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Fantasy: Russell Wilson joins Marshawn Lynch as fantasy standout for 2013
Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com looks back at the Seahawks 2012 season from Fantasy perspectives and tells you what to expect from the team’s key performers in 2013.
The 2012 season will be remembered as the year Russell Wilson burst onto the scene as one of the league’s newest stars. Seahawk fans may ultimately recall it as the dawn of a new era. In the somewhat shorter term, Fantasy players will certainly look back on Wilson’s impressive rookie campaign as a pleasant surprise that puts him in the conversations among the Top 10 Fantasy quarterbacks for 2013.
After an impressive preseason, most Fantasy players stayed conservative on Wilson and drafted him in the late rounds as a backup with some longshot promise. By Week 13, though, he was a mainstay on many Fantasy rosters, as he threw 11 TD passes with one interception from Weeks 8 to 13. Wilson was promoted to the starting lineup on many Fantasy teams by the end of that stretch, and responded by boosting many owners to their league championships with his three rushing TDs in Week 15 and four TD passes in Week 16.
Wilson finished ninth overall among QBs with 275.62 Fantasy points in NFL.com leagues, outscoring the likes of Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers and several other passers who were drafted ahead of him during the summer of 2012. Wilson did not throw for 300 yards in a game, but he had 30 total TDs and 13 total turnovers, and that makes him a solid Fantasy starter. His 489 rushing yards also marked him as a true “dual threat” type who can always add rushing yardage and TDs along with his quality passing totals. Wilson truly came on stronger as a scrambling/rushing threat late in the regular season and the playoffs.
Fantasy owners will look at Wilson’s upside and his sound decision-making and will certainly be willing to grab him as a Fantasy QB inside the Top 10 next year, which means he will be drafted as a starter in most leagues. The sure elite will continue to include Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning as the big four, with Cam Newton and Tony Romo off the board next in many leagues. Wilson will then be considered in a following tier with guys like Colin Kaepernick and Matt Ryan, impressive territory for a guy who was an afterthought in 2012 drafts. Wilson will also be strongly considered as a holdover in keeper leagues, and he has tremendous value in dynasty formats because of his youth, maturity and upside.
When we at RotoExperts.com started our Fantasy coverage on Seahawks.com in the summer, one of the first pieces of advice we dished out was to take advantage of some skepticism surrounding Marshawn Lynch. After delivering his best Fantasy season to date in 2011, Lynch was still not earning a first round return in many summer drafts. The naysayers were not quite sold Lynch could repeat such a campaign and cited other various reasons they felt other top RBs were safer or had more upside. If you could get Lynch in the second or third round, we said, you would be getting one of the best early round values on draft day.
Lynch was the same stellar RB he was during the stretch run of 2011, except he delivered outstanding totals from start to finish in 2012. Lynch finished fourth among all RBs in NFL.com leagues this past season with 246.60 points, and after two highly impressive campaigns, there can be no shreds of skepticism remaining among any Fantasy players heading into 2013. He is a surefire first-round pick next season and a prime keeper choice. He has scored 23 rushing TDs in the past two seasons and will turn 27 years old in April, which means youth is still on his side. He is showing no apparent signs of wearing down, either.
The other main piece of advice we imparted to you during the summer was to wait until the final rounds to grab the Seahawks defense. It is a longtime mantra of Fantasy experts to never take a defense until the final rounds. Defensive performances often vary considerably from year to year, and too many owners jump too early for units that finished at the top of the ladder from the previous season. Many inexperienced owners took the 49ers, Steelers and Texans anywhere from the fourth to eighth rounds in drafts, instead of doing their homework and identifying the Seahawks as a prime unit on the rise.
The Seahawks finished the season as the third-best defense in NFL.com Fantasy Football with 182 points, four spots ahead of the 49ers, who were an overwhelming No. 1 defensive choice in most drafts. I saw the Seahawks go several rounds behind the Niners in most drafts, proving the old axiom correct that you do not need to draft a defense early. Only the Bears and Broncos had more Fantasy points than the ‘Hawks, who had the least points allowed (231) and were third in defensive scores (5). They also ranked eighth in interceptions with 18. The Seahawks did not dominate in any one Fantasy category but were very efficient across the board, and much more dependable than most units. Their 41-point outburst in Week 14 against Arizona is already considered one of the greatest defensive Fantasy performances of all time – relive it all right here.
If you play in a Seattle-area league, inexperienced and less savvy owners may draft the Seahawks defense too early next season. But with most of the personnel expected to return intact, that should not be as damaging as defensive “reaches” have been in past seasons.
An often overlooked story was the emergence of Golden Tate as a viable Fantasy player in 2012. Tate was challenged to reach his potential this past season, and responded in admirable fashion. Tate’s seven TD receptions were his most notable Fantasy stat, and he will be drafted as a WR4 with upside next year. Sidney Rice caught the same number of TD passes and remains a fine WR3 when healthy. Zach Miller re-emerged in the offense during the postseason, and will be back on the Fantasy radar as a TE2 in 2013.