Seahawks Receivers: Will Any Fly High?
With the improbable, outstanding, late-season performance from the Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson, lots of attention is being drawn to not only Wilson for fantasy football but also the Seahawks receivers. One of the biggest stories of the offseason was the Seahawks acquisition of former Vikings stand-out receiver and offensive weapon, Percy Harvin. The Seahawks newest receiver is known for his big-play ability on special teams and as a receiver, which in many people’s eyes, really gave a boost to the Seahawks as a team and to Russell Wilson as a fantasy quarterback. The signing did come with inherent risk though, as Harvin has a history of missing playing time due to injuries and he suffered from chronic migraines. Without a snap played in 2013, he has now been ruled out for the remainder of the 2013 season after deciding to opt for surgery on a partially torn hip labrum.
With Harvin out, many, including me, are questioning the upside and effectiveness of this passing offense that only attempted 393 passes in the regular season. Compare this to the 727 attempts of the Lions, and it’s no question that there should be concerns with the fantasy outlook of some of these Seahawk receivers. Who will step up? Who should you target? Chad Scott of DynastyLeagueFootball.com and LateRoundQB.com took some time to answer my questions. Although I have my concerns, Chad, an expert in everything Seahawks, calmed my fears and helped me to understand this offense and the receivers involved. After my talk with Chad, I sat down and made my own assessments of the receivers that should be targeted for fantasy football on this offense.
1. “How does the loss of Percy Harvin affect the passing game in Seattle?”
Chad Scott: “I don't think it affects anything, to be honest. No one really knew how Harvin was going to be used, and we saw how efficient the passing game was last year. Still a run-first team, so I'd expect the WRs to post similar-better numbers this year.
2. “Although extremely efficient, Russell Wilson attempted only 393 passes in 2012. Do you see him attempting more and how will this affect his accuracy?”
Chad Scott: “I'd like to think so and probably would have been the case had Harvin stayed healthy. Now, I'd guess 450 attempts (about 28 per game) would be a God-send to his owners. Considering he averaged about 24 pass attempts last season, anything more than that would be great”
3. “Lots of buzz about Golden Tate, this is an undersized receiver who caught only 45 passes in the 2012 regular season, can he be fantasy relevant?”
Chad Scott: “I love Golden Tate this year, especially now that there's no Harvin. Last season, Wilson had a QB rating of 133.0 when throwing to Tate (No. 2 in all the NFL). Tate's YAC ranked 15th as well. Tate has a knack for getting open when Wilson's pocket collapses. Some people look at Wilson as a running QB, but when the pocket breaks down, he's looking downfield - often toward Tate's area. Plus, Tate is looking for a new contract this year. We know how that can motivate a player.”
6. “What is the probability of the Seahawks adding a veteran like Brandon Lloyd this year?
Chad Scott: “Seahawks will be fine with Tate, Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and possibly Chris Harper as their main receivers”
7. “Anything else you want to add that I missed. Any receivers the media isn't talking about or failing to mention?”
Chad Scott: “If you are in the deepest of leagues, keep your eyes out for Stephen Williams and Jermaine Kearse. Both have been outstanding in camp and with no world beaters at the position healthy, either could get a chance at some point.”
Sidney Rice: Probably the most clear-cut top target on this team and was Russell Wilson’s favorite target on deep routes in 2012. Rice had 50 receptions on 80 targets in 2012 which was an extremely impressive catch percentage of 63 percent. Rice also had eight touchdowns and given that Russell Wilson attempts more passes, as Chad mentioned, Rice could be a great option and sleeper candidate for 2013. He is dealing with an injury history himself and recently flew to Switzerland to have his knee examined, but until we hear some definitive news there really is no reason for concern. Solid WR3/4 in most formats but loses some value in point per reception leagues.
Golden Tate: Tate, in limited opportunities really impressed last season catching an unbelievable 45 of his 68 targets. With an expected increased workload in 2013, Golden Tate could fill the void that Percy Harvin was expected to fill. I don’t think that he can sustain a catch rate of 66 percent, and I don’t think he will top his career high touchdown total of seven, but he could be a heavily targeted player and could be a steal in point per reception leagues. Tate has had a very healthy career and like other receivers in this offense, durability is not a concern, despite his small stature. Tate is a solid WR4 in most formats but gets a slight bump in per reception leagues.
Doug Baldwin: The Seahawks leading receiver in 2011, disappeared somewhat in 2012 only totaling about half of his previous year’s production. Maybe it was the addition of Sidney Rice and Russell Wilson at quarterback, but Baldwin has now moved to the No. 3 or possibly even No. 4 on the depth chart. Barring a major injury to Rice or Tate, Baldwin shouldn’t make a lot of noise in 2013 and isn’t rosterable in most leagues. Baldwin could be an interesting player though if for some reason Sidney Rice continues to struggle to stay healthy.
Chris Harper (Rookie): At 6’1” 230 Harper is a bit undersized and didn’t grade out well athletically at the combine. Many say he draws comparisons to 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin, but it really remains to be seen if he can overcome his lack of speed and be a performer at the NFL level. Harper does have one interesting asset that could make him a contributor this year. He is extremely physical on the line and has no problem creating separation when corners are in press coverage. This type of coverage is becoming more popular in the NFL, especially in the NFC West, and if Harper has success he could earn some valuable playing time. Harper isn’t a guy worth rostering in re-draft leagues this year but he is an interesting add in keeper and dynasty formats with large rosters.
I think Chad Scott made some great points and ultimately I am a little more excited about these receivers than I was before. They were extremely efficient last season, and I don’t expect that to change much in 2013. I’m still not totally sold that Russell Wilson is ready for a large volume of pass attempts but if he is, as Chad suggested, we could be seeing a very fantasy relevant team in the coming years. I doubted Wilson last year as so many did, and was proven wrong; I wouldn’t be shocked if it happened again.