You know, one would have assumed I’d start with the Seattle Seahawks.
The reigning Super Bowl champions have been one of the most talked about teams for fantasy purposes this offseason. A quarterback who continues to climb into the elite territory, a cornerback on the cover of Madden and a running back holdout– sort of. Seattle will remain one of the most discussed teams in the league for months, especially after a season where they produced a top-10 fantasy quarterback, top-five running back and the highest-scoring fantasy defense.
A collective “duh” in regards to the latter, of course.
At age 25, Russell Wilson has already won a Super Bowl, won multiple games, made multiple highlight plays and, most importantly, has done it all the right way. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better overall person in the game today than the young signal caller.
He’s only played two seasons.
Wilson has been a top-10 fantasy passer during those first two seasons, and the reason I’m scared is because that is only his floor, not his ceiling. Last season, 21 other quarterbacks dropped back to pass more than Wilson, and during his rookie year, he ranked just 25th in passing attempts. The volume has been ugly, but here is Wilson, consistently serving as a QB1 for fantasy owners. Many look at this offense and see a run-first team. They’re right. But Seattle makes big plays in the passing game, too. Last year, Wilson’s 8.2 yards per completion was second-best among year-long starters, behind only Peyton Manning. And, according to Pro Football Focus, 14.7 percent of his passing attempts traveled 20 yards or more downfield, good for the third-highest rate in football. He went on to complete 48.3 percent of such passes, the best rate in the league. Why has Wilson been so good in fantasy, despite the lack of volume?
Because he’s the king of efficiency, that’s why.
*Stats provided by PFF
Over the last two seasons, Wilson has ranked 4th in fantasy points per drop back. Despite only averaging about 16 fantasy points per game last year, Wilson makes big plays in the passing game, and if Seattle were to let him sling the ball around more, we could easily be looking at a top-five fantasy option. He’s very consistent, too, finishing as a QB1 50 percent of the time last year, behind only Manning and Drew Brees. Seattle could continue to let him throw the ball more, as they quietly threw the football 3.5 percent more often than during his rookie campaign. As he continues to progress, the Seahawks will slowly unleash him.
And let’s not forget, his rushing ability is among the best in the league, too. For his career, Wilson has over 1,000 rushing yards and five scores, and, according to Christopher Harris, only 25.8 percent of his career fantasy points have come from his legs. He could also run a little bit more, only adding to his ultimate upside.
Is this the year the beast is tamed?
Everyone (and I mean everyone) is talking about the impending fantasy doom regarding Marshawn Lynch. Marshawn has been, for lack of better word, a beast, but the concerns are warranted. No running back in the league has more carries since 2011, averaging nearly 300 per year. And, according to ESPN, the past 15 backs who have averaged at least 300 carries in a three-year span see their carries drop by an average of 86.7 the following year.
Also, Jamey Eisenberg of CBS Sports did a study surrounding the running backs to see 400 total touches in a season (including playoffs). He states that over the last 10 years, there have been 27 backs to accumulate 400 touches, and 22 have seen a significant decrease in fantasy points the next season. Meanwhile, nine of those 27 backs suffered an injury that next year, while two rushers (Tiki Barber, Ricky Williams) ended up retiring.
Notable RB Numbers After 400-Touch Year
Until proven otherwise, Lynch is still this team’s featured back, but it’s a bit worrying to consider that he reportedly contemplated retirement, especially after ranking 2nd, 5th and 4th in carries over the last three seasons. But as long as he stays on the field and in Seattle, he should be terrific. The volume will be there, as Seattle has ranked 2nd and 1st in rushing attempts per game during the last two years. I’d imagine he has one more monster year in Seattle left in him, but if he doesn’t, the likes of Robert Turbin and apparent consensus top-10 pick Christine Michael will become waiver wire darlings.
You may have to pay me to take Percy Harvin as a top-20 fantasy wideout.
Look, does the guy have massive upside? Sure he does. In the open field, there may not be a more dangerous player in all of football. However, it’s way too difficult to ignore the massive injury risk that comes with him. Harvin’s 2013 resume is quite simple– 1 catch for 17 yards. He scored one fantasy point during his inaugural season with the Seahawks, then missed the remainder of the season with a hip injury. Simply put, the guy cannot stay on the field, missing 68 percent of games throughout his career. The guy has never posted 1,000 receiving yards, nor has he ever played more than 600 offensive snaps in a season.
But, of course, he’s a difference-maker. According to ESPN, his 8.4 yards after the catch lead all receivers with 50-plus targets. I don’t mind taking a shot on him, because if he hits, he’ll hit in a big way. But not as a top-20 guy.
Then there’s the always-overlooked Doug Baldwin. With Golden Tate in Detroit, Baldwin is going to play a much bigger role in this offense, especially after Sidney Rice retired. He could eventually be the team’s number one at some point, considering Harvin is almost a lock to miss some time. Last year, Baldwin ranked first in vertical targets, and we already talked about how Wilson isn’t afraid to take shots down the field. In most leagues, this guy isn’t even being drafted.
Play Zach Miller against the Cardinals.