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Russell Wilson Traded to Broncos: Fantasy Football Takeaways & Implications (2022)

Mar 8, 2022
Russell Wilson

Wow. What else is there to say? One of the largest trades in NFL history just went down, sending star quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos. Andrew Erickson provides his fantasy football takeaways and the implications of the blockbuster deal.

And don’t miss the rest of our takeaways from all of the recent news involving stars such as Aaron Rodgers, Mike Williams, and Calvin Ridley.

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The Fantasy Football Impact on the Broncos

Not so fast Jerry Jeudy. The Broncos wide receiver tweeted out an emoji of disgust after it was announced that Aaron Rodgers was returning to Green Bay. Little did he know that just a few short hours later he would be getting a different quarterback upgrade in the form of Russell Wilson.

For all the reasons to be down on the Seahawks wide receivers is the exact reason to be extremely excited about the Broncos, who have a capable signal-caller for the first time since Peyton Manning.

The simple fact of the matter was that an offense led by Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater was never going to produce fireworks in an extremely crowded skill position group. But with Wilson now in the fold, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, Albert Okwuegbunam, and Javonte Williams have a chance to drastically improve from a season ago.

Sutton has a real chance to shine because he showed last season that he could produce when he actually got targets. He averaged 13.8 fantasy points per game (17th) and a 27% target share from Weeks 2-7 during the regular season.

He also finished 7th overall in total air yards (1,756) right in between Lockett and Metcalf, strangely enough. Wilson has always been an elite downfield passer – 6th-highest passer rating on throws of 20-plus air yards last season – which plays heavily into Sutton’s strengths.

Albert Okwuegbunam tied for the third-highest target rate per route run among tight ends in the NFL last season (23%). Now entrenched as the presumed full-time starter, the uber-athletic tight end can break out in Year 3.

Jeudy missed the majority of 2021 due to injury, but still possesses all the talent in the world. He can separate from defenders at-will— 96th percentile separation percentage Jeudy will surely become Wilson’s go-to target from the slot.
– Andrew Erickson

Jerry Jeudy becomes a low-end WR2. Russell Wilson is going to take full advantage of Jeudy’s route-running craftsmanship, and we’ll get to see more of Jeudy’s after-the-catch magic.

I think we’ll see a lot of Jerry Jeudy vs. Courtland Sutton debate over the spring and summer. Sutton was an air yards monster while Jeudy was out early last season, then disappeared upon Jeudy’s return. So, I have Jeudy ranked higher, but Sutton isn’t far behind, in high-end WR3 territory.

As if there weren’t enough reasons to be excited about Javonte Williams next season, we now have another. Better quarterbacking means more sustained drives for the Broncos and more red- and green-zone opportunities. The runway is clear for Javonte’s takeoff.

Perhaps the biggest gainer on the Broncos is Albert Okwuegbunam, who not only gains Russell Wilson as his QB but also escapes the shadow of Noah Fant. I now have Albert O. ranked TE13 (two spots ahead of Fant).
– Pat Fitzmaurice

Russell Wilson gets a bump in his fantasy value with the Broncos. The talent around him isn’t much different in terms of top pass catchers as Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy replace D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett as his twin pillars. The tertiary options have been greatly improved, though, as Tim Patrick is one of the best WR3s in football, K.J. Hamler can take the top off any defense, and Albert Okwuegbunam is an athletic seam busting option. Sutton and Jeudy both climb into similar territory as their Seattle counterparts as WR2/WR3 options with the upside for more. I’ve moved up Okwuegbunam to TE12 in my first run-through rankings.
– Derek Brown

The Fantasy Football Impact on the Seahawks

This does not bode well for D.K. Metcalf or Tyler Lockett. Russell Wilson is one of the NFL’s most efficient passers, and fantasy gamers got a glimpse of the Seattle passing attack without him last season for three full games. Spoiler: It was not ideal for fantasy football.

Metcalf averaged 14.9 fantasy points per game in half-point scoring (15th) while Lockett averaged just 9.0 fantasy points per game (47th). Removing their quarterback that led the NFL in yards per attempt (10.4), passer rating (133.6), and passer rating from a clean pocket (130.9) before his finger injury was a huge factor.

One of Seattle’s two top pass catchers might be able to get by based solely on volume in 2022, but that’s a bet I am not willing to make drafting in the middle rounds. Drafting too heavily on volume can lead to drafting players like Terry McLaurin, D.J. Moore, Allen Robinson II, Kenny Golladay, and Laviska Shenault Jr. — all wide receivers that failed to return their draft-day cost in 2021 after appearing slated for massive volume.

The running game for Seattle will also take a hit, but it won’t be nearly as bad. With no Wilson, Pete Carroll can run the ball to his heart’s desire. And savvy fantasy gamers know chasing running back volume is the trump card over poor efficiency.
– Andrew Erickson

Abandon hope all ye who enter here. The Seahawks are now in full rebuild mode — and why not? They were badly outgunned in a stacked division even WITH Russell Wilson. Time to raze the roster, make a fresh start, and perhaps be playoff-ready by 2024.

With either Drew Lock or, more likely, a rookie quarterback at the controls of the Seattle passing game, the fantasy stock of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett plummets. Lockett probably takes the bigger hit, as he and Wilson had terrific chemistry. Noah Fant goes from one QB-needy team to another — no major value change for him. We also have to dock Seattle RBs slightly. They simply won’t get as many TD opportunities.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

With Russell Wilson moving on to mile-high country, the Seahawks are now tied to selecting a quarterback in the first round. Malik Willis is my early favorite to land with Pete Carroll and company in the Northwest. These moves are scary in the short term for D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Carroll loves nothing than running the ball incessantly, and these moves set up well for Seattle to lean even more on the ground game. The Seahawks were 12th in rushing rate and seventh in pace in neutral environments last season. I fully expect more rushing and a slower offense in 2022. This hurts the most of the passing weapons, namely Metcalf and Lockett, while Chris Carson and this backfield get a small bump. Metcalf and Lockett have been downgraded to low-end WR2s in my rankings. They could fall even further as I process the fall out more. Noah Fant plummets outside the top 12 tight ends in every format. Fant can’t be considered anything more than a streamer at this point.
– Derek Brown

Redraft Outlook for Russell Wilson Following the Trade

Wilson was my QB11 prior to the move to Denver and he will only be moving slightly up the quarterback redraft rankings. The weapons overall are pretty even in my opinion, but Nathaniel Hackett calling the shots is an upgrade over Pete Carroll.

Hackett’s obviously had success with Aaron Rodgers that has translated into fantasy, so a top-five fantasy quarterback outcome is firmly in play with Wilson in 2022. After all, Wilson’s long track record of efficient fantasy play is undeniable — he has finished among the top-six fantasy QBs five times since 2014.

I like his chances of making it six in 2022, making Wilson a quarterback I will be targeting in fantasy drafts this summer.
– Andrew Erickson

I moved Wilson from QB12 to QB9 in redraft. It’s not as if Russ is getting a big upgrade in pass-catching weaponry, but Denver should be a healthier ecosystem for him. Wilson’s marriage with the Seahawks has been on the rocks for a while now, and the team seemed unwilling to let Russ cook no matter who the offensive coordinator was. The Broncos aren’t just going to let Russ cook. They’re going to set him up with new Le Creuset cookware, surround him with promising young sous chefs, and hit up all the best farmers’ markets in town for meat and produce. He doesn’t run like he used to, but Wilson can still produce QB1 passing numbers.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

Russell Wilson has moved up the board from high-end QB2 territory to QB10 next year. The bump in passing rate (Green Bay 11th, 58% in 2021) will be a welcome sight for Wilson as he can dust off the chef’s hat. While I don’t expect an increase in the rushing department for him, the scheme and secondary weapons improvement will raise his weekly floor and ceiling.
– Derek Brown

Dynasty Outlook for Russell Wilson

At just 33 years old, Wilson still has plenty of dynasty shelf life. Although the mobility has subsided since the start of his career, the efficient passing has yet to decline. That combined with a plethora of weapons in Denver, makes it very plausible he sees similar immediate success that other quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford have had since changing teams late into their careers.

Wilson is easily still a top-10 dynasty quarterback.
– Andrew Erickson

Maybe I’m being too youth-centric with my QB rankings, but I only moved Wilson up one spot in my dynasty rankings, from QB13 to QB12, bumping him ahead of Jalen Hurts. I still have Russ behind young guns Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence. The trade to Denver moves the needle for Wilson much more in redraft than it does in dynasty.
– Pat Fitzmaurice

Russell Wilson gets a slight nudge in dynasty moving up within the same tier of quarterbacks. He’s currently my QB12 in the same tier as Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Jalen Hurts. The Broncos have tied him to a young core of receiving weapons with Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Albert Okwuegbanum, and K.J. Hamler, all under contract for at least the next two seasons. This news doesn’t vault him into another stratosphere in dynasty, but it gives dynasty managers the hope that he can hold his value as a top 12 option in dynasty into his mid-30s.
– Derek Brown

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