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This is the 50th in a series of opinionated fantasy football columns that will be posted daily in July and August, providing fantasy owners with some insights to consider as they prepare for their drafts. You can get an in-depth preview of the upcoming fantasy football season with the purchase of the Yahoo! Sports / Pro Football Weekly Fantasy Football Guide 2010, available now in newsstands and bookstores, or online at PFWstore.com.
Looking for a sleeper in Seattle?
By virtue of being ranked a modest 14th in the Pro Football Weekly / Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football Guide 2010, third-year TE John Carlson more than fills the bill.
Truth be told, the only real reason for Carlson's widely perceived sleeper status is Seattle's sleepy offense, which couldn't have had a harder time finding the endzone last season, particularly down the stretch.
But a strong case could be made for Carlson as a proven fantasy commodity, considering that he scored a touchdown in each of the last four games last season — the only TDs, it should be noted, that the Seahawks scored in the final month of a very forgettable fantasy campaign.
Forget about his surprisingly limited production through the first three preseason games (two catches for 12 yards).
With a new TE-friendly offensive scheme under the direction of Jeremy Bates, it would not be a shock at all if Carlson picked up where he left off last season.
Actually, Carlson, the Seahawks' leading receiver as a rookie, started off like a house on fire in 2009, when he snatched six passes for 95 yards and a pair of scores in a season-opening 28-0 victory over the division-rival Rams.
But forced into more of a role as a blocking specialist due to a rash of early injuries on Seattle's offensive line, the sure-handed Carlson went into a fantasy shell before re-emerging with a flourish in December.
Carlson is expected to concentrate a great deal more on receiving than blocking with the additions of 258-pound free agent Chris Baker and 259-pound rookie Anthony McCoy providing the Seahawks with a pair of bigger, more powerful tight ends who will allow Carlson to line up in assorted formations designed to highlight his pass-catching skills.
"John Carlson is one of my all-time favorite teammates," Seahawks veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck said in an early-June interview with a local radio station. "He's had an amazing offseason.
"He's a very unselfish player, and this year — just because of the kind of offense that we're running — we're going to be a very heavy two-TE, two-WR, one-back team. We will be really moving John around everywhere, making him kind of the focal point of what we're doing."
"He could be even better than he has been," added a team insider, who marveled at how impressive Carlson looked in the early offseason stages. "They are doing so much with him, flanking him out, lining him up all over the place. They are actually saying there will be plays where he will be designated as the primary receiver, which was never before the case."
As a result, it's a good bet the Seahawks will have at least one legitimate fantasy force worth crowing about in the coming weeks.
For authoritative coverage and analysis of NFL news, free agency and fantasy football, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.