Summer Sleeper: Seattle Seahawks

Chad Scott

sleeperseriesWith less than a month before all training camps have opened around the NFL, we begin our annual series focusing on a few sleepers from all 32 teams in the NFL.

These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about here in the Premium Content section. Some of these players are deep dynasty sleepers who could merit a spot on your bench in a deep league, while others are players who may contribute a little faster than the deep prospects, but deserve more attention than they may be getting. By definition, a sleeper could mean something a little different to everyone, but we’re simply doing the best job we can to unearth one player from each team who fits the category in some way, shape or form.

We’ll never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” that includes such names as Lamar Miller, Chris Ivory or Danny Amendola. You’re all too good for that.

While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, there’s more value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and either or re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league or consider adding a few of these deeper prospects we focus on this Summer who are free agents in your league – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.

Feel free to add your own comments about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own!

The Seahawks seemingly came out of nowhere last year as they were led by impressive rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.  They weren’t on many (if any) people’s radar to contend for the NFC West – but they did.  The season itself was a tale of two halves.  The first half was spent getting Wilson acclimated to the NFL and his teammates; the second half was pure dominance over the (lesser) competition.  Last year at this time, you could say there were a couple of noteworthy dynasty players.  This year, it’s a different story in both IDP and non-IDP formats.  The rushing attack will once again be anchored by Marshawn Lynch and the receiving corps got an upgrade when the team traded for top ten dynasty wide receiver Percy Harvin.  Even the receivers on the peripheral have much value in Sidney Rice and Golden Tate.  With much of the offense locked into their starting positions, where should dynasty folk like yourselves look to for salvation?

Chris Harper, WR SEA

chris_harperHarper has been a favorite target of mine this off-season, not only because I’m an obsessive homer, but because his skill set matches the team’s mindset.  He’s a big, physical wide receiver with attitude when the ball’s in his hands.  At 6’1”, 230 pounds, Harper is a beast in the making.  Pete Carroll himself said Harper has the build to play at 234-238 pounds (that’s heavier than safety Kam Chancellor)…sickening.

Here was my favorite quote of his during rookie mini-camp:

Asked about his bulk, Harper offered, “It helps me a lot, because DBs aren’t used to seeing guys that are like 230 playing receiver. So, it gives me an advantage as far as at the point of attack when the ball is in the air. When they want to get into pushing matches, I’ll usually come out on top of those.”

If you look only at his college stats, you’re doing it wrong.  Harper played in a run-based offense at Kansas State and still posted 800 yards receiving his senior year.  Many have compared Harper to Anquan Boldin because of his size and physicality – he’s had a decent career.  Harper is a player I target because he has great hands and can make the tough catch with defenders draped over the top of him.  His blocking skills were put to the test at KSU and with Seattle also being a run-based offense, should earn him some playing time in 2013 based on that alone.

Blocking, of course, doesn’t win you any fantasy football championships, but with the receiving corps (mostly) solidified for 2013, you’re drafting him purely as a late round flier in hopes your gamble sees some field time.

I touched on it in my 32 for 32 article on the NFC West, but depending on Tate’s play, Rice and his contract could be dumped in 2014, giving way to Harper.

Fun Fact: Harper was originally a quarterback at Oregon before transferring to Kansas State to play wide receiver.

Luke Willson, TE SEA

That’s two “L’s” and NOT Owen Wilson’s brother.

Cast in the shadow of 49ers draft pick Vance McDonald during their playing days at Rice University, Willson sure did open some eyes at Seahawks’ OTAs.  The 6’6”, 250 pound tight end runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and displayed that speed in Spring practices.  Willson was able to stretch the middle of the field with ease and made some highlight reel catches according to Carroll. GM John Schneider, said Willson tested second best of all the tight ends in the draft despite his fifth round selection.  Normally, I’d say this is smoke and mirrors, but Schneider isn’t one to mix words.  Schneider also went on to say how well Willson blocked during his college career – that puts a huge advantage arrow his way while fighting for the backup spot.

Starter Zach Miller tore his plantar fascia during the first series against the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs, but still managed to haul in eight catches for 140 yards and a touchdown.  He finally showed how valuable he was to this offense during their playoff run, but has had a history of concussions and other ailments throughout his career.  With backup Anthony McCoy shelved for the season with an Achilles tendon tear, the job for #2 is up for grabs between Willson and Sean McGrath.

Don’t look at Willson’s college career, you’ll think I’m nuts – or more nuts depending on how much of my stuff you’ve read.  Willson played second fiddle to McDonald and also battled an ankle injury for most of his senior season.  Even so, Willson was still named Honorable Mention in All-Conference USA by the coaches. Simply put, the kid has some skills and needs to be monitored. Again, he’s another Seahawk I’ve invested in late in drafts because he has the potential to be a starter at some point in an offense that is peaking under Wilson, first name Russell.