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2020 Team Report: Seattle Seahawks

Last updated: Sun, Sep 6

Offensive Philosophy

Make no mistake, the Seahawks are going to remain a run-first team under Brian Schoettenheimer, but there are multiple factors that could push Russell Wilson's attempts up further after a big rebound in 2019 to 516 from a paltry 427 pass attempts in 2018. Wilson has been making noise his desire for the Seahawks to be more aggressive in the passing game, the Seahawks might be weak at running back if Chris Carson can't stay healthy, and the defense has issues with the pass rush. Carson is set up for success if he can stay on the field, but you can also expect the pass offense to remain highly efficient. Wilson could be unleashed more either by design or necessity, giving him and all of the pieces of the passing game a chance to greatly outperform expectations.

Quarterbacks

Starter: Russell Wilson
Backup(s): Geno Smith, Anthony Gordon [R]

Starting QB: If head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer have their way, Seattle will rank inside the top-3 in team rush attempts for a third consecutive season. While the Seahawks' conservative play-calling caps Wilson's fantasy ceiling below superstars like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, the veteran's trademark efficiency has never wavered. Wilson has thrown a sparkling 66 touchdowns against 12 interceptions over the last two seasons and continues to show off one of the best deep balls in the league with frequency and accuracy. Seattle's three-wide set of DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Phillip Dorsett is bursting with long-speed. We have every reason to believe the big plays and solid rushing totals that have boosted Wilson to a top-5 finish in three out of the last five seasons will continue in 2020.

Backup QB: The Seahawks took their time bringing back incumbent backup, Geno Smith, signing the veteran to a one-year deal in mid-May. Smith wasn't called upon to throw a single pass last season and there's no doubt Seattle once again wishes that will be the case. The only other quarterback on the roster is Anthony Gordon, an undrafted free-agent rookie out of Washington State who played just one season as a starter. To Gordon's credit, after waiting three years for his chance, he finished second in the NCAA behind Joe Burrow in passing yards (5,579) and threw 48 touchdowns. But how much of that production is owed to Mike Leach's famed "Air Raid" scheme is very much in question. There isn't much zip on Gordon's ball and he simply lacks experience against complex defensive schemes.

Running Backs

Starter: Chris Carson
Backup(s): Rashaad Penny, Carlos Hyde, Travis Homer, Deejay Dallas [R]
Fullback(s):

Starting RB: If Carson is truly over the fractured hip that ended his 2019 season in Week 15, he's set up as a borderline workhorse on one of the run-heaviest teams in the league. Even while ceding about nine touches per game to Rashaad Penny for most of last season, Carson was a reliable back-end RB1 for fantasy purposes from week-to-week. With Penny on the shelf (at least to start the season), Carson's early-down and goal-line work is challenged only be journeyman free-agent addition, Carlos Hyde. Carson also stepped up as a pass-catcher, nearly doubling his target and reception totals from 2018. Travis Homer and rookie Deejay Dallas may be better equipped to handle passing downs on paper, but Carson proved he's no slouch and can be counted on to supplement his rushing totals with about 40 receptions.

Backup RBs: Penny came on towards the end of his sophomore season and may have been settling into a 1B role to Carson's 1A but a torn ACL ended his year and is likely to land him on the PUP list to start the season. In Penny's absence, Carlos Hyde will serve as Carson's primary backup on base down. The team's No. 3 back, Travis Homer, has plus athleticism and pass-catching ability but failed to pop when given meaningful touches as a rookie. He's unlikely to see meaningful touches this season due to the addition of Hyde, who joins his fourth team in the last two years. Perhaps Homer's so-so debut season is the reason Seattle spent a fourth-round pick on his former Miami teammate, Deejay Dallas, in this year's draft. Dallas played wide receiver and running back for the Hurricanes. While he's surprisingly powerful and physical, Dallas is still learning as a runner and projects to contribute most on special teams as a rookie, though a strong training camp may have put him ahead of Homer for the passing-down role.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Phillip Dorsett
Backups: Josh Gordon, David Moore, John Ursua, Freddie Swain [R]

Starting WRs: Lockett has shed the injuries that plagued him earlier in his career and turned in his second-straight top-15 wide receiver finish in 2019. He remains Wilson's most trusted target and will return to his usual role as the team's primary slot receiver. But Lockett, of course, is no ordinary slot man, with 25.9% of his targets coming on deep passes last year. Metcalf proved there's more to his game than just a chiseled physique and straight-line speed. The Seahawks put more on his plate each week as a rookie, and Metcalf was up to the task, looking downright unstoppable at times. While his target volume doesn't have too much room to grow, a year-two leap to fantasy WR1 territory is a possibility. Free-agent addition, Dorsett, gives Wilson a third speedy downfield threat in three-wide sets. We're past the point Dorsett will ever make good on his pedigree as a former first-round draft pick, but he fits well with Wilson, who throws the best deep ball in the NFL this side of Patrick Mahomes.

Backup WRs: Re-signed in September, Gordon showed he still has big-play ability in his brief audition with Seattle last year. He'll push Dorsett for reps as the team's third wide receiver. A preseason shoulder fracture derailed Moore's 2019 campaign. The size/speed specimen showed promise as a downfield threat, but any chance he had of earning snaps disappeared with Gordon when Gordon re-signed. Last year's seventh-round pick, Ursua, barely saw the field as a rookie following a promising preseason. Many in the organization still sing his praises, including Wilson and Pete Carroll, but the 5'9'' slot receiver out of Hawaii will be battling for a roster spot. Swain was a sixth-round pick and could be battling Ursua for one spot, with a potential leg up because of special teams contributions. Like Gordon, Richardson was re-signed in early September. If healthy, he can speed and play-making depth, but is unlikely to earn much playing time.

Tight Ends

Starters: Greg Olsen
Backups: Will Dissly, Jacob Hollister, Colby Parkinson [R], Luke Willson, Stephen Sullivan [R]

The Seahawks moved quickly to sign Olsen to a one-year, $7 million deal ($5.5 million guaranteed) after he was released by the Panthers. Olsen is no longer the top-5 tight end he was in his prime but the third-leading receiver in Carolina franchise history still has something left in the tank. Playing with a revolving cast of scrub quarterbacks in 2019, Olsen managed a TE13 in PPR leagues. If he's over the foot injury that cut his 2017 and 2018 seasons short, he'll have enough opportunity, at least early in the season, to produce as a back-end starter for your fantasy team. The combination of Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister accounted for six weekly top-10 tight end fantasy finishes for Seattle last season, which was the same as Darren Waller and one more than Austin Hooper. Dissly has done nothing but produce when he's been on the field for the Seahawks. He's averaged roughly 12 PPR fantasy points per game in nine career starts. For context, only six tight ends averaged at least 12 fantasy points per game in 2019. Unfortunately, Dissly's first two seasons have been cut short by a ruptured patellar tendon and torn Achilles, respectively. He faces an uphill climb to be 100% for Week 1 but should eventually challenge Olsen for playing time. The sneaky-athletic Hollister commanded a solid 5.9 targets per game after taking over for Dissly last year. He'll settle into a backup role with Olsen now on the roster but would be worth consideration as a streamer if Olsen goes down and Dissly can't make it back. This year's fourth-round pick, Parkinson, is essentially a 6'7'', 250-pound receiver who can stretch the field. He has package-specific red-zone potential in year-one but is buried on a deep depth chart.

Place Kicker

Jason Myers: Myers was brought on by the Seahawks to improve their kicker situation after the Jets curiously did not retain him following a standout performance in 2018. He was not quite as good in 2019, making 23 of 28 field goal attempts for Seattle, and only 4 of 7 from 40-49 yards. He even had a three-miss afternoon midseason that required a vote of confidence from the coach, but Myers recovered and showed he deserved to be the team's kicker this year. He's a reasonable last round pick, but not a preferred target.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Tyler Lockett, Travis Homer

For years the Seahawks have kept Tyler Lockett on special teams even as his offensive role has grown, but 2019 might have been the first signs that the do-everything receiver was stretched too thin. Lockett's punt return yardage and average both fell for the fourth consecutive season, and on kickoffs (where he's normally one of the better returners in the league) his average fell nearly six yards from his previous career low. The Seahawks also gave him the lowest share of total return opportunities, letting him return 55% of kicks as opposed to his usual 80-90%. If Seattle continues scaling back Lockett's involvement, David Moore (punt returns) and Travis Homer (kickoff returns) are available to pick up the slack.

Punt Returners: Tyler Lockett, David Moore

For years the Seahawks have kept Tyler Lockett on special teams even as his offensive role has grown, but 2019 might have been the first signs that the do-everything receiver was stretched too thin. Lockett's punt return yardage and average both fell for the fourth consecutive season, and on kickoffs (where he's normally one of the better returners in the league) his average fell nearly six yards from his previous career low. The Seahawks also gave him the lowest share of total return opportunities, letting him return 55% of kicks as opposed to his usual 80-90%. If Seattle continues scaling back Lockett's involvement, David Moore (punt returns) and Travis Homer (kickoff returns) are available to pick up the slack.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Duane Brown, LG Mike Iupati, C B.J. Finney, RG Damien Lewis [R], RT Brandon Shell
Key Backups: OL Phil Haynes, OL Jordan Simmons, OT Jamarco Jones, OL Ethan Pocic

This line's cohesion will be low at the start of the season, as they have three new starters. At center, B.J. Finney was signed from Pittsburgh to compete with Joey Hunt, Right guard Damien Lewis (3rd rd pick from LSU) will likely step in for D.J. Fluker, and the team signed right tackle Brandon Shell from the Jets to replace Germain Ifedi). Left tackle Duane Brown is a finesse player, but this is a gap-power group otherwise.

Team Defense

The Seahawks addition of Jadeveon Clowney didn't add too much to their sack bottom line, finishing with only 28, but this opportunistic group created 32 turnovers and three defensive scores. They were a middling 19th in points and 23rd in yards allowed and probably overachieved. Clowney remains a free agent, although the team reunited with Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa to give some edge rush presence and gave a measly fifth round pick to add Quinton Dunbar from Washington, a big improvement to their cornerback room. Their first and second round picks were spent on defense, adding run stuffing linebacker Jordyn Brooks (Texas Tech) and strong but raw end Darrell Taylor (Tennessee). They are going off of the board in the 17-20, which is about right and reflects their matchup usefulness in redraft and occasional ceiling contributions in best ball leagues.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Bruce Irvin, DT Jarran Reed, DT Poona Ford, DE Rasheem Green, DE LJ Collier
Backups: DE Darrell Taylor [R], DE Alton Robinson [R], DE Benson Mayowa, DT Demarcus Christmas, DT Bryan Mone

Starting DL: The Seahawks were able to patch over their ailing edge rush by bringing in Jadeveon Clowney last year in a trade, but they chose to let him walk in free agency this year and instead reunited with Bruce Irvin (and Benson Mayowa) to have a credible edge rush. At the other end spot, the team will enjoy increased contributions from Green, a 2018 third round pick who started 8 games last year and came on as a pass rusher and run defender after a quiet rookie year. They will hope that 2019 first round pick LJ Collier, who never got on track after a preseason ankle injury, will make a similar leap to the one Green took last year and perhaps even push him for a starting job. Irvin could also play strong side linebacker at times to complicate the picture at defensive end. Inside, the Seahawks won't have to weather a six-game suspension for Reed this year, whose momentum was slowed after he looked like an ascendant player heading into 2019, which might have given them a discount on his two-year, $23 million dollar deal. With Quinton Jefferson signing in Buffalo, the team only retained Reed out of their three most impactful pass rushers last year. Poona Ford continues to come on since going undrafted in 2018. He looks like a long term starter at nose tackle.

Backup DL: The Seahawks did invest in the defensive line after suffering some key losses in free agency, spending a second on Taylor and a fifth on Robinson. Taylor is a Tennessee product who is a power player against the run and oozing with traits as an edge rusher but needs to develop counters and strategies going after the quarterback and better ability to get off of blocks on early downs. He'll be groomed as a LEO behind Irvin. Robinson projects as a pass rush specialist for now. Like Taylor, he has ideal physical traits coming off of the edge as a speed rusher, but needs to learn a more nuanced approach to his craft to unlock his potential. Mayowa will round out the defensive end group after a career high seven sacks with the Raiders earned him a one-year, $3 million dollar deal. Christmas and Mone will battle for a backup spot on the interior. Christmas was a 2019 sixth round pick who was sidelined for the season with a back injury, but has a chance to win a spot in the rotation this year with his run-stuffing ability and versatility to play anywhere from nose to three-technique tackle. Mone made the team as a UDFA last year but was unimpressive in limited action. The Seahawks miss Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods (who left for Jacksonville) and could be in the market for another defensive tackle before the open of camp.

Linebackers

Starters: MLB Bobby Wagner, OLB KJ Wright, OLB Jordyn Brooks [R]
Backups: LB Cody Barton, LB Ben Burr-Kirven, LB Shaquem Griffin

Starting LBs: The last holdovers from the Legion Of Boom (at least until Bruce Irvin returned in free agency) still hold down the second level of the defense even as the players around them have been in flux. Wagner got a three-year, 54 million dollar extension before the season and will man the middle until at least 2022. Wright was considered a cut candidate with a non-guaranteed seven million dollar price tag, but he played well enough to earn that price tag in 2019, although he had offseason shoulder surgery that could put his Week 1 in doubt. The team spent a first-round pick on Brooks, so look for them to get the big, athletic run stuffer on the field in the base defense, perhaps by moving Wright to the strong side after he has played the weak side for his whole Seahawks career. Brooks limitations in coverage will keep him from playing in subpackages and if he doesn't develop in that area, he will have been vastly overdrafted in the first round. Bruce Irvin will be an option on the strong side if the team chooses to keep Wright on the weak side this year.

Backup LBs: Barton was slated to be a starter after the team didn't re-sign Mychal Kendricks before the Seahawks drafted Brooks and he could still be a starter if the lack of an offseason keeps the rookie from being ready. Barton played well in two starts late last season and might create a good problem for the team if he has progressed far enough to force them to play him over their first round pick. He will be first in line if Wagner or Wright miss time. Burr-Kirven was drafted in the fifth round last year (Barton in the third) and he has settled in as a core special teamer, although the drafting of Brooks almost ensures that he will be blocked from getting on the field without multiple injuries. Griffin was a feel good story in the fifth round in 2018, but at this point he is only hanging on as a pass rush specialist and special teams player.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Quinton Dunbar (legal), CB Shaquill Griffin, CB Ugo Amadi, S Quandre Diggs, S Jamal Adams
Backups: S Marquise Blair, DB Tre Flowers, CB Neiko Thorpe, CB Linden Stephens, S Lano Hill

Starting DBs: The Seahawks pilfered Dunbar from Washington for only a fifth-round pick and he immediately becomes a starter ahead of Tre Flowers. He had a very productive but injury shortened 2019, but his best games came against low-quality quarterbacks and better quarterbacks completed a lot of passes against him. He was involved in an offseason armed robbery incident that could threaten his availability for 2020 and beyond, but there were no charges pressed for lack of evidence, so he may not miss any games in 2020. Griffin had a breakout season after a poor second year in 2018 and made his first pro bowl. Diggs was a refreshing addition when the Seahawks got him for a fifth round pick during the season and he instantly became one of the leaders of the secondary. Adams was acquired in a blockbuster deal on the eve of camp as the Seahawks sent Bradley McDougald, two firsts, and a 2021 third to the Jets for Adams and a 2022 fourth. Adams is a budding superstar and should add playmaking ability to the secondary and pass rush, both of which could use a boost. Amadi is in line as the top nickel corner although the Seahawks had the fewest number of snaps with five defensive backs on the field in the league (308). They hope he will improve in his second year. The team often used Mychal Kendricks as a quasi-defensive back in subpackages and will have to replace his contributions in some fashion.

Backup DBs: Blair was drafted in the second round last year and looked ready to take over the Kam Chancellor role in the defense, although when Diggs went down last year, Pete Carroll turned to Hill, a 2017 third-round pick. Hill hasn't distinguished himself going into the last year of his rookie deal and the team may not keep him if they decide to turn Flowers back into a safety, which was his college position. They were disappointed with Flowers second season and that encouraged the team to deal for Dunbar, but they may still need Flowers with Dunbar's injury history and they are hopeful that he can still regain his rookie year form. Thorpe is a special teams ace and backup utility back. Seattle claimed Stephens from Miami right before the draft and he was specifically mentioned by John Schneider in the competition for snaps at defensive back. He was on the Seahawks practice squad before the Dolphins claimed him last year.