Sounds like a drag ensemble: John Carlson and the tight ends.
Ok, I need to festoon an advertisement on here somewhere, so why not mix some training camp notes about Carlson with a look at his fantasy potential? Ok, I will. Look, ADVERTISEMENT!
- Will Herring was glued to Carlson's hip, and the two engaged in a heavy-bit of hand fighting with the ball in the air, but White Jesus won the day and ripped the ball from Herring's grasp for a deep reception along the sideline. This is good stuff all around. Two players kicking butt, and the better one winning by a inch.
- Later, earlier, I didn't actually establish a time line while writing notes, Carlson made a fingertip catch. He's athletic in all those ways that don't show up in a forty time.
- Leroy Hill was tight coverage on Carlson, in a play from the what happens in training camp stays in training camp file.
- He had a nice look on a crossing pattern. Perhaps the bigger story here is just how active Carlson is. By my rough estimate, he has been targeted more often than any other receiver.
- On another crossing route, he expertly split Kevin Ellison, strong, and Earl Thomas, free, and Matt Hasselbeck did his thing, reading and timing the pass perfectly. Carlson received and ran away from Thomas towards the left sideline. Yes, given the angle and a head of steam, Carlson can outrun Thomas.
- Cameron Morrah is the second Carlson. Seattle is gifted to have the two hybrid pass catchers. He ran a Carlson-like route, motioning into the backfield and then running opposite of play-action. The defense ran into itself attempting to recover and Morrah came free underneath with a wide lane up field.
- Morrah gained separation on a deep crossing pattern. Charlie Whitehurst executed play action and stepped up and found Morrah in one smooth motion.
- Morrah snatched another pass away from his body. So smooth.
- And then did it again on a following play, but in even more impressive fashion. He burst off the line, ran another deep cross, split the safeties over the middle, snatched the ball and continued left. Fluid.
Didn't see much from the blocking-oriented tight ends: Chris Baker and Anthony McCoy. But that probably speaks of their duties rather than play.
Now, how can Carlson be valuable for fantasy purposes?
Not too long ago, the rule of thumb for drafting a fantasy team was running backs first, running backs second, and maybe even running backs third, and then best available talent. Running backs were so disproportionately valuable and rare, you needed as many as possible. Other positions could be filled, or if you happened to be so lucky, traded for by moving one of your surplus backs.
Two things have changed that: The rise of passing and the increased popularity of alternative formats like points per reception and three+ wide receiver positions.
Tight end was particularly devalued. Tight ends were selected sometime around when you one would queue a defense or kicker. That has changed somewhat, because tight ends are increasingly a pass catching position and some throw down a huge volume of receptions.
Carlson and players of his like open the opportunity to play new-school fantasy football in an old-school fashion. He allows you to sit on the tight end position until deep into the draft and still be able to acquire a quality player. In many formats, Carlson isn't even being drafted. This is a mistake. And it's a mistake a smart Seahawks fan can take advantage of to the full extent.
Here's how it can work and why: Draft best available player and sit on Carlson well into the later rounds. Be mindful of what positions your opponents have filled and have not filled. Every serpentine draft has a point where most teams have adequately filled a position and though there is abundant talent still left, there is very little chance it gets drafted. That tends to push down quality players. Don't sleep on him forever. If you really want a player, draft him the round you get antsy. Because there are no secrets in fantasy sports, and few true sleepers.
Why this works is fairly simple. A player is not worth an absolute amount of value. They are worth a value relative to their replacement. The shallower the league, the higher the level of replacement and the smaller the advantage of pursuing scarce positions. Most people play in a league like this. Carlson is in some ways a part of an undifferentiated third tier. He's better than that though. He is Matt's most trusted receiver, will be featured prominently in this offense and is one of Seattle's best red zone threats -- and the Seahawks do not have terribly many. If Forsett is the probable feature back, Seattle will throw a lot in the end zone to save him from some pounding. Mike Williams has a shot to eat some opportunities, but other than Williams, Carlson is uncontested. Take advantage of that.
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