So you want to draft Russell Wilson ...
Russell Wilson has been awesome this preseason, but should we trust him for Fantasy use? Dave Richard says yes -- if you pair him with the right quarterback.
Russell Wilson has come out like a house of fire this preseason, totaling 9.2 yards per attempt on 30 of 39 passing (76.9 pct.!) with two passing touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns (and a 6.8 yard rushing average!) with no turnovers.
Yep, that's really good.
You could nitpick Wilson and say things like his receiving corps isn't strong and that the Seahawks will be a run-first team. You could point to the O-line and the pass rush they allowed through three preseason games and be a little bit concerned. But the reality is that Wilson, who has finished as the ninth-ranked QB each of the last two seasons, has seemingly gotten better. Specifically he's perfected the art of extending the play, which in turn leads to more completions and more numbers. With Percy Harvin healthy (for now) and a receiving corps that should create at least one new name in Fantasy circles (my money's on Doug Baldwin), there's plenty to like about him.
But liking him and trusting him are two different things in Fantasy. Liking him is easy. Trusting him is tough to do simply because of his own track record and the depth at the position. Wilson could top 4,000 passing yards and 30 total touchdowns but that's still not enough to roll with the big boys at the position. He also isn't a consistent Fantasy option, certainly not up to par with your typical Top 10 passer. Wilson is just under the .500 mark for games with 20-plus Fantasy points over his career.
But as someone who sees the upside in Wilson, and as someone who likes to play the matchups, here's my game plan for starting the Fantasy season with Wilson as my starter:
Over 32 games he's posted 20-plus Fantasy points 15 times (eight as a rookie, seven last year). Of those 15 occurrences, nine have been at home and six on the road. Of those six on the road, four have come indoors. The Seahawks have played indoors nine times the last two years.
So to fully nerd this up, Wilson has hit 20 Fantasy points 46.9 pct. of the time overall. When he plays at home he has gotten to 20-plus points 56 pct. of the time versus 37.5 pct. when on the road. But in nine career dome games he's made 20 points 44.4 pct. of the time as opposed to getting there 28.6 pct. of the time away and outdoors.
Wilson's home games in 2014 (in order): Packers, Broncos, Cowboys, Raiders, Giants, Cardinals, 49ers (Week 15), Rams (Week 17). Maybe only the home game vs. San Francisco would be a legit worry for Wilson and that's in the thick of the Fantasy postseason. We're fine going with him in the other games. So seven weeks are covered.
Wilson's road games in 2014 (in order): Chargers, Redskins, Rams, Panthers, Chiefs, 49ers, Eagles and Cardinals (Week 16). Two dome games against the Rams and Cards look good and if any of those other matchups become appealing (the Chargers, Redskins and Eagles games specifically) then we'll re-evaluate later. But for now two more weeks are covered.
We're left with Wilson having iffy Fantasy option for eight weeks of the Fantasy season: Weeks 2 (at SD), 4 (bye week), 5 (at WAS), 8 (at CAR), 11 (at KC), 13 (at SF), 14 (at PHI) and 15 (vs. SF). Maybe you'd give him a run in Week 2 at San Diego but we know his track record outdoors. That's your call.
In an effort to find the perfect platoon partner for Wilson we've found three quarterbacks -- Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Jake Locker -- with a good enough schedule to replace Wilson on his "iffy" weeks.
A closer look:
Rivers: Weeks 2 (vs. SEA), 4 (vs. JAC), 5 (vs. NYJ), 8 (at DEN), 11 (vs. OAK), 13 (at BAL), 14 (vs. NE) and 15 (vs. DEN).
Roethlisberger: Weeks 2 (at BAL), 4 (vs. TB), 5 (at JAC), 8 (vs. IND), 11 (at TEN), 13 (vs. NO), 14 (at CIN) and 15 (at ATL).
Locker: Weeks 2 (vs. DAL), 4 (at IND), 5 (vs. CLE), 8 (vs. HOU), 11 (vs. PIT), 13 (at HOU), 14 (vs. NYG) and 15 (vs. NYJ).
The strategy is to draft one of these quarterbacks with Wilson, potentially with back-to-back picks in Rounds 9 and 10 just to lock them up, and play the matchups. The best-case scenario: You take two quarterbacks that develop into Top 10 options and deal off one of them. Worst case? You drive yourself crazy playing matchups -- and losing -- while others in your league who took stud passers steamroll you and the season is over.
The strategy is right for people who don't want to spend an early or middle-round pick on a quarterback and would rather load up on other positions. Is it a bad strategy? Really depends on who you take and how they do before you even get to the quarterbacks.
I'll close with this: Fantasy owners who waited forever for Andy Dalton and Philip Rivers last season sure aren't complaining.
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