Seattle Seahawks – 2019 A Look Inside

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Contributions from Joshua Hudson, Chris Molina, Chris Tyler, & Joe Zollo
When the number one receiver in the draft class (according to many draft pundits, anyway) falls to the last pick in the second round, you know you’ve had a great draft. Say what you want about some of the limitations in DK Metcalf’s game, but a physical specimen such as he is worth the gamble. Russell Wilson has never had a target like him in which to throw, so it will be fun watching their connection blossom in the coming years. The turnover on their defense is officially in full swing after trading stud DE Frank Clark and spending their first on TCU’s L.J. Collier. They added three more defenders within the next three rounds, so it’s fair to say that Pete Carroll has his work cut out for him. Seattle’s offensive line last year looked better than in previous years, but was still mediocre by most metrics. And yet, the Seahawks spent only one pick on a lineman- a Guard in the fourth round. If the running game (fronted by 2018 breakout Chris Carson and 2018 first rounder Rashaad Penny) has a repeat of last year, it may not matter. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Russell Wilson was one of the most efficient passers in the league last year. In 2018, he had the third fewest passing attempts but the most touchdown passes of his career. After a year that he was hurt for most of, Doug Baldwin retired, leaving Wilson without his number one target. Tyler Lockett is the first man up to help fill those shoes, while Metcalf (hopefully) grows into the role. But the heart of this lineup, from a fantasy perspective, lies in the running game with Carson and Penny. The top three running backs on last year’s depth chart — Carson, Penny, and Mike Davis — combined for 444 rushing attempts. Mike Davis is now in Chicago. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that both Penny and Carson top 200 carries each in 2019, making both legitimate draft targets. Will Dissly suffered an injury early and looked to have a solid rapport with Wilson from the TE position, but could be a late round option in deeper leagues as a TE to watch. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
As a former first round pick, Rashaad Penny was expected to take the lead back role in Seattle and, well, run with it. That didn’t exactly happen due to a preseason injury and Chris Carson showing the potential he demonstrated as a rookie prior to his own injury. All told, we all wanted more from Penny in 2018. The way the off-season has shaped up, Year Two could be the year we finally see it. After missing all but one preseason game, Penny was a little slow off the draw — 38 attempts for 135 yards and zero touchdowns from Week 1 to Week 6. Okay, really slow. He wasn’t heavily involved in the passing game either, catching only six passes for 62 yards on nine targets. After a missed game and the bye week, Penny found what made him a first round pick. From Week 9 to Week 14, he had 43 attempts for 278 yards and two touchdowns. That’s 6.46 yards per carry compared to 3.55 during Weeks 1 through 6. The biggest downside to Penny’s entire 2018 season was the lack of pass catching. He accumulated 12 targets all season- three from Weeks 9 through 14. You’re not going to have a strong finish in PPR formats when you only get thrown the ball 12 times. Mike Davis was the most prolific pass catcher on the Seahawks last season, taking over the role many thought C.J. Prosise would have. He topped the RB corps with 42 targets, leading to 34 catches for 214 yards and a touchdown. 20.8% of Russell Wilson’s pass attempts went to RBs in 2018. While last year saw the third lowest pass attempts of his career, Wilson has averaged 466 pass attempts per year over his career. Maybe there’s a slight uptick in pass attempts in 2019 from the 427 in 2018, but this is the type of offense the Seahawks want to run- Wilson throws less and the running backs run more. Which brings me to the main point of this piece: The Seahawks, as a team, ran the ball 534 times (second in the league) and had the most prolific rushing attack in the league. Their RBs accounted for 451 of those rushes. Chris Carson had 247, Davis with 112, and Penny with 85. With Davis now in Chicago, 112 carries are potentially up for grabs. Even if Carson holds the starting job for the full season, Penny’s presence signals clear regression in the amount of carries for Carson. The Seahawks can create an inevitable split in workload, one where Carson and Penny exceed (or definitely approach) 200 carries apiece. Prosise and his spotty injury history likely won’t be as big a part of the passing game as intended, so that workload will fall to both Carson and Penny. Even if Penny gets 175 carries and, say, 35 targets, it’s fair to assume Penny can average at least 4.4 yards per carry. His 4.46 speed helps him get to the edge and pick up yards in a hurry. (He averaged 8.7 YPC on Left End rushes and 6.7 YPC on Right End rushes.) 4.4 YPC on 175 rushes puts Penny’s total at 770 yards. 35 targets should yield around 24 catches for another 242 yards. Tack on five total touchdowns, and you’re around 155.2 fantasy points — or RB28 from a year ago. That’s his floor. If he can get up to 200 carries and 50 targets, he has the ability to make it into the top 15. His current price as RB31 on Sleeper certainly makes it a worthy gamble, but his price is only going up because of: Seattle’s offensive mindset, his first round pedigree, and Fantasy Football Twitter singing his praises like he’s Fantasy Jesus. Carson topped 1,000 yards last year and finished in the top 20. If Carson does that again, don’t be surprised if Penny does so as well. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Do you remember your last hot pocket? It heats up quickly and then it takes an entire year to cool down. After it cools down, you realize it wasn’t that good in the first place,  it was just meh. That is basically analogous to Tyler Lockett and his 2018 season. (Hence his nickname: Hot Lockett!) He started last year hot and never cooled down. He finished with 57 receptions on 70 targets, for 965 yards, and a career-high 10 touchdowns. His 10 touchdowns were more than he scored over his career to date (nine). This was good for the WR18 in PPR leagues from weeks 1-16. However, let me explain why he is really not that good, and is my candidate for the Seattle Seahawks’ fantasy downside. The “Tyler Lockett Experience” debuted for the Seattle Seahawks (and the NFL) in the 2015 season.  From 2015 to 2017 (three seasons), Lockett had 137 receptions on 206 targets, good for 1,816 yards and nine touchdowns. That averages out to 45.7 receptions on 68.7 targets, good for 605 yards and three touchdowns per season. What immediately stands out to you? Was it the three-touchdown average for three years compared to 10 from last year? Because that’s my answer. Just some food for thought (not hot pockets), but those three seasons Lockett finished as the WR38, WR60, and WR55. The Tyler Lockett fire show benefited from Russell Wilson’s absurdly efficient season. The Seattle Seahawks converted to a run heavy, smash-mouth football team. They were the number one total rushing offense in football. This led to the fewest pass attempts (and completions) for Russell Wilson since 2013. Seattle was thirty-second in pass attempts, thirty-first in completions, and twenty-seventh in total passing yards. However, Russell Wilson was still fifth in passing touchdowns. That’s because he had a career high 8.2% touchdown percentage last year. That’s absurd. His career average touchdown percentage before last year was 5.7%. What’s even more absurd is that Russell Wilson had a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeting Tyler Lockett, and that was on 70 targets. 70! What goes up must come down, though- regression to his average could mean six or more passing touchdowns vacated for 2020. There is literally no way either of those stats don’t significantly decline. What really won’t go up much, though, is the amount of pass attempts that Wilson will have. The Seattle Seahawks are still on that smash-mouth football hype train. Therefore, it is extremely likely that Lockett will not have double-digit touchdowns again. It is also possible that they get cut in half. He won’t catch 30% of his team’s receiving touchdowns again. The available receiving touchdowns will likely be going down if the pass attempts remain stagnant, which is probable. Tyler Lockett’s ADP is 5.06, and he is being drafted as the WR23. That’s not bad value, I just don’t believe in drafting a player at their ceiling for the upcoming year when others around him have greater potential (Kupp, Godwin, Ridley). I want you to tread lightly with all of the indicators of a regression that I threw at you just now. Remember, even including last year’s Hot Lockett season, Tyler has a fantasy finish of an average of the WR44.5. We all know what happens to hot pockets when they cool off. Meh. – Chris Molina
I’ll start by saying this: the thing I trust most on the Seahawks this year, is their running game. If it was one person instead of two, they’d be featured here. But alas, it’s not. That said, the model of consistency on the Seahawks for the better part of the last five years has been QB Russell Wilson. Wilson has always been consistently accurate and his interception percentage of 1.9% is fourth best in the history of the league. Since Club Fantasy FFL has been around (2015), he’s had only one season outside the top seven among QBs. Hard not to trust someone with that track record, right? In back-to-back years, Wilson has thrown for 34 and 35 touchdowns. As Chris Molina points out above, the Seahawks had one of the worst passing offenses in the league last year (by design, but still), and Wilson took full advantage of the limited opportunities. He had the second highest completion percentage of his career and threw for the most touchdowns he’s ever thrown in a single season. Wilson has clearly grown as a player, but it’d be irresponsible to expect a stat-line in 2019 to mirror what he did in 2018. Take his rushing output, for example. Wilson had the fewest rushing attempts of his career and was sacked more times than ever. He purposely held onto the football to allow plays to develop downfield rather than take off and run. But when he did run, he did so while averaging 5.6 yards per carry- in line with his career average of 5.7. Rookie DK Metcalf will have a lot to learn as a poor route runner, causing Wilson to wait for him to get open, thus either taking sacks or taking off and running. But one thing that Wilson has proved is that he can hit the mark. I would say 28 touchdowns is his floor, and another 2-4 rushing should keep him in the TE1 conversation. His current ADP on Sleeper is QB8 in the eighth/ninth round. I think that’s a perfect time to ensure the selection of your quarterback with a QB1 guarantee. – The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Probably one of the most under-the-radar wide receivers we have in this class, West Virginia’s very own Gary Jennings Jr., is a big man speedster. Clocking a 4.42 in the 40 yard dash at the Combine, Jennings ranked top ten among wide receivers and did it with a height of 6’1’’ and a weight 214lbs. Jennings is a target mismatch against opposing defenses- he caught the ball 168 times and accumulated 2,294 yards and 17 touchdowns. Jennings is a dangerous weapon with soft hands, vision, and body control. The biggest question is whether he can compete with D.K. Metcalf and the other receivers in Seattle. Absolutely. He’s young, strong, and talented enough to be a WR1 or WR2 in the league. Don’t sleep on Gary Jennings yet, he is the difference maker you’re looking for. – Chris Tyler
This Seahawks team is filled with guys who have big question marks looming over them in terms of how they will perform both on the field and in fantasy football. One guy that had a solid stretch of games last season for Seattle was David Moore. Moore was a seventh round pick in 2017, and did next to nothing in his rookie season- appearing in just a single game. Playing in all 16 games in 2018 and starting seven of them, Moore showed that he has good hands and the ability to go out and make a play. He never dazzled, but he still was able to prove his worth on the field through a stretch of games during the middle of the season. Moore currently sits at WR89, meaning he is going undrafted in most leagues as his current ADP is around the likeness of players such as Danny Amendola and D.J Chark. Moore might not be a consistent guy for you, but he will be someone who could step in when he is hot and be a viable FLEX or WR4 option. Moore is a last round guy or a solid free agent pick up if one of your picks gets injured early in the season. – Joe Zollo
One name. Bobby Wagner. Wagner is arguably the best Linebacker in the league, and is by far the best player on this Seahawks defense. Wagner hits with force and is able to find holes in the offensive line to get directly to the running back and stuff him before he can go anywhere. He plays sideline-to-sideline with the best of them, and he can be a great asset in pass coverage- converting his lone interception last season into a 98-yard touchdown. Wagner is easily a Top 10 LB, and has only missed more than two games once in his career. As for the rest of the defense, Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah was a free agent signing from the Detroit Lions. He had some incredible seasons for the Lions but has not done anything as of late. He is constantly injured and cannot be relied on to do much of anything. The rest of the front seven has no fantasy value, and the secondary is nothing to write home about. The highest finisher in 2018 was Bradley McDougald, and even he couldn’t finish anywhere near the Top 20. Leave this defense alone unless you intend on drafting Bobby Wagner. – Joe Zollo