If you're a Seahawks fan and you've been able to calm yourself after the ending to the Seattle Seahawks fantasy-like season (no pun intended) as I have only recently been able to do, then it's time to start thinking fantasy football! A couple seasons ago, the Seahawks rookie class seemed like they would provide little to no fantasy impact, but we now know the genius of Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider. These two make no effort to slowly introduce their draftees into first-team plans, but rather do the opposite.
In the past few seasons we have seen Russell Wilson go from "interesting backup with upside" to starter, to one of the most exciting and promising young players in the NFL, and finally to Superbowl champion. We have also seen Richard Sherman go from 5th round draft pick to arguably the best cornerback in football and Madden cover boy. These two are only a couple of the players that have far exceeded the expectations that the talking heads on ESPN predicted they would have. Anybody remember Mel Kiper calling Wilson a "test case"? We now know how this team works: everybody gets a shot, regardless of where you where taken in the draft, or what ESPN thinks of you.
Based on the success of the previous year's rookies, this year should be no different. The Hawks drafted a couple of players that could yield fantasy football value that few expected. This is what fantasy owners should pay attention to. Everyone can make a good first round pick, but leagues are won because of those smart "fantasy sleeper" picks that only the attentive fantasy owners make.
Two players from the Hawk's 2014 draft class could potentially be the "sleepers" that are so coveted in this year's fantasy leagues. First, WR Kevin Norwood from Alabama. At 6'2", Norwood provides the Seahawks some much needed height at the position, while also supplying trustworthy hands. He seems to be a solid 3rd down/check down option rather than a premier receiver. This guy may not jump off the page at you, and likely won't be a huge aspect of the Seahawks offense right away. But he could provide some solid future stats as a late pick in dynasty leagues.
The player I'm really excited about is 2nd-round pick Paul Richardson. A receiver out of Colorado, Richardson can be described no other way than lightning fast. He ran a 4.4 40 yard dash at the Combine, while also posting a solid 38'' vertical leap. He also got rave reviews from the Seahawks during OTAs by providing excellent big "play ability". The ability to create plays is talked abut far too much in the fantasy football world, but this kid is the real deal.
Last season, the Seahawks ranked 5th in the NFL in passing plays over 25 yards with 38, showing no fear of letting Russell Wilson cut loose. This provides an excellent environment for Richardson where he will be given the opportunity to run plenty of "go routs" and stretch the field vertically. This case becomes even more likely when considering the propensity for injuries that Percy Harvin has had throughout his career. When Harvin inevitably misses time with an injury, look for Richardson to step into the "big play" role.
In most fantasy leagues where one long touchdown pass can win you that week's matchup, this is the type of player you want on your team. Especially for those weeks where you know you need a miracle to win. If Richardson is still around in the later stages of your draft, I would have no problem drafting him over previously established receivers who are nearing the end of their career. This guy is of the "touchdown or bust" variety, but don't let that discourage you. Remember what Vikings WR Cordarelle Paterson did in the last few weeks of last season. Richardson will be given plenty of opportunities to flash his speed not only in the pass game, but possibly in some gadget plays as well. And in return, plenty of opportunities will be given to provide your fantasy team with big play points.