Russell Wilson NFL Stats & News

$Signed a five-year, $245 million contract with the Broncos in September of 2022.

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Wilson looked like the league MVP in the first half of last season before looking human for the first time in his career in the second half. To choose but one stat that cratered, Wilson threw 28 TD passes in the first eight games, third most in NFL history, but stumbled to just 12 the rest of the way. The Seahawks played a string of top defenses in the second half, and a banged-up, non-threatening running game allowed opponents to stay in two-deep looks, stifling Wilson’s deep ball. After seven interceptions in a stretch of four midseason games, the offense retreated from its early season aggressiveness, much to Wilson’s chagrin. (Why Seattle couldn’t adjust better to defenses’ schemes — quick passing game, anyone? — is a mystery.) Wilson still finished sixth in QB fantasy scoring, and his career-high 40 TD passes (T-2nd) marked his fourth consecutive season with at least 30 (4th in NFL history). The team parted with OC Brian Schottenheimer, so now it’s up to former Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron to marry Wilson’s desire to cook and coach Pete Carroll’s run-heavy mentality. A Rams-like offense from the new OC — with frequent motion, play action and rollouts — would seem a good fit for Wilson, who needs help getting the ball out quicker (4th slowest last season). Joining Waldron from L.A. is TE Gerald Everett, an immediate upgrade to the intermediate passing game. The Seahawks drafted the speedy D’Wayne Eskridge (4.38 40) in the second round, hoping he can be the WR3 the team lacked last season behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Wilson’s offseason complaints about a lack of protection (the team then traded for OG Gabe Jackson) seemed more about wanting a louder voice in the game-planning. How the team manages the Wilson-Carroll-Waldron triumvirate might be most important to Wilson’s fantasy season.

Wilson was in the MVP conversation last season before easily being outdistanced by Lamar Jackson. But that shouldn’t diminish what he accomplished. Wilson topped 4,000 passing yards for the third time in his career and 30 TD passes for the third consecutive year, finishing QB3 in fantasy. Despite nearly 100 more attempts than the previous season, Wilson was still highly efficient, as his YPA was nearly identical to 2018’s (8.1 vs. 8.0), ranking third among QBs with at least 500 attempts. His 66.1 completion percentage was the second highest of his career, and he threw a career-low five interceptions — only Aaron Rodgers had a lower INT percentage (0.7) than Wilson’s 1.0. Wilson’s deep passing is what truly sets him apart. His 9.7-yard average depth of target ranked fourth (min. 300 attempts), and he was third in passer rating (103.7) on attempts longer than 20 yards (min. 45 attempts). He isn’t shy about going downfield, either — 74 attempts longer than 20 yards last season (3rd) and a league-high 221 deep attempts since 2017, 26 more than anyone. That should serve him well again with favorite target Tyler Lockett coming off his first 1,000-yard season. And DK Metcalf, who surpassed expectations as a rookie, should be an even bigger weapon as a sophomore. Newcomer Greg Olsen gives Wilson another reliable target, but the backfield is unsettled with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny coming off season-ending injuries. Sacks are always a concern — an NFL-record seven straight seasons with at least 40 sacks — but Wilson’s scrambling adds to his fantasy output. While his attempts likely won’t increase much, his efficiency, deep-ball skills and rushing output make him a safe QB target with upside.

A rededicated running game cost Wilson passing opportunities last season – no team threw less than Seattle – but improved efficiency helped him maintain a top-10 fantasy ranking. After leading the league in QB fantasy scoring in 2017,
Wilson averaged nearly eight fewer passes per game for a five-year low. But his 65.6 completion percentage and 8.1 YPA were both his highest since 2015, and he converted a league-high 38.1 percent of his red-zone attempts into scores on his way to a career-high 35 touchdown passes. Only Patrick Mahomes had a higher TD pass rate (8.6 percent) than Wilson (8.2). Armed with perhaps the league’s best deep ball, Wilson put it to good use. He went downfield at a higher rate than any other QB with at least 325 attempts, throwing longer than 20 yards on 14.8 percent of his passes and ranking second in passer rating (122.9) and third in YPA (15.6) on those throws. Wilson will have Tyler Lockett back again – he had a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeting Lockett last year – but with the trusted Doug Baldwin retiring, Wilson’s remaining receivers are uncertain. Third-year wideout David Moore showed promise before fading last season, and while DK Metcalf offers a size/speed combo Wilson has never had at WR, the Ole Miss product is still a rookie; as is fourth-round pick Gary Jennings. And perhaps don’t expect as much rushing value (no rush TDs for the first time last year) as the Seahawks avoid unnecessary hits on their $140 million man, especially considering he’s likely to become the first QB in league history with 40-plus sacks in seven consecutive seasons.

Wilson led the league in fantasy scoring last season – nearly 50 points more than any quarterback – thanks to an NFL-high 37 touchdowns. But it was a nonexistent running game that provided those TD opportunities, as Wilson posted career lows in completion percentage and yards per attempt. The Seahawks passed on 64.3 percent of plays inside the 10-yard line (second in the NFL), netting Wilson 15 TD passes from that range (also second), as Seattle running backs totaled minus-11 yards – the fewest in the NFL since 1991 – and never scored inside the 10. The Seahawks’ two rushing TDs inside the 10 came from Wilson, who accounted for all but one of the team’s offensive touchdowns. He also became the fifth QB since 1970 to lead his team in rushing. If the running game improves with first-round pick Rashaad Penny and the return of Chris Carson, the offense should be much better, but it likely will mean fewer scoring opportunities for Wilson. And either way, he could still be in trouble without 6-7 Jimmy Graham (10 TD on 24 RZ targets, both NFL highs) to bail him out at the goal line, as 6-3 WR Jaron Brown is the only pass catcher taller than 6-2 with more than 50 targets last year. The Seahawks are counting on new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for something more than last year’s Russell-schoolyard-magic scheme, but the key, once again, is the offensive line, this time under new line coach Mike Solari. A full year of LT Duane Brown and the acquisition of RG D.J. Fluker have to pay off for Wilson to avoid becoming the second QB in NFL history with 40-plus sacks in six consecutive seasons (Neil Lomax).

Wilson’s 2016 was doomed from almost the beginning when he suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 1 and a sprained MCL in Week 3. He played through both, but the injuries crippled his running threat, which hurt his fantasy value. He posted career lows in YPC (nearly 2.5 off his career pace) and rushing yards (almost 350 less than his career average). That, and an unreliable backfield, in part led the Seahawks to their highest percentage of pass attempts (60.2) in the Pete Carroll era. But those extra attempts went to waste as Wilson’s efficiency sank; he had 13 fewer TD passes — his 3.8 percent TD rate was nearly half his 2015 rate. Wilson, who also had a pectoral injury last year, is healthy entering 2017, and the Seahawks signed Eddie Lacy — both of which should help re-ignite the running game and keep defenses honest. But the biggest factor is the offensive line. Poor line play is not a new problem — Wilson’s the only QB to be sacked 40-plus times each of the last four seasons — and if this year’s “upgrades” prove little more than cosmetic, Wilson will be scrambling for his life yet again. Accurate and strong-armed, Wilson has a skilled supporting cast, including Jimmy Graham, whom he made better use of last season, but his — and the Seahawks’ — fortune hinges on whether the line can be merely mediocre, rather than terrible.

Through the first half it looked like Wilson was headed for another quietly efficient season as the caretaking quarterback for a Seahawks offense that was content to keep the ball on the ground, with his own scrambling ability having to compensate for his lack of production through the air. Then Marshawn Lynch suffered an abdominal injury that held him out for the final seven weeks, and coach Pete Carroll decided to open up the gameplan and see what Wilson could do. The result was an incredible stretch in which he threw for over 1,900 yards with 24 TDs in seven games, and completed 70 percent of his passes or better in five straight contests. Wilson was dynamite on both short and long routes, one of only three passers (along with Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton) to post a QB rating above 100 on attempts both under and over 15 yards, with his second-half explosion leading to career highs in attempts, yards, completion percentage, TDs and YPC. With Lynch now retired, a hopefully healthy Jimmy Graham at tight end and a developing deep threat on the outside in Tyler Lockett, Wilson may finally have both the opportunity and the supporting cast to take full advantage of his accuracy and arm strength.

Wilson re-wrote his fantasy resume last season to better match his superlative real-life one, which includes more wins than any quarterback in NFL history in his first three years and coming within one yard of back-to-back Super Bowl titles. He finished as one of the top fantasy QBs despite the Seahawks’ league-low pass attempts, as he supplemented his middling passing numbers — 15th in yards, 16th in touchdowns — with the fifth-most rushing yards by a quarterback all-time. He gained 10-plus yards on 28 percent of his carries, far outpacing the next closest quarterback (Colin Kaepernick, 18.3 percent). And his eight runs of 20-plus yards were more than all but six running backs as the read-option became Seattle’s big-play replacement following the Percy Harvin debacle. Wilson might not run the read-option as much this season, but he still likely will have to scramble behind a suspect offensive line that lost its best blocker when center Max Unger was traded for Jimmy Graham. The playmaking tight end should make up for whatever Wilson loses in rushing, though. At 6-7, 265, Graham is the big-bodied receiver Wilson has desperately needed, especially in the red zone (see: Super Bowl) where the Seahawks ranked 20th in touchdown efficiency last year. Graham, expected to split wide often, should also help over the middle, where the 5-10 Wilson seemingly struggles to find targets (32 attempts, 29th). The Seahawks are still a run-first team (league-high 53.8 percent rushes since 2012), but Wilson, who has thrown fewer interceptions every year even with increased attempts, could get to do more through the air this season.

Wilson plays in the league’s most run-heavy offense and doesn’t have any elite receivers, yet he continues to produce with extreme efficiency to the point that he’s safely on the QB1 radar in all formats. His numbers from 2012 to 2013 were almost identical, throwing 26 touchdowns in each season while running for around 500 yards. There’s a chance that Wilson’s already sterling 2013 numbers will improve with a full season of Percy Harvin at receiver, as Harvin would be the best after-the-catch runner Wilson has ever thrown to, by far. Considering Wilson has played in the most run-heavy offense in the best defensive division, it’d be reasonable to posit that his numbers over the last two years have been his floor. His pass attempt volume is unlikely to decrease, and the NFC West defenses are unlikely to improve. In other words, Wilson might have nowhere to go but up. Still, he’s unlikely to throw more than 450 or so passes, so Wilson will likely struggle a bit to take his fantasy value to the elite level.

Heading into the 2012 season, all eyes were on rookie quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Wilson – a player many deemed as “too short” to play quarterback – was an afterthought. Fast forward to 2013, and Wilson is one of the hottest names in the NFL. That will happen when you record a 100.0 passer rating – one of the highest for a rookie in league history – including 26 passing touchdowns and only 10 interceptions.

The best part about Wilson is he has so much room for improvement. He threw only 393 passes in 2012. Even in the Seahawks’ run-heavy scheme, Wilson is a safe bet to eclipse that mark this year, and perhaps by a wide margin. That’s particularly true with Wilson’s new weapon on the outside in Percy Harvin. Harvin’s presence in Seattle suggests the Seahawks could let Wilson air it out more than in his rookie campaign, with a lot of the team’s short-yardage runs turning into short passes to Harvin. With the dynamic receiver’s run-after-catch ability, Wilson can get the ball into Harvin’s hands and let the receiver do the work for him.

And let’s not forget Wilson’s rushing ability. The quarterback averaged 5.3 YPC in 2012 – a mark he can easily improve upon – and totaled four rushing touchdowns.

Wilson is in a three-way battle with Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson for the starting quarterback job. Flynn signed for a bunch of money and Jackson is the incumbent, so Wilson has his work cut out for him. At 5-10, Wilson is undersized for a traditional quarterback. However, the Seahawks are high on him, and it won’t take much to push out the lackluster Jackson. Expect him to at least be the backup.

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