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.
New wide receivers come out of nowhere every year to become fantasy superstars. In 2021, Cooper Kupp and Deebo Samuel joined the fantasy elite. The year before that, Stefon Diggs and DK Metcalf leaped to fantasy stardom. In 2022, there’s a great chance we see Denver Broncos wide receiver, Courtland Sutton, join those names.
With Russell Wilson throwing the ball, a healthy Sutton has elite fantasy upside in 2022.
Denver’s offense is getting Dangeruss
One of the most significant acquisitions of the offseason was Russell Wilson joining the Denver Broncos, a fit that looks like a match made in fantasy football heaven. The Broncos’ offense finally has a quarterback that can create dynamic plays with his legs, complete deep passes, and avoid turnovers. The Denver faithful haven’t seen that in a long time. Even the great Peyton Manning couldn’t do all three of those things. Wilson gives the Broncos new-found flexibility on offense while spicing things up with potential for chunk plays in the passing game.
Russell Wilson Career Statistics (2012-2021)
Throughout his career, Wilson has been known for a few things:
- Red-zone accuracy
- Deep-ball air yards
- Ability to extend plays with his legs
Those special traits Wilson brings to Denver will lend to a much more explosive Broncos offense that should score more touchdowns and potentially unlock Sutton.
Sutton has been trapped in fantasy purgatory
Shockingly, Sutton finished as WR19 in 2019, with Joe Flacco, Drew Lock, and Brandon Allen throwing the ball to him. Those passers combined for just 16 passing touchdowns that season, with nearly half of them going to Sutton. He appeared to be ascending to the next level of fantasy stardom; he was:
- 15th in Targets (126)
- 7th in Target Share (26.1%)
- 10th Air Yards (1,560)
- 1st in Air Yards Share (42.9%)
- 11th in Deep Targets (26)
- 7th in Red-Zone Targets (20)
Most receiving yards lost on incomplete targets that were deemed to be the quarterback's fault (PFF)— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 15, 2021
1. Marquise Brown (542)
2. Courtland Sutton (420)
3. D.J. Moore (417)
(Totals could be higher since they don't include YAC, just aDOT * incomplete targets that were QB's fault)
A disaster struck in 2020 when Sutton suffered a torn ACL and essentially missed the entire season. There was hope in 2021 for resurgence, and things were looking good at the beginning of the season while Jerry Jeudy was recovering from a high ankle sprain. Sutton averaged just over nine targets per game from Weeks 2 to 7. Once Jeudy returned to the field, Teddy Bridgewater didn’t seem to favor any of his receivers. Neither Sutton, Jeudy, nor Tim Patrick could average at least five targets per game. It’s challenging to decipher talent or determine trends with data like that. All this information leads to the question, why will 2022 be different for Sutton?
Why 2022 looks great for Courtland Sutton
Strength of Schedule
The Denver Broncos have the easiest fantasy strength of schedule for WRs based on 2021 statistics. While the strength of schedule isn’t the stickiest of data points to latch on to, it does give the Broncos and Sutton a great baseline to work with.
The Wild, Wild, (AFC) West
There are going to be A LOT of points scored in the AFC West this season. The Chiefs and Chargers already had top-tier offenses, but now the Broncos added Wilson at QB, and the Raiders added Davante Adams at WR. The AFC West offensive firepower is sure to lead to high-scoring shootouts and great fantasy games from the stars of these teams.
He’s Finally Healthy
While Sutton suited up for 17 games last year, that doesn’t mean he was healthy for 17 games last year. Sutton was rehabbing his left knee through all of August. This year, he’ll get the opportunity to play with an elite-level QB and practice without any physical limitations.
The Breakfast Narrative
It’s silly, but breakfast became the hottest topic in the NFL last year. The Rams' dynamic duo, Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp, were reportedly “eating breakfast together” daily to build synergy. Stafford and Kupp went on to have great on-field success, and now every fantasy manager is looking for the next breakfast narrative. Sutton joined his new quarterback for private workouts before OTAs and reportedly joined Wilson for fellowship sessions where they discussed their faith and beliefs. While it’s easy to brush stuff like this aside, it’s worth noting that the two players do appear to be creating chemistry.
He's a Big Play Waiting to Happen
Sutton has never had a season where he caught more than 72 receptions. He's typically been a yards guy who has made big chunk plays with average volume and a low-scoring offense. In his career, Sutton has averaged 15.2 yards per catch. For context, only three top-24 fantasy receivers had a yards-per-catch average of 15.2 or better:
|PLAYER||2021 FANTASY FINISH (Half-PPR)||YARDS PER CATCH|
|Deebo Samuel (SF)||WR3||18.2 (2022)|
|Ja'Marr Chase (CIN)||WR4||18.0 (2022)|
|Tyler Lockett (SEA)||WR19||16.1 (2022)|
|Courtland Sutton (DEN)||WR42||15.2 (Career)|
Courtland Sutton has a career 38% end zone target share— Alex Caruso (@AlexCaruso) July 13, 2022
His new QB has been Top Two in End Zone Targets for Three of the last four seasons
Sutton is also in his second year off an ACL injury\
And has been Russel Wilson's favorite target in all summer practices
Touchdowns Make a Big Difference
Sutton has never caught more than six touchdowns in his career. As mentioned, those six came from a motley crew of quarterbacks, not the perennial All-Pro who will be throwing him the ball in 2022. Even Sutton knows there's going to be a big difference: “Being a bigger receiver, knowing that Russ has had DK and other big receivers, I'm excited, I've seen him throw the back shoulders, I've seen him throw the red-zone fades. I've seen him make those throws that I'm so anxious to have those opportunities. I've seen what I need to see."
Stats and Projections
It's evident Sutton has the talent to be an elite receiver. While sharing targets with Jeudy, Patrick, and others may have kept some fantasy managers at a distance, the addition of Wilson at quarterback has become far too enticing to pass up in fantasy drafts, and Sutton's average draft position has risen to WR17. Over the previous two seasons, Wilson's leading receiver in Seattle's run-heavy approach, DK Metcalf, finished as the WR7 (2020) & WR10 (2021), while Wilson's other target, Tyler Lockett, finished as the WR9 (2020) and WR19 in (2021). If he remains healthy, Sutton's statistical floor is high – possibly higher than ADP. The ceiling is much higher.
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