Russell Wilson, Fantasy Football’s King Of Efficiency
Volume is so, so much in fantasy football.
We all love owning running backs who carry the ball 300 times, wide receivers that see close to 200 targets and, of course, quarterbacks who attempt 500-plus passes in a season. It’s common sense, human nature.
We always want more.
When it comes to that volume, quarterback Russell Wilson isn’t the king. In fact, he’s not even in the running. During his first two seasons, Wilson has ranked 22nd and 25th in passing attempts, while the Seahawks have ranked 32nd as a team in passing attempts during that same span. It’s no surprise. We all are fully aware of how good their running game is, and this team dominates with defense and pounding the rock. However, Wilson, despite the lack of volume, has still been a very good fantasy passer, and if he can ever be given the reigns to the offense, he’ll be an elite option. Still, Wilson has been crazy efficient during his first two seasons, and he’s already a Super Bowl champion.
Last year, 21 other passers dropped back to pass more often than Wilson, but the Wisconsin product still managed to finish 8th in fantasy points among quarterbacks. He’s been a top-10 fantasy option over the last two seasons, and the scary aspect is that is only his floor. Wilson has so much more to offer, and if his early production is any indication, he’ll be offering a heck of a lot for fantasy owners. So, without having a ton of pass attempts, how has Wilson been so good in fantasy? Well, he’s been incredibly, incredibly efficient, taking advantage of good matchups and exploiting them. For his career, Wilson is averaging three more fantasy points per game against bottom-10 pass defenses, and while he only averaged about 16 ESPN fantasy points per game last year, that number may be a bit misleading when you look at his upside over his career.
*stats provided by Pro Football Focus.
Wilson has made big plays, and although the Seahawks don’t throw the ball a lot, they make big plays when they do, as Wilson averaged 8.2 yards per completion last year, behind only Peyton Manning (year-long starters). He makes big plays in the passing game, it’s just not noticed because he doesn’t throw the ball as much as other quarterbacks. Surprisingly, 14.7 percent of Wilson’s 2013 pass attempts traveled 20 yards or more (via PFF), good for the third-highest rate in football. He went on to complete 48.3 percent of those passes, the highest percentage in the league. He has big play guys like Percy Harvin and Doug Baldwin, who is coming off a career-high in yards per catch (15.6). And Seattle ranked 13th in passing plays of at least 20 yards last year, so this offense can make big plays.
Of course, Wilson runs the ball, too, and does it well. He’s rushed for over 1,000 yards during his first two seasons, to go along with five touchdowns.
But.. he’s not consistent
Many believe that because Wilson’s pass attempts are so hit or miss, his overall fantasy production is rather sporadic. It may have seemed like it because other passers scored more fantasy points than him, but Wilson was actually one of the most consistent fantasy signal callers last year.
According to Tristan Cockroft’s Consistency Ratings, Wilson finished as a top-12 (QB1) 50 percent of the time, which was good for the highest percentage in football behind Manning and Drew Brees. That was higher than guys like Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick, for example. And there were only four times all year long where he scored fewer than 14 fantasy points in a contest.
Of course, quarterback is deep. You’ll here it everywhere, everyday. Last year, 13 quarterbacks eclipsed 240 fantasy points, the most since 1960 (via Matthew Berry), so Wilson likely won’t be a top-seven or eight pick among the position. But, according to Fantasy Calculator, he is currently coming off the board as the 15th quarterback. That seems like highway robbery to me. A perennial top-10 guy, Wilson could actually see more volume this year. Marshawn Lynch was contemplating retirement, so perhaps that keep him a bit fresh, and they’ll have Harvin in the passing game for more than just one game. Also, via John Paulsen of 4for4, Seattle actually threw the ball 3.5 percent more often in 2013 compared to Wilson’s rookie year. So with each year of progression, perhaps the more they unleash their star passer.
Don’t fret over his low passing volume. Wilson is a fantasy star, one that can be had for the cheap.