Three weeks of the preseason have concluded for the Seahawks, which means the next time the starters get serious playing time, it will be in the first game of the 2015 regular season. For the next week-plus, Fantasy Football players will be drafting their rosters for this year as the Seahawks make final preparations with a goal of a third consecutive trip to the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Fantasy owners will be constructing their own championship contenders.
Here's the outlook for the key Seahawks you may be able to secure Fantasy rights to this year, along with league-wide tips and tidbits for every important position in your lineup.
Russell Wilson is coming off the best season of his career from a Fantasy perspective, with his 327.60 points on NFL.com putting him third behind only mega-superstars Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck. He now is being drafted higher than ever as a result in NFL.com leagues, as the third QB selected overall. His Average Draft Position is 28.94, putting him in the third round. There is no other player at his position that can match his dual production of passing and running. In so many Fantasy formats, where you may get four points for a TD pass and one point for every 10 rushing yards, Wilson will continue to give you a unique statistical base that gives him considerable upside in any given week.
With the addition of Jimmy Graham and the drafting of Tyler Lockett, Wilson will also be playing with the most impressive group of pass-catchers he has ever entered a new season with. With the ultra-dependable Doug Baldwin and timely big-play threat Jermaine Kearse also returning, plus a big red zone target in Chris Matthews, Wilson could post his best passing totals yet. He may break his career high of 26 TD passes. He's a strong bet to finish as a Top 5 Fantasy QB again.
While it's smart to wait on a QB in Fantasy drafts, you can still get Wilson in round four or five of some leagues. That's also a good time to consider Ben Roethlisberger, who should have a big passing season working with Antonio Brown. Tony Romo is being picked in the seventh round of NFL.com drafts, and he is a very good value there or later, as Dallas could throw the ball more often this season. Ryan Tannehill, also going in the seventh round, will be playing in an up-tempo offense that will feature some read option looks, and he could be one of the best passing/running dual threats at QB outside of Wilson.
I have Marshawn Lynch ranked second at running back and third overall in my PPR rankings at RotoExperts.com. He's the fifth RB off the board in NFL.com standard drafts, with an ADP of 5.52. I have also seen him last until the late part of the first round. But why wait until even the fifth spot to take Lynch? When you get an opportunity to take the most reliable player in Fantasy Football in terms of annual excellence, you should not pass up the opportunity.
Reassurance is so hard to come by in Fantasy Football, and Lynch is as close as you can get to a safe pick. When you also consider how fast the very best RBs come off the board in many drafts, Lynch becomes even more of a coveted gem. He has enjoyed an illustrious Fantasy run as a Seahawk, finishing in the Top 4 NFL.com RBs in every season dating back to 2011.
Lynch has such a high statistical floor, and there are no apparent reasons to doubt he can be near the top of his position in 2015. He has only missed one game over the past four seasons. Lynch has shown no signs of wearing down despite his combative style of running, and it's clear he is unique among his peers at his position. The Seahawks do a fine job of managing him and keeping him available. Simply pick Lynch as soon as you get the early opportunity, and you can simply lock in one lineup spot for consistency and high production every week. With the more diverse offensive options in place this season, he could see even more open running lanes. PPR leaguers should be reminded that Lynch has caught 73 passes over the past two seasons, with four TD catches in 2014.
Adrian Peterson is the first RB being picked in NFL.com drafts, and he could be ready to provide another memorable season, as he works with Norv Turner for the first time. The Minnesota offensive coordinator has helped legendary RBs such as Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson reach incredible heights in the past. Jeremy Hill could become the next player compared to Lynch, with a blend of physical running and quickness plus the potential to score frequently. Latavius Murray showed off his promise last season and may emerge as a prime RB2 in Fantasy. Rookie T.J. Yeldon may emerge as a dependable Fantasy starter as a key piece of an improving Jaguars offense.
TIGHT END/WIDE RECEIVER
Jimmy Graham is listed as a tight end and has been working even more as a blocker since he came to the Seahawks. Yet Fantasy players with experience know he can rival the numbers of some of the best WRs in the virtual game. When the Seahawks acquired Graham, they may have landed their biggest name in receiving since Steve Largent. Now they have the man also regarded as one of the clear elite TEs in Fantasy Football since 2011.
There are two top-shelf TEs in Fantasy that annually stand with the very best at their position every year, and that is Graham and Rob Gronkowski. Graham is easily the second TE off NFL.com draft boards this season with an ADP of 30.34. Moving to the Seahawks offense, where efficiency has reigned in recent seasons over volume, has made some Fantasy players wonder if Graham's role will change and his Fantasy value may be altered.
No matter what uniform he would wear, though, Graham is still the same matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He is too fast for linebackers and too big for defensive backs to handle. Graham is a red zone target and formidable downfield playmaker that Wilson will greatly enjoy because of the new dimensions he brings to the passing game. With the other threats of Lynch and Wilson as a runner and a passer who can spread the ball around if needed, opposing defenses cannot devote extra attention to Graham on a regular basis. He also becomes a prime red zone threat instantly. Graham will remain among the elite in his position as the very sound decision-making of his QB assures him of getting important targets frequently. Once again, Graham will challenge to lead his position in Fantasy production.
Luke Willson showed real flashes of potential last year as he improved as a pass-catcher who was effective as both a possession receiver and after the catch threat. He should still make an impact when the Seahawks run two TE sets and he is worth bye week consideration. Elsewhere at the TE position, Travis Kelce seems set for a big breakthrough season. Kyle Rudolph and Vernon Davis are candidates to have nice rebound years, and Richard Rodgers has the look of a Fantasy sleeper in a high-powered offense.
I have been recommending rookie Tyler Lockett as a late round prize at WR. He might conjure up memories of Golden Tate as a Seahawk. Like Tate, he is tough, determined and can make defenders miss after the catch. Lockett is a fine dynasty league candidate. He'll be working with veterans Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, who will teach him the finer points of the game as Lockett wows with his natural talents.
Baldwin and Kearse will once again be fine picks for Fantasy depth at WR. With 66 catches last year, Baldwin reminded us that he can be a very capable WR4 in PPR leagues. Kearse's postseason heroics are well documented, and his propensity to score at any time makes him a respectable Fantasy WR5. Chris Matthews is expected to build on his Super Bowl heroics and can offer Fantasy TD promise in any given week.
Julio Jones could challenge to be the best WR in Fantasy Football this year, and is a complete steal on NFL.com right now with an ADP of 17.82. Brandin Cooks and Jordan Matthews will become featured pass-catchers in quality offenses and both are big breakthrough candidates. Andre Johnson may have a stellar year working with Luck and he should be a fine WR2. Charles Johnson and John Brown are often being drafted as WR4s, and could emerge as very good Fantasy starters who outperform expectations.
Once again, the Seahawks defense is the first unit being picked in most drafts. It's a sensible move when you consider so many units fluctuate in value from year to year. Like Lynch, the defense offers the appeal of a safe selection with high performance results expected again. With the core of the unit mostly intact again, continuity will lead to another top Fantasy finish at the position. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril will spearhead a ferocious pass rush again, and the return of Brandon Mebane can only help the run defense. The opportunistic defense is of course highlighted by a secondary that is highly trained to force turnovers and features the best pure interception threat in the league, Richard Sherman. Sacks and turnovers will again be the hallmark of the unit.
Lockett, however, adds a dynamic new Fantasy dimension to the unit with his game-breaking return abilities. There could be extra TDs from the Seahawks DST this year because of the rookie. Kicker Steven Hauschka should be among the very best at his Fantasy position as the offense moves him into place for frequent scoring opportunities.
Other DSTs to strongly consider this year include Miami, which added Ndamokung Suh to a defensive front that also features Cameron Wake, and Denver, which now has mastermind coordinator Wade Phillips guiding a group loaded with talent.
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