Fantasy Football Sleepers 2011: Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks

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Fantasy Football Sleepers 2011: Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks
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All those NFL rumors were true: Sidney Rice is now a Seattle Seahawk.

We at The Sports Cannon do our best to help you win your fantasy football league, and that includes detailing the best fantasy football sleepers in 2011.

We think Rice is one of those sleepers and will be one of the NFL free-agency steals.

We’ve often considered Seattle to be the city where wide receivers go to die.

For years, Seattle has lacked a true No. 1 receiver and it is routinely near the most dropped passes in the NFL. There may be hope for Sidney Rice and the Seattle Seahawks in the future, however.

Last year the Seahawks somehow made the playoffs with a losing record, and ended a game away from the NFC championship. This year they are going to be starting a less-than experienced and certainly less-than-stellar quarterback. Your guess is as good as ours on who will be the starter between Tarvaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst.

We think there is a better chance that Tarvaris Jackson ends up as the starter, but it will likely be a tough position for whoever is under center. The Seahawks have tried to bolster the offensive line by signing guard Robert Gallery, but there is far more work to be done.

Rice is in a good position because even if Tarvaris Jackson steps in later in the season, the former teammates will already have an established rapport. Rice is going to be the immediateNo. 1 receiver in Minnesota which means you can expect him to see well over 100 targets this season.

Rice is strikingly similar in build to current Seahawks teammate Mike Williams, but is faster, stronger and, at this point, more gifted as an athlete. The biggest question mark surrounding Rice, however, is if he will fully rebound from a hip injury that limited him to six games in 2009.

Rice will walk in to an easier first season at least, as the Seahawks have the fifth easiest SOS for a fantasy wide receiver. Will that be enough for Rice to overcome a weak offensive line and an inexperienced quarterback? Relatively speaking, we think so. We’ve got him locked in as our 21st-ranked receiver, but he will likely rise in our next batch of rankings.

He likely would have been in a better situation in Minnesota with Donovan McNabb and Adrian Peterson on his side. Now Rice will be the biggest threat on an offense composed of Tarvaris Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. We’re not knocking Rice’s talent, just the surrounding parts.

The Seahawks are going to increase their number of passing plays, but it should still be around 50-50 running and passing plays at the end. If you have any worry that the Rice signing would be adversely affected by the lockout, then stop because Rice has more ties to this offense than anyone else on the roster.

Current Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was the offensive coordinator in Minnesota for the last four seasons, and knows Rice well. He also knows how to set up Tarvaris Jackson and Sidney Rice to go deep.

Jackson and Rice already have combined for seven plays of 20 yards or more. They’re actually usually hooking up in that fashion, with multiple 40-plus touchdown bombs in their limited time together, including two last season.

We like the pickup by the Seahawks, as they made a conscience effort to stick with guys with a strong history together and it's a logical way to start a new era of Seahawks football.

Although these will be trying times for Rice, his overall fantasy value this season rises. In dynasty leagues, I recommend looking in to Sidney Rice if the price is right. His injury concern isn’t that great of a concern, but it is worth monitoring.

 

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