Russell Wilson gained a lot of publicity going into last season by winning the starting quarterback role as a rookie, despite being a 3rd round draft pick. Wilson is intelligent, athletic and a strong leader, showing veteran like poise in his first year in the league. Many people, especially those who touted him before he broke out (I would be the same way if I was right on a youngster) now view Wilson as an elite quarterback, and a good candidate to lead their fantasy football teams. I’m not one of those people, and I have a few reasons for that.
First, I don’t think that his quarterbacking skills on the regular football field necessarily translate to those on the fantasy football league. Wilson was 23rd in total yards last season. It wasn’t a lack of skill on his part at all, it was a dedication to a ground game by the Seahawks and a wide receiver corps that couldn’t stay healthy and didn’t have all that much to work with to begin with. The ‘Hawks still have Marshawn Lynch, drafted another running back in Christine Michael to carry part of the load, and their big wide receiver acquisition, Percy Harvin, is already injured. don’t see how the offense, which was so successful last year, will change much this year.
Second, the Seattle defense is a problem. Oh, it’s not a problem for the Seahawks, but it will be for any of his fantasy owners. When a team has a strong defense, offenses aren’t necessarily asked to score, but are instead simply asked not to make mistakes. The defense will stay fresher if the offense stays on the field longer. The offense will be charged with holding on to the ball, which usually means running the ball. For fantasy purposes, I feel as though Wilson will be a victim of his team’s strengths.
Last is a combination of his mobility and his size. There is no doubt that running quarterbacks are points producers in a fantasy league, but in the real world, they expose themselves to more hits, and are more vulnerable to injury. Smaller players are also more likely to sustain an injury when overpowered by bigger defenders, because defenders are more willing to stand up against them and drive them into the ground. Injuries are a crapshoot, but the odds seem stacked against Wilson more than other players.
With players like Robert Griffin, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick, I worry about their lower body. They are big guys, and it is easier to go low to take them down. If Wilson gets hit, defenders will be more comfortable hitting him higher, leading to the prospect of shoulder, elbow or other arm injuries. It’s purely speculative, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth worrying about.
When I look for a fantasy football quarterback, I will be looking for a guy that stays throws the ball a lot more, runs less and has a team that leans on him.