Editor’s note: This member corner article is written by new writer Davis Zhao. As always, member corner views may or may not reflect those of DLF, though we do share his love of the Seahawks!
The signing of wide receiver Sidney Rice by the Seattle Seahawks represented the very dilemma that playing fantasy football can create – an agonizing schism of loyalty between fantasy squad and favorite team.
Heavily invested in Rice in keeper and dynasty leagues, it was a tough blow. Of course, the other half of me was equally elated by the signing, which would give the Seahawks an elite talent at wideout, and at least I could whole-heartedly root for his success— until my opponent starts him, of course.
But enough about me. What about Sidney Rice’s dynasty value?
Off the bat, let’s point out the obvious. Rice is going to a situation with a less-than-ideal quarterback and he’ll be the first option, but will compete with Mike Williams and Zach Miller for targets. The injury issues are still there and are part of the package, but Seattle obviously felt confident enough to offer him $18.5 million in guaranteed money.
For this season at least, Rice is blessed with Tarvaris Jackson throwing him the ball. The transition should be smooth though, as they did have a bit of a connection in the seven games both players started.
On the topic of Jackson to Rice, it wasn’t a prolific duo but one play in particular stood out to me. Against Buffalo last season, Jackson threw a deep bomb in Rice’s direction in double coverage- an underthrown pass that Rice was able to adjust to for a 46 yard gain.
The obvious upside with Rice is the ability to adjust his 6’5″ frame to passes thrown a bit off, something that he’ll be doing pretty often with Jackson at the helm. He will make Jackson a better quarterback, and Jackson will reward him by throwing his way often. And yes, Rice is more than a deep threat, running plenty of mid-distance routes.
In an interview, Rice spoke well of Jackson, emphasizing that he was never given a fair shot in Minnesota. He also made it clear that the familiarity with Bevell’s playbook was a big factor- comfort level will certainly be an advantage for Rice’s production early on in the season. Don’t underestimate the impact that can have on his numbers.
Of course, the kicker here is that if Jackson doesn’t do well, the Seahawks are more than willing to find a franchise quarterback in the 2012 draft class – Landry Jones, Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley are often mentioned as possible options. Just a bit of a safety net for Rice’s long-term prospects if Jackson underwhelms.
And anyways, if the quarterback play is mediocre, at least Rice will be reaping the benefits of playing behind a lot, right?
Skeptics mention Seattle’s history of not having very productive receivers, but Rice could be the best receiver they’ve seen since Steve Largent, way back when.
There’s no questioning Rice’s talent – a tall, Fitzgerald-esque receiver with great hands. There aren’t many cornerbacks in the NFL who can cover him. The moral of the story here is that talent rises above situation, and Fitzgerald found a way to be productive catching balls from the likes of Max Hall and John Skelton.
Speaking of situation, Seattle is an interesting landing spot for Rice. The marriage of Pete Carroll and Darrel Bevell’s quasi-West Coast Offense produces a philosophy that establishes a running game, but also takes shots with the passing game. A proponent of big targets at receiver, Carroll will do what he can to feature Rice, especially in the red-zone.
Then, there’s the offensive line. A youthful line with two rookies (John Moffitt and James Carpenter) and youngsters Russell Okung and Max Unger will have their growing pains, but it’s a very solid line that can both run-block and pass-block. Long term, this group (plus Pro-Bowler Robert Gallery) can only improve, and Rice will stand to benefit.
Playing in the NFC West will also provide mismatches for Rice. Of the three teams, I only imagine Patrick Peterson is capable of attempting to cover Rice. Double teams won’t work either, because the defense will be stretched thin containing Mike Williams, Zach Miller, John Carlson and QB-spying Jackson. In other words, weaker secondaries = more production.
So what does all this mean for Rice’s value moving forward?
It’s not a very big downgrade from staying in Minnesota. If you own Rice, you can expect very solid (but unreliable at times) WR3 production. If I had to set a number, I’d say he catches 60 passes for 900-950 yards and seven touchdowns.
With the “Good rookie quarterback if TJax doesn’t work out” factor, the 25-year-old Rice has a pretty bright future and represents a very solid buy low. If you’re willing to gut-out a season or two of low-end WR2 to WR3 production, the upside is tantalizing.
And hey, if Rice does bad, may I suggest playing the Seahawks in Madden 12, trading for a top QB, and drowning your sorrows in deep fades to Rice against rookie-difficulty defenses?