In our annual 32-part Summer Sleeper series, 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 to give you the likes of mainstream sleepers, 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 Adam Thielen 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.
The Seahawks have fallen from an elite team in the NFL to a team quickly “reloading.” The feared Legion of Boom is all but gone and Seattle is realistically stuck in NFL purgatory as an average team with a fan base expecting them to compete, veterans not willing to go through a true full-fledged rebuild, an offensive line that continues to be one of the worst in football and a quarterback in his prime who is one of the best in the league but finds himself surrounded by pedestrian talent.
In short, it’s complicated.
There are things we know about Seattle that aren’t quite so tough to figure out, though. One of those is Pete Carroll’s philosophy of having players compete for every position and starting those players he simply feels are the best at each spot, regardless of draft pedigree, contract status or previous accomplishments. It worked with Russell Wilson and he truly believes in it. This philosophy led me to choose last year’s sleeper, who was none other than Chris Carson, who came out of nowhere to claim the starting running back job in the Emerald City before being lost for the season with a gruesome ankle injury. This year, I’m going back to the same well and choosing a player who is being written off yet again but is again proving he may be deserving of serious playing time. I proudly present to you…
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Chris Carson, RB
Yep, the same sleeper has emerged two years in a row. And yes, I know what you’re thinking. The Seahawks drafted the prolific Rashaad Penny in round one of the NFL Draft and aren’t about to put him on the bench. After all, Penny is one of the darlings of 2018 rookie drafts, right? While Penny is undoubtedly going to get his time, the fact is Carson has outperformed him in camp thus far and if there’s one team in the league who isn’t scared to have a first round running back earn the job through competition, it’s Seattle.
While Carson’s numbers weren’t eye popping last year (49 carries for 208 yards, seven catches for 59 yards and one touchdown), it was clear he was by far the best running back Seattle had and he made both Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy expendable in short order. Averaging over four yards per carry behind that offensive line is actually more of an achievement than one would think as well.
This off-season has been great for Carson as he’s added ten pounds of muscle and is reportedly “gliding” all over the field. In fact, Coach Carroll was recently interviewed and said, “He’s just worked so hard and is so well conditioned and so strong that he really, he’s tearing it up. And so we’re real excited about it. Where we left off, he was just getting going last year, and I think he would’ve been a very impacting football player on our team and we missed him, terribly.” Classic Carroll coachspeak? Yes, it could be. However, when players beat the odds in Seattle, they’re typically rewarded by him and it’s clear Carroll really likes Carson.
Below is an excerpt from last year’s Carson article I wrote and it still resonates with me:
“Carson’s combine measurables were fantastic. His 4.58 40, 37-inch vertical and 10’10” broad jump raised a lot of eyebrows. The mold of a Seahawks running back is tough and powerful. Carson is 5’11 and just 218 pounds. However, he squats over 600 pounds on a regular basis and is said to spend every waking hour he can in the gym working out – it shows when you see him in or out of pads as he simply looks chiseled. His combine performance and limited game tape had Pete Carroll labeling him as one of his favorite players in the entire draft. For a Coach who really does open up every position to competition and personally pushed to draft Carson in the draft’s final round instead of risk losing him as an UDFA, that’s truly noteworthy.”
In dynasty leagues, the compelling case for Carson is clearly his value at the moment. He currently has an ADP of 163 and comes in as the RB61 – that means owners in startups are getting him in round 13, while Penny is being taken at the beginning of round four. Let that soak in for a moment and you’ll realize the risk and reward with both of these players at the moment.
So, where to from here.
The Seattle depth chart isn’t exactly impressive. Penny and Carson are the clear headliners. Beyond that, they have C.J. Prosise, Mike Davis and J.D. McKissic. Prosise has reportedly looked great in camp but we’ve seen that before as well and it typically comes right before a significant injury. Davis and McKissic performed well in stretches last year but neither seem to be a real threat for a significant role. At this point, it clearly looks like Carson has a leg up on Penny to be the early down back with Prosise and Penny mixing in as a change of pace, on third downs or in a true running back rotation. If that happens, Carson is a screaming value at the moment and proof of the risk of both rookie fever and drafting early in dynasty leagues. While I’m by no means bailing on Penny, the assumption he’s going to be a three down workhorse starting in week one is quickly becoming a pipe dream. The Seattle backfield could turn out to be a total mess this season and that’s not what owners were thinking would happen in April and May. The stomach turning part of this is getting a piece of it in round thirteen is a whole lot better than round four.
While Carson currently outplaying Penny in camp is striking fear in the hearts of early drafters, the collective ADP of both players is going to get closer and closer if this trend continues. Those in dynasty leagues should be taking notice. As I said last year, this is a team that doesn’t just talk about competition, they embrace it. The preseason for the Seahawks is going to be very interesting and those who have invested heavily in Penny have to be at least mildly concerned right now. Those who are yet to draft have to be scouring every bit of Seahawks news as well. It won’t be surprising to see both Nick Chubb and Ronald Jones being taken ahead of him on a regular basis in upcoming rookie drafts. As for Carson, I love his value in startups and he makes for a sneaky “throw-in” for savvy owners making trades.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
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