After months of rumors and speculation, Russell Wilson was finally traded to the Denver Broncos in one of the biggest blockbuster’s in NFL history.
Denver is following their NFC counterparts in L.A. by going all-in with a talented roster to try and capitalize on a Super Bowl window with Wilson. The Broncos sent two 1st round picks, two 2nd round picks, a fifth-rounder, and veterans Noah Fant, Drew Lock, and Shelby Harris to Seattle.
That’s a hefty, but understandable price for Broncos’ President John Elway and GM George Paton after the team has suffered through quarterback play that has ranged from mediocre at best to catastrophic at worst since Peyton Manning retired.
Seattle’s side of the deal is far more interesting. After a historically great run of nailing the NFL Draft and getting a Super Bowl (almost two!), the Seahawks roster has clearly fallen off over the last two to three years. And the writing was on the wall for GM John Schneider and HC Pete Carroll after last season. Something had to be done. Wilson never publicly demanded a trade or held a press conference expressing discontent, but it was clear after his last home game in Seattle that his relationship with management was broken.
Wilson and the Seahawks 2021 season won’t be remembered fondly, but it’s easy to forget that the team got off to a fairly good start. They beat the Colts soundly in Week 1, lost by a FG in an OT thriller to the Titans where they blew a 24-9 lead in Week 2, and they beat the 49ers in Week 4 before Wilson badly injured his finger on Thursday Night Football against the Rams in Week 5. After missing just five weeks for an injury that usually requires 6-8 weeks minimum to get back healthy, he predictably struggled upon return and the team dropped three-straight, officially taking Seattle out of the playoff hunt.
Of course, the popular refrain has been well-earned in Seattle – the team (and Carroll specifically) did not do enough to hand the keys of the offense over to Russell Wilson. Carroll’s overly conservative and hands on approach had to wear on Wilson, and Carroll ultimately won the power struggle.
The thing is though – will new HC Nathaniel Hackett’s philosophy be that much different for Wilson in Denver? As Tom Brolley points out, Hackett said in his introductory press conference that he intends to run an outside-zone run scheme and base the attack off deep shots on play-action. Sounds familiar!
Maybe at the time Hackett was tipping his hand. Maybe not. But one thing is for sure, Wilson in Denver is obviously a massive boon to Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and Albert Okwuegbunam for fantasy.
Buy the Broncos?
We’ve long been Jeudy fans here at Fantasy Points, and after flopping as a popular sixth / seventh round pick last summer, I’m sure everyone will be tripping over themselves to take him again this year. A painful high ankle sprain harpooned Jeudy’s 2021 season and he was just a small part of an extremely conservative passing attack upon his return.
While Jeudy will undoubtedly take a leap this year, I think Courtland Sutton is worthy of a much bigger upgrade. Sutton’s 16.5-yard average depth of target was second-highest among the 92 WRs that got at least 50 targets last season, but 30% of the looks that went his way were uncatchable per SIS.
Wilson has long been heralded as one of the best deep ball quarterbacks in the game and the numbers definitely back that up:
Russell Wilson’s on-target throw percentage on attempts of 15+ yards downfield (SIS)
Even while dealing with a throwing finger injury, Wilson still had it last year.
It’s hard to not get excited about Jeudy and Sutton’s prospects, but Tim Patrick was the forgotten man once again last year and will likely be the cheapest piece of this attack in drafts. I don’t have any skin in the game yet, but I’ll bet Patrick will be a huge part of my plan in best-ball contests this summer.
With Noah Fant being shipped off as a part of the deal, Albert Okwuegbunam will be on all of the fantasy sleepers lists you’ll read this offseason. Last year, Albert O cut into Fant’s targets quite a bit and now gets a chance to capitalize on a full-time role in a potentially high-scoring offense. Of course, this is by no means an apples to apples comparison, but as a unit – Fant and Okwuegbunam combined for the fourth-most receptions (109) and ninth-most yards (1,047) in 2021.
Meanwhile, we’re still in a holding pattern on Javonte Williams. No one was higher on his talent than I was last year, but there is legitimate interest from GM George Paton in giving Melvin Gordon a new contract to stay in Denver. We’ll see in a few days.
Seahawks in limbo
Seattle can’t really expect Drew Lock to start in 2022 and they are likely going to be open for business on some more veteran pieces, most notably Tyler Lockett. This roster is far from settled yet, especially at running back. Rashaad Penny was running hotter than the sun at the end of last year, but he is far from being a sure-thing.
For now, I’ve bumped Lockett to WR30 (from WR13) and DK Metcalf to WR27 (from WR15) in my best-ball ranks with the uncertainty around their futures. By the way, if there was ever a time to buy Metcalf low in dynasty, it is now.