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Fantasy Opportunity Spotlight: Seattle Seahawks

A team-by-team analysis of coaches’ tendencies and using them to help create realistic fantasy football projections. @TubaDeus takes a look at the Seattle Seahawks.

Welcome to the new home of my yearly Fantasy Opportunity series! For those who didn’t see this series on Reddit last year, I try to take a different approach to fantasy projections than your run-of-the-mill analyst. The basis of my process is that the number one indicator of fantasy success is opportunities to touch the ball. Obviously, individual player skill can (and will) affect that, but at the end of the day players are at the mercy of playcalling and play design. Therefore, if we want to make accurate projections, we need to look at each coach’s scheme and how they like to spread the ball around.

As a result, this series is very coach-centric. I’ll touch on individual players, but only as they relate to their coaches’ schemes. On a related note, this series will only aim to establish projections on how touches will be split up, not what individual players will be able to accomplish with those touches. That will come later once depth charts settle through training camp. Think of this series more as a basis for realistic expectations.

Make sense? Good. Let’s dive in.

Most of my stats are pulled from Pro Football Reference. Please support them. They are awesome and are my primary source of statistical information.

Seattle Seahawks

Last Year’s Accuracy

Total PlaysRush Attempts (Rush %)Passing Plays (Pass %) – Includes SacksSacks Allowed (Sack %)WR Targets (WR Target %)RB Targets (RB Target %)TE Targets (TE Target %)
2020 Projections1035490 (47.3%)545 (52.7%)45 (8.3%)295 (59.0%)80 (16.0%)105 (21.0%)
2020 Stats1022411 (40.2%)611 (59.8%)48 (7.9%)330 (58.6%)98 (17.4%)109 (19.4%)
For league wide stats, see this spreadsheet.

Coaching Changes

Despite maddeningly inconsistent production from both the offense and defense, the Seahawks still managed to rack up another double digit win season along with the NFC West crown. Of course, that inconsistency is the road block between Seattle’s dominant regular season performances and actually getting somewhere in the playoffs. Head coach Pete Carroll is aware of this, and as such has replaced former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer with Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton will retain his post.

Seahawks next head coach could be Shane Waldron if 2021 goes well
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Coaching History

This will be Waldron’s first attempt at running an offense in his career (aside from a one year stint as offensive coordinator at a high school), so we don’t have any history to look at for him. What we do have is the fact that he’s been with the Rams coaching staff ever since Sean McVay went to L.A. in 2017, and has been McVay’s passing game coordinator for the last three years. Chances are pretty good Waldron’s scheme will be based on McVay’s, so that’s who we should take a closer look at.

McVay’s offense in L.A. has largely been built off of play action. Get the running backs going, bring the defense in, then hit them for chunks of yardage in the passing game. Not surprisingly, the Rams have generally been a little more run heavy than league average, though it is worth emphasizing the “little”; while the league average run rate is usually around 41%, McVay’s Rams have typically hovered between 43-44%.

In the passing game, the focus of McVay’s scheme has been his wide receivers. They’ve shown remarkable consistency, sticking right around a 62% target share all four years McVay has been in L.A. The running backs and tight ends have flip flopped a bit over the years, but ever since the collapse of Todd Gurley, the tight ends have nabbed a bit over 20% of the targets while the running backs have struggled to stay above 10%. While this is undoubtedly partly due to a lack of trust in L.A.’s inexperienced backfield, it’s also partly due to an increased reliance on 2 tight end sets.

Looking Ahead

The bottom line here is that Pete Carroll wants to run the ball more. Not exactly a huge revelation for one of the original members of team #establishtherun. With Waldron likely bringing the Rams’ offense to Seattle, it’s almost a certainty that McVay’s 43-44% run rate will be the baseline for Waldron. At a bare minimum, Russell Wilson is much more effective as a scrambler than Jared Goff, so that probably accounts for a 1% or 2% boost right there. The Seahawks probably won’t be leading the league in run rate, but a 45%+ rate should not be surprising.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson staying busy with philanthropic efforts
Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

When Seattle does pass, the Rams’ positional target shares should transfer over nicely. Wide receivers Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf are easily the best weapons the Seahawks have, and they’ll be joined by a new second round rookie. They will fit nicely into Waldron’s wideout-heavy pass attack. Meanwhile, the tight ends may have lost Greg Olsen to retirement, but they brought in one of the Rams tight ends through free agency to replace him. Seattle’s running backs are talented enough as pass catchers that they should command something a little above what the Rams backfield has the last two years, but the revamped tight end room should stay ahead of them in the pecking order.

The one thing that Waldron may struggle with in Seattle is keeping up with McVay’s play total. It’s not an issue with the expected effectiveness of the offense; the Seahawks boast plenty of weapons and should be able to run Waldron’s offense just as well as he can call it. The issue is with the defense. Specifically, the defense’s inability to end drives and get off the field. Despite operating at a fairly average pace and not posting particularly lengthy drives, the Rams have consistently finished well above the league average number of total plays thanks to a strong defense that can get off the field quickly and give the offense more chances. Seattle doesn’t have that. They’ve shown flashes (including a dominant run to close out the 2020 season), but they need to do that consistently in order to give their offense a similar boost.

2021 Projections

Total PlaysRush Attempts (Rush %)Passing Plays (Pass %) – Includes SacksSacks Allowed (Sack %)WR Targets (WR Target %)RB Targets (RB Target %)TE Targets (TE Target %)
2020 Stats1022411 (40.2%)611 (59.8%)48 (7.9%)330 (58.6%)98 (17.4%)109 (19.4%)
2021 Projections (17 Games)1087492 (45.3%)595 (54.7%)40 (6.7%)344 (62.0%)87 (15.7%)100 (18.0%)

Previous Entry: San Francisco 49ers

Next Entry: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Find this article helpful? You can follow me on Twitter and Reddit as @TubaDeus, though I spend most of my time on Discord.

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