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A Tale of Two Seasons
After garnering more than a bit of offseason hype, DK Metcalf was shattering expectations through the first half of his sophomore campaign. He averaged 98.5 receiving yards and one touchdown per game. Behind only Davante Adams, he was second in fantasy points per game among wide receivers. Not only was he putting up big numbers, but he was also scoring emphatic touchdowns and becoming a favorite among Seattle’s 12th Man and fantasy managers, alike. But the young star hit a wall when it mattered most. Then from Week 10 onward, Metcalf was WR37 in per-game scoring. He found the end zone twice over the final half of the season, and his yardage dropped. He went from G.O.A.T. to goat.
So What Went Wrong?
Is Metcalf the dominant superhuman we saw through the warmer months? Or was he a flash in the pan with more risk than we’re willing to recognize?
Although some breaks didn’t go Metcalf’s way through the winter, his elite combination of size and speed make him one of the most enticing options in 2021. Paired up with Russell Wilson, known for his pinpoint downfield throws, it’s easy to make a case for Metcalf’s ceiling. Finishing as the overall WR1 is well within his range of outcomes. However, being on a team committed to running the ball and fighting for targets with Tyler Lockett gives him a hard-to-stomach weekly floor.
Is Metcalf Seattle's No. 1 Receiver?
Believe it or not, Tyler Lockett out-targeted Metcalf in 2021, 132-129. The speedster signed a four-year, $69-million contract this offseason to keep him in Seattle through 2025. Lockett was used primarily downfield through his first four seasons in Seattle, seeing a steady 4.1 to 4.4 targets per game in each season. Following the retirement of Doug Baldwin, Wilson’s safety valve, Lockett saw a sizable uptick in usage. He garnered 110 targets in 2019 and a career-high 132 in 2020. With the added targets came a drastic change in usage. Lockett has seen his average depth per target drop in every year since 2018. He recorded a career-high in catches, yards after the catch, and first downs last year. As the veteran receiver has expanded his versatility, the Seahawks have molded him to take over Doug Baldwin's previous role. He runs shorter routes and picks up hard-nosed yards after the catch, but can still turn on the burners to go over the top of opposing secondaries. And despite his small stature, through six seasons in the league, Lockett has only missed one game. Lockett has finished as a top-16 fantasy receiver in three consecutive seasons, with a career-best WR8 finish last year.
DK Metcalf might be Seattle’s “big play” receiver but let’s not act like Tyler Lockett doesn’t have wheels and a great rapport with Russell Wilson.— Dave Kluge (@DaveKluge) July 21, 2021
They’ve connected for 28 TD’s in the last 3 seasons.pic.twitter.com/TargBlU3TD
Too Many Cooks in Russ's Kitchen
While Lockett is known for his extreme weekly volatility, DK Metcalf struggles with some inconsistencies himself. It’s tough to paint a picture of inconsistency, but if you rostered him last year, you know what it feels like. Looking at the numbers, he had the third-most weekly finishes as a WR1 and 13th-most as a WR2. The problem is that when Metcalf misses, he misses hard. He had three weeks where he was held under 30 yards, not salvaging any of those outings with a touchdown. He had two other sub-50 yard games. When he’s on, he’s can single-handedly win a weekly fantasy matchup. He scored ten touchdowns in eight games and eclipsed 90 yards in half of his outings. So, maybe we’re nitpicking here. But it’s reasonable to deduce that there isn’t much room for growth in this offense, especially when factoring in Wilson's career-high 40 touchdowns last year.
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