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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Seattle Seahawks

Senior Fantasy Writer
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On the surface it looked like the Seahawks were led by the bullish running of Marshawn Lynch in 2011. He captivated Fantasy owners with his touchdown streak, going 11 straight games with a score. In seven of those games he totaled at least 120 yards and had at least 20 carries in eight of those games. Lynch was so impressive, it seemed like he was the only appealing player on the offense.

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That's because he was, and the Seahawks knew it. They spent this offseason improving on both sides of the ball but specifically the offense, where quarterback Matt Flynn should end up replacing Tarvaris Jackson and Kellen Winslow should end up replacing the trio of mediocrity they had at tight end in 2011. Seattle's receiving corps didn't get much notoriety, in part because their quarterback didn't help any of their targets break out for more than a big game here or there. The hope now is that Flynn can take the likes of Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate and turn them into productive receivers on a consistent basis.

If that happens, then Seattle can produce some offensive Fantasy starters beyond Lynch. Defensively, the unit might be the most underrated in the NFL and is a potential starting option. Not only did the Seahawks add some talented starters in lineman Jason Jones and linebackers Barrett Ruud and Bobby Wagner, but they made a huge splash in the draft by picking up pass-rush specialist Bruce Irvin. The Seahawks already had a pretty good pass rush and a solid D-line to go with a nasty, physical secondary, but if the Irvin gamble pays off then they'll be a huge boon for Fantasy owners.

Fantasy Value Chart
Player Draft Day value Estimated round
Quarterbacks
Matt Flynn 13
Tarvaris Jackson 13
Russell Wilson 13
Running Backs
Marshawn Lynch 1
Robert Turbin 13
Leon Washington ND
Wide Receivers
Sidney Rice 8
Doug Baldwin 13
Golden Tate ND
Ben Obomanu ND
Tight Ends
Kellen Winslow 13
Kickers/Defense
Steven Hauschka ND
Seahawks DST 14
ND - not expected to get drafted

Sleeper ... Matt Flynn, quartertback
We don't have much to go on with Flynn. As a backup to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, Flynn didn't play much. But when he did play, he was insane: In two starts vs. the Lions this year and at the Patriots in 2010 he totaled nine touchdowns, 731 passing yards and two interceptions. No one thinks he can keep up that pace but it's some proof than he can carry an offense and exploit a defense, two things Tarvaris Jackson couldn't do last season. Flynn's got a sound understanding of the West Coast offense the Seahawks employ and has a lot of decent targets to throw to -- nothing like the studs in Green Bay but certainly some diversified talent. It all adds up to a guy who should be worth considering as a backup this season, be it on a one-week basis off waivers or with a late pick in drafts. The quarterback pool is plenty deep, but all it will take is one outing from Flynn like we've seen before to get people interested in him.

Bust ... Sidney Rice, wide receiver
A concussion, two shoulder injuries and a knee injury. For some NFL players, that's a career list of physical problems they've had. For Rice, it's his 2011. Rice had surgery on both shoulders this offseason along with a minor knee procedure after he finished last season four weeks early after suffering a concussion. Oh, and don't forget that he had major hip surgery in August, 2010. So while it remains to be seen how effective Flynn will be or how much the Seahawks will throw, it's a pretty safe bet that Rice won't last 16 games and be a helpful part of Fantasy rosters. It's understandable to draft him late on the hunch that he can make an impact in some capacity, but don't expect him to stay on the field long enough to have another season like he did in 2009.

Late-round flier ... Doug Baldwin, wide receiver
Perhaps the better late-round receiver choice from Seattle is Baldwin, not Rice. After all, it was Baldwin who led the team in receptions (51), receiving yards (788) and touchdowns (four) as an undrafted rookie last season. The Seahawks didn't add a single receiver via the draft or free agency this offseason, a sign that they're comfortable with who they have. Aside from Baldwin, they have the injury-plagued Rice, the underachieving Golden Tate and Ben Obomanu and the unproven Ricardo Lockette, Kris Durham and Deon Butler (they cut the overweight Mike Williams in mid-July). Chances are they're going to give Baldwin the same kind of opportunity they gave him last season when he had four-plus catches in six games and touchdowns in two of his last four. Don't hesitate to draft him late in deeper leagues.

Schedule breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
@ARI DAL GB @STL @CAR NE @SF @DET MIN NYJ bye @MIA @CHI ARI vsBUF SF STL

Seattle's defense is on the rise but it will have its hands full with potent offenses in six of its first eight games (five on the road). The tough start kind of puts a cap on the potential of the Seahawks DST, which was considered a sleeper before the schedule came out. The opposition might force the Seahawks to throw more than they'd like in the first half of the season too. The end of the Seahawks' schedule is interesting: Three division games at home with a trip to Toronto to play the Bills in Week 15. For the second year in a row, Marshawn Lynch gets the Niners in Week 16.

Training camp topics

2011 Touches Leaders
Player Touches
Marshawn Lynch 285 carries, 28 catches
Justin Forsett 46 carries, 23 catches
Leon Washington 53 carries, 10 catches
Doug Baldwin 51 catches, 1 carry
Golden Tate 35 catches, 5 carries

While the Seahawks attempt to overhaul their passing game, a major topic Fantasy owners are huddling over is whether or not Marshawn Lynch can be the same back he was last year. After all, he was able to cash in this offseason to the tune of $17 million guaranteed over his next two seasons -- just a part of a nice extension the team gave him after posting career-highs in rush yards and rushing touchdowns.

First, some myth-busting: Lynch isn't old. He's been in the NFL for five seasons but he's only 26. And Lynch isn't worn down -- he has just over 1,100 career carries. Lynch also doesn't have a poor rushing average, or at least it's not poor in comparison to other backs like him (4.2 rush average last year, 4.0 rush average for his career and three years with at least 4.0 yards per carry). And Lynch can catch the ball. He had 28 receptions last season and has had at least 22 per year since his rookie campaign (he had 47 in 2008).

But here's my favorite Lynch myth-busting stat: Every time he's been "the guy" in an offense and reached well over 200 carries, he's run for at least 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns and totaled at least 1,299 yards. The Seahawks drafted Robert Turbin to add depth to the position and take a few reps off of Lynch's plate so he doesn't get overworked, but it's not anything close to an indication that the Seahawks want to ease him on a weekly basis. If anything, the Seahawks are forced to rely on Lynch because of their unproven passing game. And with the Seahawks' offensive line getting some starters back, there's plenty to get excited about.

Will Lynch be a complete bust? Doubtful -- his contract will warrant that he runs often and he's done well in such situations. Will he meet last year's totals of 1,204 rush yards, 212 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns? The opportunity says he will, and to be honest, he might beat them. Seeing how he's handled in camp and in the preseason is a must for owners who aren't picking in the Top 5 in drafts.

Seeing how the receivers and quarterbacks shake out are also important areas to watch. Again, citing contracts, Matt Flynn should be the guy starting for Seattle even with Tarvaris Jackson starting last year and rookie Russell Wilson making a favorable impression in spring workouts.

Pass-catchers to watch include Golden Tate, who enters his third year, and Kellen Winslow, who enters his first with the Seahawks. Tate broke his hand in the spring and needs a good camp to stay as involved in the offense as he was late last year (19 receptions in his last five games). Winslow hasn't missed a game in three years with Tampa Bay and had a minimum 66 catches in each of those three years. Winslow is especially interesting because the Seahawks tight ends tallied a total of 54 receptions last year. He should get to that number and then some on his own in 2012 if he can adapt to the offense in camp and get his work in with the first-team offense. In fact, it's imperative that the Seahawks figure out their first-team offense as soon as possible so that they can establish some chemistry before they kick off against the Cardinals in Week 1.

Injury update

Sidney Rice (knee, shoulder; probable for the start of training camp) ... Golden Tate (hand; questionable for the start of training camp).

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
QB struggles begin to impact Cardinals DST
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:13 am ET) The Cardinals DST scored just one Fantasy point in standard CBSSports.com leagues Week 16 against Seattle, interrupting a stretch of 10 games in which it averaged 15.1, and the Cardinals' offensive woes may have had something to do with it.

Specifically, they've been unable to find a decent quarterback since losing Carson Palmer to injury in Week 10. Backup Drew Stanton at least mounted some kind of threat, but with him sidelined by a sprained knee in Week 16, the Cardinals had to turn to third-stringer Ryan Lindley. He turned the ball over twice without once leading his team into the end zone, completing less than half of his passes in the process.

The quick trips back to the sideline gave the Seahawks more chances to pile up points and yards, and they did, finishing with 35 and 596. Only one other time have the Cardinals allowed more than 30 points in a game, and the 596 yards were a season high. Worse yet, they were lacking in big plays, recording one sack with no takeaways.

Fortunately, the Cardinals will take on a struggling 49ers offense in Week 17, so even if Lindley is back under center, the DST at least has a chance of a respectable performance. Still, if you've been relying on it all season, you might want to make sure there isn't an appealing matchups play on the waiver wire.


Seahawks DST can't be stopped
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:04 am ET) The Seahawks DST had another dominant performance Week 16 at Arizona, continuing a nine-week run that has made it once again arguably the top unit in Fantasy. During that stretch, it has averaged 16.2 Fantasy points, allowing 11.9 points on 231.3 yards.

It allowed only six points on 216 yards in Week 16, recording four sacks and one interception. Of the Seahawks' 33 sacks this season, 20 have come in their last five games.

Clearly, they had a favorable matchup in this one, but they also shut down the Eagles in Week 14. You don't have any reason to shy away from the Seahawks DST against St. Louis in Week 17.


Kenbrell Thompkins comes out of nowhere
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:58 am ET) After making only modest contributions since coming over from the Patriots in Week 6, Raiders wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins suddenly emerged as quarterback Derek Carr's favorite target Week 16 against Buffalo, catching five passes for 90 yards. He hadn't caught even one pass since Week 13, and his previous high in yardage was 47.

Of course, you should know how this goes by now. Fellow wide receivers James Jones and Andre Holmes have both had their stretches of Fantasy relevance this season, as has tight end Mychal Rivera. The Raiders have a multitude of viable receiving targets, but their roles aren't so clear, which makes the task of picking the most impactful from week to week next to impossible.

In other words, you'd need to play in an especially deep league to take a flier on Thompkins for the season's final week.


Latavius Murray trustworthy up to a point
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:51 am ET) If his 23 carries Week 14 against San Francisco didn't convince you, Latavius Murray's 23 carries Week 16 against Buffalo should make the message loud and clear: He is the Raiders' top running back, and they're putting more faith in him than they ever did Darren McFadden.

Granted, it hasn't translated to much production yet, but the 49ers and Bills are two of the toughest defenses against the run. Unfortunately, Denver, the Raiders' Week 17 opponent, is ranked even higher at both.

Can you trust Murray to get his carries? He's gotten them two of the last three weeks, so most likely, yes. And with 20-plus chances, there's always the chance he breaks a long one. But the matchup will make it difficult.

You'd like to start him given his ever-increasing role, but you shouldn't force him into your lineup if you have two (or maybe three) respectable running backs already.


One way or another, Fred Jackson gets his
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:44 am ET) Trailing early Week 16 at Oakland with their playoff hopes on the line, the Bills didn't stick with the running game for long, attempting only three runs in the second half. But in a way, that worked to running back Fred Jackson's advantage. He's such a good pass-catcher out of the backfield that he still topped 100 total yards, doing so for the first time since returning from a groin injury in Week 12.

Even with the return of C.J. Spiller from a long-term shoulder injury, Jackson still led the Bills in carries, but with only six for 10 yards. He also led the team in catches with nine for 93 yards. He had 10 catches just two weeks ago, so clearly, he's a PPR stud.

Is he worth starting in standard leagues as well? Well, he's also gotten 20 carries twice in five games since returning. He hasn't been as effective on the ground as through the air, but yards are yards, however he gets them.

Their matchup Week 17 at New England will probably force the Bills to go pass-heavy again, so unless you're stacked at running back, you can find a spot for Jackson in your lineup.


Desperation fuels Kyle Orton's performance
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:35 am ET) Bills quarterback Kyle Orton didn't have the most efficient day throwing the ball Week 16 at Oakland, but from a Fantasy perspective, it was a productive one. He threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns but also had two interceptions.

What's crazy, though, is that 196 of those yards came in the second half. The Bills were trailing a winnable game with their playoff hopes on the line, and their desperation showed. Unfortunately, that desperation also contributed to the second of Orton's interceptions.

The Bills have been eliminated, so no matter how much they're trailing Week 17 at New England, they probably won't be quite as desperate. You can expect more typical numbers from Orton -- maybe about 250 yards with one or two scores -- even if the matchup appears to be a favorable one, making him a player better left for two-quarterback leagues.


Kenny Britt clearly better with Shaun Hill
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:27 am ET) Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt caught a season-high nine passes on a season-high 11 targets Week 16 against the Giants, but his 103 receiving yards actually weren't a season high.

That's because he had 128, along with a touchdown, Week 11 against the Broncos.

That was Shaun Hill's first game back under center. Week 16, obviously, was his latest one. In the six games since Hill reclaimed the role, Britt has averaged 3.8 catches for 66.3 yards. In the nine games before then, he averaged 2.3 catches for 34.7 yards.

Britt has been especially good lately, averaging 73.3 yards in his last three games. Hill has also been fond of Stedman Bailey, but he doesn't seem to have a clear preference for one or the other.

Of course, the Rams passing attack isn't prolific enough to sustain both, so if you're going to target Britt or Bailey off the waiver wire, make sure it's in a deeper league. You wouldn't want to roll the dice on either in the season's final week if you can help it.


Andre Williams showing more ability
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:19 am ET) Carrying the load for the third straight game with Rashad Jennings sidelined by an ankle injury Week 16 at St. Louis, Giants rookie running back Andre Williams delivered his second 100-yard effort during that stretch, picking up 110 yards on 26 carries. Of course, just like in Week 14, it wasn't the steadiest performance. He had a 50-yard run in that one en route to a career-best 131 yards. He had a 45-yard run en route to his 110 yards in this one.

But that's true for most 100-yard rushing performances. The best backs break long runs occasionally, which makes up for all the 2- and 3-yard gains in between. It's easy to discount Williams' performance because of a long run here or a long run there because he's been so bad on a per-carry basis this season (take that 45-yard run away, and he averaged only 2.6 yards per carry -- oh noes!), but the fact is those long runs count, too. And he barreled over a couple of tacklers to complete it, which was nice to see.

Because Williams is short on receiving ability, his numbers don't look so great when he doesn't break a long run, but with all the carries he's getting now, his chances are better than not of breaking one. He's worth starting in standard leagues Week 17 against Philadelphia.


Rueben Randle not overshadowed for once
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:08 am ET) Since the emergence of rookie Odell Beckham in Week 9, and especially since his even bigger emergence in Week 12, wide receiver Rueben Randle has been an afterthought in the Giants passing game, averaging 2.3 catches for 31.8 yards in the four games leading up to Week 16 at St. Louis. But quarterback Eli Manning finally had enough yards to go around in that one, delivering Beckham his usual eight grabs for 148 yards and still finding Randle on six passes for 132 yards.

Randle even caught a touchdown pass, his first since Week 5. Of course, Beckham caught two and is now up to eight in his last five games, averaging 9.6 catches for 131.4 yards during that stretch.

You see the problem here, don't you? Manning was able to sustain both Beckham and Randle in this one, but that's only because he threw for a season-high 391 yards. If he regresses to a more modest total Week 17 against Philadelphia, we all know Randle is the one taking a back seat. Beckham has other-worldly talent, and Manning is smart enough to deliver him the ball as often as possible.

Of course, the Giants will probably have to throw a lot to keep pace with the Eagles, which bodes well for Randle, but you should still treat him as no more than a No. 3 wide receiver in Fantasy.


Odell Beckham making Eli Manning a stud
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:58 am ET) Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham had another eight catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns Week 16 at St. Louis, which has become par for the course for him. It was his second straight game and third game in five with more than 140 receiving yards and multiple scores.

What you may not have noticed, though, is that quarterback Eli Manning has taken off during that same stretch. He had a season-high 391 yards and three touchdowns in Week 16, completing 25 of 32 passes. Over his last five games, he has averaged 297.2 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.

It stands to reason, of course. Beckham couldn't be putting up all those numbers without someone throwing him the ball. This may be one of those rare cases of the wide receiver making the quarterback as opposed to the other way around. Beckham is clearly a special talent, and Manning has made a point to deliver him the ball as often as possible.

It's reason enough to give Manning another chance Week 17 against Philadelphia if you've been suffering with Matthew Stafford or Colin Kaepernick and are somehow still alive in spite of it.


 
 
 
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