Fantasy Fallout: Russell Wilson Joins a Stacked AFC West

Aaron Rodgers is going back to Green Bay, but that was only the second-biggest NFL news of the day last Tuesday. In a blockbuster deal, the Seahawks sent Russell Wilson to Denver in exchange for two first-round picks, two second-round picks, Noah Fant, Drew Lockand Shelby Harris.

Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Suttonand Javonte Williams make up one of the most exciting young skill groups in the league, but they previously didn’t have a competent quarterback feeding them the rock. That’s no longer an issue. Conversely, Tyler Lockett and D. K. Metcalf now have a complete question mark at quarterback rather than one of the best shot-callers in recent memory. The fantasy implications are apparent. Let’s take a look at how ETR’s projections changed as a result of this move.

RUSSELL WILSON

Old projection: 344.4 completions on 527.0 attempts (65.3%) for 3,989.6 yards (7.6 yards per attempt), 28.6 touchdowns, and 9.8 interceptions. 17.9 fantasy points per game.

New projection: 353.6 completions on 556.0 attempts (63.6%) for 4,184.5 yards (7.5 yards per attempt), 27.7 touchdowns, and 10.4 interceptions. 18.3 fantasy points per game.

  • The good news for Wilson is that he’s no longer in an offense that refuses to feature him and instead insists on establishing the ground game. While the Broncos skewed run-heavy last year, they have a brand-new staff for 2022 headed by former Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett (plus they have Russell Wilson at quarterback instead of Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock). The Seahawks never truly #LetRussCook. In Denver, there’s a chance he’s fully unleashed, and that’s reflected in his increased passing attempts by him.
  • At the same time, his completion percentage dipped two points for a couple of reasons. First, Lockett has a history of posting remarkable catch rates at a high target share, which dragged up Wilson’s projected completion rate with the Seahawks. Second, Broncos pass catchers have a low baseline catch rate because they’ve had to play with Bridgewater and Lock. That could change with Wilson under center, so there’s likely some upside to our current number.
  • Wilson is free of the scheme that bogged him down for so many years. He showed some signs of slowing down in 2021 and it remains to be seen whether that was a blip or the start of a concerning trend, but he inarguably has a clearer path to a blow-up campaign as a Bronco.

JERRY JEUDY

Old projection: 57.3 catches on 100.6 targets for 779.7 yards and 3.8 touchdowns. 7.7 fantasy points per game in half-PPR and 9.4 in PPR.

New projection: 70.3 catches on 113.5 targets for 968.9 yards and 5.7 touchdowns. 9.8 fantasy points per game in half-PPR and 11.9 in PPR.

  • Wheels up. Many analysts pegged Jeudy for a breakout campaign in 2021, but injuries and poor quarterback play prevented that from happening. Neither of those are an issue anymore, so this could be the year for one of the most promising young wideouts in football. We project a slight uptick in passing attempts with Wilson leading the charge, plus Jeudy’s projected target share went from 18.4% to 20.0% with Fant out of the equation. We now have Jeudy ranked as the WR19 for Underdog best ball leagues.

COURTLAND SUTTON

Old projection: 52.2 catches on 90.5 targets for 734.9 yards and 4.0 touchdowns. 7.3 fantasy points per game in half-PPR and 8.9 in PPR.

New projection: 60.6 catches on 102.7 targets for 862.7 yards and 6.0 touchdowns. 9.0 fantasy points per game in half-PPR and 10.8 in PPR.

  • Sutton went silent during the second half of last season, but he’s in prime position to bounce back with Wilson calling the shots. Like Jeudy, Sutton benefits from the increased passing volume and absence of Fant. He’s a middle-of-the-pack WR3 in our rankings.

OTHER BRONCOS NOTES

  • Albert Okwuegbunam, whose name I copy-pasted directly from our projections spreadsheet rather than attempting to spell it myself, is at 70.2 targets in our projections, a massive increase from the 40.2 he was at previously. Denver could add another tight end in free agency or the draft — their current TE2 is Eric Saubert —but Albert O projects nicely for the time being. He is the TE19 in our rankings right now.
  • A rising tide lifts all boats. KJ Hamler and Tim Patrick also moved up in our rankings with Wilson quarterbacking instead of Bridgewater and/or Lock.
  • The Broncos’ projected points per game rose from 20.7 to 24.3. Javonte Williams didn’t see a whole lot of movement projections-wise for us, but it’s much easier to get excited about him now in a high-octane offense, especially if Melvin Gordon goes elsewhere.

DK METCALF

Old projection: 73.7 catches on 124.3 targets for 1,021.5 yards and 8.7 touchdowns. 11.3 fantasy points per game in half-PPR and 13.5 in PPR.

New projection: 70.2 catches on 121.8 targets for 957.5 yards and 8.5 touchdowns. 10.8 fantasy points per game in half-PPR and 12.8 in PPR.

  • This projection is subject to change as Seattle’s Week 1 starter is up in the air (we currently have Drew Lock as the QB1). Metcalf’s projected volume dipped slightly without Wilson, but his efficiency could fall a long way from what we’re used to depending on the Seahawks’ quarterback. It’s tough to pin down what to expect from Metcalf with so much uncertainty surrounding the entire offense, but we currently have him ranked as our WR18 for Underdog leagues.

Tyler Lockett

Old projection: 73.6 catches on 111.6 targets for 995.6 yards and 7.0 touchdowns. 10.7 fantasy points per game in half-PPR and 12.8 in PPR.

New projection: 70.3 catches on 109.4 targets for 935.6 yards and 6.9 touchdowns. 10.2 fantasy points per game in half-PPR and 12.2 in PPR.

  • Like Metcalf, Lockett’s outlook depends highly on who the Seahawks start at quarterback. His efficiency falls off notably without Wilson.

NOAH FANT

Old projection: 59.3 catches on 85.5 targets for 641.8 yards and 3.8 touchdowns. 6.9 fantasy points per game in half-PPR and 8.7 in PPR.

New projection: 50.8 catches on 74.6 targets for 550.1 yards and 3.3 touchdowns. 5.9 fantasy points per game in half-PPR and 7.4 in PPR.

  • Fant has been plagued by poor quarterback play his entire career, and when he finally changes teams, Drew Lock goes with him. Fant will assume TE1 duties for the Seahawks, and he’s worth a look as a volume-dependent TE2 who could vault back into top-12 territory if the Seahawks upgrade at quarterback.

OTHER SEAHAWKS NOTES

  • Seattle’s projected points per game went from 25.3 with Wilson to 21.0 without him. All fantasy-relevant players dipped in large part due to efficiency concerns.

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