Following endless speculation, Russell Wilson has been traded. The Seattle Seahawks couldn’t say no to a blockbuster offer from the Denver Broncos, despite recently declining a lucrative trade proposal from the Washington Commanders.
Before we dive into the fantasy football ramifications, the trade details:
Seattle receives: TE Noah Fant, DL Shelby Harris, QB Drew Lock, two first-round picks, two second-rounders, and a fifth-round choice
Denver receives: Wilson and a 2022 fourth-round pick
That’s a haul!
The primary focus today will be on Denver’s side, since the Broncos already have the majority of their pieces in place. Seattle’s quarterback situation is totally up in the air, even after acquiring Lock, so there’s a much greater degree of uncertainty from the prognosticative aspect.
Wilson gets a fresh start with a strong franchise built to compete right out of the gates. Seattle was in a quagmire. The offensive line was shaky, and the system wasn’t getting the most out of its best players.
- Improved offensive line
- Strong running game
- Three-deep talent at wide receiver, plus an emerging tight end
- Won’t be handing off all day after the Broncos invested so much into acquiring his services
- Proven offensive system that has helped lead to consecutive MVPs for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay
- Rookie head coach and a new system to learn, chemistry to build, etc.
- Despite tremendous talent at receiver, questions remain about KJ Hamler‘s health and Jerry Jeudy‘s durability, along with whether Courtland Sutton can rebound to his 2019 form
- Another tough division that is poised to see defensive improvement
Fantasy football outlook
Provided he picks up the system quickly — and there’s no reason to believe he won’t after having played in similar offenses already — Wilson is a surefire QB1. The depth of Denver’s receiving talent, even with all of their question marks, offers him mostly a push with Seattle’s targets as a whole.
Sure, individually, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are more talented than Sutton and Jeudy, but we’re not talking such a wide gap that it even really matters. If Sutton nears his past success and Jeudy performs up to his talent level, defenses will need to pick their poison in coverage. And that’s not to mention the blazing speed of Hamler out of the slot, provided his knee reconstruction is a success. Finally, dealing Fant shows the confidence Denver has in tight end Albert Okwuegbunam. He has all of the hallmarks of a genuine aerial threat.
Russ will be cooking up a fantasy feast in the Mile High City.
Denver skill players
The backfield belongs to Javonte Williams and someone yet to be named. Melvin Gordon is a free agent, but both sides have expressed a desire for him to return. If not, finding a tandem back to pair with the 2021 rookie Williams is not going to be a problem. The North Carolina product is quality RB2 should Gordon return or someone similar be added, but it it looks like he’s in line to receive the vast majority of touches, only a handful of backs will outperform Williams in 2022. Adding a legit QB in Wilson entrenches this as one of the most promising running games in the NFL.
Of the aforementioned receivers, Sutton has proven himself the most, but a major injury in 2020 and an erratic ’21 campaign will have gamers questioning if he’s capable of repeating his WR2 fantasy success from his season a year prior to the ACL tear. Giving Sutton the benefit of the doubt, he’s a No. 2 receiver in PPR leagues and offers the most upside for a touchdown any given week.
Jeudy is an extremely gifted route-runner, and this offense requires such from the position if he’s to excel. While Sutton probably can offer slightly more on-field diversity with his route tree and size in the red zone, Jeudy should lead the team in targets and receptions if he plays every game. As in Seattle, for as explosive as Metcalf has been, the Wilson-Lockett connection was the engine in that passing game. Safely, Jeudy is a No. 2 receiver in all scoring systems. He comes with tremendous upside and won’t be a cheap investment in fantasy as drafters chase his WR1 potential. Few wideouts in the league offer this kind of upside, so recognize there’s definitely more reward potential than not, but you’ll have to pay a king’s ransom to find out.
Hamler, as mentioned, is returning from an ACL tear of his own and probably won’t he 100 percent until later in the year. He’s dynamic from the slot and has world-class speed, so his game is all about making the most of limited opportunities. There will be fantasy utility for him in traditional setups, yet gamers are looking at a more profitable DFS scenario here. Knowing when to start him in weekly lineups will be a nightmare as long as the two guys ahead of him are alive and well.
WR Tim Patrick is a capable veteran who has emerged in recent seasons. He’s going to be a chain-mover who offers sneaky downfield skills, and his 6-foot-4 frame will come in handy around the end zone. He isn’t really draftable but deserves DFS consideration with the right matchups.
Albert O. flashed a few times in 2021 as he, too, worked through the aftermath of knee reconstruction following a torn ACL suffered the previous season. Finally fully recovered, the athletic, 6-foot-6, 258-pounder should be unleashed in a major way. That said, most of his fantasy contributions figure to come in the red zone. He has a little bit of Dawson Knox going on here — big TD numbers, modest, if not even low, volume stats. There’s nothing wrong with volatility as long as owners are aware of it ahead of time. Okwuegbunam is a low-tier No. 1 but ideally a rotational tight end for those willing to play the matchups from week to week.
Finally, Denver’s defense should be consistently more effective in fantasy as it won’t be gassed as much. Wilson can sustain drives and puts his defense in a position to rest up between series.
Seattle Seahawks outlook
On Seattle’s side of this transaction, the biggest losers are Metcalf and Lockett. Another player who has plenty of potential that is unlikely to be realized in 2022 is second-year receiver Dee Eskridge. Unless Seattle somehow pulls of another massive trade at quarterback, Lock will battle with someone for the job.
It’s a flimsy rookie class, and the free-agent market isn’t looking so hot, either. The NFL’s oldest coach is in win-now mode at all times, so this could present a situation to go after Deshaun Watson. If that doesn’t happen, look for Seattle to inquire about whether Jordan Love is now available after Rodgers signed a record-breaking deal. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch Jameis Winston throwing deep balls to Lockett and DK?
For now, it’s time to remain patient as Seattle’s leadership navigates choppy seas. As previously addressed, the Seahawks have too many holes to fill at this time, so we’ll revisit the fantasy outlook after free agency and the upcoming NFL Draft come to pass.