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Russell Wilson Traded To Denver Broncos: Fantasy Breakdown

In a move that elicited both shock and awe across the NFL landscape, the Denver Broncos acquired Russell Wilson in a trade package that included the Seahawks receiving five draft choices and three players, including Noah Fant and Drew Lock, in return. The Broncos received the “missing piece” to becoming a projected Super Bowl contender, while the Seahawks brought an end to the most successful era in franchise history by dealing Wilson and releasing All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner.

From the fantasy perspective, Wilson should still be a very productive fantasy starter and he has a promising supporting cast that now gets a significant boost with the Broncos. Meanwhile, we may have to wait and see how the Seahawks offense is restructured in the weeks ahead.

Let's dive into all the details to see what will shake out in 2022 due to the ripple effects of this deal.

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Russell Wilson in Denver

Before last season, Wilson had never been through a losing season or missed time due to an injury. In 2021, a finger injury cost him three games and he did not play well upon what may have been a rushed return. But Wilson did perform at better levels before his injury and at the end of the season when it was apparent his finger was no longer an issue.

In his first four games before the injury, Wilson passed for nine TD with no interceptions, with three outings of 22-plus fantasy points and two games with 298-plus passing yards. He was even better in the final two games of the 2021 season, with seven TD passes and one interception in two games. He scored over 51 points in those two outings.

At 33 years old, Wilson is certainly not “old” for an NFL quarterback. He is just two years removed from finishing as fantasy QB6, although consistency was certainly an issue fantasy-wise in the second half of that season. He was fantasy QB4 in 2019. Overall, though, Wilson has shown no true indications that a decline in his overall performance looms ahead any time soon, and he should challenge to be a top-five fantasy quarterback with the Broncos in 2022.

Wilson had a no-trade clause and apparently wanted to go to a team that could give him a legitimate shot at winning a second Super Bowl. Offensively, the pieces are in place around him for immediate success on offense with Denver. Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler are a very promising trio of wide receivers, and Javonte Williams is a potential star at running back. The one area of concern can be an offensive line that was ranked 19th by Pro Football Focus last season.

Denver does have enough cap space to possibly address the line, though, and Wilson should be comfortable playing for an offensive coach such as Nathaniel Hackett. Wilson can propel Jeudy's play to his expected levels while utilizing Sutton and Hamler as significant downfield threats if the latter is healthy. The running game should provide very good support and help Denver achieve optimum offensive balance. Wilson has always been a top-notch play-action passer and deep thrower, and we should see him regularly perform well in both of those areas with the Broncos. The Seattle offense sputtered at times in 2020 and 2021 under Wilson because of a lack of offensive balance, but that should not be the case with Denver in 2022.

After Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers, and Justin Herbert are off the board in 2022 seasonal drafts, Wilson should be one of the next QBs taken in a range with Joe Burrow, Dak Prescott, and Lamar Jackson. Burrow does have a better receiving crew and Prescott/Wilson could be a near draw. I would take Wilson over Jackson because he has better playmakers around him and he has the edge as a passer. So Wilson should be viewed as a top 7 fantasy QB for 2022 at this point.

In dynasty leagues, many fantasy players tend to emphasize players under 30, but if your team is built to win over the next two seasons and needs a QB upgrade to have a better shot at a league championship, Wilson is a viable trade target. On the flip side, this is a good time to deal Wilson if you have two good QBs and need to address other areas on your roster in a one-QB format. In two-QB and Superflex leagues, hold onto Wilson.

 

The Denver Offense: Ready To Roll

Jeudy sat out from Weeks 2 through 7 last season because of an ankle injury and did not have a single TD catch last season while never reaching the 80-yard mark in 10 games played. This could now be the season where we likely see his expected breakout. Jeudy is capable of challenging defenses at every level and will have fantasy WR2 upside working with Wilson.

Sutton had a 159-yard game in Week 2 and a 120-yard outing in Week 5 of 2021 and we can certainly see such form from him more often next season with Wilson at QB for Denver. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett were both high-end fantasy WR2 types working with Wilson and similar outlooks are very possible for Jeudy and Sutton now.

If Hamler can make an effective return from a torn ACL, he will be an ideal fit as one of Wilson’s deep targets and a frequent DFS target. Tim Patrick is a trustworthy big target and could be a quality waiver add at some point if he is needed to step forward because of injuries. Albert Okwuegbunam should at least be considered a high-end fantasy TE2 with TD potential.

Fantasy players are hoping the Broncos move on from Melvin Gordon and fully establish Javonte Williams as a clear featured back. Working in a much better offense led by Wilson, Williams would be a regular TD drive finisher and could at least vault into top-10 RB territory.

 

Seattle's Fantasy Prospects Without Russell Wilson

There have been a lot of reactionary takes already on the Seahawks offense without Wilson, but we cannot accurately judge the state of the offense before free agency and the NFL Draft. Seattle may not elect to go with Lock as its starter at QB, and might consider taking a rookie like Malik Willis with the No. 9 overall pick or landing a veteran before then.

DK Metcalf will remain a fantasy WR2 target without Wilson, although it may be harder to see him recapture No. 1 WR status. The value of Lockett, though, takes a bigger hit. He had tremendous chemistry with Wilson and now gets knocked down to fantasy WR3 status. There are already trade rumors surrounding the veteran wideout.

Fant still has fantasy TE1 promise, but much of his outlook will hinge on the direction Seattle takes at QB. The Seahawks also need to decide if they are indeed going to bring Rashaad Penny and/or Chris Carson back. The team has already heavily revamped the coaching staff and parted ways with its franchise QB, and the overhaul is not over. We should not make any solid assessments about where this team is headed offensively just yet.



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