What if I told you the smallest quarterback in professional football would end up being the biggest point scorer in fantasy football? What he lacks in size, he makes up for with preparation and a certain skill set only GM John Schneider foresaw. Russell Wilson could very well be the #1 quarterback in fantasyland next season – and it’s not implausible.
It had been a painful 32 years of being a Seattle Seahawks fan, for the most part. Then, the football Gods bequeathed unto us, Russell Wilson.
Admittedly, I am bias towards Wilson. I live in the Seattle area and have been a Seahawks fan for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, my Mom shaved lightning bolts on the side of my head while I rocked a mullet and fishnet jersey, just like Brian Bosworth. My love for the Hawks doesn’t cloud my judgment…at least, I don’t think it does. I tend to be one of their harshest critics, especially when it comes to fantasy football. Make no mistake about it, this article isn’t about me having delusional thoughts about my hometown team. It’s about trusting an individual to build on the successes they had from year one, to year two and beyond.
Drafted with the #75 overall pick in the third round, the Seahawks landed their franchise quarterback, and the fans didn’t even realize it at the time. It wasn’t supposed to be Wilson’s team yet. As a rookie, he was to learn behind newly signed free agent Matt Flynn. That wasn’t Wilson’s mindset.
After proving to be the best quarterback on the roster during the preseason, Wilson found himself as the starter come the regular season. It was a bold move, but a move we should come to expect out of head coach Pete Carroll. If nothing else, I’ve learned to trust in Carroll and Schneider – they’re like kids in a candy store when it comes to football operations. Their specific player system/philosophy could be the NFL model, as trusted NFL writer Greg Cosell wrote here.
After falling short in the NFC Divisional playoffs, Wilson made it clear – the Seahawks would be back.
Stories about Wilson’s film room study aren’t overblown. In fact, it’s probably not talked about enough. Wilson is a cerebral being with preparation being the catalyst. He strives to be great. It’s a trait so engrained in the young play caller that he can’t be satisfied until the goal is achieved.
Saying Wilson could be the #1 fantasy quarterback next season seems like a reach – I get that.
But what if it isn’t?
In the second half of 2012, he was the #3 overall quarterback (in total points), behind only Cam Newton and Drew Brees, respectively. Darrell Bevel loosened the reigns and essentially let Wilson “ball out” after week eight and he was unleashed upon the world . In fact, Wilson was tied for #1 with Newton in points per game during that stretch.
To get some perspective, Wilson averaged just 12.9 points in his first eight games of the season – he almost doubled that production.
Still with me?
Let’s say we take the two playoff games and add them into the mix. Wilson scored 52.5 points – that’s 240.7 points in ten games for an average of 24.07 points per game. Brees was the #1 quarterback overall for the season, scoring 366.6 points total – that averages out to nearly 23 points per game. For extrapolation sake, take Wilson’s second half numbers (with playoffs included) over a 16 game season and he scores 385.12 points 0r almost 20 total points more…gross.
You’d think with such a spike in production, the Seahawks began passing more. They actually passed less. Wilson averaged 26.3 pass attempts/183.3 yards/1.3 touchdowns in his first eight games. In his last ten, he averaged 24.5 attempts/222.4 yards/1.9 touchdowns. This was of course made possible because of the zone-read option.
The passing numbers are eye-opening, but it’s the rushing numbers that are “mind bottling.” In those same instances, Wilson ran the ball 36 times for 128 yards and zero touchdowns. In his last ten, he ran 73 times for 487 yards and five touchdowns. And therein lies my wonderment.
Why can’t Wilson be the top quarterback, not just in 2013, but in the years following? Is it because the zone-read is too “gimmicky?” Nonsense. Is it because he doesn’t have the receiving corps to validate such a claim? Perhaps that could have been stated before the Percy Harvin trade, but no longer can that be an Achilles heel for the Seahawks. Harvin was the #2 PPR wide receiver before my Seahawks prematurely ended his season. Through eight weeks, Harvin trailed only Victor Cruz in points. He did this with Christian Ponder throwing to him – that’s amazing all in itself.
Harvin’s season ended in week nine, although his owners were made to think he’d be back by fantasy playoff time…that’s another story entirely.
What Harvin brings is versatility to an already versatile offense. It’s no secret Wilson’s meteoric rise to fantasy goodness came when the Seahawks introduced the zone-read option. With defenses having to key in on “Beastmode” Marshawn Lynch, it opened up passing lanes aplenty for Wilson. The Seahawks didn’t have a receiving game changer on their roster. Golden Tate was the closest thing to one, but surely he was no truly dynamic threat. Sidney Rice is a nice receiver, but he’s not a true #1, either. With the acquisition of Harvin, the wide receiving corps can step into their true roles – Rice a solid #2 and Tate as a playmaking slot receiver.
The terror opposing defenses will endure is real. Stopping the three-headed monster of Wilson, Lynch and Harvin seems improbable for almost any team. Harvin can hurt you in the run game and the passing game. He’s no stranger when it comes to getting running back carries. In fact, he averaged a little over two totes per game in 2012. As Albert Breer so aptly stated, Harvin is the “Swiss-army knife of a playmaker.”
Wilson wasted no time when he heard about the trade as he promptly contacted Harvin to set up off-season workouts.
I’m drooling as I write this.
Defenses will have to pick their poison when facing the Seahawks. Because of Wilson’s preparedness, there’s a better than good chance he’ll exploit the best matchup when that time comes.
Looking ahead to their 2013 schedule, the NFC West plays the NFC South. Of the ten teams on their schedule, eight of them were in the bottom third of the league in pass defense. All that can change in an off-season, but as it stands, they collectively gave up an average of 250.4 yards per game through the air. Again, take that for what it’s worth…
I would never advise my followers to take Wilson as the first quarterback off the board – that’s pure silliness. In fact, I currently have Wilson ranked #5 for startup dynasty drafts. In Ryan McDowell’s ADP drafts, he’s coming off the board as the #8 quarterback, up from #10 in both February’s and January’s mock drafts.
What I am saying is Wilson has a chance to be special in this league, there’s no denying that. So when you’re seeking out trades or preparing for your draft, remember the 5’11” pocket rocket, waiting to take your team to Titletown. #InRussellWeTrust
“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” – Bobby Unser
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