Juggernaut Index, No. 9: The Seattle Seahawks

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Seattle went 11-5 last season and led the NFC in point-differential (+167). The team didn't suffer a double-digit loss all year, playoffs included, and it sent six players to the Pro Bowl. The defense was the NFL's stingiest in terms of points-allowed (15.3 PPG). Running back Marshawn Lynch finished third in the NFL in rushing (1590 yards, 5.0 YPC) and quarterback Russell Wilson tied the all-time rookie record for passing touchdowns (26). Wilson was nearly flawless in the second half of the season, delivering a QB-rating of 120.3 over his final eight games while tossing 16 TD passes and just two picks.

So yeah, this team has a few things going for it. Without question, the Seahawks are Super Bowl contenders. Seattle's roster is solid-to-great in every phase.

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It's not often that I'm jealous of Brandon Funston's fan loyalties, but this is definitely one of those times. It would be pretty sweet to have a rooting interest in this group.

Wilson is a franchise player in every sense, a phenomenally talented quarterback with a film room addiction. His absurd collegiate efficiency translated to the pro ranks, as he averaged 7.9 yards per pass attempt and completed 64.1 percent of his throws. Wilson ranked second in the NFL in TD percentage (6.6) and fourth in QB-rating (100.0). Over the final five weeks of the season, he rushed for 262 yards and four touchdowns on 37 carries (7.1 YPC).

And when the playoffs arrived, Wilson somehow improved. He averaged 9.2 yards per pass attempt and 8.5 per rush, throwing for three scores and running for another. He's simply a tremendous player, in both fantasy and reality. He was the top-scoring fantasy quarterback over the final five weeks of the 2012 season, in fact.

It's reasonable to worry about Wilson's low passing volume — he finished with just 393 attempts last year — but, again, he's uncommonly efficient, plus he offers a rushing safety net. Wilson clearly deserves to rank among the top-10 at his position, and he's a respectable pick at his current Yahoo! ADP (46.9). Enjoy him for the next decade-plus, Seattle.

(Did I mention that a punter was selected ahead of Wilson in last year's draft? Well, it's true. But hey, it's not like the Jags need a quarterback.)

If Wilson could have had a healthy Percy Harvin at his disposal for a full season, then he would have entered 2013 as a top-5 or 6 quarterback on my board. Harvin, you'll recall, was acquired by the Seahawks in March, then immediately signed to a six-year, $67 million deal ($25.5 million guaranteed). But he recently underwent hip labrum surgery, and as of this writing there's no timeline for his return to the team. Here's the latest from head coach Pete Carroll, via the Everett Herald:

"We’re hopeful, whatever that means. We won’t know, it’s going to take a good month before we can figure if [Harvin] is even going to have a chance to come roaring back out of it, but it looks like all of the signs are very good. So we’ll see what that means, but we’re not putting any weeks on it. We don’t know."

If Percy returns at all, it's not likely to happen until late November or December — and of course you can assume he wouldn't return as an every-snap player. So at the moment he's almost undraftable, except in dynasty formats and leagues with deep benches. (Note: Before the Harvin injury, I had Seattle a few spots higher in the JI.)

With Harvin sidelined, Seattle's offense will feature a familiar trio of wide receivers: Golden Tate, Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin. Tate is coming off a productive season (688 yards, 6 genuine TDs, one laughable TD), he's entering a contract year, and he's been a high-buzz player throughout camp. If any Seahawks wideout is going to deliver a WR2-quality season, it's probably him.

Rice is obviously a gifted receiver as well, a big target who performed well a year ago (50-748-7), but he has a deep history of injuries. During camp, he traveled to Switzerland for a non-surgical procedure to treat knee pain. That hardly seemed like a great sign. But injury risk is properly accounted for in Rice's ADP (114.2), so it's not as if he's a player you need to avoid. Baldwin was thought to be a trade chip for Seattle following the Harvin signing, but, as it turns out, the team was wise to retain his services. He'll return to slot duties and attempt to rebound from a disappointing sophomore campaign. We shouldn't need to tell you that Baldwin isn't a must-draft player.

Tight end Zach Miller is fresh off the PUP list (plantar fascia), though he doesn't rank as anything more than a deep league flier at a stacked position. He was merely a supporting player for the Seahawks last year, catching just 38 balls for 396 yards on 53 targets. True, he made some noise in the postseason (12 catches, 190 yards, TD), but not so much that we can declare him a draft-worthy player in standard formats.

Finally, we get to the Seattle ground game. Sorry it took so long. This is a run-first, run-second offense, and Lynch is the primary weapon. In 2012, he delivered the best season (by far) of his six-year career. Beast Mode rushed for 1590 yards on 315 carries (5.0 YPC), crossing the goal line 11 times via the run and once as a receiver. We tend to think of Lynch as a sledgehammer back, but he actually ranked second in total missed tackles last season (58), per Pro Football Focus. He's simply a very good player, running behind a quality O-line. (LT Russell Okung and C Max Unger both made the Pro Bowl last season.) Lynch is a no-doubt first rounder in fantasy, though he gets a small downgrade in PPR. In a healthy season, he's a good bet to reach double-digit touchdowns.

And if for some reason Lynch happens to not have a healthy season, the Seahawks won't be without a beast in the backfield. Just check the highlights from Christine Michael's preseason debut. Or check these clips from his A&M days. Michael was a second-round pick in April's draft, and he certainly looks like a runner with featured-back potential. I've been targeting him ahead of Robert Turbin, the incumbent handcuff in Seattle. LSU rookie Spencer Ware is battling for a roster spot, but he's no slouch, either. Ware is a powerful, run-to-contact ball-carrier who — if he'd landed with a different team — might have had a shot to vulture short-range scores.

The Seahawks defense is ... well, it's badass. Loaded with talent at all levels. Seattle's D/ST is the unanimous No. 1 in the Yahoo! staff ranks, which rarely happens. This unit intercepted 18 balls and forced 16 fumbles in 2012, and there's no reason to expect a drop-off in 2013. Cliff Avril (9.5 sacks) and Michael Bennett (9.0) were added to the D-line, enhancing the pass rush. The Seahawks' secondary boasts five players with All-Pro and/or Pro Bowl credentials: Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Antoine Winfield. Second-year LB Bobby Wagner is the first IDP who should be plucked from this roster (140 tackles in 2012), but, honestly, if you just throw darts at this defensive depth chart, you'll probably hit a useful player.

2012 team stats: 25.8 points per game (9), 202.1 passing yards per game (29), 161.2 rushing yards per game (3)

Previous Juggernauts: 32. NY Jets, 31. Oakland, 30. Jacksonville, 29. Buffalo, 28. Cleveland, 27. Tennessee, 26. San Diego, 25. Miami, 24. St. Louis, 23. Pittsburgh, 22. Arizona, 21. Minnesota, 20. Kansas City, 19. Chicago, 18. Baltimore, 17. Philadelphia, 16. Indianapolis, 15. Carolina, 14. Cincinnati, 13. NY Giants, 12. Detroit, 11. New England, 10. Tampa Bay


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