2015 Team Outlook: Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have had the best defense in the league over the last two years. They have allowed the fewest points in each of the past three seasons, and the fewest yards in the past two. This success left them less than 1 yard away from a second straight Super Bowl title. Over the last three years, Seattle has allowed only 15.2 points per game and has won 36 of 48 regular-season games. They've made the playoffs nine times in the last 12 years with three Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl victory. Pete Carroll returns for his sixth season as the head coach (50-30). In his nine-year career as an NFL head coach, Pete has a 83-61 record with six playoff appearances and one Super Bowl title. Kris Richard was promoted from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator during the offseason. Richard has worked under Carroll since 2008. Darrell Bevell returns for his fifth year as the offensive coordinator. Bevell held the same job title from 2006-10 with the Minnesota Vikings. In 2014, Seattle's offense gained its most yards since 2007 (375.8 per game, ninth-most in the league). They scored 394 points (10th-most), which was a slight step down from the last two years (417 in 2013, 412 in 2012).
Seattle's big move in the offseason was acquiring tight end Jimmy Graham from the New Orleans Saints for center Max Unger and a first-round pick. Graham's dominant receiving and scoring ability should provide a big upgrade to this offense. Unger is a top player at his position when healthy and is best in run blocking.
Guard James Carpenter signed with the New York Jets. James was drafted in 2011 in the first round. The 2011 first-rounder's game never developed as a run blocker. He allowed minimal damage in pass blocking last season (one sack, six QB hits and 14 QB hurries).
Cornerback Byron Maxwell has moved onto the Philadelphia Eagles. He played at a high level in pass coverage in 2013 (29 catches on 58 attempts for 356 yards and three touchdowns with four interceptions). In 2014, his first season as a full-time starter, Maxwell's game faded as he allowed a 64.7 completion rate. However, he gave up just one TD. Cary Williams will replace Maxwell in the starting lineup. Williams was only a league-average player in coverage last year after grading out just below league average in his previous three seasons. Cornerback Will Blackmon was added for depth in the secondary. He offers no real upside after seeing minimal playing time in five of his eight seasons in the league. He missed most of last season with a broken finger.
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams left to play with the Saints. Williams is at the end of his career at age 35. He didn't offer any upside in the pass rush in 2014 and provided losing value in run defense. DT Ahtyba Rubin was added to fill the void. Rubin struggled badly against the run last year and had only one sack. In 2012 and 2013, he was at least an asset against the run. Defensive end O'Brien Schofield signed with the Atlanta Falcons. He had three sacks, nine QB hits and 16 QB hurries in 2014 as a backup player. Linebacker Malcolm Smith will fight for playing time with the Oakland Raiders. The former Super Bowl MVP started last season off slowly after undergoing ankle surgery in late July. He later battled a groin injury. In 2013, he played well in run support and had some success in coverage.
Because of the Graham trade, Seahawks didn't have a first-round pick in 2015. They selected defensive end Frank Clark in the second round. Clark is a power rusher with good quickness. His pass-rushing technique needs refinement, and he needs to add some upper-body strength to help as a run defender. Frank entered the draft with some concerns about his character which were expected to lower his value. Seattle paid full price.
Wide receiver Tyler Lockett was drafted in the third round. He has elite 4.40 40 speed and ran a 4.07 20-yard shuttle. Tyler comes from a football background and is already a solid route runner. He lacks size (5 feet 10, 182 pounds), which hurts his ability to win battles in press coverage and when working the middle of the field. Lockett needs to add more strength. He could do a lot of good as a returner. His style will give Russell Wilson another deep threat with some game-breaking ability from out of the slot.
With its two picks in the fourth round, Seattle tried to beef up the offensive line with guards Terry Poole and Mark Glowinski. Poole has the strength and talent to help as a run blocker. Terry is an athletic player with a short resume. Glowinski will offer more power in run blocking. He'll become better in pass protection as he gains experience.
In the fifth, Seattle invested in CB Tye Smith. His only edge is his quickness (3.96 20-yard shuttle). But Smith has trouble staying with receivers deep down the field and can get overwhelmed by WRs with size. His tackling is well below NFL standards.
DE Obum Gwacham and center Kristjan Sokoli were both drafted in the sixth round. Gwacham is an intriguing prospect who has limited experience on the defensive side of the ball. Prior to 2014, Obum built his career as a WR. His quickness and foot speed translates well as an attacking pass rusher, but he is only 246 pounds. Gwacham needs to add more upper-body strength as well as improve his pass-rushing technique. Sokoli played nose tackle in college, but the Seahawks are moving him to the other side of the trenches. Kristjan plays with above-average strength but will obviously need some time to learn his new position.
Seventh-round safety Ryan Murphy will bring more size (6 feet 3, 214 pounds) and playmaking ability to the secondary.
Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett
The Seahawks led the NFL in rushing yards (2,762) and rushing TDs (20). They averaged 5.3 yards per carry. Seattle allowed 42 sacks. They finished 27th in passing yards (3,250) with 20 TDs and only seven INTs.
Left tackle Russell Okung had a tough year in 2014 as run blocker, which is surprising considering how well Seattle ran the ball. He allowed only two sacks, three QB hits and 21 QB hurries. In 2013, he played at an elite level with an edge in run blocking.
Left guard Alvin Bailey made starts last year at both tackle positions and left guard. He allowed two sacks, two QB hits and 13 QB hurries with slightly below-average value as a run blocker.
Despite trading away Unger, the Seahawks didn't do much to address their center position. Lemuel Jeanpierre looks like the best of the misfits completing for the starting job. However, he has made just eight starts in five seasons and is not an above-average player in run or pass blocking. He'll compete with Patrick Lewis and Kristjan Sokoli for the gig.
Right guard J.R. Sweezy struggled in pass protection in 2014 (four sacks, seven QB hits and 26 QB hurries). Yet Sweezy did improve as a run blocker.
Right tackle Justin Britt had a rough rookie season. He allowed five sacks, six QB hits and 41 QB hurries. Britt was a neutral run blocker.
This line has a ton of downside risk, but great quarterback play and a stud power running back cover up a lot of weaknesses. The center position could be a huge problem if nothing else is done to upgrade it.
The above chart shows the Seahawks' 2015 offensive strength of schedule in terms of rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA) and passing touchdowns (TDS).
This information is based on 2014 stats, which we will work with as our starting point for 2015. We'll look at all the changes on offense for each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades each team has made on the defensive side. We'll update this table when we finish researching all 32 teams.
2014 Average: The league average of each stat from all 32 teams in 2014.
2014 Results: The results for each specific team in the NFL.
2015 Adjustment: The difference between a team's result and the league average in a certain statistic. This number will show if a team is above or below the league average in each stat and will serve as the basis for the strength of schedule.
Seattle really has only one tough run defense to face: the Baltimore Ravens. The Detroit Lions' run defense won't be as good without Ndamukong Suh. The Seahawks also have only one opponent that is truly weak in run defense: the Cleveland Browns. They will have four games against poor pass defenses: the Ravens, the Chicago Bears and the Arizona Cardinals (twice). Their pass attack's toughest matchups will come against the Browns, Vikings and 49ers (twice).
The Seahawks led the NFL with 53.6 percent of their plays dedicated to the run game. Their RBs gained 1,905 yards on 405 carries (4.7 yards per carry) with 14 rushing TDs. The backs caught 19.9 percent of the team's completions. Seattle's tight ends caught 16.7 percent of the action. The wide receivers combined for 183 receptions, 2,120 yards and only seven touchdowns.
QB Russell Wilson, SEA - Stud (low risk)
Week 14 DFS Update (12/12): Over the last three games Wilson has 12 combined TDs, which is more than double his output for the first nine games of the year (10 TDs). During his hot run he has 879 yards passing and 96 rushing yards. His success has somewhat paralleled the improvement of the Seahawks' run game (528 yards) with Rawls in the starting lineup. The Ravens struggled early defending QBs (three 30+ Fantasy points games over the first five games). Over the last four games, QBs have 63.45 Fantasy points (15.9 per game). QBs have 22 passing TDs and five 300+ passing games. Hot player, but I can't see his ticket coming in for a 4th week in a row.
Week 13 DFS Update (12/3): Wilson is making his late season push up the QB rankings after two straight plus games (649 combined yards and eight TDs). He now ranks 8th in the league with 2,723 passing yards, 18 TDs, and 399 rushing yards. He still doesn't have a rushing TD on the year, which is a surprise. The Vikings rank 5th in the NFL in QB Fantasy defense, with no QB scoring over 23.5 Fantasy points. Minnesota allows 6.9 yards per pass attempt, with no team throwing more than two passing TDs in a game. Both teams will run the ball a high percentage of the time so it's tough to believe Wilson will deliver a third straight impact game. The loss of Jimmy Graham will hurt some as defenses won't commit as much attention to defending him. Based on price, he looks like a value, but he's not in play for me.
UPDATE (11/17): Wilson has fallen well short of expectations this season, as have the Seahawks. Now past the halfway point in the season, he is not even in the upper half of Fantasy quarterbacks. He's currently the QB17. Many Fantasy experts predicted he'd be a top-three QB this season. Wilson has already matched his interception total from 2014 and has only accounted for 10 total TDs. His passing numbers aside from the interceptions are actually a bit better than last season. However, his rushing numbers are way down. He's on pace to rush for less than 700 yards and no TDs this season. Last year he rushed for 849 yards and six touchdowns. Hopefully he plays better down the stretch. With that said, he has a terrible offensive line and subpar weapons on the outside. It's far from a lock that he gets this turned around.
(Note: The Seattle Seahawks & New England Patriots team projections were offered for free as part of a promotion for our premium stat projections content. The other 30 teams are only available to premium members.)
After three years in the NFL, Wilson has a 36-12 record with one Super Bowl win and one memorable Super Bowl-losing mistake. His completion rate has been no worse than 63.1 percent in any season despite his subpar receiving talent. Last season, Russell set career highs in completions (285), passing attempts (452), passing yards (3,475), rushing attempts (72) and rushing yards (724). His only area of weakness was his decline in passing TDs, from 26 to 20 over the past two years. It was amazing to see how many times Wilson was able to get easy yards as a runner (10.1 yards per carry). He finished with three 100-yard rushing efforts and six rushing TDs. Russell passed for at least 300 yards twice and finished with fewer than 200 yards seven times. His value in the run game led to him finishing as the No. 6 QB in Fantasy Football World Championships scoring. Jimmy Graham will undoubtedly help, but the WR corps is still well below league average. Wilson's pass attempts per game (28.3) ranked 19.2 percent below the league average of 34.9. The Seahawks' offense is built around its power run game. This limits Russell's opportunity in the passing game, but he could set a career high in touchdowns thanks to Graham. I'm predicting 3,700 passing yards yards and 28 passing scores. Wilson can't help but run for at least 600 yards with another handful of TDs. I expect him to be a top-five Fantasy QB this season.
Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
RB Marshawn Lynch, --- - Stud (low risk)
UPDATE (11/17): Beast Mode has been battling through injuries all season. After nine games he's currently ranked outside of the top 30 Fantasy running backs. Only once on the season has he rushed for 100 yards and has only punched in three TDs. He has only appeared in seven of nine games, but still only has 417 yards on the ground. Injuries and an awful offensive line has played a major role in his shortcomings, nevertheless, that offers little solace to Fantasy owners. If the Seahawks are going to get their season turned around, it's going to be on his shoulders.
Over the last four years, Lynch has averaged 309 touches and has scored 46 TDs in 63 games. Seattle has even leaned on him in the passing game over the past two seasons (73 catches, 683 yards, six receiving TDs). Marshawn has six 1,000-yard campaigns on his resume. Last year, including the playoffs, Lynch was a much better player at home, scoring 13 of his 19 TDs there. He had seven 100-yard rushing games in his 19 starts. Marshawn finished with fifth-most RB snaps (728). In PPR leagues over the past four years, Lynch has finished no worse than sixth in positional scoring. The Seahawks rewarded him with a two-year, $24 million extension in March. Marshawn is a rock in an offense that is built around his skill set. With growth in Seattle's offense, Lynch would have even greater upside. His O-line has plenty of question marks, and Wilson is going to steal some of his rushing TDs. Lynch should gain at least 1,600 total yards with a dozen or so scores. His baseline should be about 270 Fantasy points in PPR leagues.
Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch
RB Christine Michael, --- - Fantasy Handcuff
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Through two seasons, Michael has touched the ball just 53 times. He has averaged 4.9 YPC. He was a part-time player over four years with Texas A&M, where he rushed for 2,781 yards and 34 TDs on 529 carries. Christine also caught 44 passes for 323 yards. Although he doesn't have a clear path to playing time and will have to jump Turbin on the depth chart, Michael is a strong, explosive athlete with 4.55 40 speed and tremendous natural ability. He's worth stashing in deep leagues in case he gets a chance.
RB Thomas Rawls, --- - Bye Week Fill-in
Week 14 DFS Update (12/12): Rawls has over 100 yards rushing in three of his six starts with five TDs (one in each of his last three games). He averages almost 5.6 YPC and 20.3 touches per game. The Ravens rank 6th in the league in RB Fantasy defense, with backs earning only 14.2 Fantasy points over the last four games. RBs are gaining only 3.8 YPC with five TDs. Rawls projections came out high this week due to his plus YPC. Seattle's offense is on the rise, which creates more opportunities for success.
Week 13 DFS Update (12/5): Rawls was a Fantasy trap in Week 12 after his impact game the previous week (255 combined yards, two TDs and three catches). He finished with 21 rushes for 81 yards and TD vs. the Steelers. Over his five games with close to starter snaps, Rawls has averaged 22.2 touches, with three TDs and three games with over 100 yards rushing. The Vikings rank 5th in the NFL in RB Fantasy defense, with seven teams scoring fewer then 20 Fantasy points. RBs only have one TD vs. Minnesota over the last seven games. Fairly priced with a solid opportunity for success, but he has limited value in the passing game with some risk in TDs this week.
UPDATE (9/30): You never know when a player might step up and Thomas Rawls' time unexpectedly in Week 3. The 22-year-old from Central Michigan racked up 104 yards on 16 carries in place of an injured Marshawn Lynch. The presumed backup, Fred Jackson, did absolutely nothing. Rawls is the new handcuff in Seattle for Lynch owners.
RB Robert Turbin, --- - Deep-league Only
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Turbin has acted as the primary backup for Lynch since entering the league in 2012. He's averaged 91 touches per season for 452 yards. He has scored just twice in his career. Robert is another big back. His resume in college was better than third-stringer's Christine Michael, but Michael is much more talented. Robert rushed for 2,813 yards and 41 TDs on 456 carries over his last two seasons at Utah State. He caught 67 passes for 845 yards as well. Turbin is coming off of hip surgery and won't be asked to do much during the preseason, but he's still a solid player with upside if Lynch ever goes down with an injury.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA - Deep-league Only
Week 14 DFS Update (12/12): Lockett had no problem getting open vs. the Vikings. He caught all seven of his targets for 90 yards, which were career highs in all areas. He has caught 79.5 percent of his targets so he should continue to be more involved in the offense with Jimmy Graham out for the season. CB Shareece Wright will give up big plays, so Lockett may score a long TD. His low targets (3.7) does invite failure risk.
Week 13 DFS Update (12/5): Lockett was left out of the WR touchdown party in Week 12. He had WR3 snaps (48), behind Baldwin (53) and Kearse (53). Lockett finished with three catches for 28 yards on three targets. Over the last five games Lockett has 16 catches for 208 yards and three TDs with 18 targets. Talented player with real short targets (3.4 per game).
UPDATE (9/30): With two return touchdowns in just three games, Tyler Lockett is the real deal on special teams. The former Kansas State Wildcats WR is second-coming of Devin Hester. Translating that success into Fantasy production is mountain he will have to climb. With just six receptions for 51 yards in total after Week 3, there may not be enough offense to around to make Lockett a viable Fantasy receiver. Unless your league values return yards, Lockett is a fringe player in even the deepest of formats.