The Seattle Seahawks selected University of Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, as his perceived physical limitations (5'11" tall) led to him falling down the draft some. The Seahawks definitely took the best player available at that stage, and it looked like Wilson would spend his rookie season on the bench while incumbent Tavaris Jackson and free agent signee Matt Flynn battled for the starting job during the preseason. The fact Flynn was signed to a lucrative contract-three years, $19.5 million ($10 million guaranteed) would seem to give him the lead in any competition for the starting job,
But Seahawks' head coach Pete Carroll came out of the team's rookie camp impressed by Wilson and his grasp of the team's West Coast offense, and has said the rookie will be in the mix for the starting job. Given the fact Jackson and Flynn are not proven NFL-caliber starting quarterbacks, Wilson seems certain to get a fair shot to earn the job. It may be a long shot at this point that he will start Week 1, but training camp and preseason will tell the story in what looks to be one of the most open competitions for a starting job under center in the entire league.
Let's assume Wilson continues to impress the Seattle coaching staff and starts Week 1 when the Seahawks take on the Arizona Cardinals, and take a look at how he may be able to make an impact for fantasy football owners.
The Seahawks have a fairly deep group of wide receivers, led by Sidney Rice, who is coming off two offseason shoulder surgeries and has had issues with concussions recently as well. Rice, if he can be healthy for a full 16 games, would give whoever the Seahawks' signal caller is a legit No. 1 caliber wide receiver with ideal size (6'4") to be a productive red zone target.
Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Mike Williams, Ben Obomanu and Deon Butler are also in the wide receiver mix for the Seahawks. Baldwin stood out as a rookie in 2011, as he led the team in receptions (51), receiving yards (788) and touchdowns (four), so he looks locked in as a starter. Tate has not done a lot through his first two NFL seasons but he had a solid finish in 2011, with 19 receptions over the final five games of the season, and could be ready to emerge in 2012. Obomanu has 67 receptions over the last two seasons, and may have to step his game up during the preseason to keep a significant role. Williams seemed to have turned his career around in 2010 (65 catches, 751 yards) when he reunited with Carroll, who was his college coach, but he is likely to need to re-prove himself after a dismal 2011 (18 receptions). Butler did not contribute much in 2011, due at least in part to starting the season on the PUP list with a leg injury, but 2010 (36 receptions, 385 yards, four touchdowns) shows a glimpse of hope and he should have the opportunity to earn a roster spot. 2011 draft pick Kris Durham, who ended the season on IR with his own shoulder injury, is also in the mix for a roster spot if he can be healthy.
Running back Marshawn Lynch had a breakout season in 2011, as he set career-highs across the board with 285 carries for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns while also adding 28 receptions for 212 yards and a touchdown. He was rewarded with a nice contract this offseason (four years, $32 million-$18 million guaranteed) and enters 2012 as the Seahawks' workhorse tailback. Multi-talented Leon Washington is also in the mix for touches, and 2012 fourth-round pick Robert Turbin has a similar skill set to Lynch and may step right in as the primary backup with Washington being used primarily on third downs and as a kick returner.
Tight end Zach Miller had a disappointing first season with the Seahawks, as the struggles of the offensive line led to him having to block frequently and he set career-lows in receptions (25) and yards (233) and he did not score a touchdown. 2012 brings hope for a big rebound, and three straight 50-plus catch seasons from 2008-2010 while playing for the Oakland Raiders shows he can be productive even with less than elite quarterback play.
The Seahawks have sufficient depth at the skill positions to help any quarterback succeed, and Wilson's mobility adds another element while bolstering his fantasy potential if he gets the starting nod. It would still be a big surprise if Wilson earns the starting job heading into the season, but it's entirely possible he could win the No.2 job during the preseason and be ready to go if the anointed starter struggles at some point.
At this point, Wilson would not be worth drafting outside of dynasty leagues or possibly very deep standard leagues for owners who felt like taking a flier on a quarterback. That could change if he is named the starter early in the preseason and holds onto the job, but even then he would only be worth consideration as a late-round pick or spending a dollar or two on in auctions. All things considered, Wilson could wind up being an impactful waiver wire addition in a lot of fantasy football leagues if he ends up playing extensively at a later point in the season.