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2023 Player Outlooks: Seattle Seahawks

By HC Green | 7/26/23 |

Geno Smith

QB Geno Smith
(2022 QB Rank: No.5, 22.2 FPts/G)

A year ago, I didnít even bother to feature Smith in this space, instead writing about Drew Lock under the pretense that Smith winning the job amounted to 17 games of game management that would be of zero interest to fantasy owners. Things change. After passing for less than 200 yards in Weeks 1 and 2, Smith threw for 325 yards in Week 3, and over the remaining 14 games heíd throw for under 200 yards just twice more. His final stat line: 4,282 yards passing, 366 yards rushing, 30 TDs, and 11 INTs.

That performance netted Smith a new three-year, $75 million contract, which is quite the jump after he spent the previous eight seasons as a backup. At 32, Smith should still have some good years left, and Seattle has done a nice job of surrounding him with talent at the skill positions, including potentially one of the best top-three receiver groups in the NFL. Thereís a lot to like about his 2023 outlook.

Despite that, there are reasons for concern. Smithís production faded down the stretch last year, as over the final four games he passed for just 849 yards (212 per game), 4 TDs, and 3 INTs -- those numbers are much more in line with what most projected from the journeyman heading into 2022. Seattle also has a run-based DNA, and as we saw during the brief ďLet Russ CookĒ phase, if the numbers arenít leading to wins, Pete Carroll isnít afraid to go conservative. Consider Smith a capable QB2.

RB Kenneth Walker
(2022 RB Rank: No.18, 13.5 FPts/G)

Last season was supposed to be a mix of Rashaad Penny and Walker, but to the surprise of no one, Penny suffered a season-ending injury after carrying the ball just 57 times. That thrust the then-rookie into the primary role, and he was utilized like a true bell cow with his 228 carries dwarfing those of backups DeeJay Dallas (35) and Travis Homer (19). He got dinged up late, missing Week 14, but he logged 78 rushing attempts over the final three games as he showed his toughness.

One area where Walker failed to impress was as a receiver, catching just 27 passes for the year and managing more than 20 receiving yards in a game only twice. Part of it could be pinned on Seattleís confidence in Homer in pass protection, so with the veteran gone itís possible Walkerís involvement in that part of the game plan will increase. Then again, the Seahawks invested a second-round pick on Zach Charbonnet, and unless he breaks down like Penny did, he should have a meaningful role.

After posting 1,215 yards and 9 TDs as a rookie, Walker looks poised for more. While Charbonnet gives the Seahawks a more competent backup, the Michigan State product is the lead back, and his usage should go up merely based on being in that spot from Week 1 on. Walker will also benefit from a lot of light boxes as teams try to check Seattleís passing attack. Heís a solid RB2.

RB Zach Charbonnet

Outside of Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs, the 2023 draft class at running back wasnít considered particularly strong, though Charbonnet was certainly in the conversation for best of the rest. Whether there was value with the rookie in Round 2 is debatable, but the Seahawks took Walker 11 picks earlier in 2022, so they feel itís a place to target a running back. While itís dangerous to look at collegiate production as a measure for pro success, Charbonnet finished third in the country with 152.7 yards from scrimmage per game last year, making plays as both a runner and receiver.

At 6-foot, 214 pounds, the UCLA product has a good mix of speed, balance, and power, allowing him to break arm tackles and run away from defenders. Heís capable as a pass catcher, and if his blocking is up to snuff, he could see passing-down duty early on. Barring an abysmal camp, Charbonnet should enter 2023 as the No. 2 back in Seattle, and fantasy owners can target him as an RB4.

WR DK Metcalf
(2022 WR Rank: No.14, 13.6 FPts/G)

When Russell Wilson was traded to Denver, Metcalf felt far more likely to retain his value based on the 235-pounderís physical style of play, allowing him to take short passes and power through defensive backs. For the most part, that bore fruit. Metcalf set career highs in targets (141) and receptions (90) while topping 1,000 yards for the second time in four NFL campaigns. The only blemish was watching his touchdown total get cut in half, from 12 in 2021 to six, which was a personal low.

One negative trend that began in Wilsonís final year also continued, as Metcalfís yards per catch fell from 12.9 to 11.6 after dropping down from 15.7 in 2020. He simply hasnít been as involved in the downfield passing game and is becoming more of a chain mover. Perhaps that will change now that Seattle added Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who dramatically upgrades the depth of the receiver room -- to that point, Marquise Goodwin finished third among the teamís wideouts with just 27 catches.

While there are some unknowns with Metcalf, he has fewer than his running mates. At 25, heís in his prime, and his physical style is nearly impossible to fully neutralize. As Seattleís No. 1 receiver, Metcalf is either a low-end WR1 or a very strong WR2 with top-10 upside.

WR Tyler Lockett
(2022 WR Rank: No.13, 15.1 FPts/G)

Long a favorite of Wilson on deep shots, Lockett seemed like a prime candidate for serious statistical regression in 2022. Instead, the veteran made it four straight seasons with 100-plus targets (117), 70-plus receptions (84), 1,000-plus yards (1,033), and 8 or more TDs (9). His big plays did dip, from 22 catches of 20 or more yards in 2021 to 14 last year, but he was arguably more consistent week to week compared to other recent seasons, most notably 2020 when he had 390 yards and 8 TDs in three games and just 664 yards and 2 TDs over the other 13.

Durability has long been one of Lockettís attributes, and he once again showed the ability to play through pain last year, missing just one game after undergoing surgery on his finger. Through eight seasons, the veteran has been inactive just three times. While not a huge target, Lockett has always found ways to make himself available for the catch, which bodes well for him as he enters his age-31 season. Thereís not a lot of upside here, but Lockett should offer reliable WR3 value.

WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Viewed by many as the best of a middling group of receivers in this yearís draft, Smith-Njigba lands in Seattle and has been penciled in to play the slot. While in NFL terms, JSN couldnít ask for much more than to learn from two established pros like Metcalf and Lockett that still demand significant attention from defenses, in fantasy circles itís a bit of a Catch-22. Doubtless the rookie will see a lot of single coverage where his precise route running will serve him well, but when it comes to targets, he may lag behind the established duo -- as noted, the No. 3 receiver a year ago caught 27 passes.

Smith-Njigba missed nearly all last season with a hamstring injury, but heís only a year removed from leading Ohio State in receiving on a team that included Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, both of whom were first-round picks a year ago. Itís easy to see a scenario where JSN goes earlier than he should in fantasy drafts based on name value and the usual love of rookie receivers, but if youíre counting on him delivering more than WR4 production youíre likely overpaying. As a high-upside reserve, Smith-Njigba makes sense. As more, heís a risk.

TE Noah Fant
(2022 TE Rank: No.17, 7.2 FPts/G)

A borderline fantasy starter his last two seasons in Denver, Fant was a bit of a disappointment with the Seahawks last year, finishing with 50 receptions, 486 yards, and 4 TDs. While the touchdowns were on brand, it was 18 fewer catches than the previous year alongside a career low in receiving yardage. What’s arguably more distressing for his outlook is that he finished third on the club in all three categories; it’s simply that the Seattle passing game is all about the receivers, and the addition of Smith-Njigba pushes Fant further down the pecking order. He’s not worth drafting.

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