"I'm disappointed," Carroll said, per ESPN Seattle. "Because we really have had the intent, just like you would think, exactly like you guys think, like everybody thinks. We want him to be a big part of the offense."
There's no reason to panic about Graham. He had a quiet Week 2, but he had quiet weeks in New Orleans as well. He caught six passes for 51 yards and a TD in Week 1, and after complaining about his role in Week 2, he's likely to produce against a very shaky Bears defense.
Monday, August 31, 2015, 8:24pm
He had two catches for 24 yards on five targets Saturday night. Graham has played 52 preseason snaps, and he's been used as a run blocker 36.5 percent of the time. The results have been mixed.
On an early Marshawn Lynch 3rd-and-1 carry, the Seahawks didn't generate any kind of push, and Graham let a defender slip past him as the run was stopped short of a first down. He did a good job on Robert Turbin's 7-yard run in the first.
But in the third, Graham looked like he was unsure of which defender to block, and a defensive lineman went right past him in the red zone to drop Turbin for a 7-yard loss. In other words, Graham appears to be a work in progress as a run blocker.
If the Seahawks can keep Graham on the field in running situations, it will only help to open the passing game for play-action passes which is where Graham could thrive.
For all the issues the Seattle Seahawks still have to work out on offense, the chemistry between their quarterback and top pass-catcher isn't one of them.
It was again evident Friday night in Seattle's 14-13 preseason loss to Kansas City. Jimmy Graham caught all three passes that Russell Wilson threw his way during the two quarters in which the Seahawks' offensive starters played, but one of them stood out.
Lined up in the slot on second-and-18, Graham released up the seam against tight coverage from safety Ron Parker. Graham wasn't open when Wilson delivered a perfectly placed pass toward his back shoulder for a 21-yard gain. Then again, he didn't need to be.
"He's hard to miss, being 6-7 and being able to show up and run as fast as he can," Wilson told reporters.
Call it whatever you'd like -- chemistry, trust, rapport -- but Wilson and Graham certainly seem to have built plenty of it already, the story said. It's good news for those who were worried about Graham switching offenses. It sure looks like he's going to be a key part of the Seattle offense, too, and is of course one of the top TEs in fantasy drafts.
“He’s added a new dimension to our offense,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told Peter King. “He’s been amazing. Awesome. He’ll help on third down, help in the red zone. In some of those areas you feel like he will be able to be a big factor. I think he will have the effect that you imagine a tight end would, pulling some coverage, and maybe changing some stuff for guys outside and guys other places as well.”
Graham finished with 85 catches for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns, but his season was somewhat disappointing, especially down the stretch. He averaged 4.0 catches for 44 yards and 0.2 TD in his final five games, including a weird zero-target goose egg in Week 13 against Pittsburgh. Now he heads to Seattle, where the Seahawks have been looking to upgrade at tight end for a while. Graham's value takes a minor hit as he heads to the run-oriented Seahawks, though he'll continue to be a target hog given the current state of the Seattle receiving corps.
They call themselves the “Bash Brothers,” a nod to the Mighty Ducks movies from the ‘90s and not the tandem of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco from the ‘80s.
However they label themselves, tight ends Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson present Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell with an interesting two-headed chess piece. It seems likely that Bevell and the Seahawks will deploy even more two-tight-end formations than in previous seasons after adding Graham via trade this offseason. (The Seahawks also have tight ends Anthony McCoy, Cooper Helfet and RaShaun Allen competing for roster spots.)
“I think a lot of double- and triple-tight-end sets for us are really going to start to come out this year and really give defenses a fit,” Graham said. “We’re going to be able to run the ball so effectively with all those tight ends in the game. But also in the pass, play-action is going to be pretty amazing.”
In June, Bevell said the Seahawks’ two-tight-end formation is one of his favorites because of the difficult choices it forces defenses to make.
If the Seahawks go with more two-tight-end formations, they will need Graham to block for running back Marshawn Lynch. Graham’s blocking has long been one of the few concerns about him, the story said. Graham added he's been banged up the last two years and didn't block like he's capable of. The story also added that Graham knows he won’t see as many passes in Seattle as he did in New Orleans, which means he will have to capitalize on the important ones and he's prepared to do that. Graham still ranks as our number-two TE and it sounds like he's going to be a big part of the offense even if his targets drop. Multiple TE sets could also hurt the fantasy value of Seattle WRs.
Saints beat writer Mike Triplett on TE Josh Hill:
As I've written before, the best statistical season by a Saints tight end other than Jimmy Graham in Sean Payton's offense was Jeremy Shockey's 2009 season (48 catches, 569 yards, three touchdowns). That's a realistic target for Hill, with maybe a few more TDs thrown in. I'll be curious to see how much of a red zone target Hill is -- and if defenses pay more attention to him than they did last year, when most of his TDs came as the result of being the open man.
We have Hill projected for 52-627-5.1, so we're slightly more optimistic than Triplett about Hill's production this season. The Saints need playmakers in the passing game, and Hill brings more to the table than Watson. But he needs to get (and stay) on the field to make a significant impact.
After Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston is where it really gets interesting for the Saints WRs. The Saints will have two relative newcomers in their top-four rotation after trading away TE Jimmy Graham and receiver Kenny Stills and opting not to re-sign Robert Meachem.
Fourth-year pro Nick Toon will get the first crack at the No. 3 job since he’s been waiting in line the longest. Toon helped his case with a solid finish to last season when he finally got an extended opportunity -- 17 catches for 215 yards and a touchdown over the final six games.
Brandon Coleman’s massive size (6-foot-6, 225) makes him the most intriguing roster contender since he could develop into a red-zone monster. Coleman seemed to be playing faster and more at ease this summer after struggling last summer -- a good sign that he’s on the rise.
Seantavius Jones shouldn’t get lost in Coleman’s shadow. The 6-3, 200-pounder has flashed a great combination of size and athleticism. And he was actually promoted to the active roster ahead of Coleman late last season when the Saints needed injury reinforcements.
The author thinks both Jones and Coleman make the roster while the team parts ways with Josh Morgan and Joe Morgan. The article said Toon (6-4, 218) can help his case even more if he proves to be a strong blocker (a valued skill that used to be one of Meachem’s specialties). Also mentioned was the possibility Colston becomes a red zone threat, taking over for the departed Graham. However, we think C.J. Spiller also takes on a huge role in the passing game from the running back position.
There are plenty of ways to break down just how bad the Jaguars' offense has been the past several seasons, but the best way to illustrate the ineptness is by looking at how the unit has performed in the red zone.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Jaguars scored an NFL-low 13 touchdowns and completed an NFL-worst 39.1 percent of passes on an NFL-low 85 snaps in 32 red zone possessions in 2014. They were still last in TDs and completion percentage if you include the 2013 season, too.
The blame is spread between the quarterbacks, offensive line, backs and receivers, and play calling. Not much the Jaguars have tried the past two seasons has worked consistently and as a result the team has averaged just 15.5 points per game the past two seasons.
Things could be significantly better in 2015, though, thanks to the addition of tight end Julius Thomas. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder was not only one of the league's better tight ends the past two seasons – catching 108 passes, including 24 for touchdowns – he was one of the NFL's most effective players in the red zone.
Thomas had 13 catches in the red zone in 2014, including nine for touchdowns. Only Green Bay receiver Randall Cobb had more (10) and Thomas had the same number as New England's Rob Gronkowski, Miami's Mike Wallace, New Orleans' Jimmy Graham, and San Diego's Antonio Gates, the story said. Obviously potential owners of Thomas need to keep in mind the situation is now a little bit different. The Jags don't have the same weapons Denver had a year ago that also needed to be accounted for in the red zone, and don't forget about Peyton Manning as the QB. Still, Thomas will be looked at as a big red zone option, and if the Jag WRs can step up as threats, that should also help Thomas' chances to continue his success. Thomas is ranked eighth among our TEs and is available in the middle of drafts.
Nick Toon, who spent his first three years at the X receiver spot, has moved to the Z in the Saints’ base offense. Toon will line up off the ball more often, and he’ll be lining up on the strong side of the formation, as opposed to the weak side. Toon, at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, has become one of New Orleans’ better run blockers at receiver, an ability that can come in handy as an extra blocker outside the tight end.
For Toon, the key is putting it all together. He should have plenty of chances.
“We saw at times last year in practice, even though he’s not receiving reps in the games, certainly we’ve seen his progression, he understands the system well and he’s working hard,” Payton said. “I think the key is just getting snaps, but I think we’ll see his snaps go way up.”
Toon figures to serve as the WR3 behind Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston. The role hasn't traditionally been a big fantasy producer, but Jimmy Graham is gone so the team figures to get less production out of the tight end position. If anything happens to Cooks or Colston, fantasy owners should have Toon on speed dial.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 9:31am
Per Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune, the Seahawks may begin to groom Gary Gilliam at left tackle as the season progresses, given that Russell Okung is in the last year of his contract. Also, rookie Mark Glowinski eventually could push J.R. Sweezy at right guard.
Regardless of who plays in 2015, they’ll need to play better than they have.
The story pointed out some who could be directly affected by poor line play if it continues, mentioning quarterback Russell Wilson has faced consistent pressure in passing situations, which could make it difficult for the Seahawks to take full advantage of tight end Jimmy Graham. And it could make running back Marshawn Lynch more likely to call it quits following a season of getting banged around by defenders that the offensive line fails to keep away from him.
He may not see the same type of usage on the ground, but he is going to fill a role that is very similar to the one that Darren Sproles had during his tenure with the Saints. As Robert Cobb of TheInscriberMag.com stated, Spiller’s ability to be a receiver out of the backfield is going to be a major help for the Saints’ offense.
New Orleans head coach Sean Payton loved what Sproles brought to the field, and it was obvious that they missed him last season after trading him. Signing a player like Spiller shows exactly how much the Saints wanted to bring back a player who is similar to Sproles.
Unfortunately, Spiller has struggled with quite a few injury issues throughout his career. He has only played an entire season as a workhorse in one of his five NFL seasons, and he was an absolute star in that season, the story said. Other than that, Spiller has been inconsistent at best or simply wasn’t used much. Spiller should help to fill a void left by TE Jimmy Graham, so Spiller's value should come in PPR leagues as Mark Ingram is expected to get a bulk of the carries. We forecast Spiller for 68 catches, the most among RBs.
Sunday, June 28, 2015, 9:34am
When the offseason program ended Thursday, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll pointed to two players who stood out to him through the rookie camp and organized team activities (OTAs).
The first one is rookie wide receiver Tyler Lockett, the team’s third-round draft choice.
“It’s been really fun to learn about Tyler," Carroll said. “He’s got a lot of responsibilities. He’s going after this return job, he’s inside playing in the slot in the receiver position, and he’s been outside.
“We’ve just thrown everything at him because he seems to be able to handle it. He studies really hard. You don’t really know until you get these guys how dedicated they will be, but he’s been an exciting addition to the team.”
The other standout for Carroll is tight end Jimmy Graham, the Pro-Bowl player who should make a big impact on the offense this season.
“Jimmy coming in with the big history and all the accomplishments that he had, he could have been all kinds of things,” Carroll said. “He’s a great kid. He’s as hard a worker as we could hope to get. He loves the game. He loves the challenge and he loves coming to a new setting and having to prove himself. He’s feeding off that.”
Lockett is listed fourth our Seattle WR depth chart and isn't expected to be a typical fantasy league option - at least to start the season. Graham, on the other hand, is second among our TEs heading into fantasy drafts and projects as a third round pick. We think his value takes a little hit in a Seahawk, run-oriented offense, but given there isn't really a standout among the WRs, Graham should still get his targets.
Seahawks beat writer Bob Condotta (of the Seattle Times) was asked to predict the pecking order at receiver:
If you go with just two receivers, then I’d still go with Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse being the two starters for the opening game. They are the two most experienced and proven receivers on the team and also excel at a really underrated aspect of the game that is hugely important to the coaches — blocking. That’s one reason you rarely saw those two come off the field last season. Teams obviously often run three-receiver sets. And if what we saw in OTAs and mini-caps is any indication, then the starting 3-WR sets would well include Baldwin, Kearse and Chris Matthews. Tyler Lockett projects as Baldwin’s backup, with the other spots sort of a jumble at the moment. But as of now, I’d go with Kevin Norwood and Ricardo Lockette as the other backups. As you note, Paul Richardson could well being the year on the PUP list. If he’s healthy by opening day, I’d put him on the second unit. As for the Kearse and Matthews, there’s no question that what Matthews did in the Super Bowl creates a lot of excitement going forward. But Kearse is one of the team’s most versatile receivers and as noted, also excels at blocking. For now, I think he holds on to a role as being more of an every down receiver.
Matthews is a deep sleeper this year despite a great performance in the Super Bowl. Baldwin should be usable in fantasy leagues, but with the addition of TE Jimmy Graham, there will be fewer targets available to the Seattle receivers.
Saints beat writer Mike Triplett on the Saints' TE situation:
I've written a lot about Josh Hill this summer, as well. I think he'll pop up on the fantasy radar since he'll get an opportunity at more touches with Graham gone. But I'm not expecting a major breakthrough. I think Hill's 5 TDs last year were a bit misleading since he was usually benefitting from being the "open man" on those plays instead of a red-zone monster. He had only 14 catches overall. I actually think tight end Ben Watson could be a sleeper late-round pickup in deeper leagues and during bye weeks, etc. Watson might have led the Saints in catches during the OTA and minicamp practices that were open to the media. He won't have a breakout year at age 34, but he'll be regularly involved.
Jimmy Graham, Hill and Watson combined for 1,634 snaps last year, with Watson playing 50 percent of the team's snaps. Sean Payton said that Watson's role won't change in 2015, but didn't say if that meant he would play about the same number of snaps. Hill's snaps should at least double (to 50 percent) and he even has upside from there since Jimmy Graham played on 68 percent of the snaps. It was worrisome that Payton mentioned "two-TE sets" when discussing Hill's potential playing time, since it indicates that he's not going to start. At the end of the day, the Saints are looking for playmakers in the passing game, so while we're not as bullish as we were a month ago on Hill's upside, he's still looking like a nice pick in the later rounds of fantasy drafts. If he's producing, he'll play.
Saints HC Sean Payton indicated that he is experimenting with plays specifically with C.J. Spiller in mind.
"When you sign a player like that ... you are anxious to see how it fits with what you are doing and you begin to expand some things," Payton said.
Quarterback Drew Brees said he envisioned plenty of snaps for Spiller, not only because of his explosiveness, but also because at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, he's sturdy enough to run inside and even block in pass protection, as former Saints running back Pierre Thomas did.
"He's got some of the quickness and the speed and kind of that slash element like a Sproles," Brees said of Spiller. "But he's bigger in stature like a Pierre, and so there's really not anything he can't do."
While New Orleans may not be an ideal landing spot in the carries department, Spiller should have a big role in the passing game with Pierre Thomas, Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills no longer on the roster. He’ll likely take over the role of Thomas, who averaged 11.6 touches in the last two seasons. Thomas finished with a top 30 PPG (PPR) in six of the last seven seasons, so that's a reasonable baseline for Spiller. New Orleans running backs caught 275 passes in the last two seasons, so there are plenty of catches to go around. In short, he has significant PPR upside in this offense, but his workload will be somewhat limited since he'll be part of a committee.
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