Summer Sleeper: Seattle Seahawks

Austan Kas


Editor’s Note: This article is written by a new writer for DLF – Austan Kas. We’re excited to have Austan and look forward to seeing his work here in the future!

We continue our annual 32-part Summer Sleeper series where DLF scribes identify a lightly-touted player on each NFL roster who may be worthy of your consideration. Our subjects all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but each merits a bit of in-depth discussion here in the Premium Content section.

To help everybody along, we are going to be categorizing our sleepers under one of three headings:

  • Super Deep Sleepers – Players who aren’t roster-worthy in 12-team leagues, but are still worth keeping an eye on.
  • Deep Sleepers – An end of the roster player who is more often than not on the waiver wire in 12-team leagues.
  • Sleeper – A likely rostered player who makes for a good trade target. Their startup ADP puts them out of the top-175 or so.

Because we aren’t going give you the likes of mainstream sleepers like Allen Robinson or C.J. Anderson, most of these players will undoubtedly fizzle. All we are asking is for you to keep an open mind and perhaps be willing to make room for one of these players on your bench. You never know when the next Alfred Morris is going to spring up.  Feel free to add your own thoughts about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own in the comments below.

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To say running back has been a position of strength for Seattle over the past few years would be like saying Katy Perry made a smart financial decision to switch from Christian music to pop music — it’s a massive understatement.

With four straight top four finishes, Marshawn Lynch has been the best — real life and fantasy — running back in the game over the past four years. He was acquired by Seattle for a fourth and fifth round pick, so I guess you could say they fleeced Buffalo.

Lynch’s stronghold on the position has kept some talented backs off the field, including Justin Forsett, who exploded on the scene a year ago with Baltimore. Lynch’s age (29) and workload have left the fantasy community wondering two things – when will he slow down and who will take his place when said slow down occurs?

Today, we’re going to look at two running backs in camp with the Seahawks who are worth keeping an eye on, and no, Christine Michael isn’t one of them.

Robert Turbin, RB SEA (Deep Sleeper)

Despite all the hype surrounding Michael since the Seahawks drafted him in the second round in 2013, Turbin has been Seattle’s No. 2 running back. In the past two seasons, Michael has received just 52 carries while Turbin has 151 rushing attempts, making it pretty clear where each stands on the totem pole.

In all, Turbin has averaged 4.0 yards per carry in his three seasons with Seattle, toting the rock 231 times for 928 yards. He’s also added 43 grabs for 427 yards and two scores, with both touchdowns coming a year ago.

Barring an injury to Lynch, Turbin — with a current ADP of 194 — won’t cause a blip on the fantasy radar this season. However, Turbin’s contract is up after this year and I think he is a starting-caliber NFL running back.

When I see Turbin on tape, I see a back with good speed, quick feet and excellent vision. He runs downhill and is cut from the one-cut cloth. He’s also a capable receiver. Turbin’s combine numbers back up the speed element as he ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash in 2012.

Guessing where he laces ‘em up next year is exactly that — a guess. Seattle could re-sign him, and he could provide value down the road when Lynch is done. Or he could land with a team in need of a running back — Arizona, Tampa Bay or Tennessee — and get a crack at a starting gig. Either way, he’s a player worthy of a roster spot towards the end of the year, just in case his opportunity improves.

Thomas Rawls, RB SEA (Super Deep Sleeper)

Rawls is trying to follow the Isaiah Crowell path to the NFL. Like Crowell, Rawls started college at a traditional power (Michigan), ended up at a lesser-known school (Central Michigan), seemed to create his own demons with off-field issues (suspended for three games in his one season at CMU) and signed on with a team (Seattle) as an undrafted free agent.

A violent runner who checks in at 5-foot-9, 215 pounds, Rawls fits the Pete Carroll mold of a bruising, bigger back ala Lynch and LenDale White. Below are some clips from Rawls’s time as a Chippewa, with some unique camera angles giving you an opportunity to see what the back sees.

Rawls is a player with lackluster speed (he ran a 4.65 at the combine) and receiving skills, but his calling card is his superb power. He has really good feet, runs extremely hard, churns for yards after contact and is allergic to running out of bounds, preferring instead to deliver a blow to a defender.

Honestly, it’s a punishing style similar to Lynch, although he’s obviously not in Lynch’s galaxy right now. (Sidenote: If Lynch had his own galaxy, judging by the video below, it’s a place I’d really want to be.)

With Central Michigan in 2014, Rawls rushed for 1,103 yards on 201 attempts for a yards-per-carry mark of 5.3. In full disclosure, he didn’t come close to those numbers in his three years facing tougher competition at Michigan, getting just 73 carries in three seasons.

As an undrafted free agent, Rawls is facing long odds to make an NFL roster, but he impressed Seattle at mini-camp, with Carroll signaling him out as one of the standouts of camp.

“I’ve studied Thomas a lot,” Carroll told reporters, according to “I love his style of running. He’s really a head-knocker. He really goes after guys and when you guys get to see him put the pads on you’ll see how physical of a runner he is. He had play after play in college of just smacking people and running and breaking tackles and all that.”

“He was a real bright spot. I thought he really jumped out at us and he was very consistent, worked throughout the whole thing knowing that his best, maybe most exciting dimension, hasn’t even been seen yet. He had a great camp for us. It’ll be really fun to see him when we start playing ball.”

Yes, coaches effuse praise about players this time of the year, but it’s still worth noting.

Rawls currently has the same ADP as you and I, so he’s about as deep of a sleeper as we can get. He’s certainly worth monitoring this preseason, though, whether he makes Seattle’s roster or earns himself a spot somewhere else.