Thursday, May 26, 2022

Fantasy Football 2022 Early Prep: Losing Russell Wilson a major problem for Tyler Lockett, Seahawks WRs

The 2021 NFL season may barely be in the books, but Dave Richard is already getting a jump on his 2022 preparation by highlighting at least one key statistic to know for each NFL team that had a major bearing on their 2021 performance and could mean a great deal for their 2022 outlook. In this space, Dave dives into the Seattle Seahawks.

More Early Prep (AFC): BAL | BUF | CIN | CLE | DEN | DET | GB | LAR | MIN | SEA

More Early Prep (NFC): ARI | ATL | CAR | CHI | DAL | HOU | IND | JAC | KC

Seattle Seahawks stats to know

It’s been quite an offseason for the Seahawks. The team saved themselves a contractual headache by trading Russell Wilson before he was due for an extension and got quite a bit in return for him. But effectively they swapped that for a quarterback headache.

That’s where the problems begin for Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. Wilson was not only a regular Houdini when escaping pass rush pressure and making plays out of nothing, but he’s routinely been among the league’s most aggressive and successful downfield passers. Just last year, both receivers were among the top-5 wideouts in the league in deep targets (15-plus Air Yards) — 44 for Lockett, 43 for Metcalf. Only Cooper Kupp had more yards on deep throws than Lockett in 2021 (819), and Metcalf led all receivers on deep end-zone targets (eight) and was second to Ja’Marr Chase in deep touchdowns (six).

Here’s how Lockett and Metcalf fared strictly on passes that traveled inside of 15 yards last year: 

  • Metcalf: 86 targets, 60-548-6 stat line; approximately 62% of overall PPR points 
  • Lockett: 63 targets, 49-356-3 stat line; approximately 41% of overall PPR points

You should now have an idea of just how important explosive plays are to both receivers, especially Lockett. Losing that element is a problem. 

That’s just one issue. The other is Pete Carroll, who, by virtue of this trade, essentially admitted the Seahawks couldn’t make it work with Wilson and were better off finding their next quarterback and sticking to his primary principle. 

That principle? Let the running back cook. 

Carroll gets credit for trying it Wilson’s way not once but twice over the past two seasons: First in the start of the 2020 season, only to revert to his beloved run game at the first sign of trouble, then again embracing the run in 2021 once he unearthed Rashaad Penny

It’s a miracle from Ye Olde Fantasy Football Gods that Wilson was so good given Carroll’s offensive preferences. 

  • Average pass attempts per year under Carroll (2010-21): 495.4 (54-46 pass-run ratio)
  • Average pass attempts per year with Wilson (2012-21): 489.2 (53-47 pass-run ratio)
  • Average pass attempts over past five years: 511.4 (55-45 pass-run ratio)

So let’s think about this — if Carroll just dumped Wilson and wasn’t willing to let him chuck it everywhere, and Wilson was good at dropping dimes downfield, then there’s no way the Seahawks offense will be anywhere near as explosive, even with a free agent like Jameis Winston or a rookie like Matt Corral.  

The move cements the Seahawks as a run-minded offense that’s worse off on longer throws. And that should further scare you off of Metcalf and Lockett. Assuming both stay in Seattle, Metcalf is the one I’d rather draft but I’d do so with low-end No. 2 receiver expectations. I can’t say the same for Lockett, who ranked 41st in targets per game last year with Wilson (Metcalf was 21st, even with all his struggles). I’m not sure I have the guts to feel good about him as even a high-end No. 3 wideout.

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