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2018 Team Report: Seattle Seahawks

Offensive Philosophy

For the first time since Russell Wilson entered the league, he'll be playing for an offensive coordinator other than Darrell Bevell. Seattle's new play-caller, Brian Schottenheimer, did his best work overseeing run-heavy NY Jets offenses from 2008-2010. The Seahawks, under Pete Carroll, have always identified as a run-first team and they invested their first round draft pick in a running back, so we can expect Schottenheimer's focus to be on reviving their deteriorating running game. But a poor offensive line, lack of proven running backs on the roster, and depleted defense could make it difficult for Schottenheimer to run the offense through anyone but Wilson for a second straight year.

Quarterbacks

Starter: Russell Wilson
Backup(s): Austin Davis, Alex McGough [R]

Starting QB: Wilson rebounded from an injury-marred 2016 to finish as last season's cumulative QB1 in fantasy leagues. Since he entered the league in 2012, only Drew Brees and Cam Newton have generated more fantasy points from the quarterback position than Wilson. And even if you eliminate rushing from the equation, the only quarterbacks to average more fantasy points per attempt than Wilson on passes alone since 2012 are Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. Heading into his seventh season, Wilson deserves to be one of the first two quarterbacks selected in 2018 fantasy drafts, though there are reasons to be skeptical about spending an early-round pick on him. Seattle's offensive line ranked 26th in pass protection last year and made just one significant off-season addition (D.J. Fluker). If Wilson has to carry the load behind a poor offensive line for a second consecutive season, the probability of a mobility-sapping injury increases. Wilson will also be playing his first season for an offensive coordinator other than Darrell Bevell. Bevell's replacement, Brian Schottenheimer last called plays for the Rams from 2012-2014 and failed to field a scoring offense that finished outside the bottom-10 during his tenure.

Backup QB: Trevone Boykin was released after coming under investigation for domestic violence, leaving Wilson without a backup for much of the off-season. Last year's backup, Austin Davis, re-signed shortly after the NFL Draft. Davis hasn't started a game since 2015, when he threw 12 touchdowns against 9 interceptions over eight starts for the Rams. The Seahawks had also signed former Colts preseason standout, Stephen Morris to compete for a backup role, but seventh round draft pick Alex McGough -- a developmental prospect out of Florida International -- quickly made his expendable. McGough impressed coach Pete Carroll and his staff in a three-day rookie mini-camp with his accuracy and arm strength from the pocket, which outweighed Morris' ties to Schottenheimer from their time together in Indianapolis.

Running Backs

Starter: Rashaad Penny [R]
Backup(s): Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise, J.D. McKissic, Mike Davis
Fullback(s): Tre Madden, Jalston Fowler, Khalid Hill

Starting RB: Last year's presumed co-starters, Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls, were such colossal flops, it took Chris Carson -- a seventh-round rookie out of Oklahoma State -- all of one game to seize control of the team's backfield. Carson only lasted four games before an ugly leg injury ended his season, prompting the somewhat surprising pick of Penny in the first round of the NFL draft. Penny is a patient and decisive runner with excellent short area quickness and the size to handle a heavy workload. He led the nation last year with 2,248 rushing yards and scored 23 touchdowns on 289 carries. Both Carroll and GM John Schneider have referred to Penny as a three-down back, but he needs to prove himself in both the route running and pass blocking departments before it can be assumed he'll be used as an every-down bell cow. On early downs, Penny will be fighting an uphill battle against his own offensive line. The Seahawks fielded the second-worst run blocking unit last year and didn't do enough from a personnel standpoint this off-season to suggest they'll perform much better in 2018.

Backup RBs: Carson managed 208 yards on 49 carries (4.24 yards per attempt), showing elusiveness as a runner and the ability to pass block, before getting injured. He's reportedly made a full recovery, but the draft capital the team invested in Penny doesn't bode well for Carson's chances of resuming a significant role in the offense. If Penny falters as a pass-catcher, Prosise should see the field on third downs -- when he's healthy enough to play. The third-year former receiver out of Notre Dame has missed 21 of a possible 32 games since entering the league. The passing-down role in Seattle has traditionally offered little in the way of consistent volume, but Prosise is capable of converting limited touches into fantasy viable box scores. If Prosise pulls up lame again, Seattle protected themselves by keeping McKissic on the exclusive rights free agent tender. McKissic was the only Seattle running back other than Carson to average more than 4.0 yards per carry last season and he proved reliable as a pass-catcher, securing 34-of-46 targets for 266 yards and 2 touchdowns. Davis, last year's surprise second-half starter, was also brought back on a one-year deal. While his 3.5 yards per carry don't look pretty on the surface, it should be noted neither Lacy or Rawls could muster more than 2.7 yards per carry running behind the Seahawks terrible offensive line. Davis will have to claw to make the roster, but he ran with enough power, patience, and unexpected wiggle in his audition as starter to prove he belongs in the league.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown
Backups: Brandon Marshall, Amara Darboh, Tanner McEvoy, Marcus Johnson, David Moore

Starting WRs: Doug Baldwin will resume his role as Wilson's favorite target. 2017 marked the third consecutive year Baldwin finished inside the top-15 fantasy wide receivers and the first time in three years he finished outside the top-10. Arguably the best slot receiver in the game, Baldwin could challenge his career-high 125 targets from 2016 due to the void left by the departures of Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham in free agency. Despite operating primarily from the slot, Baldwin is also one of the league's premier deep threats. Wilson has a career passer rating of 134.3 on throws 20+ yards downfield to Baldwin, the highest QB-WR rating since PFF began tracking the stat in 2006. Baldwin belongs in the mid-low WR1 discussion for 2018. Since a promising 2015 rookie season in which he posted 51 catches, 664 receiving yards, and 6 touchdowns in only 8 starts, Lockett has been a disappointment, though he was hampered by an MCL sprain for most of 2016 and was recovering from a brutal leg injury all of last year. With Richardson out of the picture and only Jaron Brown brought in via free agency to replace him, it appears Seattle is banking on Lockett returning to form. Brown, for his own part, qualifies as a deep sleeper. His 4.34 speed and ability to track deep passes pairs nicely with Wilson's skill set, and if Lockett can't bounce back, Brown could find himself the second-most targeted pass-catcher on the team by default. The Seahawks handed Brown a two-year, $5.5 million free agent contract -- somewhat surprising for a player with his five-year NFL resume -- which suggests they think he'll crack their trio of starting wide receivers.

Backup WRs: Marshall was a third-wave free agent signing after the draft and will compete with Brown for snaps in three-wide sets. He seemed to be in the December of his career with the Giants last year, but will have a chance to be relevant again. Darboh, the Seahawks third-round pick out of Michigan last year, will challenge Brown for snaps behind Baldwin and Lockett. But after barely getting on the field as a rookie, it's anyone's guess whether or not he can make good on his compelling size/speed profile (6'2", 212 lbs., 4.45 40-yard dash). McEvoy, a former safety from Wisconsin, is a tweener at 6'6", 230 lbs., who caught two long touchdowns as a rookie in 2016. He wasn't able to parlay those successes into more playing time last year, though the Seahawks can use his size and athleticism in the red zone, where Graham leaves behind nearly 40% of the team's targets. Johnson was an undrafted free agent in 2016, who came over from the Eagles in the Michael Bennett trade. He was active for five games last year, catching five passes across 146 offensive snaps. Moore is a dark horse for the team's WR3 role. The Seahawks elected to promote Moore from the practice squad last year rather than lose him to another team. The Division II product out of tiny East Central University is a big, physical receiver who can rack up yards after the catch and has the speed to develop into a downfield threat. Seattle ignored the wide receiver position in the draft, but signed Ka'Raun White (brother of Chicago's Kevin White) as an undrafted free agent.

Tight Ends

Starters: Nick Vannett, Ed Dickson
Backups: Tyrone Swoopes, Will Dissly [R]

The departed Graham and Luke Willson leave 1,107 out of 1,387 tight end snaps from last year vacated. Given the high number of two tight end sets the Seahawks run, both free agent addition Ed Dickson and 2016 third-round pick, Nick Vannett, will see plenty of playing time. Dickson was primarily signed for his blocking ability but showed in a 175-yard receiving performance against Detroit in Week 5 last year, he's been underutilized as a receiver throughout his career. The Seahawks are likely hoping Vannett can emerge as the pass-catching option in the group. He possesses the requisite size and athleticism to help soften the blow of losing Graham in the red zone. It wouldn't be surprising to see him become a weekly streaming option, based on matchup. The converted quarterback, Swoopes, is a project player who spent all but one game as a rookie on the practice squad. This year's fourth-round draft pick, Will Dissly rounds out the group. Dissly is a converted defensive end the team hopes to develop as a blocker.

Place Kicker

Sebastian Janikowski, Jason Myers: Blair Walsh found a new home in Seattle, but it was short-lived, as he made only 21 of 29 field goal attempts, including three misses from under 40 yards. The team signed Jaguars castoff Jason Myers after the season ended to a minimal deal and then they signed longtime Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski to a one-year deal in April. Janikowski should be their kicker at the open of the season, but anything can happen in camp and the preseason.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Tyler Lockett

The Seahawks love Tyler Lockett and will give him as many returns as his body can handle. Despite fears that they'd ease him in last year coming off an injury, Lockett led the NFL in combined returns. Since entering the league in 2015, Lockett ranks 1st in kickoff returns, 1st in kickoff return yards, 1st in punt returns, and 2nd in punt return yards.

Punt Returners: Tyler Lockett

The Seahawks love Tyler Lockett and will give him as many returns as his body can handle. Despite fears that they'd ease him in last year coming off an injury, Lockett led the NFL in combined returns. Since entering the league in 2015, Lockett ranks 1st in kickoff returns, 1st in kickoff return yards, 1st in punt returns, and 2nd in punt return yards.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Duane Brown, LG Ethan Pocic, C Justin Britt, RG D.J. Fluker, RT Germain Ifedi
Key Backups: George Fant, Isaiah Battle, Rees Odhiambo, Jordan Roos, Jamarco Jones, Joey Hunt

Left tackle Duane Brown arrived via trade last season from the Houston Texans and immediately upgraded the line out of the low-tier. Right guard D.J. Fluker arrived in free agency from the New York Giants and he is a power mauler. Left guard Ethan Pocic and center Justin Britt are tough players who could fit well into the power scheme the new offensive line coach Mike Solari favors. Right tackle Germain Ifedi is also a power player who will face competition from George Fant, who is recovered from last season's injury, and rookie Jamarco Jones. The Seahawks' offensive line grades as a mid-tier option as the season opens.

Team Defense

The Legion of Boom has expired with barely a whimper over the last year. Gone are defensive coordinator Kris Richard, and mainstays Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman, and Michael Bennett. Kam Chancellor's future is up in the air and Earl Thomas has been the subject of trade talks. It's up to Thomas, Frank Clark, KJ Wright, and Bobby Wagner to make this unit resemble the one that reined in the recent glory days, with players like Dion Jordan and Justin Coleman on the spot to reprise some of the flashes they had in 2017 to make up the gap. Former Seahawks linebackers coach Ken Norton is back to oversee the defense. 2017 third rounder Delano Hill would step into Chancellor's spot if he isn't cleared from his neck injury. The Seahawks actually finished in the top 10 in fantasy defense scoring last year, a marked improvement from 2016, and on that momentum plus reputation, they may be drafted in top 10 again this year, but they shouldn't be.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Frank Clark, DT Nazair Jones, DT Jarran Reed, DE Dion Jordan (inj)
Backups: DL Quinton Jefferson, DT Shamar Stephen, DT Tom Johnson, DE Rasheem Green [R], DE/LB Marcus Smith, DE/LB Jacob Martin [R], DT Poona Ford [R]

Starting DL: The Seahawks had an offseason of upheaval on defense, and that starts up front with the trade of Michael Bennett, release of Cliff Avril, and loss of Sheldon Richardson in free agency. Frank Clark has hit at one end spot, and the team is going to have to hope that reclamation project Dion Jordan can carry over his late season momentum at the other spot. Jordan did miss part of OTAs after knee surgery and his recovery bears watching. The loss of Bennett and Richardson erases the interior pass rush, as the likely starting defensive tackle duo, 2016 second-round Jarran Reed and 2017 third-rounder Nazair Jones do their best work against the run. 2017 second-rounder Malik McDowell would be projected as a starter, but it appears that his NFL career is likely over before it began. The Seahawks are going to have a lot of trouble generating interior pass rush, as neither of free agent pickups Shamar Stephen and Tom Johnson are known for that element of their game.

Backup DL: Stephen and Johnson both signed small one-year deals to be rotational players at defensive tackle and they will spell Reed and Jones, in addition to possibly playing some passing downs. Quinton Jefferson got some snaps last year after the team claimed him off of waivers from the Rams, and he has some inside/outside versatility to fit in on passing downs. The Seahawks will be relying on third-round pick Rasheem Green to play a role right away. He has the size and athleticism to be the missing piece in the interior pass rush. Marcus Smith joins Jordan as a first-round redemption story who was re-signed by the team after contributing during the rough 2017 season. Sixth-round pick Jacob Martin fits as an edge player and DE/OLB tweener, which makes him a good fit for the LEO role in the defense. Undrafted free agent Poona Ford (Texas) was rated as draftable by many analysts and could give the team a third excellent run stuffing defensive tackle if he makes the team.

Linebackers

Starters: OLB KJ Wright, MLB Bobby Wagner, OLB Barkevious Mingo
Backups: LB Shaquem Griffin [R], LB DJ Alexander, LB Paul Dawson

Starting LBs: The one strength of the Seahawks defense that left intact during the offseason bloodbath was the dynamic linebacker duo of Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright. They were durable, productive and versatile, and now will have to be carrying the weight for a defense that has to absorb downgrades in the front and back ends. Wright's contributions as a pass rusher dried up in 2017, and the team will need to create pressure as a blitzer with the losses in the interior pass rusher group. The third former first-round rehabilitation project on the roster, Barkevious Mingo, has the inside track to be the third linebacker when the team puts three on the field, and he could also be asked to replace some of the lost pass rush punch.

Backup LBs: In addition to Mingo, the Seahawks will have one of the best stories in the NFL among their role playing linebackers. Fifth-round Shaquem Griffin has only one hand but more than makes up for that with his energy, speed and focus. He could also contribute as a blitzer and might even be a starter as soon as 2019. The team acquired DJ Alexander from the Chiefs for Kevin Pierre-Louis last year and he became a big special teams factor. He could see defensive snaps in the event of an injury to Wagner or Wright. 2015 Bengals third round pick Paul Dawson appeared in three games last year and the team brought him back on a minimal one-year deal in case they end up needing depth at linebacker.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Shaquill Griffin, FS Earl Thomas, SS Bradley McDougald, CB Byron Maxwell, NCB Justin Coleman
Backups: DB Mike Tyson, DB Neiko Thorpe, CB Akeem King, CB DeAndre Elliott, CB Tre Flowers [R], S Delano Hill, S Tedric Thompson

Starting DBs: 2018 will be the first year since 2009 that the team doesn't have Kam Chancellor or Richard Sherman on the roster. 2009 was also the year before Pete Carroll took over at head coach. Sherman was released after tearing his achilles last year, and signed with the rival 49ers. Chancellor is still with the team, but his neck injury has to be medically cleared before he can take the field. Carroll said Chancellor was in danger of not playing again earlier in the offseason, but Chancellor said he'll play if medically cleared. The new look secondary still has Earl Thomas despite trade rumors (apparently the Cowboys wouldn't give a second-round pick and the Seahawks wouldn't take a third. Shaquem's twin Shaquill will man one of the cornerback spots. A free-for-all camp battle will determine the other outside starting job, with former 49ers starter Dontae Johnson and one-time Seahawks starter Byron Maxwell as the leading candidates. The team tendered nickel back Justin Coleman at a second-round level as a restricted free agent to ensure that they retained his services. They also signed Bradley McDougald to a three-year deal, and he would presumably become the starter next to Thomas if Chancellor can't play in 2018.

Backup DBs: Johnson and Maxwell will be the primary contenders to start opposite Griffin, but if they don't win the job, one or both should hang on as depth outside. Neiko Thorpe, Mike Tyson, Akeem King, and DeAndre Elliott all fit the athletic and size profile the team likes and any of them could also make the team as depth or even surprise and become a starter. Thorpe has three years experience on the team, and Tyson spent a lot of time on the practice squad transitioning from safety to corner and could be ready to do more. Fifth-round pick Tre Flowers will likely make the team as a developmental prospect. The backup picture at safety is a lot more clear cut with 2017 third round pick Delano Hill projecting as the eventual long-term replacement for Chancellor and 2017 fourth-round pick Tedric Thompson as the eventual replacement for Thomas.

Last modified: 2018-06-16 12:48:20