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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
Cowboys' Stephen Jones: Chris Johnson on team's 'short list'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(9:31 pm ET) Free-agent running back Chris Johnson recently said he'd love to join the Cowboys. Though the Cowboys aren't in any rush to add another running back, Johnson isn't too far off the team's radar. 

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones was asked about Johnson in a conference call with season-ticket holders. Via the team's website, Jones said the team has at least some interest in Johnson

“We haven’t visited with Chris, and we can’t talk about him because he’s a free agent. But right now we’re looking at the guys that we have on our roster,” Jones said. “He is somebody that is on a short list of ours that we think could ultimately come in and do some good things for us if we asked him to. But I wouldn’t say it’s a priority right now.”

After running for 2,006 yards in 2009, Johnson has been unable to live up to expectations since. With the Jets a year ago, Johnson only totald 663 yards and one touchdown while notching just one start. 

The Cowboys added Darren McFadden this offseason after DeMarco Murray left for Philadelphia. Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar and Ryan Williams are the other backs on the roster. 


Linebacker Dane Fletcher visits Patriots
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(9:13 pm ET) Free-agent linebacker Dane Fletcher visited the Patriots on Wednesday, according to a report from ESPN.com. 

Fletcher spent the 2010-2013 seasons with the Patriots before playing 2014 with the Buccaneers. In four NFL seasons, he's totaled 120 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks. 


Report: Vikings' Matt Kalil underwent two knee surgeries
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(9:09 pm ET) Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil underwent arthroscopic surgical procedures to both of his knees so far this offseason, according to a report from USA Today

Kalil also had injections to help manage joint pain. Both knees were scoped in January before having a Regenexx procedure performed on them in March. Kalil also had platelet-rich plasma therapy performed, too. 

Throughout the procedures, Kalil has been working out and rehabbing at the Vikings' team facility. 


Jets' Mike Maccagnan: 'Not actively shopping' Muhammad Wilkerson
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(8:58 pm ET) Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson has long been talked about as a potential trading chip. 

However, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan, who appeared on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York 98.7 FM, said that the organization isn't looking to try and trade Wilkerson at this time. 

"We're not actively shopping Mo," Maccagnan said, via ESPN.com. "It's not part of our plans. But, again, his name comes up periodically at times, but nothing active right now."

Wilkerson has been productive for the Jets but is entering the final year of his contract. The Jets also just drafted Leonard Williams, who figures to earn some immediate playing time. 

"Mo's a good player, he's part of this organization and he's currently under contract," Maccagnan said. "We'd like to keep him in this organization. We just have to go through a process with him to figure out, you know, if we can find a middle ground."


Bengals' Whitworth posts tweet about Mike Brown, said wife did it
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(8:33 pm ET) A message criticizing Bengals team president Mike Brown was posted on left tackle Andrew Whitworth's personal Twitter account, according to ESPN.com. 

"Mike Brown told me I'm done here," the tweet read. "Said I can play this year and go home. So I told him I want a raise or I'll sit my a-- at home this …"

Moments after the tweet hit the social media site it was deleted. After deactivating his Twitter account, Whitworth logged back on but made his account private. 

Whitworth told ESPN that the tweet originated from his wife, who was trying to send a private message to a teammate for him. Whitworth said his wife is upset over the ordeal but downplayed the message as more of a joke. 

Whitworth is entering the final year of his contract. 


Eagles announce signing of three 2015 draft choices
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:50 pm ET) The Eagles have announced that they have signed three of their draft picks. Included are second-rounder and cornerback Eric Rowe, sixth-rounder and cornerback Randall Evans and seventh-rounder and defensive end Brian Mihalik.

Cardinals announce move to Kareem Martin to OLB
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:23 pm ET) What was rumored is now official. The Cardinals are moving Kareem Martin from defensive end to outside linebacker despite his 6-foot-6, 270-pound frame, per CBSSports.com NFL Insider Pat Kirwan.

Martin started two of the 11 games in which he played last season. He contributed eight tackles and one sack.


Cardinals announce waiver claim on CB Alfonzo Dennard
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:17 pm ET) It certainly didn't take long for cornerback Alfonzo Dennard to land a job. One day after his release from the Patriots, the Cardinals officially announced a waiver claim on him.

The three-year veteran fell off the charts in 2014 after two strong years with New England in which he played in 23 games and contributed to 75 tackles.


Colts WR T.Y. Hilton not thrilled over drafting of Phillip Dorsett
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:54 pm ET) Colts standout wideout T.Y. Hilton is talking like teammate and newcomer Phillip Dorsett is after his job rather than another wide receiver that can help his team.

But what Dorsett could prove to be is insurance in case Hilton leaves. The young veteran is approaching his contract year.

"There's nothing I can do about that," Hilton told the Indianapolis Star. "That's who they picked. That's cool with me." Hilton went on to talk about his "battle" and "competition" with Dorsett.

Dorsett is certainly no immediate threat to Hilton in regard to playing time. The latter racked up a career-high 1,345 yards in receiving a year ago with seven touchdowns.


Broncos NT Sylvester Williams working to improve game
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:45 pm ET) Broncos third-year defensive lineman Sylvester Williams has much to prove heading into the 2015 season. He must show he can play nose tackle and that he can fill the void left by the departure of Terrance Knighton.

Williams has been working toward accomplishing those goals. He stayed in the area during the offseason to better his game and remain in peak shape. He has emphasized diet and shedding body fat as well as film study in an attempt to learn of areas in his game that require improvement.

"I already went into this offseason with a lot of motivation from within," he told the Denver Post. "I put a lot on myself to get stronger this year and come back with a better year."

Williams started 13 games last year and contributed to 21 tackles.


 
 
 
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