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 Lock, and Shelby Harris.
Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and 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 DK 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.
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. QB11 ranking on Underdog.
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. QB10 on Underdog.
- 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.
- 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.
Old projection: 57.3 catches on 100.6 targets for 779.7 yards and 3.8 touchdowns. WR37 on Underdog.
New projection: 70.3 catches on 113.5 targets for 968.9 yards and 5.7 touchdowns. WR19 on Underdog.
- 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, in part because we gave him additional upside in case the Broncos’ offense simply explodes in 2022.
Old projection: 52.2 catches on 90.5 targets for 734.9 yards and 4.0 touchdowns. WR51 on Underdog.
New projection: 60.6 catches on 102.7 targets for 862.7 yards and 6.0 touchdowns. WR33 on Underdog.
- 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. K.J. 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.
Old projection: 73.7 catches on 124.3 targets for 1,021.5 yards and 8.7 touchdowns. WR11 on Underdog.
New projection: 70.2 catches on 121.8 targets for 957.5 yards and 8.5 touchdowns. WR18 on Underdog.
- 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.
Old projection: 73.6 catches on 111.6 targets for 995.6 yards and 7.0 touchdowns. WR19 on Underdog.
New projection: 70.3 catches on 109.4 targets for 935.6 yards and 6.9 touchdowns. WR27 on Underdog.
- Like Metcalf, Lockett’s outlook depends highly on who the Seahawks start at quarterback. His efficiency falls off notably without Wilson.
Old projection: 59.3 catches on 85.5 targets for 641.8 yards and 3.8 touchdowns. TE12 on Underdog.
New projection: 50.8 catches on 74.6 targets for 550.1 yards and 3.3 touchdowns. TE17 on Underdog.
- 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.