The following is my completely unbiased breakdown of the prospects for and hazards involved in drafting Seattle Seahawks quarterback
Russell Wilson in the upcoming fantasy season. I have been a diehard Seahawks fan for all of my life and watch every game of every season (at least once). The thought of the 2005 Super Bowl loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers still makes me sick to my stomach and ruins my day immediately. I will attempt to finish this article before the tears blur my vision and I am forced to crawl back into bed and silently sob in the fetal position. Having proved my objectiveness, we can now proceed.
That was before the pint-sized playmaker grabbed the starting quarterback job from high-priced free agent
Matt Flynn and put the city on his back and nearly led the team to the NFC championship game. I won’t revisit the end of the Atlanta Falcons game for risk of putting myself into a depression-airy spiral that I may never emerge from. I better switch back to fantasy football talk before I feel the need to call my therapist.
Watching the beginning of the season last year, it became clear early on that Wilson was being handled with kid gloves and the Seahawks were going to rely on a strong defense and physical ground game to pound out wins. Wilson didn’t exceed 160 yards passing in his first four games. Despite that, he ended up a top-10 quarterback. There were nine games last year that Wilson didn’t eclipse 188 yards in the air. That’s right, nine. Add to that the fact the he didn’t have a regular season game in which he threw for more than 300 yards, and he had a one-point and a three-point performance. How can we possibly be talking about a top-10 quarterback?
But wait, there’s more. During the entire regular season last year, he attempted 30-plus passes only three times and completed 20-plus passes only three times as well. I have seemingly made the case for DangerousRussWilson. By the way, @DangeRussWilson is his Twitter handle in case you were wondering.
It would seem impossible to have the aforementioned passing games and still end up averaging 20 points a game. But somehow he managed just that. His 498 rushing yards and four touchdowns certainly were a contributing factor, although three of those touchdowns came in the first half of a blowout win over Buffalo. For the sake of honesty, I wasn’t a believer in Wilson early on, either, even from my hometown vantage point. Last season, given the choice between Wilson and
Jake Locker off the waiver wire, I went with Locker! That was obviously the wrong homer move (Locker went to the University of Washington).
The optimism for Wilson comes not only from a closer examination of his numbers from last year, but also because of his upside for this season. Wilson threw at least one touchdown in 14 of his 16 games last year, had eight multi-touchdown games and scored 20-plus fantasy points in 10 games. He posted a great touchdown-to-interception ratio as he matched
Peyton Manning’s rookie record (26) with only 10 interceptions. Add to that a completion percentage north of 64 percent and an overall quarterback rating that put him in the top-5. Arguably, Wilson did more with his opportunities last year than any quarterback in the league.
When you include the running portion of Wilson’s game, it turns the optimism into sheer giddiness. He put up almost 500 yards on the ground, averaging close to six carries and 30 yards a game. These numbers alone are not that impressive. In the last eight games (including two playoff games), his rushing average was better than 50 yards a game with five touchdowns as the Seahawks relied more on the read-option attack to take advantage of his unique skill set.
Granted, Wilson is unlikely to put up the jaw dropping rushing numbers of other read option quarterbacks like
Robert Griffin III or
Cam Newton. This can be viewed as a positive from an injury stand point, as he will take fewer hits when he decides to take off. Also, if you’ve watched tape on him, the former baseball player is still present as evidenced by his ability to end most of his runs with a slide, avoiding hits that other players regularly absorb. The case for Wilson only grows when you factor in his likely draft position of anywhere from Rounds 5-10.
Percy Harvin into the mix, a full season of experience and wide receivers (
Sidney Rice and
Golden Tate) that are in important years contractually, and Wilson looks poised for a big year. The Seahawks should again have a strong offense and defense, giving Wilson a lot of upside. I don’t think that 4,000 yards passing, 35-plus touchdowns and 600-800 yards rushing is out of the question. Where do I sign up? I will end this article with a Wilson-esque closing.