When Marshawn Lynch "announced" his retirement this past spring, fantasy owners were under the impression that Thomas Rawls would be Seahawks' bell-cow back this coming season. His ADP crept up into early Round 2 despite his ankle injury -- one that he's still recovering from. Since then, a few new faces have emerged as potential threats to Rawls' workload. As it stands today, we could be looking at a full-fledged committee backfield in Seattle. So where should you be targeting the Seahawks backs in fantasy drafts this summer? Let's get into it.
This is a player who needs no introduction. If you're reading this, you probably already know about his phenomenal rookie campaign: In six starts, he led the NFL in rushing yards per game (108.0) and among running backs who logged at least 110 carries he ranked first with 5.7 yards per carry. He was the savior for the Seahawks backfield in Lynch's stead and made for a hell of a waiver-wire pickup for fantasy owners until he suffered a devastating, season-ending ankle injury in Week 14.
With news that Rawls would miss the majority of, if not all of, the preseason as he recovers from his injury fantasy owners have been cautious with him in mock drafts as he owns an ADP as the RB13, coming off boards in the late third, early fourth round to this point. And that's smart considering recent reports, specifically one from ESPN.com, that predicts Rawls could lose touches to Christine Michael as well as rookie C.J. Prosise (more on them in a bit).
The good news for Rawls is that he was able to participate in 7-on-7 drills earlier this week for the first time during camp/preseason. And while it's highly unlikely he gets any reps in Seattle's three remaining exhibition games, he still projects as the team's primary running back when fully healthy. The question remains: Will he be ready to roll by Week 1? Coach Pete Carroll has said all along that Rawls will be out there for the team's season opener on September 11th against the Dolphins and should be drafted as so. His asking price right now has that risk factor baked into it, but it's still disappointing that we quite possibly have yet another running back by committee backfield on our hands.
Where you should look to draft him: If Rawls slips into Round 4 or 5, he's a must-draft at that point. With high volume backs like Latavius Murray, Jeremy Hill, Carlos Hyde and C.J. Anderson being drafted after Rawls, it is worth considering passing on him for another back who doesn't have as many question marks.
Christine Michael Sr.
Last week, I prophesized to the universe that The Truth was out there. In Seattle's first preseason game Christine Michael Sr. rushed seven times for 44 yards and looked tremendous doing it. He's been running with the first-team offense the entire offseason and by all accounts is a changed, more mature man. After all, it was never his physical ability that held him back. Even NFL Media's Around the NFL crew is on board with Michael's "awakening" of late.
With Rawls still recovering from injury and the team likely to take things slowly with him while he gets back up to speed, Michael Sr. may have an opportunity for additional reps at the beginning of the season. Last week Michael's ADP was virtually non-existent. Now, with copious hype pieces being penned about his potential and the Seattle coaching staff raining praise on him, his ADP has crept up into Round 13 of 12-team drafts and he's cracked the top 200 in best-ball formats. If he keeps up his successful play in preseason matches, Michael's ADP will continue to rise.
Where you should look to draft him: Even with Carroll saying that Rawls and Michael will form a "one-two punch" in Seattle's backfield, Michael remains the two in that equation as long as Rawls is 100 percent. If you do end up drafting Rawls, Michael becomes an essential handcuff and you should probably reach for him a bit. If you're looking to add him as a bench stash, he will probably still be available in the double-digit rounds and is perfectly fine to take there.
Ever since I researched Prosise as a draft prospect back in March, I've been hyping him as a unique athlete with a skill set that opposing defenses will not be able to ignore. The first of three rookie running backs that Seattle drafted this year, Prosise's early projection has him virtually locked into the pass-catching back role. Don't forget that he's a converted slot wideout, so his versatility could lead to more opportunities to be on the field whether the team splits him out wide or uses him as a gadget-type player in the vein of Percy Harvin.
Prosise missed the previous two weeks of training camp with a hamstring injury but returned to practice this week. As it stands now, he's the No. 3 back in Seattle. His experience as a lead back with Notre Dame was only 10 games, so while there's a chance he could develop into a workhorse that's probably not the case for him as a rookie. Count me as one of the masses who are sitting on the edge of their seat to see Prosise get some preseason game action. Either way, his preseason performance shouldn't influence his draft stock too much since we already know what his role will be and that Rawls and Michael are ahead of him.
Where you should look to draft him: Prosise is being drafted as the RB53 along with a slew of other backups, rookies, and third-stringers. Even though his volume may be limited to the passing-down work out of the gate, that's a little low for my liking. He'll bring more value to the table in a full-point PPR format, so you may have to snag him in Round 9 or 10 there. In standard formats, you can probably wait until a few rounds later.