After finishing as the 9th and 11th ranked fantasy quarterback during his first two years in the league, Wilson enjoyed a breakout season in 2014, reaching career highs in passing yards with 3,476, rushing yards with 849 and rushing touchdowns with six while also throwing for 20 touchdowns. That propelled him to a 6th place ranking amongst fantasy quarterbacks and if some pundits are to be believed, Wilson could join Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck in the top tier of fantasy quarterbacks in 2015. But you won’t read that here. While we expect the Seahawks the throw the ball more this season due to the addition of tight end Jimmy Graham, and that should translate into Wilson topping his career-high of 26 touchdown passes, we also expect his rushing production to take a hit. Basically, let’s blow up the theory that the Seahawks are going to change their offense philosophy in a major way AND Wilson will become the first quarterback in the history of the league to top 800 rushing yards in consecutive seasons. Seattle has a winning formula that we expect them to stick to but Graham’s presence should see an uptick in Wilson’s passing attempts (he has averaged just 417 per season). He rates as a mid-tier QB1 but hold off on adding him until Rodgers, Luck, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have come off the board.
With 5,357 rushing yards, 1,091 receiving yards and 56 touchdowns over the last four full seasons in Seattle, Lynch has been a consistent high-end fantasy producer. Of course, with 1,305 regular season touches during that stretch and approaching his 30th birthday (next April), Lynch does have some wear and tear on his tires. But as the key cog in the Seattle’s offense and the fact that he showed absolutely no signs of decline last season despite a heavy workload (385 touches including the playoffs), we fully expect Lynch to continue his productive ways in 2015 despite the offseason addition of tight end Jimmy Graham. Robert Turbin, his main backup last season, underwent offseason hip surgery and Christine Michael has shown little during his first two years in the league, so we expect Lynch to remain a workhorse back in 2015. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 9.9 yards per reception while scoring a career high of 17 touchdowns last season. Feel free to grab Lynch after the first tier of running backs go off the board.
Two years into his career, Michael is well on his way to reaching bust status after having been taken in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Despite possessing outstanding size and measurable, Michael has just 52 carries during his short career. Even more troubling is that he has been unable to unseat journeyman Robert Turbin as Marshawn Lynch’s main backup even though Turbin lacks upside and will almost never earn a starting role. In fact, there were offseason whispers that Michael’s roster spot could be in jeopardy. Nonetheless, even considering his lack of production thus far, we do expect that Michael would, at a minimum, split the workload with Turbin in the event of a Lynch injury with an outside chance that he would take over as a workhorse type runner. That makes Michael worthy of a late round flyer in most leagues.
For the second consecutive year, Turbin fought off Christine Michael to hold onto the backup running back position behind Marshawn Lynch. And for the second consecutive year, Turbin barely registered a blip on the fantasy radar, gaining 310 yards on the ground, 186 receiving yards and scoring twice. While it’s easy to love Turbin due to his outstanding effort and the intangibles that he brings to the Seahawks team, it’s not so easy to love his fantasy prospects in 2015. He is entering the final year of his rookie contract and coming off offseason hip surgery, two factors that will likely increase the appeal of the Seahawks using Michael as Lynch’s main backup. Even if Turbin wins the main backup role due to his superior ability as a receiver and in pass protection, we fully expect that Seattle would either use Michael as their starter in the event of a Lynch injury, or a committee approach with Michael and Turbin splitting time.
Entering his fifth year in the league, Baldwin has carved out an important role in the Seahawks offense as their leading wide receiver, reaching 778 receiving yards in three of the last four years but only finding the end zone 15 times after coming into the league as an undrafted free agent in 2011. While Baldwin has exhibited decent playmaking ability during his time in Seattle, he has yet to top 100 targets in a season. That severely limits his fantasy appeal. Plus his best seasons have come when he hasn’t had much competition for targets. Well, with Jimmy Graham now at tight end and the addition of Tyler Lockett in the draft and Chris Matthews perhaps earning a greater role after his performance in the Super Bowl, Baldwin is very unlikely to improve upon his 825 yard, three touchdown performance from a year ago. He rates as a low end WR4 with little upside.
Three years into his career, Kearse has emerged as a solid if not spectacular starting wide receiver in a Seahawks offense that is often more interested in its receivers blocking ability than their ability to catch the ball. Okay, maybe that’s stretching it but the point is that Kearse is a willing blocker and that’s a key reason he holds onto a starting role. But even though he increased his production last season to 38 receptions for 537 yards and a touchdown, we don’t view Kearse as a breakout candidate in 2015. Tight end Jimmy Graham has been added to the Seahawks offense, both Doug Baldwin and Ricardo Lockette are back and Chris Mathews and rookie Tyler Lockett will be looking to earn roles as well. Although Kearse enjoyed a solid run in the playoffs, showcasing some playmaking ability with seven receptions for 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns in three games, we can’t recommend having him on your fantasy squad in 2015.
On the one hand, the Seahawks traded four draft picks in order to move up and select Lockett with the 5th pick in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. Of course, we also have pretty much zero faith in the Seahawks ability to either develop or properly utilize their wide receivers (note Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice). At 5’11” and 175 pounds, Lockett doesn’t appear to have the size necessary to emerge as a consistent outside weapon but he does possess outstanding speed and agility and joins an offense that lacks upper tier talent at the wide receiver position. However, in an offense that relies heavily on the run and will feature tight end Jimmy Graham in the passing game and a plethora of wide receivers that, while not looking pretty, have carved out productive roles, we don’t expect Lockett to see enough volume to have fantasy value during his rookie season. He rates as a mid-tier dynasty prospect.
Have you ever watched a player and come away so impressed that you were convinced based on just one game that they would have a long, productive career in the NFL? Only to find out later that one game doesn’t make a career? Meet Chris Matthews. Undeniably productive in the Super Bowl with four receptions on five targets for 109 yards and a score, Matthews will have a chance to earn a larger role in 2015 than he did as a 24 year-old rookie last season. The former CFL player had exactly zero targets in the regular season. At 6’5″ and 218 pounds, he has the look of a solid red zone option on a Seahawks team that lacks size at the wide receiver position. That was until they added tight end Jimmy Graham in the offseason. C’est la vie (English translation – that’s life). Matthews is for dynasty leaguers only but I have to admit that I am mildly intrigued.
After being taken in the 2nd round of last year’s draft, Richardson struggled for much of his rookie season before finally managing to string together a pair of decent performances to conclude the regular season, catching five passes for 52 yards against the Cardinals in Week 16 and hauling in five passes for 60 yards against the Rams in Week 17. Then his momentum was halted as he suffered a torn ACL in the Seahawks playoff win over the Panthers. Possessed with solid deep speed, Richardson will open training camp on the PUP list. Once he returns, he will battle Jermaine Kearse, Chris Mathews and rookie Tyler Lockett for the scraps left over from Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin. Suffice it to say that Richardson has little fantasy appeal in redraft formats and his dynasty league potential took a huge hit due to the ACL injury (the second of his career).
With his offseason trade from the Saints to the Seahawks, Graham leaves one of the league’s most pass happy offenses for one whose winning offensive formula has been ground and pound. Coming off a disappointing season in which he played through a shoulder injury that limited his effectiveness, Graham will look to improve on his 2014 production of 85 receptions, 889 yards and 10 touchdowns during his first season in Seattle. With the Seahawks, Graham will be joined by a quarterback that isn’t afraid to take off running in Russell Wilson together with one of the league’s most punishing and effective goal line rushers in Marshawn Lynch. Of course, the flipside of that is that the Seahawks lack a true number one wide receiver (some might suggest they lack two quality starting wide receivers) so Graham should lead the team in targets by a healthy margin.