So I did the unthinkable. And I did something so radical and yet so naive that the obvious responses given mean that I really should have known better…

Your boy (yeah that’s right, I’m five articles in now, you can claim me – go ahead, it’s all good) turned to Social Media to ask a simple and honest question. And against my better judgment, I probably should have seen the responses coming a mile away.

Fine readers of the Going For 2 fanbase my name is @TheBLeagueSays and I am 100% flogging the life out of Chefs Table on Netflix, Francis Mallman is a freakin’ genius! And thank you for the awesome feedback and conversations following last weeks Pros and Cons on Allen Hurns – it seems to have struck a chord with the audience; it sounds like I was in the minority and the Pros won out and I’m hoping this weeks response is no different. Once again please remember that the articles I bring to you leading up to your traditional NFL Fantasy Draft Season will be based on the Pros and Cons of players the Fantasy Football Community has split ideas on.

So before we get started – Thank you, and enjoy!

For as long as I have had Social Media I have stayed away from it as much as possible. It really was not for me. Half the time I wasn’t sure how to use it (still certain I’m messing up, sorry Geoff!), the other times I can’t deal with everyone’s aggressive opinions. I am inquisitive by nature, but definitely not argumentative. When people start telling me I am completely wrong or they are completely right I ask more questions and most tend to get defensive and get often confrontational. So you can see the irony of using Twitter and an App to get my work out there – it’s killing me with irony right now. So it’s fair to say that up until this year it wasn’t really for me.

The Pros and Cons articles each week I bring to you is exactly that. An out-loud conversation that the Fantasy Football Community has about whatever the trending player or topic happens to be. This week, I wasn’t sure about what QB to write about. Because to be fair anyone in the Top 20 can break into the Top 5 at the end of the year – see Alex Smith circa 2017 (who saw that coming?). So I went to the @GoingFor_2 Founder @GeoffLambert77 about a selection of 4 guys. Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, and Alex Smith. All these guys, have had great success but recently they each have had more questions asked about them this offseason. Russell Wilson is the one guy who has internally seen the most changes in his landscape for 2018. Wilson has more questions being asked of him (whether that be ADP, team structure, coaching changes etc) and the QB position is so deep this year; we are now asking if we can still justify a 5th Round Pick (#59 or 5.10 on fantasyfootballcalculator.com) on him anymore?

So I posted the following:

‘Absolutely not a loaded question, but what are peoples thoughts on Russell Wilson and the Seahawks this year?’

But before I get to the responses… 

Do you know…

  • That Russell Wilson has never finished outside of the QB12. Since 2012 he has finished as the QB11 as a Rookie. Then as the QB8, QB3, QB3, QB11 while finishing as the QB1 (and the highest scoring player in Standard Scoring) in 2017?
  • Cam Newton was the only QB that rushed for more yards than Wilson in 2017 (754 yards for Newton, Wilson had 586 yards himself). They both had more rushing yards than Christian McCaffrey who had only 435 yards on the ground. Whats more surprising though? Blake Bortles tallied 322 rushing yards also! Not sure what that has to do with anything – just putting it out there…
  • Wilson went back-to-back-to-back in hosting the Nickelodeon Kids’ Sports Choice Awards (2015/2016/2017). He is one of only 3 people across the Nickelodeon Brand to do so, with Rosie O’Donnell and Jack Black. Yep, Wilson owns a three-peat! But jokes aside, this does speak to the overall likability and marketability that Wilson has. The kids love him! What’s that? The Nickelodeon speak is too campy for you? Ok, how about this; every year since he came into the league his passing attempts have gone up and has had over 320 completions in three successive years? Hope that will hold you over…

So the responses to my question above were telling and not particularly specific to Wilson himself. So I have added a comment in here or there to add my two cents in from my instant reaction at the time. So, here is a list of the responses:

The Negatives Responses:

His team sucks. @TheBLeagueSays: they weren’t great by their standards yet still went 9-7. I mean…tough crowd!

His O-Line sucks. 

They botched the draft. @TheBLeagueSays: maybe the first round sure they had other glaring needs. They were fine for the most part. Fine isn’t great, but fine is still better than what Oakland did. 

His weapons suck. @TheBLeagueSays: So does Josh Allen‘s…

They can’t run the ball / They want to go back to ground and pound / Run-first offense but they’ll likely be trailing in lost games.

Their Defense sucks now / They let too many defensive stars go. @TheBLeagueSays: fair point…

Their Division is harder and they aren’t the top team anymore.

Their new OC (Brian Schottenheimer) sucks.

They let too many offensive weapons go (specifically mentioned were Paul Richardson / Jimmy Graham). @TheBLeagueSays: The loss of Graham will likely be seen in the red zone where he was the most-targeted player (26) in all of football in 2017, which he converted for an impressive 10 touchdowns. This fact can’t be ignored. Richardson? Yeah, I’m not that sold on his 2017 – I think we want him to sound better than what he was to make a bad point, I may be in the minority though!

They have a tough schedule. @TheBLeagueSays: it’s the NFL, everyone’s schedule is tough. No-one saw the NY Jets winning more than 2 games last year (there were even calls for them to go 0-16) with their cluster of a roster to begin the year and they were better than anticipated with Old Man Josh McCown charging the troops. On the flip side, the NY Giants were said to have 10+ wins on paper and put 3 away only. Anything can happen.

The theme here? None of these responses were about directly about Russell Wilson. The issues with Russell Wilson that the majority have to tend to not be with the player, but more his surroundings. There were a few things said about Wilson that had a negative feel. They were:

He is preoccupied with off-field businesses / Why does he want to buy a Baseball team?

He is due to regress more. @TheBLeagueSays: Well, sure. Unless he goes back-to-back as the Fantasy Football player in 2018. Anything other than first would be a regression, right? But for a clearer answer read the next response.

He is too pricey for his ADP. @TheBLeagueSays: as of 7/23/18 on fantasyfootballcalculator.com Wilson is currently the QB4 (behind Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, and Tom Brady) at the 5.12 or #61 overall in Standard Scoring, or the QB3 in PPR at the 5.03 or #58 Overall. In 2017 he was on average taken at the 6.03, in 2016 he was on average taken at the 4.11, in 2015 on average he was taken at the 6.02, in 2014 on average he was taken at the 9.10. So not only after being the top Fantasy Football player in 2017 is he going where he generally falls, it’s nowhere near as expensive as he has been in the past. (The averages above here were based on Standard Scoring only)

The Positive Responses:

Well, there was only one positive thing said. Let that sink in for a second. He was last years Top scoring Fantasy Football player overall in Standard Scoring and second only to Todd Gurley in PPR. One positive thing to say! For the record here it is, I guess:

Negative game scripts and a struggling cast; so the team will have to run through him. 

That’s it. 

Here’s the problem with all of EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN SAID; we are still taking him in the same place as we did last year that means;

1) We are doubting him. And that we, collectively don’t believe in his surroundings enough to think he can overcome adversity. This thought process would mean that as a whole I’m suggesting we are now reluctantly reaching for him at his current ADP and ‘hoping’ he can repeat with less. If we really, in fact, don’t believe in any of Seattle’s cattle outside of Doug Baldwin, then we should not be drafting him in the 5th Round. Unless Baldwin can post 1500 yards and 10 TDS. That would help.

2) Wilson is indeed actually undervalued. Graham, in the end, was nothing more than an ‘end zone guy’ and Richardson was made by Wilson, not Wilson made by Richardson – do not get that twisted. Richardson was a slight uptick on Jermaine Kearse, that’s it; stop making him out to be this superior playmaker. Still, more on that later – I’m just warming up! But if a guy who has minimal can still produce more than most then we need to recognize and appreciate how good this guy really is.

3) We are piling on any reason or narrative to hate on the Seahawks – or love the Rams and 49ers, which could also be a big, big reason. We are in a world where we love the way San Francisco and LA have regenerated their entire organizations while the Seahawks have lagged recently and had their best years behind them. Team leaders leaving? Recently, Kam Chancellor retired, Michael Bennett left for Philadelphia and Richard Sherman is now a 49er (of all places) while Earl Thomas is seeking a trade away as we speak. Outside of Wilson and Baldwin, the leadership group has taken a huge hit. But if that Defense is leaky, then Wilson has to do more and that is a great thing for his Fantasy upside.

Long story short, people are hating the on the Seahawks, but are grouping Wilson (rightly and/or wrongly) in with them.

However, my hungry, hungry hippos what are…

The Pros – 

He’s got legs, and he knows how to use them…

He has averaged 34.1 yards per game rushing over the course of his career and actually exceeded that with 36.6 yards per game rushing in 2017. If their team indeed is not that good, and they are indeed making an effort to run the ball then is it wrong to expect those rushing numbers to again increase for Wilson? An increase to 40 yards per game as a floor? That would be slightly more than what Deshaun Watson (going a Round or two earlier than Wilson) had last year at 38.42 Yards Per Game on the ground, who suffered an ACL injury to end his season. This stance here tends to correlate with the only positive response from the question I posted. Whether leading or trailing, Wilson will likely be on the move.

Who made noise when Kearse left…

No-one. Weird. Super Bowl winner and a team leader leave and no-one blinked. Yet for some reason, we think Paul Richardson is a bigger loss than he was. In 2017 Kearse logged (Targets-Receptions-Yards-TDS) 102-65-810yds-5TDS playing for the awful NY Jets with Josh McCown as his QB. Richardson? 80-44-703yds-6TDs with Wilson in Seattle. Kearse in his last year with the Seahawks? 89-41-510yds-1TD. Both players weren’t that great in Seattle in their last season respectively. So to think that Wilson is losing someone who is of great importance is lost on the fact that neither were really that dominant. Enter Jaron Brown. Brown is an under-the-radar Free Agent signing for Seattle this Offseason. Coming from Arizona in 2017 and having played with QBs such as Blaine Gabbert, Drew Stanton and Carson Palmer he logged a 69-31-477yds-4TDs. What he was brought in for, I believe is the hole that ‘Richardson left behind’. Brown, in 2017 averaged 15.39 Yards Per Reception is nothing to sneeze at considering Richardson logged 15.98 YPR with Wilson, while Kearse had 12.44 YPR in his last season in the NFC West. The Seahawks recruited Jaron Brown for this role. Current ADP (fantasypros.com) has them as Paul Richardson as the #189 or WR73, Jermaine Kearse as the #288 or WR86 and Jaron Brown as the #375 or WR119. Jaron Brown is this year’s Paul Richardson for Russell Wilson. 

Outside of Baldwin, there is a golden opportunity for someone…

Seattle Receivers are literally dirt cheap. As I have mentioned above that Wilson, current NFL Fantasy Player of the Year hasn’t jumped up in ADP and neither have any of his teammates, aside from Doug Baldwin – who barely moved the needle at all. Naturally when we see players leave that teams Target share is naturally distributed about and we assume their best Receiver, Doug Baldwin, could be a huge winner in the leftover Targets that are now ‘available’. Graham leaves 96 Targets and Richardson another 80 – 176 Targets are up for grabs. Tyler Lockett (this could be the year), Amara Darboh, Jaron Brown and Brandon Marshall all find themselves with an opportunity and something to prove to a litany of doubters. Lockett (aside from Baldwin hanging around the 3rd Round of re-draft) is the next most expensive Receiver as the #143 or 12.06 in Standard Scoring or #144 or 12.05 in Half PPR. He averages about 68 Targets a year. This could be the second top Receiver for Wilson in 2018. The others are not being drafted at all.

That’s cute and all, but what about…

The Cons – 

The third biggest issue people have with Russell Wilson is that the 10 Endzone TDS Graham leaves behind will be hard to replace – 

Are we assuming that Graham bailed out Wilson every time right? Maybe they finally found their stride. Maybe Graham just simply costs too much.  It is a shame and Jimmy Graham will be a loss. Let’s reiterate that right now. Yes, it is near hard for Wilson to replace a 10 TD magnet in Tight End in Jimmy Graham. Yes, it is hard to replace a Tight End who also had 910 yards like he did in 2016. And yes, Ed Dickson and Tanner McEvoy are absolutely not in the same class, category, pedigree, elk – however, you want to phase it that Jimmy Graham was for Seattle. And life before Graham wasn’t rosy either. Cooper Helfet, Tony Moeaki, and Luke Willson were Russell Wilson’s Tight Ends, notably brought in for blocking to set the edge for their run game. But if we want to take a positive out of it; 2014 was the last time Wilson had his highest Rushing TD Totals, with 6 in 2014. Since then, 2015 – 1TD, 2016 – 1 TD, 2017 – 3 TDS . Since Jimmy Graham‘s arrival, Wilsons Rushing TDS have gone down. Jimmy Graham is no longer there; so this may be where we can assume that more Rushing TDS could be on the horizon for Russell Wilson again. What can hurt them is their new Offensive Coordinator Brian…

Schottenheimer, he’s trash and the ‘Run Game Plan’ stinks more – 

The second biggest issue people have with Wilson is their new OC and their new game-plan (as Head Coach Pete Carroll puts it; to get back to running the ball). But before we do that, lets recap last years ‘efforts’. You remember their running game right? Really? Can it get worse? Really? Ok, let’s look at this mess and break down their Run game prior to Schottenheimer’s arrival:

Eddie Lacy – ineffective. Thomas Rawls – always hurt. Chris Carson – ended up on IR. C.J. Prosise – always hurt. J.D. McKissic – got a chance based on attrition, looked OK in the passing game at times and scored the Seahawks’ only rushing TD of the year. Mike Davis – looked like Chris Carson prior to breaking his ankle, but at that point, you are the 6th choice Running Back they went to. Ironically they cut Alex Collins earlier in the year, who ended up a Top 20 Standard Scoring Running Back for Baltimore to finish the year. Where do you draw the line on unlucky or incompetent? Are we willing to forget this based on what Seattle has (or seemingly hasn’t) done to upgrade the team this offseason? They did draft Rashaad Penny in the First Round of this year’s draft and it is said that he can handle a big workload and is durable – but so is Royce Freeman and he was selected in the Third Round. Imagine getting Frank Ragnow in the First Round then Freeman in the Third? Sounds better to me! This is where I think people were upset FOR Wison by passing on better options available. But did all of the above stop him from performing and scoring big for you last year anyway? No, he found a way.

Now in regards to Schottenheimer:

I have read things from ‘blame the Coach’, to the ‘team was terrible’ anyways. And the ‘he didn’t do enough for the team’ which gets contradicted with the ‘he got what he could out of them’ rebuttal. Scarily, Schottenheimer at best has a Running Game average of Rank 21 out of 32. He has worked some brutal Head Coaches like Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan and in his last OC Role with Jeff Fisher in St Louis (whose rushing stats ranked 19th, 19th and 20th overall in 3 successive years). So, maybe an aggressive or more free-flowing game plan was never able to come to fruition – or ever on the cards. However, he also had Chad Pennington, Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez under Center and none of them is anything like Russell Wilson. He had some ‘luck’ as the QB coach in Indianapolis (see what I did there!) and helped Andrew Luck attain career ‘highs’ in Yards Per Attempt (7.8) and Completion Percentage (63.5%). What is certain is for every time Brian Schottenheimer gets blamed for anything poor, there is an apologist with a counter-point. Wilson has been playing under a West Coast scheme since he arrived in Seattle so this may be telling of what his future may (or may not) hold. We know results haven’t been great for Brian Schottenheimer, but Wilson may cover up some of his blemishes as a play caller.

What people will then quickly remind you is that…

Their O-Line is trash…

The most common response was that Seattle made no real effort to protect Wilson. However, what everyone has turned against Seattle for, will (for fantasy purposes) probably will end up playing into one of Wilson’s main strengths. No-one improvises like Russell Wilson. And if their O-Line leaks then he is going to have to do what he does best more often than not. Pro Football Focus had their Offensive Line as the 27th Ranked team in 2017. In 2018 they have been Ranked as 30th overall – so not a huge drop, they were terrible then and are terrible now. They did acquire Duane Brown midseason, Ethan Pocic stepped ahead of Luke Joeckel (who ended up on IR) and was serviceable and they did gain DJ Fluker out of Free Agency. It’s not great, but there is enough to suggest that if Germain Ifedi (Right Tackle) can improve than the Seahawks may not be as bad up front as we think. Again, I reiterate this is kind of great for Wilson, who we want running more and scrambling plays. This is when the magic happens – and I know that isn’t a statistical nugget to help you sleep better at night but damn it I wanna see the magic happen again.

Prediction – 

Passing:

Attempts; 527 / Completions; 340 / Completion Percentage; 64.7% / Yards; 4075.33 / Yards Per Completion: 11.98 / 29 TDS

Rushing:

Attempts; 90 / Yards; 504 / Yards Per Attempt; 5.6 / TDS; 5 TDs

Finish; QB1-5

Summary – 

SEATTLE, WA – JANUARY 19: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks drops back against the San Francisco 49ers during the 2014 NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field on January 19, 2014, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

I’m not going to lie to you – I hated writing this. Really. Having to justify someone as credible and productive as Wilson felt petty. Why are we doubting someone who is a perennial Top 12 QB? Who has finished as a Top 3 QB more times than he has finished out of it. Really? Has it come to this? Are we seriously doubting a legit superstar because of everyone else? Or should we be looking at him to elevate his team despite what is going on? A quick comparison if you will: a few years ago the Wide Receivers in Green Bay were questioned. Jordy Nelson tears his ACL, Devante Adams was still somewhat of an unknown quantity and Randall Cobb couldn’t handle being the main Receiver. Their Tight Ends – at best – were poor and their run game with Eddy Lacy was ok but not great. Their O-Line was a mess. Oh! And Ben McAdoo was his OC! (see where I’m going here?) Noone ever questioned Aaron Rodgers (and why would we, he’s a stud) during this timeframe. But the same scenario arises in Seattle and all of a sudden Wilson may not be that good? What?!

Take everything that has been said about Wilson (here or elsewhere – it doesn’t matter) and ask yourself ‘Can Russell Wilson win your matchup each and every week?’ The answer is always yes. If you feel like waiting on a QB during your draft I have zero problems with that at all. If you don’t want Wilson because he is going too high and your roster construct during your draft suggests you should pass – go ahead. But please, for the love of ‘your boy’ here – don’t use the above concerns with his team affect your judgment on not only his quality but his production.

I want to thank you for getting this far and taking in everything I have presented. You can as always follow and find me at @TheBLeagueSays and offer any view or conversation about this. Let’s all get better together!

Once again, Thank you and Enjoy!

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