2022 Seattle Seahawks Team Outlook
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The new era for the Seattle Seahawks started in the offseason after trading away QB Russell Wilson and having their first losing season (7-10) since 2011. The new beginning starts with QB Drew Lock and TE Noah Fant, blended with their two star wideouts (DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett). The Seahawks' defense struggled to get offenses off the field last year, leaving Seattle with many questions to answer before moving back up their division rankings. In addition, the running back position has a chance to be improved with the addition of Kenneth Walker and a late-season by Rashaad Penny.
Seattle ran the least amount of plays (908) in 2021. They ranked poorly in rushing and passing attempts. The Seahawks want to run the ball despite having impact talent in the passing game. The most significant difference this season will be the late-game wins by the quarterback position.
The Seahawks ran the ball well last year, leading to three-year highs in yards per carry (5.1) and touchdowns (15). However, their running backs failed to score in the passing game, with a low ranking in catches (59), receiving yards (462), and targets (68).
Over the past three seasons, the Seahawks' wideouts accounted for about 69% of their receiving yards while scoring 71 touchdowns. The most significant difference from 2020 to 2021 was a regression in their catch rate (69.4 – 61.8).
Despite having below-average talent at tight end, the Seahawks produced similar stats over the past three seasons. Their yards per catch ranked poorly each year while offering strength in their catch rate (73.2). This year, Seattle added an upgrade at tight end, but the change at quarterback does damper expectations.
Pete Carroll has a 152-104-1 record over 16 years as a head coach, with his best success coming with the Seahawks (119-73-1 and a Super Bowl title). He went 105-55-1 over the last 10 seasons.
Seattle snatched up a piece of the Rams' coaching staff by signing Shane Waldron to take over as their offensive coordinator in 2021. He has eight years of coaching experience in the NFL, with four seasons as the passing coordinator for the Rams and Seahawks. His pro coaching career started in 2008 with New England. Waldron starts the year at age 43.
Seattle slipped to 16th in points scored (395 – 64 fewer than 2020) and 20th in offensive yards. Their offense faded in back-to-back years.
Clint Hurtt takes over as the defensive coordinator after working as the Seahawks' assistant head coach and defensive line coach from 2017 to 2020. His coaching career in the NFL started in 2014 for the Bears.
Seattle gave up 366 points (11th), an impressive finish considering they ranked 28th in offensive yards. Their defense struggled to get offenses off the field over the past three years.
Seattle inched up to 11th in rushing yards (2,074) with 18 rushing touchdowns while gaining 5.0 yards per rush with 18 runs over 20 yards. Despite their success, they averaged only 24.3 rushing attempts per game.
The Seahawks regressed to 21st in passing yards (3,815) with 30 passing touchdowns and seven interceptions. Their offensive line allowed 46 sacks while only attempting 29.1 passes per game.
The first step in rebuilding their offensive line came in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft by adding LT Charles Cross. His style and strength project well in run blocking, but speed rusher may give him fits early in his career. Seattle may wheel out incoming rookie RT Abraham Lucas as a starter after selecting him in the third round this year. His ceiling looks higher in pass protection. The best chance for improvement comes from the combination of C Austin Blythe and G Gabe Jackson. Both players have plenty of experience in the NFL.
This offensive line is loaded with questions and risks. I expect growing pains with protecting the quarterback remaining an issue.
Seattle parted ways with two top players from their defense (LB Bobby Wagner and S D.J. Reed), who signed for a combined $69 million with the Rams and the Jets. The Seahawks offset their losses by bringing in LB Uchenna Nwosu and DT Quinton Jefferson. On offense, the only potential starting upgrade looks to be G Austin Blythe. TE Gerald Everett found a new home with the Chargers.
Besides their two additions on the offensive line and RB Kenneth Walker III, the Seahawks invested four picks for the pass rush (DE Boye Mafe – 2.8 and DE Tyreke Smith – 5.15) and the cornerback position (Coby Bryant – 4.4 and Tariq Woolen – 5.10). Their final two darts came at the wide receiver (Bo Melton – 7.8 and Dareke Young – 7.12).
Seattle plummeted to 17th in rushing yards allowed (1,932 yards) with 16 touchdowns and eight runs over 20 yards. Rusher gained 3.8 yards per carry with 29.9 attempts per game. Their failure against the run was more of a volume issue due to their defense struggling to get offenses off the field.
The Seahawks repeated their 31st ranking in passing yards allowed (4,513) with 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Their defenses finished with 34 sacks.
Their secondary has two above-average players at safety, but the cornerback position looks to be in full rebuild mode. LB Jordyn Brooks posted an incredible season in tackles (184), but receivers dusted him for many scores and yards with a high completion rate. Seattle must develop two other linebackers in 2022. No other player stands out on the defensive line.
Seattle has the coaching staff to put their defenders in good positions, but they can't plug all those weaknesses in one offseason. As a result, I have no fantasy interest in the Seahawks' defense in 2022.
QB Geno Smith, SEA - Deep-league Only
When asked to start last year with Russell Wilson injured, Smith passed 702 yards with five touchdowns and one interception over four games. His completion rate (68.4) was the best of his career while gaining 7.4 yards per pass attempt. He added nine rushes for 42 yards and one score.
Smith has a 13-21 record over his eight years in the NFL after getting drafted in the second round in 2013. He has more interceptions (37) than touchdowns (34). Over his first two seasons, Smith chipped in on the ground (72/366/6 and 59/238/1).
Fantasy outlook: Smith has a slight lead on the starting QB job in Seattle but has proven over his career that he is little more than a short-term answer. He showed solid chemistry last season with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in a 4-game substitute role, but he's little more than a mediocre QB2 in a Superflex format even if he beats out Drew Lock.
QB Drew Lock, SEA - Deep-league Only
Over three seasons with Denver, Lock went 8-13 with 30 combined touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Teddy Bridgewater beat him out for the starting job last year. He battled a shoulder issue late in the season.
In his short career, his completion rate (59.3) and yards per pass attempt (6.7) ranked poorly with some help in the run game (72/285/5). Lock gained over 300 passing yards three times in his 21 career starts.
When at his best in 2017 at Missouri, he passed for 3,964 yards over 13 starts with 44 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Fantasy outlook: The starting job for Seattle is up for grabs, so Lock has a lot to prove over the summer. His game may play better in an offense with a strong running game and the ability to attack deep. In the National Fantasy Football Championship, he ranks 60th at quarterback. At best, Lock will be a one-game fill-in for a fantasy drafter swimming on the waiver wire during a bye week.
RB Kenneth Walker III, SEA - Quality Backup
After two quiet seasons at Wake Forest (217/1,158/17 with six catches for 47 yards), Walker pushed his game higher after transferring to Michigan State. He gained 1,725 combined yards with 19 touchdowns and 13 catches. His best success came in three matchups (23/264/4, 29/233/1, and 23/197/5).
Walker did an excellent job mixing up his run cadence last season. When asked to fire up the middle, he had the vision and speed to create big plays. At the same time, he would delay his forward motion to help his blockers and possibly create running lanes. Walker has the quickness and burst to get himself out of jail in tight quarters on some runs. His willingness to retreat on a lost play and reverse direction led to some success at Michigan State, but this thought process could kill some drives in the NFL if Walker takes significant losses. He's had limited chances in the passing game, but his game may improve in this area over time. Walker did get a negative grade in his pass protection skill, pointing to an early-down role early in his career.
Fantasy outlook: Walker has a tweener feel in the fantasy market due to his expected role in his rookie season. His ADP (78) in the NFFC priced him as the 27th running back drafted. Early down runners have much less value in PPR leagues, so I would be careful targeting Walker ahead of his draft value. The Seahawks have two running back questions on their roster, giving Walker a chance to quickly jump up their depth chart.
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. His role and opportunity barely changed last year (271 combined yards with two touchdowns and 21 catches).
Other Options: Travis Homer, Josh Johnson, Darwin Thompson
RB Rashaad Penny, PHI - Gamble (high risk)
Penny blew out his ACL in his left knee early in December of 2019, leading to a slow recovery and empty stats (11/34) the following season. 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.
Last year, calf and hamstring issues led to minimal chances (17/43) and seven missed games over the first 12 weeks. Penny finished with four explosive showings (16/137/2, 17/135/1, 25/170/2, and 23/190/1) in the run game over the final five weeks. Seattle gave him only eight targets all year (six catches for 48 yards). He gained 20 yards or more on 11 of his 119 rushes, leading to 6.3 yards per carry.
Fantasy outlook: With 27 missed games over his first four seasons in the NFL, Penny has low mileage while bringing an explosive style in the run game of the Seahawks. A fantasy drafter must snub their nose at his career path and understand his potential with an entire season of touches. He has an ADP of 91 in the NFFC in early July. I expect him to win the starting job with a chance to touch the ball 275 times (1,400 combined yards with 8-10 scores and 25 catches.
WR DK Metcalf, SEA - Solid/Safe Pick
Metcalf finished last season with the same number of targets (129), but he caught eight fewer passes with a sharp decline in receiving yards (1,303 – 967). Over his first two years, he gained 30 yards or more on 30 of his 141 catches (21.3%), with nine of those plays reaching the 40-yards mark. He has 29 career touchdowns in his 49 games played.
His only game with over 100 yards receiving came in Week 3 (6/107/1). Metcalf failed to gain over 65 yards in any of his final 10 starts with a six-game swoon without a score.
A lingering foot issue over the final three months of last season led to Metcalf having surgery in mid-February to remove a screw.
Fantasy outlook: The change in quarterback in 2022 for Seattle led to Metcalf slipping to the 16th wide receiver drafted in the NFFC in July with an ADP of 43. Talent-wise, he appears to be a value. Metcalf is in a contract year with the tools and explosiveness to catch five balls per game. He looks to be on a path to gain at least 1,100 yards with a step back in scoring.