2018 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Penny for your thoughts? Seattle's RB situation getting messy

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Seattle is famous for several things, including coffee, rain and grunge. For Fantasy owners, many of us are sleepless about Seattle because of the running back situation there.

The Seahawks appeared to solve their two-year problem of replacing Marshawn Lynch when they selected rookie running back Rashaad Penny at No. 27 overall in this year's NFL Draft. Penny came with a strong pedigree from San Diego State after he had 289 carries for 2,248 yards (7.8 yards per carry) and 23 touchdowns and 19 catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns in 2018.

But as the offseason unfolded through minicamp and OTAs, word out of Seattle was Chris Carson was getting plenty of work with the first-team offense. That carried over to training camp, and Carson started the first preseason game against Indianapolis.

Carson should now open the season as the starting running back in Seattle after Tuesday's news that Penny is flying to Philadelphia to have surgery to repair a finger injury, which includes a broken bone, according to the NFL Network. The report says Penny will miss 3-4 weeks, which means his availability for Week 1 is in doubt.

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Rashaad Penny SEA • RB • 20
2017 stats at San Diego State
ATT289
YDS2,248
TD23
YPC7.8
REC19
REC YDS135
REC TD2

The hope is Penny will recover quickly and get the chance to continue competing with Carson for the starting job, but that seems unlikely. Penny will likely have to unseat Carson during the season, which is the hope if you've already invested in him for your Fantasy league.

Penny still has the higher ceiling than Carson, and it's not a bad idea to target Penny on Draft Day. We just have to see where his Average Draft Position settles over the next couple of weeks, because right now it's too high at No. 65 overall in Round 6.

I'm fine taking a chance on Penny as early as Round 8 in any format. He should be treated similarly to fellow rookie Sony Michel of the Patriots, since Michel is expected to miss the entire preseason with a knee injury.

Both have immense talent, and they are not dealing with season-ending injuries. Penny can easily overtake Carson early in the year if he returns from his finger injury playing at a high level.

Now, this isn't to discount Carson, who I called a sleeper prior to Penny getting hurt. Carson looked good as a rookie in 2017 before suffering a broken leg in Week 4 against the Colts, which ended his season. In two games before that, he scored 19 combined Fantasy points in a non-PPR league (22 points in PPR), and he was Seattle's best running back last year. 

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Chris Carson SEA • RB • 32
2017 stats - 4 games
ATT49
YDS208
TD0
YPC4.2
REC7
REC YDS59
REC TD1

If you project his stats over 16 games, Carson would have finished with 196 carries for 832 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and no touchdowns and 28 catches for 236 yards and four touchdowns. I'm sure he'll find a way to score a rushing touchdown this year, and he could prove to be extremely valuable now that Penny is hurt.

His current ADP is No. 117 overall in Round 10, but that's going to rise. I would look for Carson in the Round 7 range, unless we find out something different about Penny's status.

It's not a bad idea to try and draft both Seattle running backs this season with the hope one becomes a viable starting option. But going into the season, neither one should be considered anything more than a No. 3 Fantasy running back/flex in any format.

While Seattle has struggled to replace Lynch over the past two seasons with a cast of characters including Thomas Rawls, Christine Michael, Eddie Lacy and Mike Davis — the Seahawks actually cut Alex Collins prior to last year, if you can believe that — the run game has the chance to improve in 2018 with Penny and Carson. And the offensive line, which has been a problem in recent years, should be better with the additions of Duane Brown and D.J. Fluker.

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer promises to be more committed to the run, but he obviously was counting on Penny being healthy to be a catalyst for his offense. Still, Carson can likely do the job until Penny returns, and we'll see how the two work together.

Ideally, Fantasy owners would have one Seattle running back to focus on this season. But Penny's injury, along with Carson's strong offseason, is making this a duo.

Time will tell if it will be a successful tandem or a frustrating one for Fantasy owners, and hopefully one guy will emerge as a potential starting option in all leagues. Until that happens, we might all remain sleepless about Seattle's backfield.

What sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And what big-name running back could ruin your season? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Alvin Kamara's huge breakout last season and find out.  

Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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