QB Russell Wilson
(2012 QB Rank – #11, 20.8 FPts/G)
You would have to look pretty hard to find a bigger steal than Wilson in the 2012 rookie draft. Taken in the third round, the Wisconsin product quickly ascended the depth chart and by opening day had beat out both Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson to become the Seahawks starter. With the team’s coaching staff keeping the offensive game plan heavily run-based early in the season, Wilson failed to eclipse 160 passing yards in his first four starts. After that, the chains came off somewhat, with Wilson averaging 23.3 PPG over his remaining 12 regular-season games. However, it’s his final five starts, including two playoff games, that have the fantasy landscape abuzz. Despite attempting just 125 passes in those games (completing a nifty 83 of them), Wilson averaged 31.3 PPG on the strength of nine touchdown passes, 306 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. The question is whether he can produce that way over an entire season. While Wilson rates as a lower-tier QB1, expecting him to average 61 rushing yards and a touchdown per game (his averages over his final five games) isn’t realistic. And he is also unlikely to approach 4,000 receiving yards given that he had just two regular-season games with over 250 passing yards and the highly anticipated arrival of Percy Harvin will have to wait until late in the 2013 season. There is nothing wrong with liking Wilson. Just don’t reach too high for him.
RB Marshawn Lynch
(2012 RB Rank – #4, 15.7 FPts/G; #5 PPR, 17.1 FPts/G)
Over the last two seasons, Lynch has emerged as one of the league’s most consistently productive running backs. After rushing for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns during his first full season in Seattle in 2011, he followed that up with a 1,590-yard, 11-touchdown season. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is clearly sold on the importance of a heavy rushing attack and on the benefits of giving Lynch a major role in that effort (his 348 touches last season were a career high). Lynch reached double-digit fantasy points in 13 of the Seahawks’ 18 games (counting two playoff contests) in 2012, and he had nine points in three other games. Furthermore, he’s hit double digits in 23 of the Seahawks’ last 30 games. The Beast shows up every week, and with 25 touchdowns in his last 28 games, he usually finds the end zone. Lynch seems to have put some major character concerns to rest, and that solidifies his position as a top five fantasy RB, even though the team now has a pair of talented players behind him on the depth chart.
RB Christine Michael
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
Despite some rather material character concerns, as well as injury issues, the Seahawks used a second-round pick in this year’s draft to acquire Michael. Of course, when your roster lacks any real major holes, you can afford to grab a high-upside player like Michael. At least that is the party line in Seattle. At 5’11” and 220 pounds, Michael has the size, along with solid speed, to eventually take over for Marshawn Lynch as the Seahawks’ leading rusher. While Michael has the potential to be an explosive player, he doesn’t have a clear path to playing time as a rookie. Lynch is locked in as the team’s starter and the team was also pleased with the play of second-year back Robert Turbin during his rookie season in 2011. That means Michael will need to first unseat Turbin to have any fantasy value at all in redraft formats. We like the chances of that happening at some point in 2013, if not by opening day. Lynch’s owners need to monitor that battle, and dynasty leaguers should consider Michael a solid prospect with the chance of being in the Seahawks’ starting lineup by 2015.
RB Robert Turbin
(2012 RB Rank – #59, 3.6 FPts/G; #55 PPR, 4.8 FPts/G)
Taken in the fourth round of last year’s draft, Turbin quickly solidified the backup running back position behind Marshawn Lynch. Using his solid size (5’10”, 222 yards), Turbin rushed for 354 yards (at 4.4 yards per carry) and had 181 receiving yards (9.5 yards per reception), with a 100-yard rushing performance against the Cardinals in Week 14. Unfortunately for him, Seattle added rookie second-round pick Christine Michael to their depth chart at running back. While Turbin has the ability to have a lengthy NFL career, his talents are no match for those of Michael. Turbin may hold him off early in 2013, but we expect Michael to emerge as Lynch’s top backup at some point this season.
WR Sidney Rice
(2012 WR Rank – #29, 7.3 FPts/G; #36 PPR, 10.5 FPts/G)
The good news is that in 2012 the Seahawks began to get some return on their five-year, $41-million investment in Rice. The bad news is that it wasn’t exactly the type of return they were hoping for. After appearing in just nine games his first year in Seattle, Rice was healthy for all of last season but was a bit of a disappointment with just 50 receptions for 748 yards and seven touchdowns. While the touchdown count was nice, he simply isn’t a lead receiver at this point of his career. He had just four games with more than 60 receiving yards, and upper-tier cornerbacks can neutralize him. While Rice’s solid size (6’4”, 202 pounds) make him an enticing red zone target, we don’t anticipate him once again averaging a touchdown every 7.1 receptions. If he regresses to his pre-2012 form of one touchdown for every 8.9 receptions, Rice will rate as a lower-tier WR5 in 12-team leagues. And a risky, injury-prone, inconsistent one at that. The talent is there, just don’t reach for it.
WR Golden Tate
(2012 WR Rank – #35, 7.5 FPts/G; #41 PPR, 10.5 FPts/G)
After a pair of disappointing seasons to open his career, Tate came on strong in 2012, finishing the year with career highs in every receiving category. Although he caught an impressive 45 of his 67 targets for 688 yards and a healthy seven touchdowns, the Seahawks hedged their bets by trading with the Vikings to acquire Percy Harvin. However, with Harvin undergoing hip surgery in the preseason, Tate will return to the starting lineup. And we expect even more improvement and big plays from him. The one area where Tate could continue to improve is with his consistency (he had six games with less than five PPG), and offseason reports indicate that he has been the team’s most consistent performer at wide receiver. With fellow starter Sidney Rice experiencing knee issues, it won’t be a surprise if Tate once again leads the Seahawks in receiving yards. However, that doesn’t make him a great breakout candidate, considering Seattle’s heavy run-to-pass ratio. Consider Tate a low-end WR3 or, better yet, a high-end WR4 this season, but remember that he could lose his spot in the starting lineup when Harvin returns.
WR Doug Baldwin
(2012 WR Rank – #80, 3.9 FPts/G; #79 PPR, 6.0 FPts/G)
If you’re looking for the poster boy for sophomore slumps, we present Doug Baldwin. As a rookie undrafted free agent out of Stanford, Baldwin wasn’t on anybody’s fantasy roster entering 2011, but he managed to carve out a solid role in the Seahawks offense, hauling in 51 of his 85 targets for 788 yards and four touchdowns. However, his production plummeted to just 29 receptions for 366 yards and three touchdowns in 2012, despite his having played in 14 games. Golden Tate surpassed Baldwin on the depth chart, and with Sidney Rice appearing in all 16 games (he missed seven contests in 2011), Baldwin saw his role shrink. Although free-agent signee Percy Harvin will be out most or all of the 2013 season, that just puts Baldwin in the same place he was last year—stuck behind Rice, Tate and tight end Zach Miller. That increases the odds that he will more likely replicate his 2012 production and not his rookie production of 2013. He is waiver-wire material.
WR Percy Harvin
(2012 WR Rank – #43, 11.3 FPts/G; #39 PPR, 18.1 FPts/G)
Unable to agree on a long-term contract extension with Minnesota, Harvin was traded to Seattle during the offseason. Expected to be the Seahawks lead wide receiver and bring a dynamic playmaking dimension to the passing offense, he will instead miss much of the season after undergoing hip surgery early in training camp. While the prognosis for Harvin’s recovery from the surgery is good, his fantasy prospects for this season are not. He is not expected to return to the active roster until late in the year, with Seattle hoping to have him available for the stretch run to the playoffs. That puts fantasy owners in a major bind. If he returns late in the season, can you trust him in your starting lineup? Remember, this is his first year in Seattle and his first year with a new quarterback. Unless your league’s rosters are deep or you can stash him on injured reserve, Harvin isn’t worth owning in redraft formats.
TE Zach Miller
(2012 TE Rank – #29, 3.6 FPts/G; #30 PPR, 6.0 FPts/G)
Two years into the lucrative five-year contract he signed to join the Seahawks, it is safe to conclude that Miller has not lived up to his salary. After averaging 756 receiving yards during his final three seasons in Oakland, Miller has had seasons with 233 and 396 receiving yards with the Seahawks. Looks like he is earning his paycheck as a blocker. While his usage went up last season (53 targets, compared to 44 in 2011) and he had an eight-reception, 142-yard, one-touchdown performance in the Seahawks’ playoff loss to the Falcons, we’re not excited by his 2013 prospects. He did catch three touchdowns in his last six games last season (including two playoff games), but those are the only touchdowns of his Seahawks career. Miller is a low-end TE2 with little upside.