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NFL Team Preview: Will coordinator change take Seahawks to next fantasy level?

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We’re previewing every NFL team to get you ready for the 2021 season. Our analysts will tackle pressing fantasy questions and team win totals, in order from the squad with the least amount of fantasy relevancy all the way to the most talented team. Next up, the 11th-ranked Seattle Seahawks.

1. Russell Wilson was fantasy’s top quarterback through Week 8 but was QB11 from Weeks 9-17. Is he still a proactive pick or did Seattle’s second-half struggles reveal bigger concerns?

Liz: Russell Wilson has been a QB1 since entering the league in 2012. He has NEVER, not even once, fallen outside of the top-12 FF producers at the position. Shockingly durable despite years of playing behind a line that gave up more sacks than Ciara has Instagram followers, Wilson has yet to miss a game, even gutting through an ankle/knee sprain for the bulk of 2016. Whatever ups and downs 2021 will bring, Wilson will have the accuracy, mobility, and football IQ to overcome them. Not to mention elite pass-catching weapons (Seattle added second-round speedster D'Wayne Eskridge and former Rams TE Gerald Everett) and a new offensive coordinator that comes from Sean McVay’s uptempo scheme. He’s my QB7.

Andy: Every Seattle season has some sort of Jekyll/Hyde aspect to it, related either to the run-pass balance or Wilson's time-to-throw or defensive performance or ... well, something. Nothing is ever completely stable with the Seahawks. So far, the early reviews of OC Shane Waldron's system are extremely positive; it seems like we can expect Seattle to play with pace and for Wilson to be far more reliant on short, quick, high-percentage throws.

If you're actively fading Wilson, then you're choosing to avoid one of the most efficient and productive quarterbacks of his era. How many times do we need to re-learn that Wilson doesn't need significant volume to produce 30 or more TD passes? He's as safe as it gets at QB.  

Dalton: While there’s some concern Seattle runs the ball more than they should, the team’s new offense is expected to be uptempo. Wilson is a future Hall of Famer, still in his prime, and has two strong weapons in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, so he’s a fine proactive pick. Seattle should be in a bunch of high-scoring games in their division alone. I’d prefer to come out of drafts with one of the big seven fantasy QBs who run.

2. After finishing as the RB15, 11, and 17, respectively, over the past three seasons, is Chris Carson (currently ranked 17th) the highest floor back going in the RB2 range?

Andy: Carson is among the most disrespected players in our game. Throughout his career, fantasy analysts have been touting Rawls or Prosise or Dallas or Penny as the value back in Seattle, yet the correct answer is always — ALWAYS — Carson. He has a pair of 1,100-yard rushing seasons, he's averaged 89.9 scrimmage yards per game and he's coming off a season in which he delivered career-highs in yards per carry (4.8) and yards per touch (5.4). Carson has also reached the end zone nine times in each of the past three years. No one else is coming for his job; he's the unchallenged lead back for the Seahawks and he plays for a run-to-win head coach. You absolutely want him as your RB2. 

Dalton: I’d say no to the highest floor given his injury history; he’s never played 16 games in a season, but he’s certainly a safe option when healthy. Rashaad Penny could take some touches, but he remains a huge injury risk himself. Most importantly to Carson’s fantasy value, he’s gone from afterthought in the passing game to active as a receiver, finishing top-20 in targets per game among RBs last season. As lead back on a Seahawks offense that should score plenty of points, Carson is locked in as an RB2 even if he should be projected to miss 2-3 games.

Running back Chris Carson #32 of the Seattle Seahawks
Chris Carson remains an underrated fantasy back. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Liz: Carson’s running style invites injury. That’s why he’s never recorded a 16-game season (and he’s definitely not going to stay on the field for 17 games this year). His volume in 2020 took a dip (from 18.5 carries per game in 2019 to 11.8 carries per contest) but, perhaps consequently, his efficiency improved (4.7 true YPC, RB10). He’s also caught 37 balls in back-to-back years … and last year he was just behind Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt in receiving scores (4). The guy is not just a power option, he’s evolved into an every-down player — and should be drafted accordingly. I’m projecting 14-15 total touches per contest and around 10 TDs.

3. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett were both top 10 fantasy WRs last season. Metcalf is ranked as if he should have a similar season, but Lockett is outside our top 20. How do you see this pass-catching group playing out?

Dalton: Lockett was boom-or-bust on a weekly basis last season, and one of his huge games came during a (fantasy) meaningless Week 17. But there’s no denying his overall production, and Lockett had more targets than Metcalf. Metcalf has led all receivers in end-zone targets since entering the league and has 20-touchdown upside, so he’s rightfully a top-10 WR off the board. Lockett has missed just one game during his career and has scored 28 touchdowns over the last three seasons, so he’s underrated if outside the top-20 (he’s top-15 for me). Wilson is a superstar, and the Seahawks have a narrow target tree.

Liz: DK is a true alpha who commands more high-value targets (31 deep opportunities in 2020, WR3). As a result his fantasy production should continue to be bigger, better, and more consistent. He is also — as was discussed on plenty of telecasts — more of a ballhawk, regularly hounding Russ for looks. He’s a squeakier wheel and one that is gladly given grease. Lockett is a fantastic technician, but he’s the WR2 and his usage — especially in a run-friendly approach — is more static. That might change under Waldron, but DK is a sure thing ... hence the discrepancy in their ranks.

Andy: Metcalf has an incredibly rare size/speed and athletic skill set with the receiving talent to match, so, yeah, he occupies the highest positional tier. Lockett is incredibly skilled as well, a technician capable of breathtaking plays, but he's not quite an unstoppable cyborg the way DK is. No shame in that. He was a high-variance WR2 for fantasy purposes last season, and that's just how we should think of him in 2021. The team's offensive scheme changes should suit his game, so a third straight 1,000-yard season should be coming. It helps, of course, that the Seahawks funnel targets to two primary receivers. 

Seattle Seahawks projected 2021 fantasy contributors

QB: Russell Wilson 

RB: Chris Carson / Rashaad Penny

WR: DK Metcalf / Tyler Lockett

TE: Gerald Everett 

Seattle Seahawks O/U on 9.5 team win total from BetMGM

Dalton: OVER (-150). Seattle looks like the third-best team in the NFC West, but that doesn’t mean they also aren’t a Super Bowl contender with a star at the game’s most important position. A Russell Wilson injury would be a disaster, but otherwise expect Seattle to win double-digit games in 2021.

Follow Dalton: @daltondeldon

Follow Liz: @LizLoza_FF

Follow Andy: @andybehrens