The Seahawks surprised a lot of people in 2010. They surprised the NFC West by winning the division. They surprised the Saints by winning their playoff matchup. And they surprised plenty of Fantasy owners with some quality players.
We consider Lynch as a potential starter this season in all leagues, Williams should improve on what he showed in spurts last year and Obomanu and Justin Forsett are worth drafting with late-round picks. We might also see flashes of good performance from Golden Tate or John Carlson, and the starting quarterback in Seattle might turn into a quality No. 2 Fantasy option.
First, we have to know who the starting quarterback will be, and the candidates include Matt Hasselbeck, who is a free agent, Charlie Whitehurst or a veteran to be signed later. We expect Hasselbeck to return, and since he plays in the NFC West and has some decent weapons around him, he could be used as a bye-week or injury replacement.
The Seahawks have the potential to surprise us all again. It could be another successful season for second-year coach Pete Carroll.
Sleeper ... Marshawn Lynch, RB
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Lynch landed with Seattle last season and seemingly resurrected his career. In 12 games with the Seahawks, Lynch had 165 carries for 573 yards and six touchdowns and 21 catches for 138 yards with three fumbles. In the playoffs, Lynch had 23 carries for 133 yards and one touchdown, but the majority of that production came in the first round against New Orleans (131 yards) when he had an incredible play on a 67-yard touchdown ramble. Lynch has plenty of potential as the starter for the Seahawks -- we know it because we've seen it from him from his days in Buffalo-- and so we consider him a No. 3 Fantasy running back with upside. He will share carries with Forsett, who is more of a third-down back, but Lynch has the ability to gain 1,300 total yards and nine touchdowns, which is something he did in 2008 with the Bills. It helps that Lynch is in a contract year, and he should run well again this season. Plan on drafting him with a mid-round pick, but don't be surprised when he out-produces his draft position.
Breakout … Mike Williams, WR
Fantasy owners will point toward Michael Vick and Peyton Hillis as the top veterans who came out of nowhere to be standout options in 2010, but Williams wasn't far behind. A former draft bust in Detroit, Williams resurrected his career with the Seahawks under Carroll, his former college coach at USC. Williams had 65 catches for 751 yards and two touchdowns and enters this year as the Seahawks' No. 1 receiver (he also added three touchdowns in the playoffs). Fantasy owners remain skeptical of Williams, and rightfully so given his NFL track record, but he is worth drafting as a low-end No. 3 Fantasy option. He led the Seahawks in receptions last year by 29 catches, and it's clear he's a focal point on offense. If Williams can find the end zone on a more regular basis he could become a Fantasy star. He is worth drafting with a mid- to late-round pick in standard formats, and his value is slightly higher in PPR leagues.
Late-round flier … Ben Obomanu, WR
Obomanu should be the starter opposite Williams, who remains the best wide receiver in Seattle. In 2010, Obomanu had 30 catches for 494 yards and tied Deon Butler for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with four. Obomanu has the potential to be a significant contributor for the Seahawks, and he showed that during a four-game stretch last season when he had 15 catches for 342 yards and three touchdowns. The Seahawks want to increase the workload for Tate, but he will likely be more of a slot receiver. If Obomanu picks up where last season ended he could make a significant impact for the Seahawks and Fantasy owners.
Seattle could have a hard time repeating last year's success with a tougher schedule this year, including games against 2010 division winners in Atlanta, Philadephia and Chicago, which is where the Seahawks' playoff run ended last season against the Bears. Along with that, Seattle has 1 p.m. ET starts at Pittsburgh in Week 2 and at the Giants in Week 5, and those games are never good for West Coast teams. The Seahawks should perform well in their division, but their schedule should be cause for consideration when drafting any players off Seattle's roster.
Training camp topics
The starting quarterback is the biggest decision the Seahawks will make, and Fantasy owners should stay tuned. Not only because the starter could be a useful No. 2 Fantasy quarterback, but you also want to see who is throwing the ball to Williams, Obomanu, Tate and Butler.
We also want to see the depth chart at wide receiver. Williams and Obomanu are expected to start, but we want to see how Tate and Butler are used. Brandon Stokley played well as the slot receiver for the Seahawks last season with 43 catches, but Tate could shine in that role and has the chance for 50-plus catches.
Lynch and Forsett are established in the backfield, but Leon Washington could also see more time on offense, which would impact Forsett. And hopefully we can see more from Carlson this season after he was a complete bust in 2010.
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