It's August, and that means two exciting points of the year have arrived: The start of the Seahawks preseason, and the arrival of Fantasy Football draft month. You can now register for free leagues on NFL.com, and customize your own or join a NFL-managed league. It's also time to reactivate your existing leagues. Now is also the time to start studying and absorbing information. We are entering our fourth season of exclusive and in-depth Fantasy coverage here on Seahawks.com, and while this is the prime destination for specific in-depth Fantasy info on top Seahawks selections, we'll get you well prepared by providing important bits of information and analysis on the entire NFL player pool.
This year's coverage begins with a Fantasy salute to those fans who are as passionate about their Fantasy leagues as they are about their favorite team: The 12s. So we begin our preseason and draft prep here with 12 important Fantasy items to know about and absorb as the 2015 Seahawks ready for a new season and you look forward to a new Fantasy campaign.
1 - The Seahawks Defense/Special Teams Is First Off The Board This Season In NFL.com Drafts, Which Is No Surprise
Last year, the unit finished sixth among defenses on NFL.com. Picking the Seahawks defense won't guarantee that you'll have the top-scoring unit in Fantasy Football this year. But at a position where personnel changes so much from year to year, and results fluctuate from season to season, the Seattle defense is as close to a safe pick as you get. With much of the key personnel returning, especially with Bobby Wagner running the middle again, Richard Sherman pairing with the fine safeties, and Michael Bennett back on the line, this unit appears to be a near-lock to finish in Top 5 again. Just don't jump too early to pick the defense, though, as the current average round of seven is too early when other key skill position players are still available.
2 - Jimmy Graham Remains The Second Tight End Off The Board In NFL.com Drafts, Which Is Nothing New
The widespread perception about Graham is that he is going from the pass-heavy offense that he was part of in New Orleans to a more run-based unit in Seattle. Yet Russell Wilson has never worked with a totally unique playmaker like Graham, and he'll be going to him often on key passing downs, when he gets a good matchup downfield, and in the red zone. Graham is going to be a very busy man with his new team, and I am projecting him to catch 75 passes for 850 yards and nine TDs on RotoExperts.com. He's still going to give you a tremendous advantage over other teams in your league at a very thin position. Josh Hill is a big, athletic pass-catcher and a very notable red zone threat with Graham's former team and could finish Top 10 at the position.
3 - That's Russell Wilson's Uniform Number, And Where He's Going In Drafts Among Top Fantasy Quarterbacks
Wilson's NFL.com ADP of 29.92 puts him in the third round of drafts and only Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck are going ahead of him. Last year, Wilson also finished third behind those two as he had the best Fantasy season of his career with 327.60 points on NFL.com. With Graham now giving Wilson a distinctively new weapon to work with, you could see a shift in his numbers, with more prolific passing and possibly a slightly reduced emphasis on running and scrambling. There may be even more balance in the Seattle offense this season, and Wilson is a very good bet to remain in the Top 5 at his position this year. Ben Roethlisberger leads an explosive Pittsburgh offense and could crack the Top 5 for the second consecutive season as well.
4 – That's How Many Mock Drafts You Should Do At Minimum This Month Before You Draft For Real
New mocks start every few minutes in the NFL.com Mock Draft Lobby and they are great practice for seeing where you may be able to get players like Graham, Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks defense in real drafts. Mocking is like when the pros play preseason games, you need reps to get sharp. But also keep in mind that every draft, mock or real, is different, and you should be ready to adjust on the fly in any draft and not stick to a rigid plan.
5 - Marshawn Lynch Is Currently The Fifth Overall Pick In NFL.com Standard Leagues
According to FantasyPros.com, Lynch is going sixth overall in PPR drafts. I personally have Lynch ranked third overall, because no other RB in Fantasy Football has offered such an excellent annual combination of high-level production and durability over the past few seasons. He has finished in the Top 4 at RB in standard NFL.com scoring in each of the past four seasons, and has caught 73 passes over the past two years for those who play in PPR formats. Lynch has shown absolutely no signs of major wear and tear yet and he is as safe as you get among the top-shelf overall selections. I get absolutely overjoyed when I see him slipping as far as the second round in some drafts. Take full advantage of that possible mistake others make by passing on him.
6 – This Is Approximately The Round You Should Start Thinking About Drafting A Starting QB, Especially In Leagues That Award Four Points For A TD Pass
There really is not a need to grab a Luck or a Rodgers early when there is such quality depth at the position. I've seen Wilson go anywhere from rounds four to seven in early drafts. Get those quality RBs and WRs first, and you may still end up with Russell as your starting QB.
7 – By The Seventh Round Of Your Draft, You Should Have About Seven Starting Lineup Spots Filled
After that, then you can start thinking about grabbing picks for depth and value beyond your projected top seven. By that point you should have filled out two RB slots, three WRs, a flex player and a QB or TE. If you don't get Graham or another top TE early, you may be able to wait longer than the seventh for a decent pick. In some cases you can get a pretty good QB after the seventh, too. Leave the defense and kicker until the final rounds.
8 – You're Looking At The Week 8 Game For The Seahawks At Dallas, And Figuring That Could Be A Big Game For Marshawn Lynch
That's because the Seahawks may want to play ball control and wear down the Cowboys defense while controlling the clock. You also like the looks of the Week 11 and 12 matchups with Pittsburgh and San Francisco. But don't get too caught up in looking too far ahead schedule-wise. Your Fantasy team will change a lot by then, and so will a lot of trends in the NFL. Schedule analysis is based too much on last season, just draft guys like Lynch because they are fine picks, not on a schedule based on last year's results.
9 – That's The Seahawks' 2015 Bye Week
You should mark it down on your Fantasy calendar, but not plan rigidly for it in your draft. Again, your team will change a lot even throughout the course of the first few weeks, so don't draft to replace a player in Week 9 when you may not even keep the backup to Lynch or Wilson that you initially pick.
10 – Seahawks Rookie WR Tyler Lockett Checks In At 10 Inches Above Five Feet Tall
Lockett is certainly worth a late-round Fantasy flier, as smaller wideouts have really started to make their mark in Fantasy Football, with no better example than Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown. Lockett is sharp and polished and could be a quality chain mover for the Seahawks who displays good techniques and playmaking potential. He has some sleeper potential. Arizona's John Brown is another "smaller" WR to watch this year, he has explosive talent and could be a real breakthrough performer.
11- That's How Many Targets Doug Baldwin Had In His Best Game Of The 2014 Season
Baldwin caught seven of those 11 targets for 123 yards and a TD. Don't forget Baldwin as a bye week plugger for your starters, he can contribute effectively to your Fantasy team when the matchup is right.
12 – That Is Your Number, As A Dedicated Seahawks Fan
Yet you should never draft with your heart, as you should always go for the best available players first and foremost. It's a great bonus to end up with your favorite Seahawk on your Fantasy team. But don't plan for it that way, as successful drafting involves being able to adjust on the run and not focusing on specific players, but tiers and groups of possible selections in every round.
Scott Engel is an 19-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 by entering the promocode "seahawks" at checkout.