The 2017 NFL regular season has concluded, so it’s time to briefly examine the state of each team’s skill positions for fantasy purposes with an eye towards next season. I will be reviewing each team in the reverse order of the 2017 NFL standings. The next team on the docket:
Seattle Seahawks (9-7)
Russell Wilson enjoyed a phenomenal bounce-back season in 2017 after laboring through several lower body injuries the year prior. Wilson’s 34 passing touchdowns were good for the NFL lead among quarterbacks and matched his career high set in 2015, while his 586 rushing yards/three rushing touchdowns were his most since the 2014 season. Helping Wilson’s cause as fantasy phenom was Seattle’s utterly inability to generate a rushing attack, which essentially forced the Seahawks’ quarterback to put the offense on his back, propelling Wilson to a fantasy overall QB1 finish, which likely came at a discount in 2017 given his depressed statistics from the year prior. Turning just 30-years old this November, Wilson is still squarely in his prime and figures to be one of the first signal-callers off the Board when drafting fantasy squads this Summer. Furthermore, Seattle’s dismantling of their once-vaunted defense should further cement Wilson’s floor as the Seahawks will likely need to throw to win as they try to keep pace with what is shaping up to be a competitive NFC West in 2018.
The Seahawks’ backfield was an absolute mess in 2017, as evidenced by Mike Davis leading the team with 240 rushing yards despite the fact he didn’t even join the active roster until mid-November. Seventh-round rookie and preseason darling Chris Carson looked like he was making a push for lead back duties early in the season, though a broken leg suffered in Week 4 ended that quest about as quickly as it began, as the young upstart missed the ensuing 12 games. Presumed early-down runners Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy both struggled, as neither averaged more than 2.7 yards-per-carry (YPC). Rawls now has just 506 regular season rushing yards in his last two seasons since leading all rookie RBs in 2015 with 830, and it’s fair to question whether Rawls’ explosiveness will ever return after suffering a severe ankle injury his rookie year. Eddie Lacy was signed last offseason as a reclamation project, and was plagued by the same injury and weight issues that prompted Green Bay to to let him walk. With Lacy’s one-year contract fulfilled, the former 2013 second-round pick is expected to once again hit the open market (with presumably few interested suitors), as the Seahawks reportedly have no plans to bring Lacy back. C.J. Prosise was supposed make his mark as the Seahawks’ passing-game specialist in year two, though injuries kept him off the field for all but five contests, which brings Prosise’s games played total to just 11 since Seattle made him the 90th overall pick in the 2016 draft. Second-year undrafted free agent and converted wideout J.D. McKissic burst on to the scene in Week 4 with a two touchdown performance against the Colts in prime time. With Prosise continuously in and out of the lineup, McKissic operated as the Seahawks’ primary passing down back for the rest of the season, which resulted in a team-leading 34 receptions among Seattle’s backfield members. Listed at 5’10” and 195 lbs., McKissic is essentially a poor man’s version of the Redskins’ Chris Thompson, making it hard to see the former Arkansas State Red Wolf getting enough weekly touches to be a fantasy factor going forward, especially if (a big if) Prosise is able to remain healthy. Heading into 2018 fantasy drafts, Carson is looking like the best bet for fantasy value, though it’s unclear if he’s instilled enough confidence in the Seahawks to make him a workhorse. Prosise figures to at minimum handle passing down duties, and probably has the greatest upside of all the entire Seattle running back stable, though counting on him to stay healthy is a big ask at this point.
Doug Baldwin led the Seahawks in receptions and receiving yards for the fourth straight season, though his final 2017 numbers were a bit disappointing considering he was often drafted as a low-end WR1 in most fantasy leagues last Summer. With 29 touchdowns scored over his last three seasons, Baldwin is still a desirable fantasy commodity as Russell Wilson’s top target, though it appears the feisty wideout has settled in as more of a solid fantasy WR2 after his 14 touchdown explosion back in 2015. Finally injury free, Paul Richardson put together his first 16-game season running as the Seahawks no. 2 wideout, and was able to post career-highs across the board in all major receiving categories, finishing as standard league fantasy WR36. Richardson’s career year came at just the right time, as the former 45th overall pick in the 2014 draft is due to hit free agency this Spring. At this time, the signs point to Richardson playing in a different uniform next season, as the Seahawks are reportedly unwilling to pony up the $7 million annual salary Richardson is looking for. Richardson’s emergence last season relegated Tyler Lockett to the role of no. 3 wideout, as the third-year man out of Kansas State saw his receiving yardage numbers regress for the third straight season. A potential Richardson departure could open the door for Lockett to jump back up the Seahawks depth chart, and give the diminutive but speedy wideout a chance to build on a promising 2015 rookie season that has since been derailed by injuries.
Jimmy Graham’s 10 touchdowns masked what was his lowest receiving yardage total since his 2010 rookie year, and his 9.1 yards-per-catch was his lowest ever. Graham’s performances during the fantasy playoffs were particularly brutal as he amassed just two catches for two yards between Weeks 14 and 16, though he did find the end zone once during that span. With Graham’s contract with Seattle having expired, the team appears destined to move on from the big tight end, as Graham’s market price will reportedly cost more than the team is willing to pay. Even though some of Graham’s explosiveness has been sapped at age 31, he remains an elite red zone weapon, and should maintain a sizable fantasy presence with whichever team lands him in free agency. With no. 2 tight end Luke Wilson also on an expiring contract, it appears 2016 third-round pick Nick Vannett would be the in-house favorite to take over starting duties for 2018, though it’s also a strong possibility the Seahawks look to free agency (Tyler Eifert and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are names that have popped up as potential fits) and/or April’s draft to help soften the blow of Graham’s departure.