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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Seattle Seahawks

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2013, and the nucleus is in place to make another run at the title this season. Could Seattle be the first team to repeat as champions since New England in 2003-04? It wouldn't be a shock.

The Seahawks have the best defense in the NFL, a winning quarterback on the rise in Russell Wilson and a dominating home-field advantage. But can they count on their best offensive player this season in Marshawn Lynch? It's something Fantasy owners want to know as well.

Lynch quieted retirement talks when he showed up for mandatory minicamp in June. He might not be happy with his contract, but at least he's with the team. For now.

The reason we're worried about Lynch is that his workload from 2013 could catch up with him. He had 403 total touches last year through the Super Bowl, and running backs with 400-plus touches tend to struggle the following year (read this for a more detailed breakdown on that subject).

We're concerned Lynch, who was the No. 4 Fantasy running back in standard leagues last season, won't be the same this year. Seattle has quality replacement options if Lynch misses any time in Christine Michael and Robert Turbin, but they are unproven, leaving a level of uncertainty. I've been touting Michael as a sleeper since the Super Bowl, but we just don't know if he would be as good as Lynch.

A downturn for Lynch could mean more passing for Wilson, who has a revamped receiving corps. Golden Tate is gone as a free agent to Detroit and Sidney Rice is coming off a torn ACL. But Percy Harvin is healthy, Doug Baldwin is in line for a bigger role and rookie Paul Richardson brings even more speed to the field.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out and Lynch could be the difference-maker in another Super Bowl run for the Seahawks. For Fantasy owners, drafting Lynch in the first round could also determine your playoff fate.

Bounce-back candidate ... Percy Harvin

The Seahawks won the Super Bowl with basically no contribution from their big offseason acquisition prior to last season. Harvin appeared in one game in the regular season because of hip surgery and had one catch for 17 yards in Week 11. He made some plays in the postseason, including an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl, but now he's ready to shine.

He's 100 percent healthy this offseason and Fantasy owners should count on him as a No. 2 receiver. He's worth drafting in Round 5 in the majority of leagues. Just look at his resume.

Harvin's best season in the NFL was 2011 with the Vikings when he had 87 catches for 967 yards and six touchdowns and 52 carries for 345 yards and two touchdowns. He's capable of 1,200 total yards and eight touchdowns with the Seahawks -- and he can do it all from the backfield, lining up in the slot or split out wide.

There's obvious risk of injury since he's played only 10 games the past two years in the regular season, but Seattle is confident he's ready to go. As long as he doesn't get hurt prior to Draft Day, you can expect a bounce-back year in a big way.

Just a No. 2 quarterback ... Russell Wilson

There's a lot to like about Wilson, but I don't consider him a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback. He's just a No. 2 quarterback in standard leagues with the chance to start on occasion.

Wilson's production has been identical the first two seasons of his career, having finished No. 9 in Fantasy points both years. But last year, for example, he was better than Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers. Are you drafting Wilson ahead of any of those guys? I doubt it.

The Seahawks have already said they don't expect Wilson to throw 500 times. He had 407 passes last year for an average of 192.8 yards per game. Keep in mind 28 teams attempted at least 500 passes last year, including nine with at least 600 attempts.

Wilson could throw more if the running game falters, but not dramatically enough to affect his output. He's just too inconsistent, as last year proved with seven games with 20 or more Fantasy points and eight games with 16 points or less -- including four in a row to close the regular season.

Where he thrives is his lack of turnovers (19 career interceptions) and rushing prowess (an average of 514 yards per year with five total touchdowns). He's also been great at home or indoors. Wilson had at least 18 Fantasy points in eight of 12 games at home or indoors last season and seven of 11 as a rookie in 2012. This year, Wilson has two games indoors along with his eight home games, so plan accordingly.

I have no problem if someone wants to draft Wilson as a starter, but I like him as a top backup. I plan to target Wilson if I draft a questionable No. 1 option like Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler or Nick Foles. He's a great value pick in the later rounds.

Sleeper receiver ... Doug Baldwin

2013 Touches Leaders
776 total touches
Marshawn Lynch 337 (301 car., 36 rec.) 43.4%
Robert Turbin 85 (77 car., 8 rec.) 11.0%
Golden Tate 67 (3 car., 64 rec.) 8.6%
Doug Baldwin 52 (2 car., 50 rec.) 6.7%
Zach Miller 33 rec. 4.3%
All Others 202 26.0%

Baldwin isn't someone who is going to start for you week in and week out. He might even be someone you draft or add via waivers and then drop in a week. But at some point in the season Baldwin will be a quality Fantasy option.

He played well in 2013 with 50 catches for 778 yards and five touchdowns. That makes two of three years with at least 50 catches, 775 yards and four touchdowns in his career. He also was a standout during the NFL playoffs with 13 catches for 202 yards and one touchdown in three games.

Baldwin is expected to replace Tate in the starting lineup, and Tate led the Seahawks with 64 catches for 898 yards and five touchdowns. So it's not like Baldwin will make a dramatic leap, but he can still post useful stats.

I like Baldwin with a late-round flier in deep standard leagues and as a No. 5 receiver in PPR formats. He's someone to keep your eye on during the season.

Schedule analysis

The Seahawks open the season with three consecutive games against playoff teams from last year in Green Bay, San Diego and Denver, although the Packers and Broncos are at home. You're going to love the Seahawks in Week 6 against Dallas at home and Seattle avoids facing the tough defenses in Arizona and San Francisco until Week 12. The downside to that is the Seahawks close the season against the Cardinals, 49ers and Rams in five of their final six games, with the Eagles in Week 14 the lone non-NFC West matchup.

Training camp battles

Who's the No. 2 running back? Turbin is listed ahead of Michael on the depth chart behind Lynch, but ignore that on Draft Day for Fantasy purposes. If Lynch is out for any reason, Michael will have the higher ceiling. Turbin will likely play on passing downs, but Michael would get the call for rushing plays. He's a great sleeper to target with a late-round pick and the handcuff for Lynch.

What's the pecking order at receiver? The Seahawks added two rookies this season in Richardson and Kevin Norwood and it will be interesting to see how they work into the mix. Harvin is locked into the No. 1 role and we expect Baldwin to be No. 2 ahead of Rice, who could be limited with his knee. Jermaine Kearse is someone to monitor, but Harvin and Baldwin are the only receivers to consider on Draft Day in the majority of leagues. Richardson is worth a late-round pick in dynasty and rookie-only formats because his speed will be fun to watch.

Who's the No. 2 quarterback? We hope Wilson never leaves the field, but in case he does the Seahawks could turn to Tarvaris Jackson or Terrelle Pryor, who was added this offseason via trade from Oakland. Pryor will push Jackson for the No. 2 job, but we expect the Seahawks to lean toward Jackson based on his experience. Either way, this is a scenario we never want to see, so hopefully Wilson starts all 16 games.

Bold prediction

Since I'm expecting Lynch to struggle, I'm counting on Michael to shine. He will pick up the slack if Lynch suffers from the Curse of 400. Michael is the No. 1 sleeper in Fantasy Football this season.

It's blind faith with Michael since we didn't see him do much last year (18 carries for 79 yards in just three games) and was a healthy scratch for 13 games. But he showed plenty of promise in the preseason with 16 carries for 89 yards in one outing and 11 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown in another.

Coach Pete Carroll has already called Michael a breakout candidate, and we agree. He's someone to target with a late-round pick in all leagues, and he could pay huge dividends if Lynch is forced to miss any time.

Injury report

Russell Okung (foot), questionable for start of training camp … Bruce Irvin (hip), doubtful for start of training camp … Kam Chancellor (hip), questionable for start of training camp

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Player News
Bills move Corey Graham to safety
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:01 am ET) The Bills have moved cornerback Corey Graham to safety, the Buffalo News reports.

Graham said that he and the team have discussed the move all offseason and decided to give the position change a try on Tuesday when the team held its first workout of OTAs.

"He’s got that unique ability where he can do both things," coach Rex Ryan said. "So let’s see what we have out there. And this is no slam on Duke or on Rambo or on Meeks or any of those guys, but this is us doing what’s best for the team. And if that means we feel good about [Graham] playing safety, then that’s where he’ll be."

Graham is enthusiastic about playing the safety position full-time.

"I want to try to really learn it and see where it goes, see how much my grasp is, see how I’m playing at it, see where it can take me," he said. "I look forward to it. It’s a challenge for me, but I’m actually very excited about it."

Graham recorded 84 total tackles last season, his first in Buffalo, while intercepting two passes.


Vikings' Bridgewater 'extremely comfortable' with leadership role
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Vikings second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is embracing his role as leader of the offense, the Star Tribune reports.

"I’m a young guy still on the team, but guys are pushing me forward to say something in the huddle, or break the team down, or break the offense down," Bridgewater said. "That just gives you that confidence in yourself, confidence in your leadership and I’ve been extremely comfortable doing that so far."

Coach Mike Zimmer is satsfied with the work Bridgewater has done during the offseason.

"It’s hard to never not be pleased with Teddy because he’s such a hard worker," Zimmer said. "We wanted him to get bigger and stronger; he looks a little bit bigger to me. He’s always worked real hard. The leadership things are starting to come better. I think he’s been doing a good job the two days we’ve been out here against the defense."

Bridgewater made 12 starts in his rookie season and played 13 games in all, racking up 2,919 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while completing 64.4 percent of his passes.


Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders hoping to reach 1,000 yards
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders believes the new offensive scheme in Denver will effect his numbers, accoridng to the team's website.

Sanders is working with new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and coach Gary Kubiak to install the team's new offense and noted it's very different from last year's spread attack.

"You talk about going from a no-huddle offense to an offense that's huddling up, to an offense that is predicated off running a football and then throwing it. It's different," Sanders said. 

"It's a totally different set up, but I tell you what, the more and more I'm in it," said Sanders. "Because we can get the run game going and just use my vertical speed on cross routes and all these different combinations of routes is based off the play action, then I think the offense will be successful with Peyton Manning at the helm."

Sanders, who totaled 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014, doesn't think he'll accomplish the same numbers.

"Of course obviously it's not going to be one of those offenses, well I'm praying that it is, but obviously it's not going to be one of those offenses where you catch it and you're going to have two receivers catching over 100 passes," said Sanders. "Hopefully, my goal is really to try to get a 1,000 yards to just help this team win ball games."


Cowboys rookie La'el Collins taking reps at RT in OTAs
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Cowboys rookie offensive lineman La'el Collins started offseason team activities on Wednesday taking reps at right tackle, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Collins, who was signed as an undrafted free agent, could also see time at left guard. But the rookie is taking his first reps with the team at right tackle with Darrion Weems while Doug Free recovers from ankle surgery.

"We think he has the physical ability to play a couple of different spots," coach Jason Garrett said. "He was a tackle for most of his career in college but did play guard. We see him as a guy who can maybe do both of those things as he goes.

"The big thing for him is to try to get him acclimated as quickly as we can. So right now he's going to play right tackle for us. He and Darrion Weems are competing at that spot in Doug Free's absence and we'll just see how that unfolds." 


Vikings' Adrian Peterson on absence from OTAs: 'It's business'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said in a statement on Wednesday that his absence from OTAs has "nothing to do with wanting to be traded," ESPN reports.

"The reason I'm not attending OTAs has nothing to do with wanting to be traded. It's about securing my future with the Vikings. It's business, not personal and I understand that firsthand. Go Vikings."

It was reported earlier Wednesday that coach Mike Zimmer said that Peterson could "either play for us or not play." The running back has expressed frustration with team management for not showing him support during his legal case for child abuse.


Report: Falcons' Dezmen Southward undergoes knee surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Falcons defensive backs Dezmen Southward underwent a minor-knee operation Wednesday, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Southward did not attend Tuesday's OTA and it is not known how long he'll be sidelined.


Julius Thomas trying to fit into Jaguars' offense
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas said after Wednesday's organized team activity that he intends to make it work with quarterback Blake Bortles, reports The Florida Times-Union.

"There is no 'Here's me coming in, and Blake's going to get on my page.' I'm going to be on Blake's page," Thomas said. "Whatever he expects, that's what I am going to do. He's the quarterback. He's the one in control of that huddle, and I like catching passes so I will make sure I do exactly what he wants."

With Thomas entering his first season with the Jaguars, he said it will take time to develop a rapport with Bortles.

"I think that getting good chemistry with a quarterback probably takes a couple of thousand passes," Thomas said.


Cowboys RB Darren McFadden not concerned with playing time
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) With the Cowboys just beginning their organized team activities this week, running back Darren McFadden said he just wants to concentrate on becoming familiar with the team, reports the team's official website.

"For me, I'm just going out there grinding," he said. "However the coaches put me out there – whether it's first team or second team. When it comes time for them to make a decision, it's totally up to them. I'm just trying to get that playbook down and take advantage of this opportunity."

McFadden is competing with Joseph Randle to be the first-team running back, and he said he just wants to work hard and not worry about how many repetitions he's receiving with the first team.

"Once you've been in a place so long like Oakland, you can get set in your ways," McFadden said Wednesday, after his second OTA practice with the Cowboys. "Coming out here and being around guys that work so hard, it just brings out the best in you. It's something I look forward to."


Chiefs' Mike Catapano on his health: I feel better than ever
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) After missing the entire 2014 season with a gastrointestinal virus, Chiefs defensive end Mike Catapano was able to participate in the team's OTA on Wednesday, reports The Kansas City Star.

"Every time I step on the field now it's with purpose and with extra vigor that I never really had," Catapano said. "It feels great. I feel better than ever."

Catapano played in 15 games during his rookie season in 2013 and he totaled four tackles and one sack. He said he's ready to surpass that in 2015.

"I'm ready to show that I offer a lot to this team. I'm ready to step up in big situations and starting situations," Catapano said. "I just want to keep getting better every day… and play to the best of my abilities."


Broncos' Manning, Sanders keeping up with Thomas during holdout
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is holding out of offseason workouts while he continues to negotiate a long-term deal with the team, but teammates Emmanuel Sanders and Peyton Manning have been keeping up with the star receiver, the Denver Post reports.

"One thing a lot of people don’t realize is when you’re playing on a one-year deal, there’s a lot of things going through your head," Sanders said. "As much as you guys want to say, ‘Don’t think about it,' of course it’s going to cross your mind because you’re talking about a lot of money at stake. When you’re playing these one-year deals, it’s a lot of stress on you. No matter how much you don’t want it to be, it’s going to happen. We’re all human."

Manning would like to have Thomas in workouts but understands the business aspects of his decision.

"I keep up with Demaryius. He’s my buddy," Manning said. "They got that business side of it to work out, but he’s been a great teammate to me, been a great friend to me since I’ve been here in Denver, so I keep up with him. Obviously want him to get back here as soon as possible, but we want what’s best for him, and he certainly deserves what’s best for him."

Thomas has started 16 games for three straight season, topping 90 receptions, 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns in each.


 
 
 
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