QB Russell Wilson
(2013 QB Rank—#8, 16.0 FPts/G)
Only two years removed from upsetting free agency acquisition Matt Flynn for the starting job in Seattle, Russell Wilson is now a Super Bowl winner and is one of the most secure players in the entire league at his position. Wilson’s combination of speed and mistake-free football has also made him a top-10 fantasy quarterback over that two-year span. This is very impressive, considering that Wilson’s Seahawks have run the ball more times and passed the ball fewer times than any team in the NFL since he took over behind center. This sounds ugly on the surface, but the coaching staff in Seattle continues to insist that the team will see a greater balance in its offense in 2014, which could mean great things for Wilson’s fantasy outlook. Wide receivers Golden Tate and Sidney Rice did leave in the offseason, but they will not likely be missed if (and I mean if…) Percy Harvin is able to stay on the field. Harvin is the kind of dynamic playmaker who could give Wilson the kind of target that he has not had so far in his NFL career, one who can turn the short passes into big gains. Wilson is currently only being drafted as a borderline top-12 quarterback in many leagues, which combined with the fact that he could pass the ball upwards of 100 more times in 2014 than he did in 2013, means that he could represent one of the highest upsides and safest downsides of all fantasy quarterbacks this season.
RB Marshawn Lynch
(2013 RB Rank—#4, 14.0 FPts/G)
An offseason contract holdout – which occurred during the same time that he made news for the unique way he parks his Ferrari, mind you – has some skeptics questioning Marshawn Lynch’s commitment to playing football, but there haven’t been many backs as consistent as “Beast Mode” since he arrived in Seattle back in 2010. In each of his past three seasons, Lynch has surpassed 1,200 yards on the ground while scoring double-digit touchdowns in each of those seasons. Combine that with the fact that he has only lost five fumbles over that span and you have a player who most would believe is very safe in his role within the Seahawks’ Super Bowl-winning offense. That might not be the case, however, as reports from camp have been that the team is looking to find ways to get 2013 second-round draft pick Christine Michael on the field more often this season. If there is one area where Lynch has not been superb, it has been in the pass-catching department. His 36 receptions in 2013 were his highest total since 2008 and he had failed to reach even 30 receptions during between those years. Still, Lynch has to be considered one of the safest bets to be a top-10 running back this season. Seattle does seem committed on passing the ball more often, but that could still mean 275-plus touches for Lynch.
RB Christine Michael
(2013 RB Rank—#112, 0.4 FPts/G)
Training camp standout Christine Michael has been a hot name this offseason, particularly in dynasty leagues where he is being drafted as the perceived long-term ball-carrier for Seattle once Marshawn Lynch eventually slows down. Michael possesses a unique combination of size and strength, but still has the burst to break into the secondary when given a chance. His bruising running style has been compared to the likes of Adrian Peterson and of course his teammate, Lynch, which makes sense as to why the Seahawks used a second-round pick on him in 2013. While Michael is unlikely to see substantial enough carries on his own to warrant a weekly starting position on your fantasy roster, his situation makes him enticing as a RB5 or RB6 late in drafts, even in redraft leagues. If Lynch gets hurt at some point during the season, Michael could instantly become a top-10 fantasy back in this Seattle offense. That seems unlikely given that Lynch has only missed one game during his entire tenure in Seattle, but the tremendous number of carries that he has taken during that span doesn’t necessarily bode well for long-term health.
WR Percy Harvin
(2013 WR Rank—#169, 0.1 FPts/G)
Perhaps no player in the entire league is more polarizing for the 2014 fantasy football season than wide receiver Percy Harvin. Harvin, who was Seattle’s headline-grabbing offseason acquisition prior to the 2013 season, came very close to never playing a snap for the entire season. He joined the team already injured, but would then see setback after setback before finally getting on the field in Week 11 against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings. Harvin would make one catch for 17 yards before coming off the field again. Harvin would not see the field again until the postseason when he played against New Orleans, making three catches for 21 yards. Another injury would keep him out of an extremely important NFC championship game against the 49ers, but he did finally get back out there in the Super Bowl. Harvin made only one catch for five yards in the big game, but added 45 yards on two carries and made one of the highlight plays of the game with a kick return touchdown. Harvin’s playmaking abilities are unquestioned at this point, but his inability to stay on the field has some experts saying that they would not even bother drafting him. While the risk is certainly involved, Harvin could also be the kind of player who wins an owner his league if he is able to kick the injury bug and stay on the field. Reports in Seattle say that the team is hoping to target Harvin over 100 times, so the opportunities should be there if he can stay healthy. This is the ultimate risk/reward proposition.
WR Doug Baldwin
(2013 WR Rank—#38, 6.3 FPts/G)
As a reliable, but uninspiring receiver, Doug Baldwin became one of Wilson’s favorite targets in 2013 when he caught 50 passes for 778 yards and five touchdowns. While Golden Tate is now gone, a healthy Percy Harvin would mean even less attention going Baldwin’s way this season. Of course, Harvin not seeing the field could also work in Baldwin’s favor in terms of total number of targets. Those targets wouldn’t be quite as high quality given that the defense would be able to focus on him a bit more, but an increase in total targets is always a good thing to see. It’d be hard to expect Baldwin to suddenly become a fantasy force, but a 65-catch season is not out of the question, especially if the Seahawks do live up to their statements of becoming a more balanced offensive attack.
TE Zach Miller
(2013 TE Rank—#22, 3.9 FPts/G)
While he was third on the team in total targets in 2013, tight end Zach Miller represents about as exciting of fantasy prospects as a box of rocks. He made just 33 receptions a season for only 387 yards. While he did make five touchdown receptions, Miller’s 20 total touchdowns in seven seasons shows us that he is not exactly Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham when it comes to being a red-zone threat at the tight end position. Worse yet, Miller will compete with Like Willson for snaps at the position. While Miller is certainly a better blocker, Willson is younger, a better athlete and a more dynamic pass-catcher. Miller is unlikely to be drafted in most fantasy leagues, but could be utilized from time-to-time in bye weeks when the Seahawks are playing against a particularly vulnerable defense.