Every offseason the fantasy experts make a series of “bold predictions,” but they often turn out to be pretty ordinary assumptions. That won’t be the case with this recurring column, as I’m going to take chances that I haven’t seen any other fantasy pundits take. I know there is a solid chance that I’ll swing and miss with these predictions, but in the end I have a good feeling they’ll come true. Here is a bold call for the Seattle Seahawks:
Doug Baldwin will finish as the top-ranked Seahawks WR.
This is really a two-part prediction. While I do believe that Baldwin is a promising sleeper candidate, I have to acknowledge that the logic of this prediction is predicated upon my feeling that Percy Harvin will be a disappointment in 2014. I’ll start off my analysis with Harvin, since he is the one with the high expectations. Most draft boards have Harvin ranked somewhere in the 15-25 range for wide receivers, which says that he could be an average No. 2 WR or high-end FLEX for your fantasy team. Well, I don’t think he will be either of those things and I’ll tell you why.
Harvin is undoubtedly one of the most exciting players in the NFL when he is on the field, but staying on the field has been an issue for him as of late. Last season he suited up for just one game, and the year before that he only played in nine games. In fact, he’s only played in all 16 games just once in his five professional seasons. That year was 2011, which was also his best season in terms of production. Even in that “breakout” season, Harvin failed to amass 1,000 yards and caught only 6 touchdowns. Yes, he did rush for 2 touchdowns and return a kickoff for another one that season, but wide receivers cannot be counted on to perform in other aspects of the game. Everything lined up for Harvin in 2011, and with those perfect circumstances he finished as a low-end No. 1 fantasy WR. Now that is more injury-prone and still unadjusted to the Seattle offense, his upside is much lower than it was in his Vikings days.
As for Baldwin, he finds himself as the longest tenured wide receiver on the Seahawks roster at just 25 years old. He was a key component on last year’s Super Bowl championship team, but he will have increased responsibilities in 2014. Golden Tate left for Detroit in free agency and Sidney Rice retired, so Baldwin will be an undisputed starter for the first time in his career. Even in a somewhat limited role last season, Baldwin caught 50 passes for nearly 800 yards and was second on the team in targets. This year, his targets should spike as he will likely become Russell Wilson’s favorite weapon. Baldwin has a similar build to Harvin, but he is tougher over the middle and can still stretch the field (15.6 YPC in 2013).
Realistically, no wide receiver on the Seahawks roster has the potential to become a superstar fantasy player. This doesn’t have to do with talent as much as it does with the Seattle style of offense. They will continue to pound the rock with Marshawn Lynch as much as they can, and Russell Wilson is bound to scramble on a good percentage of passing plays. It certainly worked for them in 2013, so why change it up? But if you are going to draft one of the Seahawks wide receivers for your fantasy team, make it Baldwin. He has a familiarity with the offense that no one else on the roster has, and he is the type of player who might make the absolute most of his starting opportunity. While you should draft Baldwin as a reserve, this could be the year he breaks out to become a solid No. 2 WR or FLEX player.