|By Brad Kruse, Friday, September 12, 2014|
QB Russell Wilson - Solid/Safe Pick
Russell Wilson enters his third year in 2014. He scored 323 fantasy points in each of his first two seasons. In those years, Seattle has run the ball more than they've thrown the ball. In part, this is because Wilson is also an effective scrambler in his own right. In 2012, Seattle threw the ball 43-percent of the time and in 2013 they threw the ball 46-percent of the time. Part of this is just part of strategy and minimizing risk, but as Wilson grows into the position, he will throw the ball more.
With a healthy Percy Harvin ready for Week 1, Seattle will be able to do more with their passing opportunities as well since he is by far the best receiver the team has had in years. Look for Seattle to be a little more balanced this year. Perhaps a 50-50 split could be coming or closer to it. In his short career, Wilson has proven himself to be accurate (63.5-percent completion rate) and effective (eight yards per attempt). His TD rate (6.5-percent) has also been noteworthy. He could cut down on his interceptions, but with more volume, his already QB1 fantasy point totals could elevate him to push into the Top 6 fantasy QBs in the league.
RB Marshawn Lynch - Solid/Safe Pick
KINDA BEASTMODE: Lynch is a volume runner who became more involved in the passing game last year. Excluding the postseason, he ran the ball 901 times over the last three years. Not many backs are asked to carry that kind of load. That's about 19 carries per game. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry and 11.7 TDs per season over that same span. With Lynch, fantasy owners are selecting a very solid running back who is likely to carry a majority of the touches once again. In OTAs, we've heard rumors of Seattle going toward more of a committee approach to get Christine Michael more involved. Over the last three years, there was an average of 119 carries given to other backs. Michael can handle the bulk of those to prove he's ready to elevate himself as a starter in 2015. Lynch is not likely to fall back too far in carries though as long as health never becomes an issue. His floor seems pretty solid. There are some downsides to Lynch; His age (younger and more athletic backs around his average draft position) and a long history of backs who wore down around this stage of their career or had to find new creative ways to stay productive. Lynch isn't at the end of his career, not yet anyway; however, the end is much closer than his beginning. The former Cal back is a safe, but low-end RB1 this year. Due to his below-average pass-receiving totals, some may prefer to grab a big-time WR1 in the second-half of the first round of redraft leagues in both standard and PPR.
RB Christine Michael - Sleeper (undervalued)
DYNASTY STASH: Michael is in line for the Seattle running job when Lynch moves on. In last year's preseason, he looked explosive. If Lynch were to get hurt, the hype for Michael would reach a fever pitch. It's difficult to gauge and it might just depend on the league. He should be thought of as a priority handcuff. If you don't own Lynch and are looking for a wild card, he is a decent pick as well. But, the trouble with stashing a running back is being able to hold that player through bye weeks when your roster depth is tested. Consider this as you fill out your fantasy roster. If you have a lot of early byes, you might not want to gamble on Michael. If your bye weeks are later, perhaps that will give you an opportunity to see what develops before having to make tough roster decisions.
Editor's note: Patience is a virtue. The reality is that if Michael has another excellent preseason, he might be too good to sit. Lynch is great and all; however, if Seattle can provide him some rest and not lose anything by giving carries to Michael, they absolutely should.
RB Robert Turbin - Dynasty Only
Turbin looked serviceable in his stints with Seattle. He has had 157 carries in his two seasons. If it weren't for Michael's presence, the world might be trying to draft Turbin as the future running back in Seattle. He was able to hold off Michael for the No. 2 role last year. Nothing in this game is guaranteed, so let's see if he's able to pull that feat off again this year. He is capable and this team is committed to the run. This alone holds value. Unless Lynch gets injured, Turbin has little to no value on your fantasy squad (excluding dynasty owners).
WR Percy Harvin - Solid/Safe Pick
Percy Harvin is electric. His speed is game-changing. He contributes in so many facets of the game: out of the backfield, the slot or lined up on the outside, kick returns, punt returns or put him in motion to create mismatches. If he can stay healthy (even in this run-dominated offense), he'll garner 100 targets or more. He can also run the ball a couple of times a game on a reverse or a sweep of some kind. He'll participate in the return game and that could net you a bonus touchdown as well. The only thing that's held him back in his pro career has been health, whether it was migraines or last year's complications after hip surgery. Prior to coming to Seattle, he averaged 15.4 fantasy points per game. Over the last four years, that output projects to between WR10 to 15. Harvin comes at a discount due to his health issues, but could be a strong value in drafts.
Editor's note: For those stuck on Harvin's injury concerns, you've probably forgotten all the things the former Gators receiver can do with the ball in his hands. There's a reason he housed a kick return in the Super Bowl. He is a playmaker, simple as that.
WR Doug Baldwin - Quality Backup
Since he came onto the scene as an undrafted free agent, Baldwin has been an integral part of the offense. He has dependable hands and the trust of Russell Wilson. Baldwin has averaged 14.9 yards per catch and caught over 60-percent of the passes thrown his way. He's a nice point per catch player at times, but not consistent enough to be a full-time starter for your team. He'll be involved in Seattle's offense, although Harvin could dominate the targets. Baldwin will have a solid week when he can find the end zone, but that doesn't happen often enough to depend on him as anything more than a bench player.
WR Jermaine Kearse - Deep-league Only
Kearse is 6-foot-1, 209 pounds and was able to deliver on some big plays for Seattle last year. After Rice was out with an injury, Kearse earned 25 of his 38 targets. He suffers from the fact that not many wide receivers are going to be viable for Seattle, so being out of the starting line-up severely limits his potential. He could replace Golden Tate's role in the offense, but with Percy Harvin expected to play this year, targets are going to be tough to come by for this athletic prospect. He has no fantasy value without a serious injury ahead of him on the depth chart.
TE Luke Willson - Deep-league Only
Willson will get his opportunity in his second season to run more routes and catch more passes. Although Seattle is known for their physical style of play, their offensive line isn't that great in pass-protection, so they often leave their TEs in to block. Willson will be a blocker first and a receiver second. This ultimately limits his potential; however, he is the obvious successor to Seattle's previous No. 1 TE Zach Miller. Willson should be on a roster in most dynasty leagues, while remaining undrafted in redraft formats.
PK Steven Hauschka - Stud (low risk)
Hauschka has a strong leg and plays for a great team. He has most of the ingredients that provide an opportunity for him to be a good fantasy kicker (strong leg, excellent accuracy and paired with a good defense). You never know from year to year which kickers are good, but Hauschka is a stud, having made 33-of-35 FGs last year.
Seattle - Stud (low risk)
Seattle gave up an average of 14.1 ppg last year. If your defensive scoring is heavy on points allowed, then Seattle is a prime option for you. They have a good defensive backfield and Seattle have players who can pressure your quarterback. Safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are tough as nails. Everyone already knows about cornerback Richard Sherman. In the middle is MLB Bobby Wagner, one of the more unheralded young players at his position. They have an array of pass-rushers who work in a heavy rotation. These are the ingredients for turnovers. Seattle will often be the first defense off the board.