Many Fantasy owners have overlooked preseason performances in the past, categorizing exhibition game outings as irrelevant because the statistics do not count and some players don’t let loose fully until the regular season begins. Marshawn Lynch is one of those players who cannot be judged at all during the preseason, as he often sees limited reps, and you know you will get outstanding production from him when it counts most.
Yet experienced NFL watchers and successful Fantasy competitors know that the preseason is indeed very meaningful for many other players who are battling for playing time and looking to move up on depth charts. Seahawk fans can certainly spin tales of Russell Wilson’s preseason heroics in his rookie year as resounding proof of how exhibition game performances can truly matter. You also want to see how those possible sleepers and upside performers may fare. Those who play in keeper and dynasty leagues make sure they get a good look at their potential future stars and prospects. So if you want to keep up with the competition, you simply can’t wave off what happens in the preseason. Your Fantasy scouting should begin during Week 1 of exhibition play. If you have drafted or intend to target any Seahawks in your drafts, you should be watching with a keen eye when the Seahawks open their preseason schedule against the Broncos on Thursday night. Every preseason game is important to monitor as we gauge potential value Fantasy picks and possible rising stars.
The Seahawks have outstanding depth at running back behind Lynch, and exhibition games will afford you a prime opportunity to see what the future holds at the position. Christine Michael has generated a lot of early excitement in Fantasy drafts, and his current NFL.com Average Draft Position of 149.12 will certainly rise with more impressive preseason results. Michael enticed Fantasy players last summer with his unique blend of power and speed. In the 2013 preseason, Michael totaled 122 yards from scrimmage in Week 3 against Green Bay, including a 43-yard TD run. He could eventually be the next standout Seahawks RB to become a prominent Fantasy player in the future. Don’t miss your chance to tune in and see a possible Fantasy standout in the early stages of his pro career. Think of how much promise Shaun Alexander flashed early in his career, and you may be able to one day draw some parallels with Michael.
Of course, we cannot forget about Robert Turbin, either, as he could step right in and start for the Seahawks if needed. Turbin is talented enough that you can believe he could top the RB depth chart for many other NFL teams. He is a perfect and natural fit in the Seahawks offense with his decisive, one-cut style. As you see more of Turbin this preseason, you’ll be convinced to tab him as the handcuff to Lynch in the later rounds. Michael offers significant upside, yet Turbin will serve you very well if he becomes a necessary piece at any point in yearly leagues.
There is going to be a lot to keep tabs on at wide receiver this preseason, especially as we see how a healthy Percy Harvin fits more into the mix on a regular basis. This year, you could see Harvin simply explode and boost your Fantasy team to victories in some weeks. It will be very interesting to see snippets of how the Seahawks intend to utilize him in various ways.
Harvin’s current NFL.com ADP is 57.55, putting him in the sixth round on average. Yet his appeal could rise at least a round if the Seahawks choose to share glimpses of the many ways he can and may be utilized. Harvin has never played in such a balanced offense before, and he may be able to get loose for many big plays downfield. Russell Wilson is sure to enjoy working more frequently with the best pure deep threat he has ever been given the keys to, and the two will surely hook up for some large chunks of yardage in 2014. Add in Harvin’s noted past success as a receiver on screens and his unique ability to challenge defenses as a runner, and you have one of the most explosive and versatile players in Fantasy Football to consider for the upcoming season. This year, Harvin finally gets to play consistently on a team where he simply cannot be swarmed by opponents, and he’ll see more openings to make things happen and pad your Fantasy numbers.
Harvin is also ready to contribute as a returner on special teams, further boosting the appeal of the already elite Fantasy defense/special teams unit. The Seahawks D/ST ADP is 50.43, putting it in the sixth round. In my last entry I discussed how you have to be well prepared to boldly draft the Seahawks D/ST. The presence of Harvin as a regular TD threat only makes them more highly coveted as the prime D/ST choice. If you also play in a league where your receivers receive points for return yardage, Harvin becomes even more appealing.
Elsewhere at receiver, the departure of Golden Tate is boosting the stock of Doug Baldwin and is marking Jermaine Kearse as a nifty sleeper candidate. Baldwin is no stranger to seizing an opportunity, and his current ADP of 148.49 may rise if he continues to shine as a key playmaker like he did in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl last season. Baldwin initially figures to be drafted as a WR4 in many Fantasy leagues, but he does have the ability to eventually merit even higher consideration.
Kearse is not even on the radar yet in some yearly leagues, but there is a very good chance he’ll suddenly become a fast riser on draft boards in the later rounds. Core Seahawk watchers developed an affinity for Kearse last year as he displayed a super tough demeanor and knack for the timely play. This season, Kearse will have more chances to make an impact, and don’t be surprised when you suddenly find yourself considering him for your Fantasy lineup. Kearse is a very deep sleeper candidate because of his willingness to make the key catch, especially when a scoring situation may present itself. You may see Kearse generate some excitement this preseason, and it very well could carry over into the regular season. This could be an important run of exhibition games for Kearse as he possibly becomes a bigger part of the Seahawks passing game.
Keeper and dynasty leaguers will also want to get a good look at rookie Paul Richardson, who could become another notable downfield threat for Wilson at some point. He has considerable potential as a big-play performer. The preseason will also give keeper and dynasty owners a chance to see how tight end Luke Willson is progressing as a pass-catcher. Willson showed last year that he can make an important reception when needed, and he looked like a guy who can make things happen after the catch. He may develop into a very solid Fantasy TE in the future.
So as the preseason opens for the Seahawks, there is much to observe if you are targeting players for your Fantasy usage this year or for future purposes. There are also other notable players around the league who deserve your attention in exhibition play.
At running back, Trent Richardson and Ray Rice are looking to bounce back, and the path to renewed success begins with playing well in preseason games. Doug Martin is also hoping to rebound and can build confidence in exhibition play. It will be interesting to see how Toby Gerhart and Ben Tate look initially as they move from backup roles to starting opportunities with their new teams.
Among wide receivers, DeSean Jackson and Cordarelle Patterson will stir a lot of interest this summer. Jackson is a top weapon on what promises to be a rejuvenated Redskins offense, and Patterson could take the next steps to becoming a Fantasy star. If he shows he has improved fundamentally this preseason, Patterson is going to be a hot Fantasy commodity as a WR2. Tavon Austin, DeAndre Hopkins and Rueben Randle will be watched closely in exhibition play as potential breakthrough performers. Rookie Brandin Cooks will get the opportunities to build on a strong camp. The values and ADPs of players like Austin, Hopkins , Randle and Cooks could rise significantly if they play well in the preseason.
No quarterback may be in a brighter spotlight than Robert Griffin III this preseason. There’s a lot of hope that with a new head coach (Jay Gruden) and the addition of Jackson, he can regain his fine Fantasy form of 2012. Of course, the battle in Cleveland will be a major storyline, as Johnny Manziel has some QB2 potential in Fantasy leagues. Teddy Bridgewater may fare well as a Fantasy QB2 also if he can earn a starting job. At tight end, look for possible continued strides from Zach Ertz and Ladarius Green.
Scott Engel is an 18-year veteran of the Fantasy industry and was an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association’s Hall of Fame. For more in-depth Fantasy Football analysis from Scott and his team at RotoExperts.com, register now for the Xclusive Edge Fantasy Football package right here and take advantage of a very special discount offer for Seahawks fans!