Seattle Seahawks Buying Guide
With fantasy draft day fast approaching, Pat Fitzmaurice is taking a team-by-team look at every key player’s fantasy value relative to his current ADP (average draft position). How will Seattle’s three-headed running attack shake out? Plus, thoughts on Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham and more.
Seattle’s backfield is busier than the Pike Place Fish Market on Good Friday. The fantasy community is divided over which of the Seahawks’ backs is the one to target. With three vying for work, and with Seattle fielding one of the worst offensive lines in the league, perhaps there’s a case to be made that fading this backfield entirely is the way to go.
We all had a good chuckle at the internet meme from a few years ago that showed an overweight Eddie Lacy in training camp alongside Bigfoot in a similar pose. If Lacy is thought of as the NFL version of Sasquatch, it’s only fitting that he wound up in the Pacific Northwest. Lacy’s Twitter account reveals a fondness for what he calls “China food,” but while Lacy’s bulk has occasionally helped him flatten defenders like moo shu pancakes, it also might be at least partly responsible for the ankle and soft-tissue injuries that have plagued the burly back in recent years. He played only five games last season due to an ankle injury that required surgery. Lacy missed just two games in his first three seasons with the Packers, though he often played at a diminished capacity because he was hurt. Lacy’s weight is a moving target, but if he continues to play at upwards of 240 pounds, he has to be considered a pretty significant injury risk due to the extra stress on his joints.
A healthy Lacy is a hell of a player, though. He ran for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, punched in 24 touchdowns over that span and demonstrated surprising competency as a pass catcher. If his body cooperates, Lacy could spearhead the Seahawks’ power-running game in much the same way Marshawn Lynch once did. But we haven’t seen Lacy at his best since 2014, and his Fantasy Football Calculator ADP of RB35 reflects the market’s uncertainty about him. I don’t consider him a steal, but at that price, I’m at least interested.
Hand and shoulder injuries limited C.J. Prosise to six games as a rookie, but what we saw of him was pretty tantalizing. He averaged 5.7 yards per carry on 30 attempts and caught 17 of 19 targets for 208 yards, including 80-yard and 87-yard receiving games. A former receiver at Notre Dame, Prosise has the potential to be an electric passing-down contributor. But as with rookie RB Christian McCaffrey of the Panthers, it seems a stretch to project big receiving totals for a running back playing with a quarterback who traditionally hasn’t thrown to his RBs much. In his five NFL seasons, Russell Wilson has averaged 59.6 completions to backs, and none of his RBs have had more than 37 receptions in a season. On the bright side, Wilson’s 72 completions to running backs last year beat his previous career high by 13, and Prosise might be the sort of weapon who can force a permanent change in the way Wilson conducts business … if he can stay healthy. Prosise has dealt with a variety of ailments since entering the league and was recently sidelined by a groin injury.
Prosise is intriguing at his ADP of RB50, though I think his 2017 ceiling might be lower than his supporters suggest.
With Lacy and Prosise aboard, Thomas Rawls initially appeared to be a third wheel. But now he’s reportedly passed Lacy on the depth chart. Drafters haven’t forgotten Rawls’ 2015 season, when he averaged a league-high 5.6 yards per carry in place of the injured Lynch. Rawls averaged just 3.2 yards per carry last year, and Pat Thorman of Pro Football Focus (@Pat_Thorman) recently noted that Rawls got 32% of the Seahawks’ backfield touches in 2016 but scored only 24% of the backfield’s fantasy points. It’s hard to imagine the former undrafted free agent from Central Michigan seizing sole control of this backfield.
Seventh-round rookie Chris Carson has been a revelation in training camp and the preseason and has made the Seattle backfield derby a four-way race. Carson didn’t compile especially impressive numbers at Oklahoma State, but he’s a powerful runner who’s been impressive enough to earn first-team reps. His ADP is RB68 and climbing. Again, this is an awfully crowded backfield, but Carson warrants consideration as a latter-round pick in medium-sized and larger leagues.
An offseason article by ESPN’s Seth Wickersham revealed that Russell Wilson is viewed as something of a teacher’s pet by members of the Seattle defense, and especially by loquacious cornerback Richard Sherman. Perhaps Sherman should have a word with A.J. Bouye and Joe Haden, top CBs who’ve spent the entirety of their careers harnessed to atrocious quarterbacks.
Granted, Wilson had the worst fantasy showing of his five-year career last season, finishing QB11 despite throwing for a career-high 4,219 yards. He threw only 21 touchdown passes and had a career-low TD percentage of 3.8%. But Wilson should get at least a slight bounce in that category, and while it’s probably unrealistic to think he’ll match the 34 touchdown passes he threw in 2015, something more in line with the 26.5 touchdown passes he averaged over his first four seasons is entirely reasonable. Wilson is also due for a bump in rushing yardage. He’s averaged 537.8 rushing yards per season but plummeted to 259 last year. Wilson has thrown for more than 4,000 yards in each of the past two years, and 4,000 seems like a reasonable expectation for 2017. The Seahawks have made noise about wanting to run more, but they were close to league-average in run/pass frequency in 2016 and were the fourth run-heaviest team in the league in 2015. It’s not as if pass-happiness was the reason Wilson topped 4,000 yards in those two seasons.
Wilson’s ADP is QB8 Over his career, he’s finished QB10, QB8, QB3, QB3 and QB11. I generally don’t draft quarterbacks early, but Wilson is awfully tempting at his current price.
It’s sort of amusing that last year, coming off a 14-touchdown season, Doug Baldwin’s ADP was WR26, but after a season in which his TD total was cut in half, his ADP is now WR12. I get it, though. Baldwin’s 94 catches and 1,128 yards last season were career highs, and after consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, he’s built trust with the fantasy community. Baldwin has catch rates of 75.7% and 75.2% over the last two years, which will be hard to top. But his 2016 target total (125) should hold steady. Baldwin is typically coming off the board at the top of the third round in 12-team drafts, which is more than a fair price.
Tyler Lockett broke his fibula and tibia on Dec. 25 (merry freakin’ Christmas, eh?), but the Seahawks are optimistic that he’ll be ready for Week 1. Lockett can be electrifying with the ball in his hands, particularly as a kick returner, but he’s averaged just 4.4 targets a game with the Seahawks and has finished each of his first two seasons with fewer than 70 targets. It’s hard to imagine a significant uptick in Lockett’s passing-game usage this year. The Seahawks probably won’t want to put more on his plate since he’s coming off a major injury, and they’re unlikely to relieve him of his return duties since he’s so special in that area. Lockett’s ADP of WR63 isn’t exorbitant, and he’s talented enough that I might be willing to take a chance.
Pro Football Focus graded Jermaine Kearse 110th out of 115 qualifying wide receivers last season and recently speculated that he isn’t assured a roster spot this year. The oft-injured Paul Richardson, a second-round draft pick in 2014, hasn’t had more than 29 regular-season catches in any of his three years with the team, but he had 15 receptions for 213 yards and two TDs in Seattle’s final four games (playoffs included) last season and could squeeze Kearse out of the starting lineup. The 6-0, 183-pound Richardson offers 4.4 speed, but a starting duo of Baldwin and Richardson would be among the smallest in the league, if not the smallest. Richardson is undraftable in all but the deepest leagues. It’s not inconceivable that he could become fantasy-viable, but that path isn’t a very clear one, since it’s hard to see him getting a target share that would make him playable. Kearse is completely untouchable.
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Expert pick suggestion
|Russell Wilson||QB6||QB4||Strongly consider|
|Eddie Lacy||RB35||RB39||Kick the tires|
|Thomas Rawls||RB39||RB40||Shop elsewhere|
|Doug Baldwin||WR12||WR9||Pay respect|
|Tyler Lockett||WR63||WR53||At least think about it|
|Jimmy Graham||TE5||TE4||Enjoy the discount|