Fantasy Football 2013: Hold The Phone On Russell Wilson
In 2012, there was a massive storm in the NFL. In fact, it was raining quarterbacks (which could be quite dangerous), especially those of the rookie variety. Football fans and fantasy enthusiasts alike witnessed the emergence of some tremendous young gunslingers, one of them being Russell Wilson. The 3rd round pick out of Wisconsin was awesome for the 12th man fanbase last season, leading them to a playoff birth, and as of right now, along with their defense, has them as a potential Super Bowl favorite. From a fantasy perspective, he was very relevant as well, finishing as the number 11 fantasy signal caller in 2012. Because of the dual threat ability, many fantasy owners are salivating at the thought of grabbing Wilson as their starter this year. However, should the sophomore be regarded as an automatic top-12 fantasy option as we approach the 2013 campaign?
Believe me, I certainly don’t hate the guy. He’s a heck of a talent, proving that size truly does not matter. However, from a fantasy perspective, I’d rather look elsewhere for my starting quarterback, especially when you consider how incredibly deep the position is this season. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. 21 signal callers posted 200 fantasy points or more in 2012, while 11 reached the 300-point total. That has never, ever happened before. Wilson is great, but when choosing my starting option, I’d rather look for a guy with more passing volume, something a quarterback needs to do a significant amount of.
Call me crazy, but when choosing my fantasy quarterback, I want a guy who is going to air the ball out quite a bit. Duh. While Wilson was very efficient last year (10 INT, 100.0 QBR), he simply won’t throw the football enough to warrant my fantasy attention. Last year, he tied for 25th in passing attempts (393) and threw for a pedestrian 3,118 yards. Only Christian Ponder threw for less yards among quarterbacks who started 16 games. Also, Wilson threw the ball 25 times per contest, which ranked dead last among qualified quarterbacks. Wilson was the only top-20 fantasy signal caller to never post a 300-yard game, and he also threw for less than 200 yards nine times. While Wilson was very impressive down the stretch last year, those simply aren’t the type of numbers I want my starting quarterback to post. And, of course, let’s not forget. The Seattle Seahawks are a run-first football team, and that is not going to change. This unit finished third in rushing, while leading all of football in rushing attempts (536). Sure, fantasy owners may be targeting Wilson for the combination of his arm and legs, and while he rushed for 489 yards (3rd-best among QBs) and five scores, Wilson already admitted that he doesn’t want to be the guy scrambling all over the place. Also, when you consider that the Seahawks were still going to be a run-dominant football club with Percy Harvin, I’d only imagine they may run the football even more now that Harvin is expected to be sidelined until at least Week 12.
Again, Wilson was awesome last season. but his efficiency was off the charts. His 6.6% touchdown rate was second in football, only behind Aaron Rodgers. And according to the tremendous stats over at Pro Football Focus, Wilson scored 0.61 fantasy points per drop back, which ranked fourth among quarterbacks. He also scored an average of 18.4 fantasy points per start, which is very, very impressive, especially for a rookie. Don’t get me wrong, Wilson was great, but there’s just one problem.
Lack Of Weapons
Now that Harvin is sidelined for quite a while, the Seahawks receiving corp is identical to that of last seasons; Average. I’m sorry, but I’m just not afraid of guys like Golden Tate, Sidney Rice or Zach Miller. Tate had just 45 catches last season, 44 if you take away that debacle on Monday night against Green Bay. Rice showed some flashes during his time in Minnesota, but since joining Seattle, has had some issues staying on the field, missing seven games in two years. Both Tate and Rice finished slightly inside the top-30 among fantasy wide receivers, but neither of them are big time gamers like Harvin. The real weapons on this football club are in the backfield. Outside of Wilson (to an extent), running back Marshawn Lynch will be the only big time fantasy producer in Seattle.
There Are Better Options
Honestly, just put me on a recording device and play the following sentence back; Quarterback is crazy deep. It’s true, and I can’t get over it. With that being said, this piece is not meant to bash Wilson whatsoever. Instead, it’s to show people that I would much rather target the quarterbacks who will throw the football more. I know the game is changing, and these mobile quarterbacks are coming in left and right, but I want a premiere pocket passer under center for my fantasy team. Obviously, guys like Drew Brees, Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are clear-cut better options, but here are some of the other guys I’d prefer over Wilson:
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: Don’t get cute. Ryan has been Steady Eddy throughout his entire career, and while many believe he may not have the upside that Wilson might, I don’t care. Throwing to arguably the best receiving corp in football, Ryan took that huge step forward in 2012, finishing as the number six fantasy signal caller. Despite bringing in veteran runner Steven Jackson, the Falcons are an aggressive offense, and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter wants to air the ball out. Over the past three seasons, Ryan has thrown the ball 571, 566 and 615 times, respectively. While Wilson only posted three games where he threw the ball 30 times or more, Ryan, meanwhile, did so 14 times. Give me the guy who will throw it more, and to much, much better weapons.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Umm, he set an NFL record for pass attempts in a single season with 727. He gets to throw to the greatest receiver in the game of football in Calvin Johnson. Oh, and he also gets one of the better pass-catching backs in the league in Reggie Bush. Some may be inclined to grab the mobile Wilson, but Stafford provides more volume than anyone, which results in better fantasy potential.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: I love Romo, so I’d obviously prefer him over Wilson. When he has suited up for a full 16 games, Romo has never tossed the ball less than 520 times in a season, and with a potential mess at running back when/if DeMarco Murray gets injured, Dallas will continue to lean on Romo’s arm. Among quarterback with 100 starts over the past three years, only Brees has a higher percentage of 300-yard, two-touchdown performances. Those are the types of games you want from your fantasy quarterback.
Would it surprise me if Wilson landed inside the top-10 among fantasy quarterbacks in 2013? No, probably not. However, you give yourself a much better chance if you look elsewhere, at least in my eyes. But hey, that’s the great thing about fantasy football. Everyone has their opinions. What say you?
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.
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