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The Spotlight Series
A Footballguys Spotlight is an in-depth look at a player. His plusses and minuses are examined, and we give you our bottom-line stance on his 2022 prospects. If a player listed below doesn't yet have a link, don't worry. It's coming soon.
Winning fantasy titles is ultimately about finding value. Taking home your league title requires a lot of hard work, preparation, analysis, flexibility, and – of course – luck, particularly regarding injuries. Dominating your draft is only the first step in the championship journey, but it sets the foundation. A massive chunk of the fantasy community likes to wait on drafting quarterbacks, but in reality, it’s far easier to win your league with a reliable set-it-and-forget-it quarterback than trying to play the waiver wire and rotate two or three signal-callers in and out of lineups. To that end, the best values at the position are generally those who come off the board at the tail end of the QB1 tiers but play at elite levels. Russell Wilson is one of those quarterbacks this season.
- There’s compelling precedent
- He’s one of the league’s best
- He’s remarkably efficient
- His new coaching staff understands how to build around an efficient quarterback
- He’s likely to touch the ball more
- The receiving core is enticing
- His ADP screams value
In 2020, Tom Brady shocked the world and left the Patriots to join the Buccaneers. At 43 years old, Brady left the comfortable confines of the NFL’s modern dynasty and led Tampa Bay to the No. 3 offense (492 points scored). Brady finished with 4,633 passing yards, 40 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. And the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl.
In 2021, Matthew Stafford unsurprisingly left the uncomfortable confines of the Detroit Lions for the Los Angeles Rams. Despite an elite pedigree and solid career numbers, Stafford had only made the playoffs three times and was 0-3 in 12 seasons. Stafford stepped into a Rams offense that ranked 22nd in 2020 and righted the ship. Los Angeles finished 7th in points scored, 5th in passing yards, and 2nd in passing touchdowns. Stafford threw for 4,886 yards, 41 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. And the Rams won the Super Bowl.
Now it’s 2022, and Russell Wilson hopes to make this a three-year trend by leaving the place his Hall of Fame candidacy was built in favor of a historically great franchise that’s struggled to find an identity since winning the Super Bowl in 2015.
Elite and Efficient
In 10 seasons, Russell Wilson has finished as a QB1 nine times. As a rookie, he ranked 11th and then rattled off a string of eight consecutive top-10 finishes before last year’s disappointing QB18 performance. He ranked 10th in fantasy points per game among active passers.
Fantasy Points per Game (2012-2021)
One of the most impressive parts of Wilson’s fantasy stardom has been his ability to put up fantasy-worthy numbers despite playing in an ultra-conservative offense. He’s maintained a level of efficiency that compares well to his peers and ranks among the all-time best.
- #4 all-time passer rating (101.8)
- #10 all-time yards per attempt (7.8)
- #9 all-time touchdown rate (6.2%)
- #5 all-time interception rate (1.8%)
Wilson’s efficiency extends into the fantasy realm, too. Among active quarterbacks, Wilson ranks 4th in fantasy points per touch.
Fantasy Points per Touch (2012-2021)
New Coaches Understand Efficiency
Nathaniel Hackett makes his head-coaching debut after seven seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator. Although Hackett’s first two stints in Buffalo and Jacksonville weren’t particularly noteworthy, Hackett did orchestrate Jacksonville’s stellar 2017 outlier (5th in points scored) driven by a hyper-efficient performance by Blake Bortles. But Hackett’s rise to Broncos head coach is primarily because of the last three seasons as the Green Bay Packers OC. Lest you think Hackett doesn’t warrant credit since Aaron Rodgers was already an elite passer before his arrival, consider what the All-Pro signal caller had to say about Hackett:
“He’s become such a close confidant and friend, besides a fantastic coach,” Rodgers continued. “And I just really, really can’t express enough how important he is to our team in so many ways. He’s incredible in front of a room, he brings a lot of great energy that’s really important to not just meetings that can sometimes, without the energy, the energy he infuses, maybe get long at times. [It] never feels like that way with him in front of the room.”
Justin Outten joins the staff as offensive coordinator after three seasons as the Packers' tight ends coach. What’s important is that both Hackett and Outten learned how to craft an offense around a hyper-efficient quarterback. If there’s any NFL starter more efficient than Russell Wilson, it’s Aaron Rodgers.
Wilson Likely Touches the Ball More
Fantasy managers are worn out from so many years of hoping the Seahawks would “Let Russ Cook” – meaning allow Wilson to be unleashed into a high-volume system. Although we saw glimpses of higher-volume game plans, head coach Pete Carroll always seemed to force the offense back into the dark ages.
With Wilson moving to Denver, hope springs anew. It stands to reason the Broncos won’t make the same mistake Seattle made over the last decade. Can you imagine Wilson agreeing to the trade without assurances of a more modern, fast-paced system?
Wilson has touched the ball 35.3 times per game in his illustrious career, which ranks 26th among current quarterbacks. If the Broncos merely increase Wilson’s volume to 37.8 touches per game – which would rank 15th and in line with Aaron Rodgers’ usage, Wilson would vault into the Top 5 of fantasy performers.
Are the Pieces in Place?
Both Brady and Stafford stepped into situations where, in retrospect, the players already on the roster were being underutilized because of substandard quarterbacking. The same case can be made in Denver.
- Courtland Sutton is 26 years old, and a former second-round draft pick out of Oklahoma State. At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, with a speed score in the 85th percentile, Sutton has all the tools to be an alpha with great quarterbacking
- Jerry Jeudy is 23 years old and dominated at Alabama before the Broncos drafted him in the first round two seasons ago. He’s battled injury, but at 6-foot-1, 193 pounds with 4.4 speed, he too has both the collegiate pedigree and measurables to profile as an above-average No. 2 receiver
- Tim Patrick is the elder statesman at 28 years old and doesn’t have the same cache, but he may be the most well-rounded of the trio. He evolved from special teamer to complementary piece to the most reliable chain mover on the team and now finds himself as a possible slot receiver extraordinaire
- Albert Okwuegbunam is 24 years old and is a monstrous 6-foot-5, 255 pounds. He’s only caught 44 passes in two seasons but only appeared in 17 of 33 possible games. If the big tight end can stay healthy, he could be Wilson’s favorite red-zone option. Tight ends as large as Okwuegbunam generally lack top-end athleticism, but he has the top (100th percentile) speed score in the PlayerProfiler database
- Greg Dulcich is a 22-year-old rookie out of UCLA taken in the third round. Viewed primarily as a receiver, Dulcich isn’t a ‘tweener like many collegiate tight ends. He’s 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, and won’t be a liability in running downs if he puts in the work
His ADP is Ideal
Wilson’s ADP is pitch-perfect. He’s coming off the board at the tail end of the QB1 tier, which is undeniably his floor, if healthy. Drafting a player at floor value is the stuff fantasy dreams are made of, and as long as Wilson follows in the footsteps of Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford, he’s quite likely to exceed his draft-day price tag significantly.
|25 (-1)||Josh Allen||BUF/7||QB 1||37||5||27||16||23|
|33||Patrick Mahomes II||KC/8||QB 2||48||10||39||31||32|
|37||Justin Herbert||LAC/8||QB 3||54||12||42||40||35|
|52 (-1)||Lamar Jackson||BAL/10||QB 4||62||24||55||56||50|
|59 (-3)||Kyler Murray||ARI/13||QB 5||67||26||72||48||53|
|63 (-1)||Jalen Hurts||PHI/7||QB 6 (+1)||79||35||77||80||60|
|69 (-8)||Joe Burrow||CIN/10||QB 7 (-1)||81||23||63||62||69|
|74 (-5)||Dak Prescott||DAL/9||QB 8||80||33||75||83||67|
|76 (-2)||Tom Brady||TB/11||QB 9||64||52||84||131||66|
|83 (-2)||Matthew Stafford||LAR/7||QB 10 (+1)||92||48||90||75||80|
|89 (-12)||Russell Wilson||DEN/9||QB 11 (-1)||87||39||91||91||81|
|90 (-3)||Aaron Rodgers||GB/14||QB 12||99||42||97||68||83|
|106 (-3)||Trey Lance||SF/9||QB 13||129||62||112||103||108|
PROJECTIONS AND STATS
Final ThoughtsRussell Wilson has been a QB1 in nine out of ten seasons, and just got shipped away from the most conservative, ball-control offense in the league to a team desperate to rejoin the NFL's elite. Denver's new coaching staff learned for three seasons how to craft a hyper-efficient passing attack at the hands of Aaron Rodgers, who is arguably the only current NFL quarterback as efficient as Wilson. The fact Wilson has been a fantasy star despite touching the ball fewer times per game than nearly every other starter speaks volumes. Even if Wilson's touches only move into the middle of the range (e.g., 15th), his efficiency would vault him into a short list for top-3 consideration. You're paying a floor price for a proven veteran, re-energized by a new situation, with a cadre of underutilized receivers. Wilson needs to get hurt to fall below his ADP value, but can quite easily far exceed his draft-day cost. Drafting high-floor, high-ceiling players is the easiest path to fantasy championships.
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