The Seattle Seahawks’ offense got off to a slow start in 2012. As a self-titled run-first team with a rookie quarterback at the helm, their only consistent offensive fantasy performer for the first few weeks was running back Marshawn Lynch. Russell Wilson had a breakout game against the New England Patriots in Week 6, racking up 293 passing yards and tossing three touchdowns in a surprising win. Though he and the rest of the offense sputtered the next week in San Francisco, leading some fans to question the direction of the offense, the New England game was a turning point for the Seahawks’ coaching staff. Wilson had earned their trust, so they took the “training wheels” off their young quarterback and turned him loose on the league.
Seattle’s whole offense took off in the second half of the league. Wilson ended up the ninth-ranked fantasy quarterback for the season, ahead of notable names like Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford, and Lynch averaged over 104 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown per game. They retained their run-first identity, rushing the ball more than any other team in the NFL. They incorporated elements of the read-option and the pistol, adding additional levels of diversity to an already relatively complex offense. And Russell Wilson controlled it all.
As a team that ended the 2012 season with the highest weighted offensive DVOA (which values recent performance more), the Seahawks should hit the ground running in 2013. They’ll continue to pound the football with Lynch, and they’ll seek to take the top off of defenses with explosive plays. So while wide receivers like Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, and Doug Baldwin may not be valuable in PPR leagues (because they won’t compile a lot of receptions) they should improve on their yardage totals from 2012 as their young quarterback spends an entire year in full control of his offense.
Below are three specific Seahawks to target in your fantasy drafts.
Russell Wilson, Quarterback
Despite only around ten games with Seattle’s full offense, Wilson’s 2012 line looked like this: 64.1% completion, 3,118 yards, 26 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 94 rushing attempts, 489 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns. He averaged fewer than 25 passes per game, but Pete Carroll has indicated that number could increase a little bit in 2013.
Over the final eight games of last season, he averaged just under nine yards per passing attempt. If he kept up that pace this year, and averaged 28 attempts per game, he would throw for almost exactly 4,000 yards. Over the second half of 2012, he threw a touchdown on 8.7% of his passes. If he slips to 7% over the 2013 season, he would pass for just over 31 touchdowns. Finally, if he slipped from his interception rate of 1% over the last eight games of 2012, and threw a pick in 2.5% of his passes, he would have about 11 interceptions. Where would you want to draft this line?
Projected Statostics: 68% completion, 4,000 yards, 31 passing touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 75 rushing attempts, 490 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns
Marshawn Lynch, Running Back
After tallying career highs in rushing attempts (315), rushing yards (1,590), and yards per carry (5.0), the slightly insane Seattle running back is almost certainly due to regress to the mean in 2013. The maturing of Robert Turbin and the offseason additions of Percy Harvin and Christine Michael should take some of the load off of Lynch’s shoulders, reducing him to something like 17 carries a game, or around 275 carries for the season. While 40 fewer carries doesn’t seem like much, that could be the difference between him wearing down at the end of the regular season and him lasting through the playoffs. Fewer carries will keep him fresher and healthier, and help him maximize each carry he does get.
It’s entirely possible that a fresher Lynch with a more experienced, mature offensive line could average even more than five yards a carry, but he’s still not likely to average over 100 yards a game. He should get more goal-line carries, though, so his fantasy value may end up remaining about the same.
Projected Statistics: 275 carries, 1,400 rushing yards, 15 rushing touchdowns, 20 receptions, 160 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns
When I drafted the Seahawks D/ST in the sixth round last year, I was mocked as a homer, but I got the last laugh. The young aggressive unit ended up a top five fantasy defense, allowing the fewest points in the league despite constant struggles on third down and in long yardage situations and a lack of consistent, effective pass rush. And what did they do in the offseason? They replaced aging cornerback Marcus Trufant with Antoine Winfield, the best nickel cornerback in the league; they signed two of the top free agent pass rushers, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett; and they drafted two defensive tackles who can start and make an impact in their rookie years. Jordan Hill isn’t the best against the run, but he’s a sudden, dynamic interior pass rusher. And Jesse Williams is a brick wall against the run.
There have been setbacks- starting Leo Chris Clemons tore his ACL in their first playoff game against the Washington Redskins, rotational defensive lineman and talented interior rusher Greg Scruggs tore his ACL over the offseason, and “Leo of the Future” Bruce Irvin has been suspended for the first four games of the season. They have great depth, though, so it’s very possible that the Seahawks will hardly miss them to start the year, and the team will be that much better when they can add them to the roster as reinforcements halfway through the season. This defensive unit could be one of the best the league has ever seen, and they deserve to be drafted as early as you dare.
What about Percy Harvin?
I know many people may wonder why Harvin isn’t a highlighted player. The biggest reason is because duh, you want to draft Percy Harvin and you want to draft him early. However, he may be due for a drop in production, relative to his last couple of seasons in Minnesota. He’s leaving an offense comprised entirely of him and Adrian Peterson for an extremely talented and diverse offense with numerous weapons. The Seahawks were lethally efficient last season, and every indication would point to them being even better in 2013, even without Harvin. So he’ll get his touches, and he’ll be a dynamic, productive player, even ranking among the most productive players in the league on a per game basis. But fantasy owners hoping for him to pick up with the pace he left off last season may be disappointed.