After last night, it’s official: Russell Wilson has been the surprise of the NFL Preseason. A third-round pick out of Wisconsin, Wilson was an afterthought to many as the Seattle Seahawks opened camp, but now has emerged as a favorite for the starting role and a possible fantasy football sleeper especially if you play in a two quarterback league.
The quarterback competition coming in to camp was assumed by many to be a mere formality as Matt Flynn signed for serious cash this offseason. Flynn and Tavaris Jackson were both on the roster but almost everyone picked Flynn to beat him last year’s starter out easily. Not many even mentioned Russell Wilson in the QB discussion.
Plenty of people will be mentioning Wilson after last night’s showing. Wilson started game three of the preseason as Seattle visiting the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium. From the outset, Wilson seized center-stage. He led the ‘Hawks on five scoring drives and Seattle led 44-7 after three quarters. He finished 13/19 for 185 yards and two TDs while adding carries of 31 and 27 yards. The 31 yard rush came on a 3rd and 7 and set up a 45 yard field goal three plays later.
The best element Wilson brought to the table doesn’t even show up in the box scor. He brought a rhythm and flow to this offense that seemed to keep everyone involved and active and made the receivers and backs better around him. He read the starting Chiefs defense well, avoided the pressure as often as could be expected, and made all the throws. There was some concern about his size and arm strength but he connected on several long passes down the field.
It’s hard to see how Pete Carroll could choose a different starter. Of the 18 drives Wilson has quarterbacked, 13 have ended with scores. Matt Flynn has dealt with arm soreness, and Tavaris Jackson has been as underwhelming as usual. It really looks like Russell Wilson has won this starting job and will be under center when the Seahawks open in Arizona on September 9.
Just because he’s won the starting job doesn’t make him fantasy ready though. So does Russell Wilson when named starter have fantasy relavancy?
Wilson has some nice tools at his disposal in Seattle. The running game is solid in Seattle with Marshawn Lynch back and Robert Turbin looking solid last night rushing for 93 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries. That should be enough to keep defenses honest for sure. The receivers he’ll be throwing to are quite a collection of pass-catching potential and past-their-prime talent. Terrell Owens, Braylon Edwards, Sidney Rice, and Kellen Winslow have all been solid fantasy players in the past. Could one of them be this year’s version of Steve Smith to Wilson’s Cam Newton? Golden Tate, Anthony McCoy, Doug Baldwin, Deon Butler, and Ben Obamanu have potential.
Can Wilson make this team good? I definitely think so. Can he be a top ten fantasy QB? I think that’s a bit of a stretch. He opens with Arizona, Dallas, Green Bay, St. Louis, Carolina, and New England. None of those teams ranked in the top 10 in defensive points allowed and were in the bottom half in total defense as well. He could get off to a fast fantasy start and at least provide some return in a trade if you sell high
Here’s the bottom line, Wilson has value. Depending on your league, you decide how much. In 2 QB leagues, he’s a great third option and he and Jake Locker are my far my favorite two picks outside the top 20. If you are going to wait and draft a QB and go with a rotation even in one QB leagues, I think he could work well as a matchup play. In salary cap or weekly leagues, he’ll be a nice bargain at the beginning of the season and should increase in value if he can continue his Preseason success.
Russell Wilson could make the Seahawks instantly playoff relavant and help your fantasy team as well. If he’s on waivers in your league, go get him and see if he can translate his success and overcome the doubters that thought the third round was way too high for a quarterback of his size.