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One of the most intriguing camp battles of the preseason has been settled ... for now. With Rashaad Penny having surgery on his finger, Chris Carson is almost certainly going to be the starting running back early in the year for the Seattle Seahawks. And he may have been anyway.
Pete Carroll has heaped praise on Carson this offseason and it was pretty clear Penny wasn't yet living up to his first-round pedigree. This should cause a colossal shift in ADP, with Penny falling into the seventh or eighth round and Chris Carson perhaps passing him going the other direction. But looking at this from a season-long perspective, Penny is still the back I expect to (barely) led Seattle in Fantasy points.
The first reason is simply the fact that I believe in Penny's talent and the Seahawks just spent a first round pick on him a few months ago. The things Carson currently does better are things Penny can learn, and when he does his talent will propel him into a starting role.
Also, before anyone gets too excited about Carson you might look at Seattle's schedule early in the year. They start with the Broncos and also play the Bears, Cowboys, Cardinals and Rams in the first five weeks. Of that group, only the Rams were a good matchup for running backs in 2017, and we know how much they improved their defense. Even if Carson gets a majority of the work for a full month he may struggle to make a difference on your Fantasy team.
It's certainly possible that the best plan of action is just to fade this backfield entirely in Fantasy drafts. Especially if we get to a point where both backs are coming off the board by the end of the seventh round. But if I had to choose one I'd still choose the pedigree and upside of Penny.
Here are my updated Fantasy expectations for the Seahawks:
*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they're not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.
EXPECTED PPR FP
Breaking down the touches
Brian Schottenheimer has been around the NFL long enough to have a laundry list of successes and failures, but most of those successes came on the ground. Three times when he was with the Jets his rushing offense ranked in the top-10. In 2009, the Jets ran for more yards than any team in the league. Scottenheimer has never run an offense that finished in the top-12 in passing. Then again, he's never had Russell Wilson.
Speaking of Wilson, he's thrived when the team has played fast and let him improvise. Schottenheimer's last three seasons as an offensive coordinator, his offenses averaged fewer than 1,000 plays per season. I'm not ruling out the chance he speeds it up in Seattle, but it shouldn't be the expectation.
The other really odd fit with Schottenheimer's style is that he's involved the tight end a lot in the passing game. Jared Cook twice led his Rams in targets. But the Seahawks depth chart doesn't have a pass-catching tight end.
- When Prosise is healthy he's by far the Seahawks best option as a pass-catching back and he has big play ability. This team is short on pass catchers so I expect they give him an opportunity to win the role. But he has to stay healthy, which he's never done.
- Lockett has plenty of talent but he too has had trouble staying healthy. When he's 100 percent I'm pretty confident he's a better receiver than Marshall at this stage of their careers, but Marshall's presence in the red zone hurts his upside.
J.D. McKissic could push Prosise for the third-down role or simply win it outright. He could also move to more of a hybrid role like the Packers are planning for Ty Montgomery. Either way, there are targets available to him if he can have a good offseason.
Nick Vannett and fourth-round pick Will Dissly will compete for playing time alongside Dickson. With Schottenheimer running the offense and the lack of experienced receivers, this could very well be a team that employs more two-tight end sets. Dickson caught 54 passes and scored five touchdowns way back in 2011 but at his age (31) he's more of a blocking tight end who could snipe a few touchdowns.