Juggernaut Index No. 18: 'We want the ball and we're gonna score'

The Juggernaut Index is our annual attempt to rank every NFL team for fantasy purposes. We're not concerned with real-life wins and losses here, only fantasy potential. These rankings rely on hard, incontrovertible math. There are algorithms at work. This stuff is peer-reviewed. Seasons are simulated. You can't argue with science, so don't even try...

18. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks offer many useful pieces with which to decorate a fantasy roster, but they don't actually have any single player who's going to carry your team. In fact, none of Seattle's skill position players are taken in the first four rounds of an average draft.

Newcomer Julius Jones is close, though. His ADP at Mock Draft Central is 50.61, which makes him the 23rd running back selected.

Those mock drafters value Jones considerably more than we do at Yahoo!, where he's only No. 33 in the preseason running back ranks. None of us are unusually bullish on him, either. He's no higher than 28th in anyone's rankings.

There are two reasons for the skepticism:

1) We don't know exactly how all the carries and screens will be distributed in Seattle, but you can be sure that Maurice Morris, T.J. Duckett and Leonard Weaver will get a few of them. This has the makings of a committee if all members stay healthy. And...

2) Julius Jones did very little with the 164 carries the Cowboys gave him last year. He averaged 3.6 yards per attempt, found the end zone only twice, and he didn't have any 100-yard games. In fact, he didn't have any 70-yard games.

So you're not drafting Jones as anything more than a flex option in a 10-team league. He'll have his weeks, but Jones won't be a 300-carry back.

It's worth noting that the Seahawks still have elite LT Walter Jones, and they've added Mike Wahle, a former Pro Bowl guard. They've also added Mike Solari to coach/fix the O-line. Despite the fact that Shaun Alexander had a massively disappointing season in 2007, the team still averaged 101.2 rushing yards per game. Not great, but also not atrocious.

And yeah, the Seattle running game has fallen a long, long way in just three years. That's the NFL. One day you're setting the single-season touchdown record, and the next day you're a broken man, picking up three yards on a good carry, and you can't convince the Texans to buy you lunch.

Matt Hasselbeck is selected not long after Julius Jones in an average draft. His ADP is 60.0, and he's generally the eighth QB taken. Hasselbeck goes 18 picks later than Carson Palmer (42.01), a quarterback he actually outscored in fantasy leagues last season (243 to 241). Hasselbeck has thrown at least 22 TD passes in four of the last five years, and still managed 18 in 2006 despite missing four weeks with an injury.

Last season, the difference between Hasselbeck and Peyton Manning was just 74 passing yards and three TDs. And of course he does not lack confidence...

By the way, that's not intended to give you the impression that Hasselbeck is careless with the football. (Bad tackler, maybe, but not careless). He threw 562 passes last season, and only 12 were intercepted. He's a guy you'll start every week in fantasy leagues.

The Seahawks have never had truly elite receivers during Hasselbeck's time, though, and 2008 will be no different. Bobby Engram is 30th in our WR rankings, coming off a season in which he reached personal highs in receptions (94), yards (1147), and touchdowns (6). It's tough to expect a 35-year-old receiver to repeat a career-year, but Engram was targeted 134 times last season. He'll get his catches, he's in camp (there were contract concerns), and he's start-worthy in leagues that use three receivers.

Nate Burleson is No. 34 in our receiver rankings, not far behind Engram. There isn't much question about which player has a higher ceiling. Burleson is a 27-year-old who's averaging 5.2 yards after the catch, and he has two separate seasons with double-digit TDs (2004 and 2007, including return touchdowns). With Deion Branch recovering from ACL surgery and likely to miss several weeks of the regular season, there's an opportunity for Burleson to have a high-impact fantasy year. (OK, it's not the first time this has been said). If you're looking for receivers you can draft very late, yet who can reasonably start in fantasy leagues, Burleson is your guy. His ADP is 142.85.

Ben Obomanu gets a slight edge over Courtney Taylor in the battle of former Auburn receivers, but Seattle's No. 3 WR situation won't be clear for several weeks.

Rookie tight end John Carlson is something of a sleeper, assuming he'll eventually sign a contract. Here's the take on Carlson from Rivals:

The premier pro prospect at this critical position despite an erratic final season. He displayed his potential earlier in his career while playing with former Irish QB Brady Quinn. After struggling at the NFL Scouting Combine, Carlson recovered nicely at the Notre Dame Pro Day and dispelled concerns with a 4.67 40-yard dash ... He can be unstoppable as a receiver, especially in the red zone. He can catch the ball in traffic and has the ability to fight for yardage after the catch.

Even if he's not a Week 1 starter, Carlson is a fair bet to achieve fantasy relevance during the season. He's someone you'll draft as a fantasy starter in 2009.

Seattle's defense should be drafted as a starting unit this season. They were the No. 4 fantasy D in 2007, finishing with 166 points. Their NFC West schedule is relatively friendly (.477), and they have an impressive collection of linebackers. Lofa Tatupu (109 tackles, 4 INTs) and Julian Peterson (74 tackles, 9.5 sacks) are the best IDP plays, but 25-year-old Leroy Hill (81 tackles, 3 FFs) isn't far behind. DE Patrick Kerney (14.5 sacks) and CB Marcus Trufant (85 tackles, 7 INTs) should be owned in IDP leagues, too.


2007 Seattle team stats

Rushing: 101.2 Y/G

Passing: 247.8 Y/G

Points per game: 24.6

Turnovers: 24

Red Zone possessions and TDs: 49, 28

'08 Schedule strength: .477


The rest of the Index...

32) Chicago, 31) Tennessee, 30) San Francisco, 29) Miami, 28) Baltimore, 27) NY Jets, 26) Oakland, 25) Tampa Bay, 24) Atlanta, 23) Houston, 22) Kansas City, 21) Buffalo, 20) Carolina, 19) Detroit, 18) Seattle

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