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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
Good luck with Michael Floyd
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:07 am ET) Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd caught two passes in Week 11, which at face value would give no one the impression he was back to form. But because both happened to go for touchdowns, including one of more than 40 yards, some of his owners couldn't be talked out of starting him Week 12 at Seattle. And those owners are filled with remorse right now.

That's because, with backup Drew Stanton again under center for the Cardinals, Floyd went without a single catch. He was targeted twice but failed to connect -- and with fellow wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald sidelined by a a sprained knee, no less.

That's the lowest of lows for him in what has been by and large a disappointing season. With this performance, he's averaging 2.1 catches for 28.9 yards over his last seven games. He's had a few touchdowns during that stretch to soften the blow, but ultimately, all they've done is given his owners false hope.

Unlike Fitzgerald, Floyd's production didn't improve for those five games when starting quarterback Carson Palmer was back from injury, and now Palmer is out for the year. Between Stanton's shortcomings and John Brown's emergence, you shouldn't be hoping for any sort of rebound from Floyd.


Giants K Josh Brown limited to extra points in Week 12
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:58 am ET) Giants kicker Josh Brown didn't attempt a field goal in his team's 31-28 loss to the Cowboys in Week 12 but managed to successfully convert all four of his extra-point tries.

It's the fifth time this season Brown hasn't received a field-goal attempt, and he's managed multiple attempts just twice in his 11 games this year. Brown will square off with the Jaguars in Week 13.


Keenan Allen turning over a new leaf?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:56 am ET) For the second time this season, Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen topped 100 yards in a game Week 12 against St. Louis, and for the second time this season, he found the end zone, scoring on a 29-yard catch in the fourth quarter. It was the first time he did both in the same game, which was the kind of production Fantasy owners expected from him coming into the season.

So is he finally delivering on his potential? Oh, who knows?

Here are the positives for Allen: With another nine targets in Week 12, he has averaged 10.8 over his last five games, a clear improvement from his first six, and his primary competition for red-zone looks, tight end Antonio Gates, has been conspicuously absent the last three weeks.

Here are the negatives for Allen: Even with all those extra targets, he has still averaged just 69.0 yards over his last five games, and quarterback Philip Rivers has stopped throwing touchdown passes not just to Gates but in general.

I have enough confidence in Rivers and the Chargers offense as a whole to keep Allen on my roster, but I'm not activating him based on this performance.


Giants' Rueben Randle paces secondary targets in Week 12
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:55 am ET) Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle caught all three of his targets for 36 yards in his team's 31-28 loss to the Cowboys in Week 12.

Eli Manning was locked in on rookie Odell Beckham (10 catches, 146 yards, two TDs) and running back Rashad Jennings (eight catches, 68 yards), and Randle was one of the quarterback's six other targeted receivers to split 11 catches. Tight end Daniel Fells also secured three receptions for 35 yards, while tight end Larry Donnell managed just two receptions for 24 yards. Wide receiver Preston Parker caught one of his three targets for 16 yards, while tight end Adrien Robinson caught his only target for a one-yard touchdown.

Randle, Parker and the team's TE corps should continue to play a complementary role behind Beckham moving forward. The Giants will take on the Jaguars in Week 13.


Giants RB Andre Williams scores touchdown in Week 12 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:50 am ET) Giants running back Andre Williams rushed for 35 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown and added a 12-yard catch in his team's 31-28 loss to the Cowboys in Week 12.

Williams was out-touched 27-11 by starter Rashad Jennings but managed to bounce a carry to the right side late in the first half for a three-yard score. The touchdown was his third in his last four games, but he's still hovering around 3.0 yards per carry for the season. Williams will square off with the Jaguars in Week 13.


Giants RB Rashad Jennings totals 120 yards in Week 12 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:47 am ET) Giants running back Rashad Jennings rushed for just 52 yards on 19 carries but caught eight of his 10 targets for 68 yards in his team's 31-28 loss to the Cowboys in Week 12.

Jennings drew the start and out-touched rookie Andre Williams 27-11 but watched his teammate score from three yards out in the second quarter. Despite averaging just 2.7 yards per carry, Williams was able to stay involved by being the second-most targeted receiver on the team. Though Jennings hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 3, his total yardage represented his best performance since rushing for 176 yards in his third game of the year. Jennings is set to face the Jaguars in Week 13.


Ryan Mathews pulls away from Branden Oliver
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:45 am ET) Even though Chargers running back Ryan Mathews was more effective than Branden Oliver in his return from a shoulder injury, he split carries almost evenly with his replacement Week 11 against Oakland. That wasn't so much the case Week 12 against St. Louis, though, when Mathews took his first carry 11 yards and never looked back en route to 105. He also scored a touchdown on a 32-yard run in the third quarter.

He injured his shoulder on that play, which was a big reason why Oliver got the six carries he did, but Mathews returned and still finished with twice as many. Imagine how many yards he would have had if he had gotten 15-to-18 carries.

If Mathews had struggled to keep up with Oliver after the long layoff, the Chargers might continue to ease him in, but since he's been far and away the more effective of the two in two games back, he looks like he'll take the job and run with it, reducing Oliver to just a handcuff option in Fantasy.

Mathews falls a little short of must-start status with an especially tough matchup Week 13 at Baltimore, but for most owners, he's probably still worth running out there.


Giants QB Eli Manning tallies 338 yards, three TDs in Week 12
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:42 am ET) Giants quarterback Eli Manning completed 29 of his 40 pass attempts for 338 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in his team's 31-28 loss to the Cowboys in Week 12.

Manning hooked up with rookie Odell Beckham on a pair of touchdowns in the first half, including an outstanding one-handed, 43-yard catch that will certainly find its way on every Play of the Year list. The Giants took a 21-10 lead into halftime before the Cowboys scored two touchdowns in the third quarter. Manning was able to bring his team back by connecting with Adrien Robinson from one-yard out with just three minutes remaining, but the Giants defense was unable to stop the Cowboys from responding one more time.

Manning's one interception came on an overthrow to a wide-open receiver who looked like he had a clear lane to the end zone with an on-target throw. Even with that mistake, it was an excellent rebound performance after throwing five interceptions in his previous game. He's set to face off with the Jaguars in Week 13.


Cowboys K Dan Bailey scores seven points vs. Giants
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:37 am ET) Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey kicked four extra points and made his only field-goal attempt in his team's 31-28 win over the Giants in Week 12.

Bailey put his team on the board with a 38-yard field goal in the first quarter, but the Cowboys were able to reach the end zone four times thereafter and needed all four touchdowns in a high-scoring game against their division rivals. Bailey had missed field goals in each of his last two games coming into the Sunday night matchup. He's set to face the Eagles at home Thursday.


Cowboys WR Terrance Williams catches just one pass vs. Giants
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:34 am ET) Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams managed just one reception on two targets for 18 yards in his team's 31-28 win over the Giants in Week 12.

Williams has struggled to emerge of late, following up a targetless performance in Week 11 with just one catch Sunday. He's managed just 37 yards on three receptions over his last three games. Williams will look to get back on track Thursday against the Eagles.


 
 
 
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