Going Deep: Are We Forgetting Brandon Marshall?

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

The Seattle Seahawks are going to be a brand new team in 2018. From their 2012 Super Bowl winning team, only Russell Wilson on the offensive side and Bobby Wagner on the defensive side will start in Week 1 – with K.J. Wright (knee) being the only other player remaining on the active roster. Yikes. Many of the departures happened in the last year, with Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril, Kam Chancellor and potentially Earl Thomas all gone.

While all of their major departures were on the defensive side of the ball, the team did lose tight ends Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson, as well as No. 3 receiver Paul Richardson. The Seahawks are calling this a reload as opposed to a rebuild, although they filled most of their open roster spots with younger, more cost-effective options.

However, they did bring in one veteran, who has been a fantasy stalwart for over a decade. Despite his previous status, Brandon Marshall has been largely ignored this season in fantasy – although there is room for some optimism for the 34-year-old.

You all don’t need a reminder who Brandon Marshall is. Remember 2015? Marshall put up a ridiculous 109 catches for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was the elite of the elite, with over 1,000 receiving yards in seven consecutive seasons. His 82 touchdowns is second among active receivers behind Larry Fitzgerald.

His last two seasons have soured a lot of people on him. His 2016 season was okay, with 59 receptions for 788 yards and three touchdowns. Not what many expected from him, especially after his magnificent 2015 campaign, but he was still useful in all fantasy formats.

2017 was a different story. In Marshall’s lone season with the Giants, he was only able to stay healthy enough to suit up in five games. He was targeted 33 times but only hauled in 18 receptions for 154 yards, and no touchdowns. The Giants had seen enough, and he signed a small, incentive-laden one-year deal with the Seahawks this offseason.

Part of the reason you haven’t seen much crop up about Marshall this offseason is that it was not a guarantee he would even make the Seahawks 53-man roster. A tight wide receiver competition had many expecting Marshall to get released. His health is of course an issue, and he was playing sparingly in the preseason to help build up his endurance. However, Marshall squeezed into a roster spot and is expected to be Seattle’s No. 4 receiver.

Wait a minute, you might be thinking, Marshall is only Seattle’s No. 4 receiver? Why are we talking about him? Well, Marshall has another very valuable role that he is expected to fill in Seattle’s offense: Red Zone Target.

Consider this: Seattle had 34 touchdown receptions last season. 10 of them went to Jimmy Graham. Six of them went to Paul Richardson. Four of them to Luke Willson. Two of them to J.D. McKissic, who will miss at least the first six weeks of the season. That means that 22 of Seattle’s 34 touchdown passes are unaccounted for this season. They replaced Graham and Willson with Ed Dickson, but he is out at least eight weeks. Nick Vannett is expected to step into the No. 1 tight end role, but he has 15 career receptions. New No. 3 receiver Jaron Brown is a decent red zone option, but Marshall has size (six-foot-five) and experience over Brown.

I would expect Brown to approach Richardson’s total of six touchdowns, with Marshall potentially absorbing most or all of Graham’s ten. It is very clear the Seahawks are hoping Marshall can take on a red zone role. Nearly every Seahawks practice has featured Red Zone drills, and the first passing plays are almost always fade routes into the end zone for Marshall. Marshall and Wilson have worked very closely to get the timing down amongst each other, and each have talked separately to the media about their budding comfortability with each other’s style.

At the end of the day, Marshall won’t be used enough to garner attention in most fantasy formats. I would expect a handful of targets per game, but more than 500 yards on the season might be ambitious, unless of course there are injuries that thrust him into a bigger role.

However, I think 8-10 touchdowns is very possible for the veteran, and in deeper leagues (or best ball leagues) Marshall is someone to keep an eye on.

Andy Patton

Andy is a sports writer who covers the Seattle Seahawks for USA TODAY. He is an avid baseball fan first and foremost, but is thrilled he gets a chance to bring his fantasy football knowledge to QB List.

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