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.
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.
|Player||Draft Day value||Estimated round|
|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.
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
|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.