Wednesday, May 30, 2012

32 in 32: Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks managed to pull off a miracle trip to the playoffs two seasons ago when Marshawn Lynch made a mockery of Saints' inability to tackle in one of the great runs of the NFL playoffs. Last season the Seahawks won another 7 games but came nowhere close to making the playoffs. The good news for the Seahawks is that they have a great defense returning with plenty of potential and brought in a strong contender in Matt Flynn. There are a lot of reasons to believe that the San Francisco 49ers will fall off considerably from their sensational 2011 campaign, and the Seahawks might have the necessary pieces to knock them off. The Seahawks boast a great safety in Earl Thomas, who might end up being the next Ed Reed with great tackling abilities, and the first player to score a rushing touchdown on the 49er defense in Marshawn Lynch.

Marshawn Lynch is probably the most valuable player on this team. Lynch is going to be one of the only true featured backs in the league and should easily rank among the top 10 backs in the league. My biggest worry with Lynch at this point, unlike posted in the RB rankings, is that he will have less of a nose for finding the end zone. Last season Lynch matched 1,200 yards with 12 touchdowns, which is a relatively amazing feat. I think that he should rush for another 1,200 yards, but might score 10 TDs instead. Those are still great numbers, and his upside is fantastic. If he can be as determined as he was last season, he might be able to reach 16+ total touchdowns this season. Lynch just turned 26 in April, so there is no reason to worry about age at this point. After taking a better look at Lynch, I have no qualms about drafting him in the first round.

The quarterback situation is a little less clear. Matt Flynn received a nice contract and should win the starting job early in training camp. I know Pete Carroll loves T-Jax, but I just can't see him passing on Flynn's potential. Flynn played absolutely spectacularly in his two starts over the last two seasons, and I would actually suggest that the Seahawks receiving corps is very similar to that of the Packers. I think Flynn is an easy QB2, especially for those teams with a weak starting quarterback. Dropping a 7th-10th round pick on Flynn could pay off huge, especially if some of the other big name quarterbacks face injuries this year. If Flynn does not win the starting job, Tavaris Jackson is little more than an extreme situational player. He played at an average level last season and should play at an average level whenever he steps onto the field this season.

You might think I'm crazy to say that the Seahawks' receivers rivals the Packers', Patriots' or Saints' in depth, but it is true. We are talking about a team with Sydney Rice, a truly talented player who catches the injury bug too often, Doug Baldwin, one of the best rookie receivers from last season, Golden Tate, a player with good potential entering the pivotal third year of his career, Mike Williams, 2010's player who finally decided he wanted to play football, and Ben Obamanu, a relatively unknown player who was drafted by the Seahawks 7 years ago. Any one of these guys could become Matt Flynn's new favorite target, and unless I see something to suggest otherwise, I would be happy to draft any of these guys as depth at receiver for my fantasy team. The truth is that Rice and Baldwin could see 1,000 yard seasons this year, but Tate, Williams, and Obamanu carry some value going forward. The two guys who probably won't be valuable in this Seahawks offense are Zach Miller and Kellen Winslow. Miller flew in from Oakland and promptly had the worst season of his career. I expect much the same from the aging and troubled Winslow. They might have some value this season, but I would be surprised.

Consider this defense to be relatively valuable in the turnover and return categories, while Steven Hauschka could be a great add at kicker this season.

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