2021 Stats (Rank)
Total Offense: 5,506 yards (20th)
Offensive Touchdowns: 48 (13th)
Offensive Plays: 954 (32nd)
Pass Attempts + Sacks: 541 (31st)
Rush Attempts: 413 (27th)
Unaccounted for Targets: 57 (5th)
Unaccounted for Carries: 74 (27th)
The 2021 season was Seattle's first without offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer since 2017. Shane Waldron, a disciple of Sean McVay, was expected to conform to the overarching theme of Pete Carroll's time in Seattle: limiting Russell Wilson's ability to impact the game. In some ways, that is what happened. Seattle was below average in pass rate over expected and pass rate on early downs. The Seahawks were also a feast-or-famine team when setting up their drives. They ranked third in EPA per play on first and second down. This was despite missing a handful of games from Wilson.
On the other hand, they were 16th in success rate. Seattle relied on Wilson to connect a downfield shot or Rashaad Penny to break a long run. If neither of those things happened, the drive was likely dead. This becomes hilariously apparent in their drive-level stats. On the year, Seattle's 2.09 points per drive ranked 15th, but no team averaged fewer plays per drive. This led to Seattle finishing dead last in total plays run as well.
This split was driven by Wilson setting a career-high mark in deep throw rate. He tossed the ball at least 20 yards downfield on 19 percent of his throws. That mark was bested only by his replacement, Drew Lock. Interestingly, this manifested itself in Tyler Lockett operating as the team's primary deep threat. He led the team in target depth and air yards share. He also played more snaps outside than in the slot for the first time in five years. DK Metcalf's aDOT reached a career-low by a small margin, though he compensated for this with a boosted red zone role. Seattle also ran 12-personnel (two tight ends) on 26 percent of their plays. Their offseason moves will boost this number even further.
Geno Smith got three starts in 2021 and showed enough to force a camp battle with Drew Lock this summer. Among 45 quarterbacks who got at least 100 snaps, Smith ranked 26th in EPA per play, but second in completion percent over expected. Geno's deep throw rate was far lower than Wilson's, but he was accurate at all levels and kept the team afloat. Lock is nearly the exact opposite of Smith. He is wildly inaccurate and hilariously aggressive. He ranked outside of the top 30 in EPA and CPOE. Lock is one year removed from leading the NFL in interceptions while missing three games. His career average of 6.7 yards per attempt is less than inspiring as well. Reports from early in the summer had Smith ahead of Lock for the starting gig, but training camp will ultimately decide who is under center in Week 1. Unless Lock turns the corner as a passer, Smith would be the preferred option for the fantasy outlooks of the receivers.
Fantasy drafters have been more than comfortable putting all of their eggs in the DK Metcalf basket, taking him 47 picks ahead of Tyler Lockett in Underdog drafts. With Lockett coming up on 30 years old and Metcalf still having room to grow as a receiver, it makes sense to take the latter first. However, Lockett has consistently held pace with Metcalf for opportunities. Last year, his target share was three percent lower than Metcalf's but he earned more of the team's air yards on a per game basis. He also registered a higher yards per route run. In 2020, that script was flipped. Metcalf was the deep threat, leading the team in air yards while Lockett earned more targets. Metcalf's big edge will be his red zone role. He finished tenth in red zone targets and third in end zone targets last year. Still, he will need Lock or Smith to get them in scoring range for that role to matter.
The WR3 role is undecided, though it's likely that the answer is "none of the above." Seattle projects to lean into their ground game again this year, only with worse quarterback play when they decide to pass. No Seahawks receiver outside of the big two caught more than 25 passes last year. D'Wayne Eskridge, a former second-round pick who barely played as a rookie, should be able to claim the role in his second season. If the speedster is the only wideout getting WR3 reps, he could provide the occasional spike week. If Freddie Swain pitches in for many snaps, neither will be a viable fantasy option.
Noah Fant should slot in as the team's starting tight end. He ranked 13th in targets per route run and 12th in yards per route run last year. Doing this while competing with a talented cast of receivers paints an optimistic picture of his ability to draw targets alongside Lockett and Metcalf. Fant has also operated as a YAC-producer and a downfield option (as far as tight ends go), giving Seattle a number of ways to deploy him. Though the state of his offense makes an upside case hard to make, he is at least more talented than any of the tight ends going around him in fantasy drafts. Will Dissly has never seen more than 30 targets in a season but is efficient when thrown to. He is also an above-average blocker. Should Fant go down, Dissly would likely have deep streaming value.
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Though Seattle added Kenneth Walker in the second round, Rashaad Penny, last year's breakout star, will get the start in Week 1. Multiple Seattle reporters have named Penny as the team's primary back, with The Seattle Times' Bob Condotta also noting that Walker won't be used on third downs. After nearly an entire rookie contract of injuries and disappointment, Penny revitalized his career down the stretch of the 2021 season. From Week 14 onward, Penny averaged 18.4 carries for 134 yards and 1.2 touchdowns. Penny turned 11 percent of his attempts into 15 or more yards, earning him the highest long-run rate in the league. If he can hold onto the starting role throughout the year, Penny will be the best value in the RB3 range.
The only issue with this is Walker's profile. The Michigan State alum went for 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns on 263 attempts as a junior. Pro Football Focus charted him with 89 missed tackles forced, the most in college football last year. Many scouts had Walker as the best running back in the class based purely on his outstanding rushing ability. Seattle took Walker with the 41st pick, just five spots behind Breece Hall. Though Penny was dominant at the end of the year, Seattle let him test the open market before signing him to a one-year, $5.8 million contract. Walker's range of outcomes is wide. He could usurp Penny in the first month of the season, or he could be stuck on the bench behind an elite home run hitter for his rookie season.
Chris Carson is still recovering from a neck injury and reports have not been optimistic that he will even play this year. If he is somehow cleared, Carson may still be cut for financial reasons. For now, he doesn't factor into Seattle's offensive outlook.
The Seahawks are embarking on a long-overdue revamp of their offensive line. Of their projected starters, only two held full-time gigs for them last year. Those players, Damien Lewis and Gabe Jackson, were both ranked outside of the top-50 guards by PFF. Seattle selected Charles Cross with the No. 9 pick and Abraham Lucas with the No. 72 pick. Both players operated in pass-heavy schemes in college, giving them fewer run-blocking snaps than the average prospect. This shouldn't be a long-term issue for either lineman, but it could lead to the duo struggling to adapt to Seattle's run-heavy approach in 2022. After a mass exodus in free agency, Seattle's offensive line went from rough to nightmare-inducing. They will need the rookies to exceed expectations just to approach being an average unit this year.
PointsBet Over/Under: 5.5
PointsBet is giving you +110 odds to bet against a team that arguably has the worst roster in football. Their line is weak and could turn out to be the worst in the league. The same can be said of their quarterback room. The only bright spot is their skill-positions corps, but that will only take them so far with Lock or Smith under center. Looking past their offense, the defense has a shaky secondary and no pass rush. The line is low, but I can see the Seahawks posting a truly abysmal season.