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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
Shoulder issue has Steelers QB Bruce Gradkowski sidelined
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:32 am ET) Steelers backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski has been dealing with a sore shoulder for most of the last two months and is not ready for training camp.

"A couple weeks ... I'm not sure," he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about a timetable for his return. "It's nothing serious. I am thankful that we have a long training camp and we have plenty of time."

Gradkowski will almost certainly be out when his team plays in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 9.


Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney lands on PUP list
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) Texans injury-plagued outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney hoped for availability to start training camp, but that will not happen. He has been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Clowney, however, is expected to return by the end of August, per NFL.com. His placement on the PUP list will allow the team to hold him back for the first six weeks of the regular season if his surgically repaired knee is not ready.

He can be activated at any point during training camp.


Eagles release RB Matthew Tucker
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) The Eagles have waived running back Matthew Tucker with a non-football injury, per ESPN.

Tucker spent the last two seasons with the team, but mostly on the practice squad. He did earn playing time in two games as a rookie in 2013, though with no rushing attempts.


Colts LB Robert Mathis still not cleared for on-field activities
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) Colts linebacker Robert Mathis, who missed the 2014 season due to a torn Achilles, has yet to be cleared for on-field activities, owner Jim Irsay told the Indianapolis Star on Monday.

"The good news is Robert is trending in the right direction," Irsay said. "We're all very excited and pleased with the progress that he's making. The timetable is unknown. Will it be October 15? Will it be September 15? I really, at this point, no one knows.

"We just want to make sure that he's ready-ready when it's time to go. He can come in, have a couple of years with us at this point in his career, and be the difference-maker he was. We're really excited about the prospect. Really, it's only been good news."


Raiders LB Sio Moore begins training camp on PUP list
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) The Raiders placed linebacker Sio Moore on the PUP list Monday. The third-year linebacker was placed on IR late last season due to a hip injury.

He can return to practice when he passes a physical examination.


Buccaneers re-sign DL Da'Quan Bowers
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(7/27/2015) The Buccaneers re-signed defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers on Monday. Bowers had been an unrestricted free agent since March.

Bowers has spent his entire career with the Bucs since being selected in the second round of the 2011 draft. He has totaled 66 tackles and seven sacks in 50 NFL games.


Report: Jonathan Martin (back) retiring from football
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/27/2015) Former Dolphins and 49ers offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, who played a major role in Miami's bullying scandal, is retiring from the NFL due to a back issue that will require surgery, a source told NFL.com insider Ian Rapoport. 

Martin was waived by the 49ers in March and picked up by the Panthers; however, the back injury would have kept him out of action for the entire season, and Martin decided to call it quits.

Martin left the Dolphins during the 2013 season citing locker room issues that mainly included bullying by teammate Richie Incognito. He was traded to the 49ers, where he was reunited with his former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, starting nine games with the team. 


Browns coach Pettine: Josh McCown the 'likely' QB starter
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/27/2015) Browns coach Mike Pettine, during a session with local reporters on the verge of the team's training camp, reiterated that veteran Josh McCown is the likely starter at quarterback, with Johnny Manziel entrenched in the No. 2 spot, per the Akron Beacon Journal

Pettine added that while he couldn't guarantee McCown would start in the season opener against the Jets, that the experienced signal-caller is firmly the team's top choice at the position heading into camp. 


Redskins QB Colt McCoy confident he can still start in NFL
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/27/2015) Heading into training camp, Colt McCoy remains confident that he can be a starter in the NFL but also realizes the Redskins' QB role belongs to Robert Griffin III, per The Washington Post

McCoy, who signed a one-year deal with Washington after starting one game last season, said he decided to return to the Redskins based on the coaching staff and not his chances to play this year. Even though Griffin is the incumbent, McCoy believes he could step in and contribute.

"I don't think I would be continuing to play if I didn't believe in my heart that I could start every week in this league," he said.


Saints LB Junior Galette passes physical, will be released
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/27/2015) Saints linebacker Junior Galette, who was informed of his release by the team Friday after his January arrest for domestic violence and his role in a video where he apparently was shown striking a woman with a belt during a brawl, passed his final team physical, setting the official stage for his release Monday, per The Times-Picayune.

The physical was necessary because Galette missed time during OTAs and all of minicamp with a pectoral injury, which Galette downplayed. Galette will not pass through waivers and will be free to sign with any team. 


 
 
 
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