How to convince yourself Brandon Marshall will make an impact with the Seahawks
Eric Karabell
ESPN INSIDER


One certainly does not need to search too far for reasons why newly minted Seattle Seahawks wide receiver
Brandon Marshall will be easy to ignore for fantasy football purposes in 2018.

After all, Marshall is not young (in football terms, at least), he is coming off a season in which he played poorly and was lost to injury, and the Seahawks plan to implement a run-first game plan, though it seems important to note we have heard that one before. The truth is a healthy Marshall could easily serve a role that tight end
Jimmy Graham did last season, and he could serve it effectively, but it seems like few people outside of Seattle want to consider the possibilities.
After all, Marshall does not need to reach 100 receptions, as he has already done six times for five franchises in 12 seasons, to matter in fantasy. He just needs to be healthy, semi-productive and contribute near the end zone.

The 6-foot-7 Graham, who now plays for the
Green Bay Packers, caught 57 passes for 520 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. A mere five tight ends scored more PPR fantasy points last season. Of course, when compared with wide receivers, 30 scored more PPR points. Wait, so do I really believe Marshall can approach top-30 wide receiver status in 2018, catching 57 passes -- that is less than four per game -- for so few yards and double-digit scores?


I certainly do not rank Marshall particularly close to that, but hey, at least I ranked him! While I cannot state I found it worth hitching any proverbial wagons to his lost value when the Seahawks announced their new partnership with Marshall just before the Memorial Day weekend, I do see how he can matter, and it is because of opportunity and red zone work. In fact, I probably earned this column assignment on Marshall because I was the only person on staff to actually rank him, albeit after 59 other wide receivers. The Marshall signing comes with little financial risk to the Seahawks, who do not even have to keep him around if he looks slow or injured this summer. However, we should not gloss over the potential role, either.

Marshall stands at 6-foot-5 and no wide receiver scored more than his 14 touchdowns in 2015. Yes, that was three loooooong years ago, but he did it, along with 109 receptions and 1,502 yards. Many were shocked -- perhaps even the Jets themselves -- since Ryan Fitzpatrick played quarterback. Marshall finished as fantasy's No. 3 wide receiver that season! He did not follow up with much success in 2016, nor did Fitzpatrick or those around him, so I feel like we should not put much blame on Marshall. Last season Marshall stayed in northern New Jersey with the Giants, but that situation was a mess from Day 1 on, and take your pick on whom to blame. Marshall was not healthy, and the Giants moved on, but what if he is healthy today?

Again, my intention is not really to fight too hard for a 34-year-old that looked broken down last season, but I guess I am becoming more open-minded to possibilities. Russell Wilson is an elite quarterback -- Eli Manning is not -- and his best target is 5-foot-10 Doug Baldwin, who is going to achieve his numbers no matter what happens. Then what? The Seahawks showed little interest in retaining Graham, while Paul Richardson left for big money in Washington, leaving Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown and a few players most have never heard of. Well, you have heard of Marshall, right? Even in the mess of 2016 with the Jets, he caught four passes per game, on more than 8.5 targets per -- the QB was not accurate, but Marshall deserves some blame, too -- and at 13.4 yards per pop. I have decided that 2017 just did not count at all, though you can disagree.

As a result, I actually do think that Marshall could contribute to this offense, presuming reasonable health. Health is really the great equalizer here and tends to be the case in fantasy sports, but there is more risk with Marshall than most. Would it not make more sense to take a late-round chance on Lockett, after all? He is 25, but as with Baldwin, is nobody's idea of tall or a red zone threat at south of 6-feet tall. Graham was, finally in his third season with Wilson, that threat last season. Marshall can be that threat. I think I am talking myself into bumping Marshall up in my rankings a bit -- I already rank him ahead of Lockett -- despite how odd that sounds.

With Graham and Richardson gone, Wilson has to throw the football somewhere, and Marshall would be his tallest target, and certainly an experienced touchdown provider. In fact, Wilson threw an NFL-high 34 touchdown passes in 2017, and the players that caught 20 of them have left town. One could surmise Wilson throws fewer touchdowns, but by how many? Does he drop by 10? I doubt that. I also do not see Baldwin and Lockett hitting double-digits individually. They combined for 10 touchdowns last season.

Marshall does have a proven affinity for the end zone, having caught eight or more touchdowns in four seasons before the most recent two. Feel free to judge Marshall on those nasty seasons -- the final one with the Jets, this disaster with the co-tenants -- but those teams were destined to fail and combined for eight wins. Things are going to go much, much better in Seattle, where rookie running back Rashaad Penny can act a bit like last season's Kareem Hunt, though I believe with more receiving production and less in the running game. It is still not a good offensive line, after all.

Wilson will do Wilson-like things and while the new approach, if the Seahawks can pull it off, might mean he falls short of 500 pass attempts for the first time in three campaigns, it will not deter me from seeing how the Marshall plan could succeed. To be honest, I think Wilson still has to attempt -- note the "has to" -- more than 500 passes.

Colleague Mike Clay projects 33 receptions, on 59 targets, for 421 yards and four touchdowns for Marshall. Those are not good numbers, but I cannot question the veracity. Last season was ugly. He is an older player, perhaps a brittle one, and the Seahawks claim they will be a lot more run-heavy. Still, I can see 50 catches and six or seven scores. Perhaps taking a last-round flier -- that is what the No. 60 wide receiver in rankings would be, at best -- is a waste of a pick, but I try to be open-minded, and in this case I see possibilities.