2019 Summer Sleeper: Seattle Seahawks

Peter Lawrence

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 Seattle Seahawks might not seem like the place to chase a fantasy football sleeper. Their run-first offense was middle of the pack in total plays run from scrimmage in 2018, and they were the only team to run the ball more than throw it in 2018. The team might not have been high-flying in 2018, but they were highly efficient.

Seattle had 176 total offensive drives and averaged 2.36 points per drive (seventh in the NFL). Machine-like quarterback Russell Wilson capitalized on explosive plays to Tyler Lockett in the passing game to the tune of a perfect passer rating when he was targeted.

Neither Chris Carson or Rashaad Penny qualify as sleepers at running back. Rookie DK Metcalf already has a high ADP and the efficient Tyler Lockett does as well. So where does the value come from in Seattle?

David Moore, WR

Category: Sleeper

Looking for a cheap late-round wide receiver? How about Moore, who comes in at six feet and 215 pounds on the team website. Moore came to Seattle out of East Central University in Oklahoma – a Division II school that plays in the Great American Conference. Moore was the first ECU wide receiver to go over 1,000 receiving yards and holds the single-season touchdown receiving record with 13 and the career receiving TD mark with 35.

Seattle drafted Moore in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft as the 226th overall selection. He was taken by Seattle before they even selected 2018 leading running back Chris Carson. Although drafted, Moore was cut at the end of training camp and then signed to the practice squad. His first NFL game wasn’t until he faced Arizona in late December of 2017, but it was 2018 when he started to get involved.

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Statistics from pro-football-reference.

From week four through 12, Moore was featured heavily in the Seahawks offense. His lowest snap percentage was in the week six blowout of the Oakland Raiders, when he played just 46% of the team’s offensive snaps. During this nine-game stretch, he amassed nearly all of his receiving statistics as he totaled 22 receptions, 413 receiving yards and all of his receiving touchdowns.

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Data from RotoWire.

Moore served as the team’s deep threat, with an outstanding Average Depth of Target, as DLF’s own Tom Burrough pointed out. He was primarily the outside wide receiver opposite Lockett and, when healthy, Doug Baldwin.

This begs the question though: what happened to Moore in the other weeks of the season?

In weeks one-three, the highest offensive snap percentage that Moore saw was 33% against the Cowboys. In weeks 13 through 17, his average snap percentage was 66.9%. That includes a week 13 blowout of the San Francisco 49ers where he was only on the field for 28 of the team’s offensive plays. Outside of the start of the season, workload doesn’t seem to have played a part in his decline.

Statistically, his strong weeks don’t overly differentiate from his decline. Using AirYards.com from Josh Hermsmeyer, we see that during his eight-game stretch he averaged 76.5 AirYards per game. In week 14, against the Minnesota Vikings, he saw a massive 168 AirYards on five targets, that he turned in to zero receptions. In week 15 through week 17, he never went over 60 AirYards. On his final 16 targets of 2018, he produced only four total receptions.

Moore does not show up in any injury history searches. It is a small sample, but his decline does coincide with the return to form of Doug Baldwin who saw over 80% of the offensive snaps and never dropped below 33% of the team’s AirYards in weeks 15 through 17.

With Baldwin’s off-season retirement, it is time to get excited again for David Moore and his role in the Seattle offense. Baldwin vacates 711 total snaps, 73 targets and 830 AirYards. By taking the available vacated workload, Moore could easily build upon his 2018 stats. Currently, Moore projects to be one of the leaders in snaps vacated by Baldwin as the team brings a trio of rookies they drafted in 2019 along slowly. Seattle operated predominantly out of 11 personnel in 2018, meaning three-wide receiver sets, and had the second-most total plays ran out of that set behind only the Rams.

He will have to hold off second-round pick DK Metcalf, whom the team traded back in to round two to take with the 64th overall selection, and fourth-round pick Gary Jennings. Moore’s experience in the offense should help him hold off the incoming rookies.

In startup drafts, Moore is being drafted as the WR97, around pick 227 in DLF startup drafts. Moore saw a nearly 30-pick bump in his June ADP but seems to have fallen back down in value.

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Moore likely holds little long-term value in fantasy unless he truly hits in 2019. His rookie deal as a seventh-round pick runs out in 2019, so he could find himself on another more pass-friendly roster if he does perform. I don’t see Moore being a camp cut – he carries a small cap number and the team can easily move on from Jaron Brown, who is currently the second-highest-paid Seahawks receiver and the team can free up $2.75m by releasing him.

For fantasy success, Moore will have to earn vacated volume from Doug Baldwin and rely on Wilson continuing his top-notch touchdown production on limited volume. Regression is likely due for Seattle in touchdowns, but the volume added to Moore from Baldwin’s departure should make him a worthwhile play.

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peter lawrence