I write about fantasy football but I can't deny that my passion lies mostly in writing about the Seahawks. My history of failure in fantasy football makes Seattle look like Mike Tyson versus Glass Joe. Still, I browse, search and read about fantasy football and it's interesting to see how that game between friends has really transformed us as fans.
The thing about fantasy, what makes it so popular and so valuable, is that it can make anyone a fan of football. Anyone can run a team, anyone can win a league, and oftentimes its the least experienced people that walk away with bragging rights. It's brought a ton of new fans to the game, which means that it also is worth billions, and so companies were founded off of that principle and make a living based off of your needless obsession with sticking it to your boss the only way you can. Your fantasy, now a reality.
My fantasy is not going to be a reality until I can find a way to get Kate Upton, 200 jars of honey, and a 21-year-old Justine Bateman into the same room.
Thanks to you guys going crazy for some fantasy football, not only do I have more things to write about, but we have a crazy amount of tools that give us insight into matchups that range from "favorable" to "Give up... Now." One of my favorite sites to get this information from (umm, besides SBN Fantasy?) is FFToolbox. They have a handy-dandy way of looking at what teams you will want to target for starts each week of the season based on defensive matchups.
So basically for rest of season, Carolina is ranked 1st in remaining matchups against the pass. This means that you should go forth and be one with Cam Newton, he faces very few tough passing defenses for the rest of the season. Teams like the Saints, Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, and Eagles.
Seattle is ranked 25th in this regard. Russell Wilson has performed more than admirably given a rather difficult schedule (Seattle was ranked 28th over Weeks 1-5, 16th for Weeks 6-10) and has looked considerably better in his decision-making. But if "How many fantasy points a defense gives up to a quarterback" means anything (and if it doesn't, why am I doing with my life?) then Wilson went from difficult, to a slight break, right back to difficult.
A huge part of that ranking is that any quarterback with a game left against the Bears is in trouble; 8 passing touchdowns allowed and 19 interceptions in nine games. The 49ers hold true in the amount of passing touchdowns allowed (8) but have just six interceptions. Numbers like this are the meat of fantasy football rankings, but they can point to signs that the passing defenses are still very legitimate.
Remaining Schedule (Football Outsiders Pass Defense Rank):
Other than the Bills, the Seahawks face teams ranked in the top half of the league pass defense, and three teams in the top ten. Can Wilson step up to the test? He sort of already has.
We already know that he's played the NFC West once each, but he's also faced the Packers (6), Panthers (7), Jets (12), Vikings (22), Patriots (20), and Lions (29). Six of Wilson's ten starts have come against top 12 pass defenses. He struggled for the most part against the NFC West, but all of those games have come with a major caveat (first start ever, road, Thursday) that hopefully has been adjusted for the rematches. Wilson hasn't faced an easy schedule, but he has already played possibly three of the four softest pass defenses he'll see all season.
The only major coup I suppose is that you might want to use Wilson in Week 16 in your fantasy league to get into the championship game with style. Other than that, it won't be good enough for Wilson to be a "rookie" in his second go-around with the division or at Chicago. He's going to have to be better.
Even if he's not going to be relied upon to be "the guy" to beat those teams, he's still going to be heavily relied upon. He's going to have to be the guy that completes a final touchdown pass against Arizona. He's going to have to move the ball against San Francisco. He's going to have to cover punter John Hekker against St. Louis.
However, last night in the Hangout a good point was made by Brian Nemhauser. Seattle's strength, by far, is still it's defense. These teams, for the most part, do not have a strong offense:
San Francisco (5)
St. Louis (19)
I bet you didn't think that the Rams had a higher Weighted DVOA on offense than the Bears did. And man, the 49ers are rather good. Luckily, they are not unbeatable and 2012 team efficiency rankings still have the Seahawks at three and the 49ers at six. The Seahawks are only a hair behind the Patriots for the second best ranking in the NFL. Given that information, Seattle has a fair shot to win out. It's not an impossible task in the way that the Cardinals or Bills winning out would seem to be an impossible task. Consider this pass defense against Ryan Tannehill, John Skelton or Kevin Kolb, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Or possibly against Jason Campbell and the Bears only receiving threat, Brandon Marshall. Or that they played really well against Sam Bradford and Alex Smith already. This team has every right to win out, though I'm not downplaying the significance of that, even if it's not improbable.
The task at hand for Wilson is difficult, however, but it's not any different than the task he faced in the first third of the season. What we need to see instead, is that the progress shown is real and if it is, the Seahawks are going to be one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs.
To add a note about the running game, FF Toolbox ranks the Seahawks final six games against the run just as low as they rank against the pass: 25th. The final six in terms of DVOA ranking against the run:
San Francisco (1)
St. Louis (19)
Seattle plays against three of the top four run defenses in the NFL. When talking about the importance of Wilson's progress and improvement, we can't ignore how helpful Lynch has been in that regard and if the offense is going to score points he will be no less integral to that success.
We have to hope that the Dolphins run defense truly is fading. Over the last four, they have allowed 126 yards to Chris Johnson on 23 carries, 97 yards on 26 carries to the Colts, 77 yards on 15 carries to Shonn Greene, and 162 yards on 27 carries to Daryl Richardson, Steven Jackson and the Rams. I believe that Lynch is better than all of those players, so it stands to reason that the run game will be just fine.
After all, the Seahawks rankings in FF Toolbox for the first part of the schedule against the run were 21st and 25th and Lynch is still second in the NFL in rushing yards.
It will be an interesting final six and hopefully the team can push for a final record that puts them in a more favorable position by the end of the season. Wilson is going to be tested, Lynch will be imperative, and the defense will get opportunities. Creating opportunities by creating shorter fields by creating turnovers will make this team better and also very creative. That's the difference between a team fighting to hold onto the final remaining wild card spot like Sly Stallone grasping onto the gloved hand of his climbing partner, and a team fighting for homefield advantage.
That's still the team I think we can see. It is my second greatest fantasy.