Last year marked the first season in which a receiver on the Seattle Seahawks finished with 1,000 or more receiving yards since Russell Wilson became the starting quarterback in 2012.
It also marked the first season Wilson threw more than 26 touchdown passes, so this group of receivers were a lot more relevant than they had been in previous years.
But if you look at Weeks 1-8, the receivers for the Seahawks were certainly not on a pace to be relevant Fantasy starters…
From Weeks 1-8, Wilson averaged 234.75 passing yards per game and thew roughly one touchdown pass a game. He also threw six interceptions during that time span. From Weeks 10-17, however, he averaged 268.25 passing yards per game. He also threw 24 touchdown passes and just one interception.
Head coach Pete Carroll said we can expect the tempo and focus on the passing attack to carry over into 2016.
And without Marshawn Lynch and second-year back Thomas Rawls questionable to start Week 1, there is reason to believe that Carroll’s proclamations are not just coach speak.
2016 Fantasy Football Outlook: Doug Baldwin
Baldwin was the clear winner when the Seahawks decided to place more emphasis on the passing attack.
From Weeks 10-17, Baldwin was the second-highest scoring wide receiver in PPR leagues, according to FantasyPros.
For the year, Baldwin tied Brandon Marshall and Allen Robinson for the most touchdown receptions (14).
But when you consider drafting a player purely based on stats from last season, always ask yourself this question: Is it more likely or less likely that he can top 14 touchdown receptions?
It is obviously going to be extremely difficult for him to top those touchdown totals, and it’s going to be just as difficult for him to catch another 14 touchdowns in 2016. That doesn’t mean he can’t, but it’s hard to find receivers who can consistently record those types of totals.
It can be done, as Dez Bryant managed to haul in 12, 13, and 16 touchdown passes from 2012 to 2014. But just keep in mind that there were only 10 receivers in the entire NFL who caught 10 or more touchdown passes last season.
If Seattle keeps up its pace from the second part of its 2015 season, however, I think it is likely that Baldwin could record a similar reception total. Although his 78 receptions only placed him with the 19th-most receptions in the league last season, that total could have been higher if he was targeted more in the begging of the season.
From Weeks 10-17, Baldwin averaged 5.87 receptions per game. Over a 16-game season, that would have given him 94 receptions. That total may seem a little unrealistic, but the 27-year old receiver caught a minimum of four passes in every game from Weeks 10-17.
If he only had recored 90 receptions, that would have still placed him in the top 10 in terms of receptions for receivers in 2015.
Players are still cautious with Baldwin, generally drafting him in Round 4. He’s the 28th receiver off the board, according to MyFantasyLeague.com ADP data, and I have a feeling that number won’t drastically change.
Less experienced players may draft him a little earlier purely based on his touchdown totals from 2015, but more experienced players want to see more proof that Seattle will continue to focus on passing the ball.
What that means is that Baldwin could be a value as a fourth-round pick. But, there’s also the chance that he will drastically regress, especially if Rawls or rookie C.J. Prosise are able to replicate Lynch’s production.
He’s not necessarily a huge risk as a fourth-round pick, but that is a key draft spot with a lot of talent still on the board.
2016 Fantasy Football Outlook: Tyler Lockett
Just like Baldwin, Lockett greatly benefited from Wilson’s performance in the second half of the season.
From Weeks 1-8, Lockett averaged just 31.62 receiving yards per game. From Weeks 11-17, he averaged 57.71 receiving yards per game and caught 4.28 passes per game. He also caught five of his six touchdown receptions from Weeks 11-17.
As a 5-foot-10, 182-pound receiver, he isn’t exactly a huge red-zone target. But Baldwin isn’t much bigger (5-foot-10, 189 pounds), so you shouldn’t avoid him just based on that.
Lockett had some huge Fantasy performances last season, but some of his performances clearly showed he was still playing second fiddle to Baldwin.
Week 13: 7-90-0
Week 14: 6-104-2
Week 16: 3-33-0
Week 17: 2-36-0
He could see a bigger role if Baldwin is injured or inefficient, but don’t draft him on the hopes he will be a consistent option for your 2016 Fantasy Football team.
I think he is a great addition, however, for MFL10 lineups.
He’s also appealing as a seventh-round pick.
2016 Fantasy Football Outlook: Jermaine Kearse
Kearse posted similar totals to Lockett in 2015, and had a few relevant games throughout the season for PPR players:
Week 1: 8-76-0
Week 3: 6-76-0
Week 14: 7-74-0
Week 15: 7-110-0
But Kearse hasn’t provided any reason to believe he will be used for more than anything as a WR3 for Seattle.
He could see more of a role if Baldwin or Lockett are injured, but you it’s a better decision to stick with the upside of Lockett.
Bottom Line: If this offense can continue to do what it did in the second half of 2015, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett have a lot of upside. But it’s still appropriate to be cautious with your expectations. If Seattle finds success with Thomas Rawls or C.J. Prosise rushing the ball, this passing attack will once again take a backseat to the rushing attack like it did when Marshawn Lynch was in his prime.