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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
Texans' O'Brien: WR DeAndre Hopkins can 'be one of the best'
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is very encouraged by the performance of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last season, per ESPN. O'Brien went as far as to say that Hopkins can be one of the best.

"He had a really productive year," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "The thing that we really like about Hop and that we want him to continue to do is his work ethic. He’s a hungry player. He works every single day. He came into the spring a year ago and he was learning the offense and thinking out there, then all of a sudden you could see all the work he put in and learning, he just took off."

Due to the departure of wide receiver Andre Johnson, the progression of Hopkins will be under the microscope as he is now the focal point of the passing offense.

"We just want to see him continue and progress," O'Brien said. "We think he can be one of the best, we think he is one of the best. We have a lot of confidence in him and we’re looking forward to seeing him progress when the offseason program starts."

In two years with the Texans, Hopkins has reeled in 128 receptions for 2012 yards and eight touchdowns.


Giants won't rush WR Victor Cruz back to the field
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:12 am ET) Although Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is hopeful that wide receiver Victor Cruz will be ready by training camp, the team will not rush him back, reports ESPN.

"I shouldn't say this, because medically I really don't have a definite answer, but by training camp hopefully, even if it's just to bring him," Coughlin said. "We're not going to just throw him to the wind. He'll work his way through. But I hope that would be the target."

Cruz tore his patellar tendon in week six of the 2014 season, causing him to miss the rest of the year. Coughlin is hopeful that he'll return to be the player that he was before the injury.

"I think he'll be the player that he was, and hopefully better," Coughlin said of Cruz. "But as far as when, I would be careful of what I would say there. Hopefully it's the first game. But if it isn't, you know we've done that one before. We just went through it. But I'm hoping it would be."

The former undrafted free agent has tallied 264 receptions for 3,963 yards and 24 touchdowns.


Lions QB Matthew Stafford to take more chances through the air
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's system for the first time last season. The team plans on taking more chances down the field in Stafford's second season in the new offense, Lombardi said, according to the team's official website.

“In his second year (in the offense) he’s going to be that much more comfortable,” Lombardi said.

“We’ll be able to tailor the offense a little bit more to what he likes and what he’s good at. I thought he played smart football and sometimes to a fault. We’ll look for him to maybe take a few more chances this year with the football.”

Although Stafford didn't take many shots down the field, he did throw a career-low 12 interceptions in 2014. 

The former first overall draft pick has thrown for 21,714 yards with 131 touchdowns and 85 interceptions during his six-year career.


Colts OLB Robert Mathis plans to be ready for training camp
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is not ready to run yet, he told Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL. Mathis added that he plans to be ready for the start of training camp.

“It’s not going as fast as I would like to, but we are getting well and we should be clicking in camp,” Mathis told Sirius.

Mathis was suspended for the first four games of last season due to violating the league's substance abuse policy. He then suffered a torn achilles, forcing him to miss all 16 games of the 2014 season.

During his 11-year career with the Colts, Mathis has collected 487 total tackles, 111.0 sacks, 15 passes defensed and 48 forced fumbles.


Lions TE Eric Ebron has been working out with Matthew Stafford
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said that tight end Eric Ebron has been working out with quarterback Matthew Stafford in Atlanta this offseason, reports the Detroit News. Lombardi also said that the plan is to have Ebron be the No. 3 weapon in the passing game this year.

Ebron, 21, finished his rookie season with 25 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown. 


Cowboys' Tony Romo: DeMarco Murray asked me to take a pay cut
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Eagles running back DeMarco Murray was really hoping to remain with the Cowboys this offseason. So much so, he asked quarterback Tony Romo to take a pay cut to remain with the team, Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, per the Dallas Morning News.

"DeMarco ended up asking me, 'Why don't you take a pay cut?' I said, 'I will. I would take a pay cut to go do this,'" Romo said. "I was like, 'They're going to restructure me.' That's the same thing in some ways, just for the salary cap purposes. He was like, 'OK, now we're back to being friends again.' I would take $5 million less if meant getting him back.

"He knew that. It was just funny how he was literally worried about that part of it for a week. I'm like, 'That's not the reason.' I'm like, 'Obviously I'll restructure. I would even take a pay cut.' He was like, 'OK, we can be friends again.' It's amazing what you think about in those moments."


Giants QB Eli Manning wants to take offense 'to another level'
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Giants quarterback Eli Manning is entering the second year in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's system. Manning is ready to take the next step now that he is familiar with the system, reports the NY Daily News.

““This year will be a much easier transition, knowing that we have been through so much of it already,” said Manning, who recently had been working out at Ole Miss with some of their receivers and alumni. “It’s definitely a different starting point. I feel good about it. I feel that I have a good understanding of it.

“But there is still room to grow and that is why I try to keep it as fresh in my mind as possible. Looking at old game-plan sheets and calling plays in my head – throwing routes with receivers trying to call out plays to myself, so you don’t let it slip away. It was new last year and it wasn’t something I have been doing for 10 years, so you want to keep it fresh and go through your reminders and all your checks. So when we come back I haven’t taken a step backwards and have to re-learn things. It is still all there. There will be new stuff and we will be taking it to another level.”

Manning has started all 16 games in each season since 2005, throwing for 39,755 yards with 259 touchdowns and 185 interceptions.


Saints TE Josh Hill wants to grow into new role
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) After trading trading Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks, tight end Josh Hill is ready to step into his new role with the Saints, according to the team's offical website.

“I think it might open a few opportunities for me as I continue to grow in my role and just do everything they ask me to do,” Hill said when asked about the trade of Graham to the Seahawks.

Hill recognized that Graham helped him transition from college to the professional level.

“It’s a big difference, especially coming from a smaller school and a smaller city," Hill said. "He was always there for me. We became pretty good friends over the past few years so it will definitely be different without him.”

Head coach Sean Payton believes that Hill is ready to step up.

“Josh Hill is a player that we value a lot," Payton said last week at the NFL annual meeting. "He’s not on anyone’s fantasy first three rounds, I promise you, but he’s a real good tight end. He’s versatile in the running game, in the pass receiving game, a special teams player.”

Hill, heading into his third year in the NFL, has recorded 20 receptions for 220 yards and six touchdowns. 


Cowboys QB Tony Romo excited about this offseason
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is excited about what the offseason holds for him, according to ESPN.

“This is the first offseason where I’ve been able to kind of get after it this early and be able to kind of improve in a lot of different areas that I think you aren’t able to until you get healthy enough to attack it,” Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday. “I’m just excited about that, really.”

Romo, 34, is encouraged by the fact that he is able to do a lot of different things during the offseason process while working out.

“Now I’m able to do that while actually doing functional strength training through different versions of squats,” Romo said. “I’m not putting anything on my back and doing stuff like that but you are doing a lot of single-leg stuff and different things that I started getting into during the season that helped a lot. Now it’s nice to be able to do that in the offseason.”

Romo has thrown for 33,270 yards with 242 touchdowns and 110 interceptions in his 12-year career. 


WR Dwayne Bowe looks to revitalize himself with Browns
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is looking to revitalize his career now that he has joined the Browns, reports ESPN. Bowe was cut by the Chiefs in the middle of March.

"I have a chance to revitalize myself," Bowe, 30, told ESPN.com via telephone Tuesday. "Just sit back and watch."

Browns general manager Ray Farmer has familiarity with Bowe from their time with the Chiefs. The two sat down and watched tape from the 2010 season when he racked up 15 touchdown receptions.

"Him knowing what I can do, seeing me in practice, making crazy plays, splitting the safeties, he knows I still can do that," Bowe said. "I couldn't showcase that last year. He was pulling up old plays, saying, 'We are going to use you just like that.' Moving around, going on motion, trying to hit the deep ball, trying to break plays."

The 30-year-old wideout appreciated his time with the Chiefs and he has no regrets.

"It's been up and down, but it's been fun," Bowe said. "I don't regret nothing. People can talk about the NFL and playing wide receiver -- I feel I still have a good four more years in me."

Over his eight-year career, he has totaled 532 receptions for 7,155 yards and 44 touchdowns.


 
 
 
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