to be more than a WR2 in fantasy and he’s better served being rostered as your WR3. Very early ADP data from Fantasy Football Calculator has him as WR16 off of the board, so swinging that is unlikely.
Whoever wins the third receiver job between rookie Paul Richardson and Jermaine Kearse could have upside potential because they fit the role of playing outside much more than Baldwin does. Kearse turned 18.2 percent of his catches into touchdowns a year ago and has been in the offense for two years, so assumption is he holds the job for one more year. The team has more invested into Richardson longterm, but 2014 projects as him being a situational player that is used to stretch coverage. All four players have very specific roles, which makes it hard to get overly excited about any because of the little overlap.
Sidney Rice, Kevin Norwood and CFL sensation Chris Matthews will compete for the fifth receiver spot, but there’s little fantasy relevance there for redraft. If I had to place money today, I’d wager Norwood makes the team out of the group.
No tight end has ever gotten 80 targets under Bevell, but there have been three seasons in which they’ve scored seven of more touchdowns, so they’re involved near the paint. That will keep Zach Miller on your streaming radar, but overall; he’s nothing more than that.
2014 Fantasy Relevant Projections
Best Option to Crash through their projection without injury: Wilson – if Seattle is contested more this season, Wilson will have an opportunity to prove that he can carry his efficiency with larger volume.
Biggest Risk to fall through their projection: Lynch – Worries with the back, more off script offense and mercurial personality going into a season with swirling rumors of his demise within the organization could lead to him finally failing to return on your investment.
Best Waiver Wire Option: Kearse – has an immediate edge on Richardson in terms of knowing the offense, more polished as a blocker. If Baldwin or Harvin misses time, Kearse could flirt with the area of seven or more touchdowns.
That’s it for the Seahawks that are on the fantasy radar for this summer. As big news comes, check back for updates. There will also be a bulk projection page coming soon for you to go to and see all of the projections laid out.