Ascending Offenses | The Seahawks Are Surging

by Joel Ybarra · Analytics & Advanced Metrics

Outdoing Expectations

When Russell Wilson was traded in the 2022 offseason, many thought the Seahawks’ offense was going to flounder. Geno Smith was handed the starting job, and was a revelation – in real life and fantasy. Before that, Smith was looking like a career backup. He had not started more than three games in a season since being the Jets starter in 2014. Geno turned out to be an upgrade over Russ. The Seahawks signed Smith to a contract extension this offseason. They also invested significant draft capital in the last two seasons building up offensive talent around him. Now an offense that reached new heights last season is set for another surge.

A Bounce Back Quarterback

Smith, the reigning NFL Comeback Player of the Year, was a waiver wire pickup in many fantasy leagues last season. He started three games for the Seahawks in 2021, stepping in for an injured Wilson. Before this past season, however, the team indicated Smith was in a QB competition with Drew Lock. Smith ended up starting every game, and was one of the league’s best signal callers. He was No. 9 among QBs with 109.9 EPA. His 7.8 Accuracy Rating was No. 11 in the league, and it was not because he was playing conservatively. He ended up No. 8 in Adjusted Yards Per Attempt (7.1), and No. 3 in Deep Ball Accuracy Rating (6.6). Smith was also No. 3 in the league with 37 Money Throws.

After Wilson’s poor showings in both 2021 and 2022, it appears the Seahawks made the right decision moving to Smith. He was able to facilitate production for the Seahawks’ pass-catchers. Seattle’s top two receivers have been among the most consistent duos in the league, both perennially landing in the top 25 of WRs in fantasy PPG. Last season was no different with Smith at the helm. Lockett and Metcalf were WR17 and WR25 in fantasy PPG, respectively, after finishing WR18 and WR22 the season before. Smith also helped the offense land in the top half of the league in DVOA (No. 14), according to Football Outsiders. The Seahawks have also made some other additions that will help maximize the efficiency of the offense in 2023.

Tooling Up

Seattle made moves in the last two NFL Drafts to get young, dynamic offensive weapons on board. Fantasy gamers are reticent about the additions because they represent touch competition for the established fantasy options. For the real life Seahawks, however, these additions give the offense firepower they need to become one of the top offenses in the NFL.

Second-Round RBs

The Seahawks added Kenneth Walker in the second round (2.09) of the 2022 draft and Zack Charbonnet in the second round (2.21) this year. After watching Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny struggle with injuries for multiple seasons, it is not surprising the team wanted to add depth in the RB room. Penny and Travis Homer both left in free agency in the offseason. Without signing another backfield option, they would have had little other than Deejay Dallas behind Walker.

Now the team has two backs with complementary skillsets. Walker is a shifty, speedy home run threat. He was No. 8 in Breakaway Run Rate (7.5-percent) in his rookie season. Charbonnet is more of an upright runner with a prolific receiving profile. The two make up  one of the most balanced backfields in the league.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba

It was the right time for the Seahawks to draft a round one receiver. Lockett and Metcalf have provided consistency in the passing game for multiple years in a row, as they have been the only real receiving threats. Luckily, they have both stayed relatively healthy. Both have been top 25 WRs by PPG in each of the last three seasons, but neither has performed better than WR10 in fantasy PPG.

The addition of Jaxon Smith-Njigba makes this Seattle receiving trio one of the best units (top-five) in the NFL. It is definitely one of the most balanced. Lockett is a speedy downfield threat. Metcalf is the size-speed X receiver. JSN will be one of the savviest slot receivers to hit the NFL in several years. Even if Geno is just a game-managing distributor, this group of pass-catchers will elevate his play and this offense. With the RB room also tooled up, this offense enters 2023 as one of the most well-stocked units in the league.

Offensive Line

The Seahawks’ offensive line was one of the worst in the league in 2022. Walker is disparaged for his low Success Rate, but that stat is largely attributable to the offensive line. The line was No. 29 in the league with a 21-percent Stuffed Run Rate, per Football Outsiders. They were also No. 30 in Adjusted Line Yards and No. 26 in Adjusted Sack Rate according to that site. The Seahawks drafted two tackles highly in last year’s draft: left tackle Charles Cross at ninth overall and Abe Lucas at No. 72 overall (3.08). Those two played well in their rookie seasons, but need to take strides forward in the coming season.

Seattle also upgraded at the center position this offseason, signing free agent Evan Brown and drafting center Olusegun Oluwatimi in the fifth round from Michigan. They also drafted interior lineman Anthony Bradford in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Damien Lewis, a 2020 third-round pick, and Phil Haynes, a 2019 fourth-round pick, are the starting guards. Having made moves to shore up the line, the team will count on the young unit to come together and provide more spacious running lanes and improved pass protection.

Ascending Assets to Acquire

Geno Smith

Geno ended the season as QB10 in PPG last season – ahead of Daniel Jones, Tua Tagovailoa, Kirk Cousins, Trevor Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Jared Goff, Justin Herbert and Tom Brady. Six of those QBs are being drafted ahead of him on Underdog this season (one retired). Geno stabilized and established a new floor for the Seahawks’ offense. He also ran for 366 yards, so he provides a solid rushing floor. With upgraded offensive weapons and offensive line, Smith is a low-cost way for fantasy gamers to fill their QB position with a solid option who also has a ceiling. Smith is being drafted in the 10th round of Underdog drafts.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Smith-Njigba is the most talented receiving option on this Seahawks offense. He was the best receiver available in this year’s draft class. He may have been drafted even higher if his value was not depressed by a hamstring injury which sidelined him for all but three games of his final year of college (his junior year). In his sophomore season (2021), he set the Big Ten receiving record with 1,606 yards. That was while playing alongside Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. He racked up 548 more yards than Wilson that season and 670 yards more than Olave. Smith-Njigba is being drafted as WR32 on Underdog, in the seventh round. He could easily take his place as the centerpiece of this offense, and return immense value on that investment.

Zach Charbonnet

As a second round pick and with a strong receiving profile, Charbonnet will come in and share some touches with Walker. He is currently being drafted as RB33 on Underdog, in the ninth round overall, while Walker is going in the sixth. Charbonnet has PPR value on his own, but monster contingent value if Walker misses time.

Tyler Lockett

Lockett consistently outperforms Metcalf in receiving (last year was no different) and Metcalf is drafted ahead of him every season. The ADP gap is wide again this season – Metcalf is being drafted as WR15, while Lockett is going as WR33 (in the seventh round). Lockett is an aging player that drafters avoid, but he consistently returns value. Last year, he outdid his ADP by 28 spots, landing at WR17 in PPG. This year will be no different. He is in a prime position to again beat his ADP by five or more this season.

Time to Fly

The whole Seahawks’ offense and its weapons are undervalued year over year. They have found a competent quarterback in Smith, however. Smith possesses a high ceiling in year two with the offense, and with the addition of Smith-Njigba.

Seattle also made moves to shore up the offensive line and put together a balanced backfield. They reached a new plateau last season and are getting ready to soar in the coming season, as they push for the playoffs. Fantasy gamers should plan to get pieces of this offense!