Percy Harvin’s injury means Seattle will return to being the Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch show. And you know, that’s pretty alright.
Notable Additions: Percy Harvin
Notable Draft Picks: Christine Michael
The Marquee Men (the elitest of the elite)
Marshawn Lynch (ADP: 4.1): This is a team that runs first, runs well, and runs often. In 2012, the Seahawks were last in pass attempts with only 405, and first in rush attempts with 536. To put that severe slant into even greater perspective, the Lions — who led the league with 740 pass attempts — had more completions (445) than Seattle’s attempts total. The same was also true for the Saints and Cowboys.
So you’re seeing a trend here (obvious guy says obvious thing), one that’s been exaggerated by the growth of the read option. Whereas not too long ago a mobile quarterback like Russell Wilson tucked and ran primarily when he was in trouble, now in effect the read-option leads to more designed runs, and therefore more runs overall. It also leads to more balls in Lynch’s gut.
The Seahawks’ running game flows through Lynch, who finished third overall in rushing last year with his 1,590 yards on 315 carries (5.0 YPC), a career high. He had only six games that weren’t 100-yarders, and the most encouraging Lynch fact is tied to that workload.
Lynch will often be a top fantasy five pick. Yet even though it feels like he’s at least 38 years old, he’s still only 27, and right in the middle of his prime. Since he went through a few years of limited use in Buffalo because of both a time share and because he was a bit of an idiot, Lynch’s tires are still quite minty fresh, even though he’s entering his seventh season (last year was his first +300 carry season).
Percy Harvin (ADP: 131.1): I’m only including Harvin here out of a sense of duty and obligation. Unless your league has an IR spot — and most don’t — you’re not drafting him.
I get the giddiness over what a healthy Harvin can do, and that’s even easier to justify now since he’s merged forces with Wilson and Lynch, leading to the most athletic backfield in the history of time. The problem, of course, is that at the earliest he’s set to reappear on an NFL field around Thanksgiving following hip surgery. That makes him impossible to own and waste a roster spot on, even with the obvious draft discount you’re getting.
Let’s do some calendar flipping, while remembering that in most leagues, the fantasy regular season is only 13 weeks long. Oh and look, the Seahawks have a Week 12 bye (the week of Thanksgiving) meaning you won’t get Harvin back until the conclusion of the fantasy season.
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this throughout the preseason, but football players break often (you know anything about that, Doug Marrone?), and depth is then needed quickly on fantasy rosters. Why, just ask anyone who had the misfortune of being in an early draft, and they’re already scrambling to replace Le’Veon Bell, or Jeremy Maclin, or Danario Alexander. So knowing that, you’re still not willing to burn a roster spot for the entire season on Harvin, right?
In a standard 15-round draft, the final two rounds are usually dedicated to your kicker and defense. That makes the 13th round (where Harvin is still clinging to some ADP life) flier territory. And if you desire to chuck some wide receiver dice, wouldn’t you rather have, say, Brian Hartline, Ryan Broyles, Rueben Randle, or Denarius Moore, to name just a few? Because at least they’ll, you know, play.
The Middle Men (middle-to-late round options)
Russell Wilson (ADP: 86.3): It was easy to be bullish on Wilson when Harvin wasn’t broken yet. Now thinking about that pairing makes me sad, but as a seventh-round pick and with the continued support of Lynch, Wilson still holds fine value relative to his draft position.
Consider with me, for a moment, the Russell Wilson we saw in Week 12 and beyond last year. That’s the guy who had grown into his role after some early rookie misgivings in the first weeks, and then following the Seahawks’ Week 11 bye he took over the damn world. During that six-game stretch he threw 11 of his 26 total touchdowns with just two interceptions, and he had a pass of 40 yards or more in each game (highlighted by a 67 yarder). He was efficient too, chucking those bombs on only 23.3 attempts per game.
But the true value lied in his rushing, and his four rushing touchdowns post-Week 11 on only 39 carries while averaging 50 yards per game. Yes, much of the dicing with slicing came against the Bills’ woeful run defense (three touchdowns, and 39 fantasy points in Week 15). However, Wilson also had 22 fantasy points against the 49ers the following week, and 28 against the Bears in Week 13.
Any restriction Wilson faces by the Seahawks’ heavy run leaning is balanced by his inclusion in that attack, as with his 94 carries he accounted for nearly 20 percent of the team’s rushing. More importantly for this discussion, 29 percent of Wilson’s fantasy production came on the ground.
Both Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are similar quarterbacks facing similar situations, as Kaep is dealing with Michael Crabtree’s injury. The difference is that one (Kaepernick) is coming off the board nearly two rounds early than the other (Wilson).
Golden Tate (ADP: 93.0): Tate is the most Harvin-like receiver on the Seahawks’ depth chart, and with Sidney Rice below already slugging through a knee injury because of course he is, Tate’s ceiling and breakout potential is steadily increasing.
In an offense that passed the ball only because that’s what you have to do sometimes if winning is a desirable outcome, Tate caught five of the 11 +40 yard passes chucked by Wilson. And of his 688 receiving yards, 39.5 of them came after the catch. Though he can certainly go deep and be successful, crossing routes and bubble screens are where he thrives, or just anything in space. Yeah, that’s sorta Harvin-like.
Rice will break, because he’s already ailing from an injury that’s necessitated a trip to Switzerland. And when he does, the quickly-growing connection between Wilson and Tate will be cemented even further. According to Pro Football Focus, Tate’s 133.0 WR rating with Wilson was the second highest in the league for any QB-WR tandem.
Sidney Rice (ADP: 122.2): Yeah, he could either combust, or be limited by an injury even if he stays on the field. But at his 10th-round price, Rice is still appealing as a third wide receiver, or at least as appealing as such a player can be in this offense that’s Lynch or bust.
Rice had the advantage in targets last year over Tate (82 to 67), and he’s far more suited to be a true vertical option.
The Menial Peons (sleepers, flex plays, and matchup plays)
Zach Miller (ADP: undrafted): Stream him if you must, but there’s little here, even in a favorable matchup. This is a forgotten position in Seattle after Miller averaged only 3.3 targets per game last year, and he had seven games with less than 20 yards. There are much better reaches for your late-round tight end dreaming, like Martellus Bennett or Brandon Pettigrew.
The Mop-Up Men (deeeep sleepers and handcuffs)
Christine Michael (ADP: 149.5): A year ago Robert Turbin was the Lynch handcuff who had deep league upside in such a run-heavy offense. Now that title belongs to Michael, the second-round pick who has hammered the middle with his 5’10, 211-pound girth while turning 27 preseason carries into 186 yards (6.9 YPC).