Last year at this time, Carson was expected to lose the lead back job to rookie Rashaad Penny, but that never happened and Carson finished with 1,314 total yards and nine touchdowns on 267 touches. With Mike Davis (146 touches) now in Chicago, there is plenty of room or Penny’s role to grow without affecting Carson’s workload, but Carson is making a case for a 300-touch season. He's apparently shown good hands as a receiver, and the Seahawks want to double his targets. He's reportedly taking at least two-thirds of the snaps in camp with the starters, with Penny rotating in occasionally. Given all this positive buzz, I have a feeling I’m going to have to pull the trigger in the third round to get him.
Fann doesn't think Rashaad Penny is in danger of losing his No. 2 job and believes he could still see 10 touches a game, but there's also no reason to think Penny has gained any ground on Chris Carson after a slow start. With a firm grip on the No. 1 running back job and the possibility for more receiving work, Carson continues to look like a strong play in fantasy this year.
The Seahawks might or might not throw the ball more in 2019 after dropping back on the lowest percentage of their offensive snaps (50.5%, per ESPN charting) of any team in the NFL last season. But they will throw the ball more to Chris Carson and their other running backs, including 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny.
If that wasn't clear from watching the offseason program and the first three weeks of training camp, comments from the coaching staff have left no doubt.
"That's something that we went to right after the season ended and said, 'Hey, look, Chris can help us win games a lot of ways and one of [the] ways that he wasn't last year was in the passing game,'" Schottenheimer said, recalling the April meeting between Carson and Morton. "He and Chad, the minute Chris came back, had something to talk about. Chris was really excited about it."
It seems to be one of the worst-kept secrets heading into the season. There appears to be a Chris Carson update every week as we go through camp. Most recently, the team said they want to get Carson 50 targets this season. The departure of Mike Davis at RB and Doug Baldwin at WR should mean an increase for both Carson and Penny in the passing game. John Paulsen has a lot more on Carson in his draft strategy article.
Last year Carson was targeted 24 times while Mike Davis saw 42. So if some of those targets left by Davis go to Carson, it could easily get him in the ballpark for 50. For what it's worth, we rank Carson 24th on our RB list and project him for 27 catches.
Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer on Chris Carson, "We need to get him more involved in the passing game. He’s got unbelievable hands and he’s a problem for people coming out of the backfield.” Carson’s 23 targets last season – Schottenheimer’s first in Seattle – were tied for 56th among running backs, according to ESPN charting. Of the eight other running backs who topped 1,000 yards rushing in 2018, six had at least 48 targets. As a team, Seattle’s 84 targets to running backs was the second-fewest in the league and down from 100 during Darrell Bevell’s final season as OC in 2017. Said Carson about what’s different in Year 2 under Schottenheimer: “He’s doing a lot with the running backs. He’s splitting them out wide, putting them in different spots around the field. He’s using us more for pass catching than what he did in the previous years. It’s fun for us."
The fantasy impact here is a big one, as Carson's usage was great last season, but his lack of receptions hurts him in PPR. He caught 20-of-24 targets for 163 yards, but if you even double that, he gets into the Top-20 running backs for receptions and if he can triple it, he's Top-10, pushing him into elite fantasy status.