Projecting Receptions by Position: NFC West

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Seattle Seahawks

2017 Totals
Russell Wilson: 339 completions on 553 attempts
WR Group: 177 Receptions
RB Group: 79 Receptions
TE Group: 84 Receptions

2018 Projections
Russell Wilson: 330 completions on 550 attempts
WR Group: 185 Receptions
RB Group: 90 Receptions
TE Group: 55 Receptions

Despite claiming to want to regain their identity as a run-first, physical bully, the Seahawks have failed to establish an effective run game for a few years now. With the moves they made this offseason, it looks like they may finally achieve the run-first dynamic they’ve been looking for. The question is how much of this dynamic will come from an improved run-game and how much will come from an undermined passing game? For starters, new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has an interesting track record. He has noticeably improved the running game at every stop he’s made, but this has occasionally come at the expense of the passing game. Seattle added a new RB to their already young and intriguing mix, but did nothing of note with the offensive line other than hope everyone gets and stays healthy this year. They also got rid of a promising young receiver in Paul Richardson and their top TE and redzone target Jimmy Graham. The replacements are Jaron Brown, Brandon Marshall, and Ed Dickson. Certainly not terrible, but not exactly inspiring either. The other interesting dynamic at work? Blowing up the defense. I realize most of the stars were past their prime, but they were still the best players at their positions. Teams don’t typically get better by getting rid of their best players. I think the greater focus on the run and weakened defense offset and result in a similar 550 pass attempts from last year. With Schottenheimer’s vertical passing scheme and the depletion of receiving weapons, Wilson’s accuracy likely continues to drop to right around 60%, which comes out to around 330 completions.

Between the change in offensive coordinator and the shift in receiving personnel, the target shares for each position group are likely to get shaken up a bit this year. Historically Schottenheimer’s scheme benefits two main types of receiver; the deep threat and the slot. Obviously the deep threats are almost exclusively WR’s, which should help bouy the WR group’s catch total even with a small drop in overall catches to go around. The slot target is the one that is more difficult to project. At his last NFL OC gig in St. Louis, Schotty used any short-range talent he had in that underneath role. Slot WR Danny Amendola led the team in receptions one year while TE Jared Cook led the next 2. Scatback Benny Cunningham had a good year in there as well. Who has the talent to win that role on the 2018 Seahawks? The TE group is not very compelling as most of the group is very blocking-focused. Doug Baldwin could work into that role, but given the lack of depth in the WR group it’s just as likely that he’ll be part of the verticals. That leaves the RB group, which could work out based on sheer numbers. Newly drafted Rashaad Penny is a capable receiving back, and J.D. McKissic is basically more receiver than RB already. They also have C.J. Prosise if he ever manages to play more than 4 games without getting hurt. There’s some serious PPR potential hidden in their somewhere.

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