We value Walker as a high-end flex who should be drafted some time after the fourth round. In his rookie season, he was the prototypical big-play back. Among players who ran the ball at least 100 times last year, only James Robinson had a higher percentage of his carries go for zero or negative yards. But Walker was also one of eight backs who saw at least 10% of his rushes go for 12-plus yards. The Seahawks brought in Zach Charbonnet to share the load, which should terrify Walker's Fantasy managers. Charbonnet profiles as being better both in the passing game and on short yardage eventually. If both of these backs stay healthy, it's hard to see how either finishes in the top 20 this year. They are both more desirable in Dynasty.
Walker’s rookie season matched his college profile: Excellent rushing, underwhelming receiving.
He scored as a top-18 RB in points per game across fantasy formats – and ranked top 8 in 11 healthy games without Rashaad Penny.
But Walker faces new competition from RB Zach Charbonnet. The second-round rookie looks like the early favorite to handle the majority of passing-down work. We’ll see how many carries he siphons.
Walker seemingly has a wide range of outcomes in 2023. He’s worth considering at RB2-level prices. But any more expensive than that and he becomes a risky pick.
What We Learned Last YearWalker posted a 228-1,050-9 rushing line and 27-165-0 receiving line in 15 games as a rookie.He finished 18th among RBs in PPR points per game and 14th in non-PPR.Walker needed hernia surgery in mid-August and missed Week 1. He spent the next four games in a timeshare with Rashaad Penny, totaling 23 carries and 7 targets.Penny went down with a season-ending injury in Week 5, paving the way for Walker to take over.In 11 healthy games the rest of the way – omitting Week 13 when he left early and including the Wild Card loss – Walker averaged:19.7 carries84.6 rushing yards0.82 rushing TDs2.5 targets2.0 catches14.0 receiving yards0 receiving TDsHis scoring average in those 11 games would have ranked seventh among RBs in PPR points per game and sixth in non-PPR points per game.Among 48 RBs with 90+ carries last year, Walker ranked:11th in Pro Football Focus rushing grades13th in elusive rating16th in NFL Next Gen Stats’ rush yards over expectedBut Walker ranked second-worst in Football Outsiders’ Success Rate, which measures run-to-run consistency. That means Walker had a boom-or-bust rushing profile last year, breaking off plenty of big runs but also having a lot of runs go nowhere.Walker drew 7.5% of Seahawks targets in his 11 healthy games as lead back.Among 43 RBs with 30+ targets last year, Walker ranked:35th in yards per target42nd in yards per route run33rd in PFF receiving grade
What to Expect in 2023The Seahawks let RB Rashaad Penny walk in free agency.But Walker faces new competition in rookie RB Zach Charbonnet.Seattle grabbed Charbonnet with the 52nd overall pick of this spring’s draft. That’s 11 picks later than Walker was selected last year.Charbonnet spent his first two college seasons at Michigan before transferring to UCLA and operating as the Bruins’ lead back the last two years.Across those two seasons, he totaled 2,496 yards and 27 TDs on 6.3 yards per carry.Charbonnet also racked up 61 receptions for 518 yards.Here’s how Charbonnet and Walker stacked up in their final college seasons in key rushing and receiving metrics:
Shortly after the draft, HC Pete Carroll called Charbonnet a “complement” to Walker and highlighted the rookie’s ability in the passing game. Charbonnet looks like the early favorite for passing-down snaps this season.Walker returns to the same offense this year piloted by OC Shane Waldron and QB Geno Smith.Last year’s Seahawks offensive line ranked:18th in Pro Football Focus’ run-blocking grades30th in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards24th in ESPN’s Run Block Win RateSeattle didn’t make any significant additions to the O-line this offseason. But OTs Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas both turned in solid rookie seasons last year and are candidates to take steps forward in 2023.
Walker is entering his first full season as the Seahawks' lead back. The 2022 second-round pick took over as the team's lead back in Week 6 last season and went on to handle 80% of the team's carries (19.7 per game) and 8% of the targets (2.5 per game) during 11 full games. Walker was fantasy's No. 8 RB in points per game (17.1) during 10 regular-season weeks atop the depth chart, though his 21-151-0 receiving line during the span exacerbates the concerns raised prior to last year's draft related to his lack of passing-game involvement. The 22-year-old looks the part as a rusher, but especially with second-round rookie Zach Charbonnet now in the mix, Walker could max out at Nick Chubb-like usage, which would limit his ceiling. He's safest as a midrange RB2.