Fantasy Football 2011 Player Spotlight: Sidney Rice to Seattle Seahawks
The signing of wide receiver Sidney Rice by the Seattle Seahawks represented the very dilemma that playing fantasy football can create: an agonizing split of loyalty between fantasy squad and favorite team.
Heavily invested in Rice in keeper and dynasty leagues, it was a tough blow. Of course, the other half of me was equally elated by the signing, which would give the Seahawks an elite talent at wideout, and at least I could whole-heartedly root for his success—until my opponent starts him.
But enough about me. What about Sidney Rice's fantasy value next year?
Let's start with most of my audience, those participating in redraft leagues.
There's no question that he's not the fantasy stud he was back in 2009. A questionable QB in Tarvaris Jackson and a tight end in Zach Miller that should take yardage away—especially considering Miller is better than Shiancoe—makes for a tough situation for putting up reliable numbers.
His value is shot enough, though; you don't need me to tell you that most don't view him very highly. But, perhaps he might be a player you can snag in the later rounds and get low WR2 to WR3 production.
I predict Rice to finish with about 60 catches for somewhere between 900 and 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns next year. That's good enough to land somewhere as a very solid WR3.
Most people have written Jackson off as a terrible, mediocre quarterback, but with the familiarity with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Sidney Rice, he's in position to improve. In reality, the word is that "TJax" has been improving every year, and the existing rapport with Rice should only help.
Rice is the kind of player that makes a quarterback better, and this was plainly seen when he played a significant role in Brett Favre's remarkable 2009 season. Jackson is an inaccurate quarterback, but Rice's 6'5 frame can adjust and pluck poorly thrown balls.
One particular example of this is last year against the Buffalo Bills, when Jackson under-threw a 46-yard pass that Rice came up with under double coverage. Rice finished the game with five receptions for 105 yards and two scores.
Another factor we should consider is the NFC West, where six of Rice's games will occur. The only legitimate cornerback is probably Patrick Peterson, meaning the secondaries will have trouble covering Rice.
If we project Jackson to throw for about 3,000 yards, averaging about 175 yards per game, Rice can be expected to receive about a third of those yards, or about 1,000. In addition, he and Zach Miller will be the primary red-zone targets, and the seven touchdowns is not a big stretch.
The knock on Rice is his health, of course. But Seattle had to feel confident enough to invest in him a massive sum of guaranteed money ($18.5 million).
If you can snag Rice in the seventh round or so, consider it solid value for Seattle's No. 1 receiver.
For those in dynasty leagues and startups, buckle up for a bumpy ride.
Rice is one of those guys who has elite talent, and you have to keep in mind that talent prevails over situation. Though Rice is no Megatron, Calvin Johnson did well with quarterbacks like Shaun Hill and Daunte Culpepper.
The O-line has been upgraded immensely this season and is very young too, and should be protecting the QB fairly well so he has time to find Rice.
And with a running game that should improve, a solid receiver opposite him in Mike Williams, and an elite tight end, Rice won't be double-teamed.
The big reason why Rice is a decent target in keeper and dynasty leagues is that even if QB play is poor this year, it means that they'll be getting a top rookie QB. A Barkley/Jones/Luck to Rice connection could be lighting up defenses for years to come if the TJax experiment doesn't work out, so it's something to look forward to for Rice owners.
Overall, owners will be down on Rice and be looking to sell. This is a prime opportunity to swoop in and grab a supremely talented receiver at a depressed price tag.
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