2022 NFC West Preview: Fantasy Football Outlook, Sleepers, and Busts

Chris Sanzo breaks down the AFC West from a fantasy football perspective.

2021 Review

 

Points per Game 23.2 16th
Offensive Snaps 954 32nd
2021 Record 7-10 22nd
2022 Vegas Win Projection 5.5 T-29th

 

The Seattle Seahawks’ 2021 season put an era to rest. The Legion of Boom has been officially retired, RB Chris Carson has possibly played his last down in the NFL, and–most importantly–QB Russell Wilson‘s decade-long run ended as he departed after an injury-plagued finale. At 7-10, Seattle missed the playoffs and started building toward the future with the picks and players they received from the Denver Broncos in the Wilson trade. They drafted LT Charles Cross at 9th overall and then T Abraham Lucas in the third round, pick 72. As one of the worst pass-blocking teams in the league, this was long overdue. They also added Michigan State RB Ken Walker in the second round to refresh the stable.

Overall, things still look bleak for the Seahawks in 2022 with no quarterback worthy of a starting job currently on the roster; fortunately, they have taken care of their brightest star: WR DK Metcalf. Then again, maybe they aren’t exactly feeling an urgency to win games this year knowing that QB CJ Stroud and QB Bryce Young are set to enter the draft in 2023. They currently have two first-round picks, among others, so a quick turnaround could be in store for the Seahawks.

 

Passing Game

 

Passing Yards per Game 201.9 23rd
Passing Touchdowns per Game 1.8 10th
Pass Attempts per Game 29.1 31st

 

The Seahawks were an understandable failure at the QB position between an injured Russell Wilson, who was a shell of himself post-injury, and backup QB Geno Smith. While the season started off well, it also effectively ended in week 5. They were one of the only two teams to have less than 500 pass attempts, the other being the Philadelphia Eagles. DK Metcalf is the driving force in the offense and despite having less than 1000 yards, he still managed 12 touchdowns, nine against teams not named the Lions, and earned 124 targets. He actually played better with Geno than Wilson upon his comeback. Metcalf averaged 19.6 ppg in the four games Geno started and they now have a full offseason to work together. WR Tyler Lockett may not be as happy about the switch. In that same span, he averaged 11.4 points and that is propped up by a 26-point week 8 against Jacksonville. I would warn against Lockett being a bust if it wasn’t already baked into his price and overall expectation. TE Noah Fant adds another weapon to an underrated pass-catching group as he and QB Drew Lock were the players involved in the aforementioned trade.

 

Running Game

 

Rushing Yard per Game 122 11th
Rushing Touchdowns per Game 1.1 T-9th
Rushing Plays per Game 24.3 27th

 

Seattle runs a lot; this is no surprise. They always have under HC Pete Carroll and it’s gotten comical as they aren’t repaid with efficiency. “Let Russ cook” may have trended on social media, but it definitely wasn’t cracking Pete’s playbook. Instead, it was the power run game with Carson until he was sadly injured. Further, the injury to his neck has prompted a retirement announcement. RB Rashaad Penny took the reigns for the final six starts and rushed for over 125 yards in four of those starts. He will be back for one more season with Seattle while they ease in second-round rookie RB Ken Walker. With Penny leading the way in 2022, they could bounce back on the ground as Penny has averaged nearly six ypc when healthy. They will not compete for a playoff spot this year, but the offense could at least look promising heading into the future.

 

Sleeper

 

Rashaad Penny, RB

Penny is being drafted at RB32 and is well behind RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB Devin Singletary, and RB Damien Harris while being just ahead of the other New England running back committee member, RB Rhamondre Stevenson, by just one round. The two reasons for this are health and RB Ken Walker, another running back going ahead of him. In the six games he started last year, Penny ran for at least 135 yards in four of them. He rushed 102 times for 706 yards in his starts, good for a 6.9 ypc. After Seattle gave him almost $6m to come back, and a need to impress for his next contract, Penny is the back to roster in Seattle.

 

Deep Sleeper

 

Dee Eskridge, WR

WR Dee Eskridge was a second-round pick for the Seahawks in 2021, but he didn’t see the field very often after being injured in week one and going on the IR. WR Freddie Swain is his main competitor for the slot position but for a team that is going to need playmakers badly, there’s no reason that the role shouldn’t switch full-time to Dee sometime early into the season. While he won’t be a top 3 option in the passing game, any disruptions with Metcalf, Lockett, or Fant would certainly bump him into that range.

 

Bust Candidate

 

Ken Walker, RB

To be fair to Mr. Walker, this really has nothing to do with him. This is more about Rashaad Penny and Pete Carroll. Penny did everything he needed to by the end of the year to secure the RB1 job and Pete has a checkered history with rookie running backs. For everyone saying there’s no way they would sit their rookie RB they took so highly, there’s a precedent you may not like. Penny was drafted 27th overall by Seattle in 2018, with better draft capital than Walker. He would not lead Seattle in rushing attempts that year. Actually, he wasn’t second either. He was third behind both Chris Carson and Mike Davis. Though the gap has closed, Walker being drafted ahead of Penny is a misstep.

 

 

Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter)/Photography by Bob Kupbens, Kevin Reece, Kiyoshi Mio + Andy Lewis / Icon Sportswire

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