By Cole Hoopingarner (with Contributions from Joe Zollo and Chris Tyler)
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Russell Wilson carried the Seahawks on his back again, finishing with 398 fantasy points, good for first at his position and second overall only to Todd Gurley. Doug Baldwin finished in the top 16 for the third consecutive year and was once again one of fantasy’s most undervalued players. Seattle’s best running back finished 52nd at his position – and his name was J.D. McKissic. Um…who?
|(Projected Starting Lineup)|
|QB3||(R) Alex McGough||N/A||N/A|
|RB1||(R) Rashaad Penny||N/A||N/A|
|WR3||Brandon Marshall (w/ NYG)||33.40||WR125|
|WR4||Jaron Brown (w/ ARI)||95.20||WR65|
|WR5||Marcus Johnson (w/ PHI)||4.20||WR178|
|TE1||Ed Dickson (w/ CAR)||75.50||TE28|
|TE2||(R) Will Dissly||N/A||N/A|
|K||Sebastian Janikowski (w/ OAK)||N/A||N/A|
Since entering the league in 2011 Russell Wilson has never finished lower than 11th in fantasy, and last year he finished as fantasy’s highest scoring quarterback and finished second in overall scoring to Todd Gurley by just two points. Seattle has thrown the ball at a pace and volume that simply cannot be sustained over the last two years, and by drafting Rashaad Penny they signaled that they want to go back to a run-first style. That will mean fewer opportunities through the air for Wilson, so a number one finish at his position isn’t likely. But he’s a lock for a top 10 finish, and will likely finish in the top 5. Draft Wilson with confidence as your starting quarterback.
Seattle knows that long-term success with Russell Wilson requires a dominant running game similar to the one they had during their Super Bowl appearances a few years ago. Enter Rashaad Penny. Penny’s got great size (5’11”, 220 pounds) and is exactly what you want out of a workhorse back: an elusive, downhill runner who catches passes out of the backfield and forces lots of missed tackles. He averaged nearly 8 yards per carry during his final season at San Diego State and should be ready to carry the load immediately for the Seahawks. He’s a rock solid RB2 to start the season. Don’t be surprised if he sneaks into the top 15 or even top 10 by the end of the year.
Timing couldn’t have been worse for Chris Carson. Hopes were high for Carson entering 2017 and through three games, the Oklahoma State product looked good. He racked up 208 yards rushing and added 7 catches for 59 yards. Then, in Week 4, Carson broke his leg and was lost for the season. Hopes were high this offseason among fantasy owners that Carson would come back with a vengeance in 2018 and lead the Seattle rushing attack. Unfortunately Seattle drafted Penny and Carson will likely be relegated to backup duties. He’s a worthy handcuff for Penny owners and could be a great FLEX play a couple of weeks this season.
Like Carson, Prosise has been unlucky with injuries, playing in only 11 games since being drafted in 2016. The third-year man out of Notre Dame is fantastic when he’s been healthy – but NFL teams aren’t patient and if you only play 11 games in two seasons, you’d better be in the top 3 at your position or your team will move forward to replace you. That’s what Seattle has done, and Prosise is now likely going to be relegated to third down passing situations. He’s worth monitoring if Carson or Penny get hurt, but until then, keep him off your roster.
Guess who has the second most receiving touchdowns in the NFL since 2015? That’s right: Seattle’s Doug Baldwin. Baldwin hasn’t finished worse than 16th at his position from 2015 to 2017 averaging 82 catches for 1,063 yards and nearly 10 touchdowns per season during that time frame. And yet he still doesn’t get the respect he deserves from fantasy owners. In the prime of his career at 29 years old, Baldwin has an established connection with one of the game’s best quarterbacks and happens to be his quarterback’s favorite target. What’s there not to like about Baldwin? Not much, really. He’s a number one wide receiver and you can likely draft him in the third or fourth round – remarkable value for a guy who will put up WR12 numbers at worst.
Tyler Lockett lit the world on fire during his rookie season in 2015, tallying 51 catches for 664 yards and six touchdowns. From 2016-2017 he averaged 43 catches for 576 yards – not a significant decrease from his rookie season totals. But he only caught three total touchdowns in that timeframe, leaving fantasy owners wondering what happened. Well, Wilson and Baldwin developed and fostered the connection described above and Paul Richardson caught six touchdowns last season. With Richardson and Jimmy Graham gone, opportunity is knocking on Lockett’s door. He’s going to get a lot of the leftover targets. But will he convert this opportunity into touchdowns? I think he will. I look for 60 catches for 800 yards and five touchdowns. He’s a WR3 who could finish in the top 25 at his position.
Brandon Marshall joins Seattle after a failed experiment with the New York Giants and recent surgery to repair an injured ankle. I believe the 34-year old still has some gas left in the tank and honestly, there’s probably not a better situation for him than the one he finds himself in with the Seahawks. I think he represents more value in standard leagues than PPR leagues this year because he could easily catch 4-6 touchdowns. There are far worse receivers with lower ceilings than Marshall. Take him with a late-round flier and stash him away – he could provide immense value by the end of the season.
There’s not a whole lot to like about the tight end position in Seattle this year. With the departure of Jimmy Graham, the Seahawks are left with third-year man Nick Vannett and veteran Ed Dickson. Seattle drafted Vannett in the 2016 draft and he’s spent the majority of his career waiting and learning behind Graham and Luke Wilson. Now he’s got no one but Dickson in front of him and the starting job is his to earn. Vannett’s got the athleticism and size (6’6”, 261 pounds) to cause nightmares for opponents. But with limited playing time and an unproven track record, he’s not someone I’m willing to trust as anything more than a deep dynasty stash this year.
Dickson will turn 31 before the 2018 season. He spent his first four years with Baltimore and his next four with Carolina before joining Seattle this offseason. Dickson’s only topped 50 receptions once in his career and that was all the way back in 2011. Aside from that year, he’s never been more than an NFL and fantasy backup. With only Vannett to compete with in Seattle he could very well sneak into the starting role, but he’s a waiver wire pickup, not a draft pick.
Rookie to Watch
I don’t know what they feed the boys at San Diego State but it should be the go-to meal plan for athletes. Following the very talented Donnel Pumphrey’s 2,000+ yard season, Rashaad Penny did the same thing. Penny is explosive in and out of his cuts and has break away speed that makes him dangerous at each level of the defense. His career numbers in the passing game — 42 catches for 479 yards — aren’t otherworldly but he can be an asset through the air. Seattle has a good looking receiving corps but haas lacked a stable ground game since Marshawn Lynch departed. I believe Penny is the answer and should have a solid rookie year. – Chris Tyler
In his fourth year, Tyler Lockett looks to make a bigger impression on the NFL on the offensive side of the football. During his rookie season, he racked up six touchdowns but has caught only three the past two seasons. He will be slotted behind Doug Baldwin and the newly acquired Brandon Marshall, which will allow him to play against lesser skilled DBs and become a deep threat in Seattle’s offense. Look for Lockett to be a Ted Ginn type player. Sit him on your bench with the potential to be a FLEX at points throughout the season. – Joe Zollo
2018 Loose Ends
From a fantasy perspective, the biggest questions entering this season revolve around how soon Penny will be able to contribute and how much that will impact Wilson’s numbers? I say very soon to the first question and some, but not a significant amount, to the second question. If the stars align, I think Seattle could have a top 10 player at QB, RB, and WR this season.
|2||9/17 (Mon)||@ CHI|
|7||** BYE WEEK **|
|11||11/15 (Thurs)||vs GB|
|14||12/10 (Mon)||vs MIN|