Preseason - 2021 Seattle Seahawks Outlook
Seattle Seahawks Outlook
Since Russell Wilson took over as the starting quarterback for Seattle, the Seahawks made the playoffs eight times over nine years with two Super Bowl berths and one Super Bowl title. Seattle has been in the playoffs 14 times since 2003 with one other Super Bowl appearance.
Pete Carroll has a 145-94-1 record over 15 years as a head coach, with his best success coming with the Seahawks (112-63-1 and a Super Bowl title). He went 98-45-1 over the last nine seasons.
Seattle snatched up a piece of the Rams' coaching staff by signing Shane Waldron to take over as their offensive coordinator. He has seven years of coaching experience in the NFL, with the past three seasons coming as the passing coordinator for Los Angeles. His pro coaching career started in 2008 with New England. Waldron starts the year at age 42.
In 2020, the Seahawks lost momentum in offensive yards (17th – 8th in 2019) while improving slightly in points scored (459 – 8th).
Ken Norton jumped from the 49ers to Seattle to take over as the defensive coordinator in 2018. He worked in the Seahawks system from 2010 to 2014 before landing the defensive coordinator job in Oakland for three seasons. Norton has 12 years of coaching experience in the NFL and 13 seasons as a player. He was part of Seattle's coaching staff that won the Super Bowl in 2014.
The Seahawks haven't found the right pieces in the draft to rebuild their defense. They gave up 371 points (15th), improving by 27 points allowed in 2019 (398). Seattle finished 22nd in yards allowed, four spots better than the previous year.
Their defense lost CB Shaquill Griffin, CB Quinton Dunbar, LB K.J. Wright to free agency.
Griffin has three seasons of experience in the NFL after getting drafted in the third round in 2017. Griffin has been up and down in coverage in his career, but the Jaguars saw enough in him to pay $29 million in guaranteed money over three years.
Dunbar missed 10 games in 2020 due to a knee injury that required surgery. From 2017 to 2019 with Washington, he had 111 combined tackles with six interceptions and 25 defended passes.
Wright remains unsigned after a successful 10-year career with Seattle. He made 218 combined tackles in 2019 and 2020 with two sacks, four interceptions, and 21 defended passes. His run defense came in at the league average or better over the previous six seasons.
Seattle signed DE Aldon Smith, DE Carlos Dunlop, CB Ahkello Witherspoon, and DE Kerry Hyder to the defensive side of the ball.
Smith tends to be better than the league average in run support. His career started in San Fran with dominating sack totals in 2011 (14.0) and 2012 (19.5). However, off-the-field issues led to him missing four seasons and delivering a much lower ceiling when returning to game action in 2020.
Dunlop came to Seattle via a midseason trade in 2020 from the Bengals. From 2013 to 2019, he averaged 55 tackles while delivering 61.5 combined sacks. Before last year, Dunlop played well vs. the run while having four dominating seasons in his resume.
Witherspoon missed 11 games over the previous two seasons while battling multiple injuries. His play in coverage showed growth in 2020, leading to minimal yards per catch and minimal damage in touchdowns allowed.
Hyder rushed the quarterback well in 2016 and 2020, but most of his pressure ended with hits and hurries rather than sacks. The 49ers gave him the most playing time in 2020, and he responded with a bump in success against the run.
The top offensive additions in the offseason were TE Gerald Everett and G Gabe Jackson.
Everett improved in each season with the Rams while setting a career-high in catches (41), receiving yards (417), and target (62) in 2020, but he failed to seize the starting tight end job. Los Angeles drafted him in the second round in 2017.
Jackson played well over his seven seasons with the Raiders in pass protection. His run blocking showed weakness in back-to-back years.
Britt suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in 2019, which led to a lost season last year. Over his first five seasons with the Seahawks, he developed into a reliable player in pass protection. His play in run blocking regressed over the past two years. He signed a minor deal with the Texans.
The other minor losses were RB Carlos Hyde and WR David Moore.
Moore flashed over the past three seasons in Seattle, but he failed to secure a starting job. Moore has 13 touchdowns despite only having 78 catches in his career. He showed big-play ability in 2018 and 2019, when he averaged 17.3 yards per catch.
Seattle only had three selections in the 2021 NFL Draft – WR D'Wayne Eskridge (2.24), CB Tre Brown (4.32), and T Stone Forsythe (6.24).
With defenses focusing on shutting down WR DK Metcalf, Seattle wanted to add another deep threat to take advantage of single coverage on the outside. Eskridge brings speed to burn while creating an edge with his open-field ability. His route running needs plenty of work, pointing to a minimal role out of the gate. Seattle should get some early success out of him in the return game.
Brown comes to the NFL as an undersized player (5"10" and 185 lbs.) who wants to play physically in press coverage. He attacks out of breaks, creating potential turnovers. His challenge comes against wide receivers with size, leading to many penalties. Brown projects well in coverage on special teams.
Forsythe has yet to grow into his massive frame. His technique needs a lot of work in run blocking despite offering the power and strength to reach a higher ceiling. His range and reach create success in pass protection, but speed can cause issues when his eyes trail his first step.
Seattle fell to 12th in rushing yards (1,971) with 15 rushing touchdowns while gaining 4.8 yards per rush with 11 runs over 20 yards. They averaged only 25.7 rushing attempts per game.
The Seahawks dipped to 13th in passing yards (4,245) with 40 passing touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Their offensive line allowed 48 sacks while only attempting 35.2 passes per game.
LT Duane Brown
Brown missed 12 games in 2016 and 2017 after a long career with the Texans. He's a former first-round draft pick (2008) who will start the year at age 36. Brown continues to be an edge in pass blocking while showing a rebound in the run game.
LG Damien Lewis
In his first year in the NFL, after getting drafted in the third round, Lewis made 17 starts at center (one game) and left guard. His run blocking came at an elite level while being exposed in multiple matchups in pass protection. Unfortunately, Lewis struggles with his footwork and quickness, which hurts his value in pass blocking. He'll handle power pass rushers, but his eyes struggle to find second-level pass rushers.
C Ethan Pocic
Pocic won the starting center job last summer, leading to 15 starts. However, he came up short in run blocking while ranking as a below-par player in pass protection. Seattle invested him in the second round in 2017. Pocic has a lot to prove.
RG Gabe Jackson
Jackson brings plenty of experience and success protecting the quarterback position. His run blocking has been leading average in his career while fading over the past couple of years.
RT Brandon Shell
In his five seasons in the NFL, Snell has never played an entire season while being a below-average player in run blocking. His game did improve after moving to Seattle in 2020. He did improve in pass protection, helped by Russell Wilson being mobile.
The offensive line had one top player who doesn't have age on his side. Both guards added up to a positive while the center position and right guard project to have neutral upside.
Early in 2020, Seattle threw the ball well, but their lack of defense was exposed with a faster-moving clock. The Seahawks struggled to pass the ball over the second half of the year, leading to only 6.4 yards per pass attempt. They ran the ball 40.8 percent of the time while doing most of the scoring via the air.
QB Russell Wilson, SEA - Solid/Safe Pick
Wilson had a tale of two halves last season. Over the first eight weeks, he averaged 320 passing yards with 29 combined touchdowns and some success on the ground (37/265/1). He gained 8.6 yards per pass attempt with 28 completions of 20 yards or more (nine plays gained 40 yards or more).
With the bell struck the midpoint of the year, Wilson failed to pass for over 250 yards in any of his final nine starts. He gained only 205 passing yards per game with only 14 touchdowns.
Wilson passed for over 300 yards in five contests on the year while delivering four touchdowns or more in five games.
Fantasy Outlook: Wilson has a developing elite wide receiver, and Tyler Lockett sets a high floor. The tight end position has a chance to be improved, but he can't reach a repeated ceiling in touchdowns without improvement production from his secondary wide receiver.
Wilson comes off the board as the sixth quarterback, which falls in line with his success over the past two years. I understand this excitement and his career resume, but I can't get past his failure in back-to-back seasons over the second half of the year. He makes the players better around him while relying on an offensive line that allows too much pressure and sacks. He has a floor of 4,500 combined yards, with 35 touchdowns being a given. The Seahawks' questionable defense does force him to throw in many contests.
Other Options: Geno Smith, Alex McGough, Danny Etling
RB Chris Carson, SEA - Solid/Safe Pick
The running opportunity in Seattle faded in back-to-back seasons. Last year, they gained 2,005 combined yards with 20 touchdowns and 85 catches while receiving 403 combined touches (474 in 2019 and 535 in 2018).
After gaining over 1,300 combined yards in 2018 and 2019, Carson battled a foot injury last year, leading to four missed games and no games with over 80 yards rushing. Seattle gave him 84 touches over the first five weeks. He averaged almost 20.00 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues (419 combined yards with six touchdowns and 21 catches).
Carson finished the year with 580 combined yards, three touchdowns, and 16 catches on 15.3 touches per game. He did gain 4.8 yards per rush with success also in yards per catch (9.1).
Fantasy Outlook: The Seahawks want to give Carson 20 touches per game while offering a reasonable floor in the passing game. Over the previous three years, he missed seven games. His early ADP (42) in 12-team leagues prices him as the 21st running back off the board. Carson runs hard with value on all three downs. With 275 combined touches, he projects 1,350 combined yards with eight to 10 touchdowns and 50 catches while owning more upside with 17 starts.
RB Rashaad Penny, SEA - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Seattle declined Penny's fifth-year option, putting him in a contract year at age 25. He blew out his ACL in his left knee early in December of 2019, leading to a slow recovery and an empty year (11/34). Over his first 24 games in the league, Penny gained 947 combined yards with six touchdowns and 17 catches while gaining 5.3 yards per rush.
His attraction came from an electric season in his senior year in college (2,383 combined yards with 25 touchdowns and 19 catches). The Seahawks drafted him in the first round in 2018.
Fantasy Outlook: Penny has talent, but his path to meaningful snaps requires an injury. His ADP (166) makes him an easy handcuff to Chris Carson. Seattle won't give him many chances in the passing game, making him an empty carry if needed to start to cover an injury.Injury Status: Injured Reserve
RB DeeJay Dallas, SEA - Deep-league Only
Dallas is a player looking to find his identity in the game of football. In high school, he played quarterback with the idea of becoming a wide receiver in college. Miami moved him to running back, where his game did show some upside and explosiveness (5.8 yards per rush and 11.3 yards per catch).
Over his final two seasons in college, Dallas gained 1,535 combined yards with 14 touchdowns and 24 catches while gaining 5.8 yards per rush.
Seattle gave him 51 touches in his rookie season, leading to 219 combined yards with three touchdowns and 17 catches.
Other Options: Travis Homer, Alex Collins, Josh Johnson
WR DK Metcalf, SEA - Stud (low risk)
The growth of DK Metcalf led to Seattle setting a three-high in catches (236), receiving yards (2,987), touchdowns (26), and targets (340). Their wideouts caught 69.4 percent of their chances.
In his second season with Seattle, Metcalf improved his production by almost 25 percent. He finished with a career-high in catches (83), receiving yards (1,303), touchdowns (10), and targets (129), with a significant jump in his catch rate (64.3 – 58 in 2019).
Despite his success, Seattle gave Metcalf six targets or fewer in six of his 17 games played. He gained over 100 yards in five contests (4/110/1, 4/106, 12/161/2, 7/108/1, and 10/177). Over the first eight weeks, Metcalf did most of his damage (43/788/8). Other than Week 12 (10/177), his game had a step back in value (35/434/4) in eight of his final nine matchups. He averaged 8.1 targets on the year.
Fantasy Outlook: Metcalf finished seventh in fantasy scoring (272.30 fantasy points) in PPR leagues while drawing the sixth hole at wide receiver in early drafts with an ADP of 23. His ceiling in scoring is exceptionally high, and his success commands more chances. The trick to unlocking more targets falls on Seattle attempting more passes. On a path for 100 catches for 1,500 yards with a floor of 12 scores.
WR Tyler Lockett, SEA - Solid/Safe Pick
Lockett finished eighth in wide receiver scoring (265.40 fantasy points) in PPR leagues while posting a career season (100/1,054/10). As great as his stats look, three great games (9/100/3, 15/200/3, and 12/90/2) accounted for 46.4 percent of his production in fantasy points.
After Week 7, he gained fewer than 70 yards in 10 of his 11 starts while scoring under 10.00 fantasy points in six matches. Seattle gave Lockett only 7.1 targets over this span.
He scored 28 times over his last 48 games while continuing to post an exceptional catch rate (75.8 – 74.5 in 2019 and 81.4 in 2018). His only negative from in 2020 was a career-low in his yards per catch (10.5).
Fantasy Outlook: Despite having the best season of his career, Lockett has a lower ADP (60) than in 2020 (57). He currently sits 23rd in the wide receiver draft rankings. There is a lot to like in Lockett, except his peak and valleys can invite mismanagement if he strings a couple of cold games together. Next step: 110/1,200/10 helped by a 17-game schedule.