Dynasty Dilemma: Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson has been an absolute mainstay in fantasy football leagues for the last 10 years. He was the Seattle Seahawks starting quarterback from day one of his rookie season after being drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft out of Wisconsin, by way of North Carolina State. A multi-sport athlete, Wilson was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2007 but elected to play both sports at NC St. In 2010, the Colorado Rockies drafted him again and he played in their minor league system for two years. He arrived in Seattle with previous experience in professional, as well as “big time” sports.
At 5’11” and just over 210 pounds, Wilson is not the prototypical NFL QB in terms of stature, but Seattle seemed to have made a great choice as “DangeRuss” helped lead the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls in 2013 and 2014. He even earned himself a ring in 2013. Over the course of his career, Wilson earned himself a reputation as a winner and a durable QB. From 2012 to 2020 he had only winning seasons, and he never missed a game. That all changed in 2021. Wilson missed 3 games due to injury and the Seahawks finished with a record of 6-8 in the games he played. He followed up 2021 with the worst statistical season of his career in 2022 for the Denver Broncos, and finished with a record of 4-11 in the games he played, again missing time with injury.
What we have in Russell Wilson is a 9 time Pro-Bowler with a Super Bowl ring, the 5th most TD passes among active QBs, and the 5th highest career QB rating ever, but he’s entering the season in which he will turn 35 years old. So, what do we do with Russell Wilson?
REASON TO BUY
People don’t just forget how to play football, and Wilson is bringing 11 seasons of knowledge to the Broncos and new head coach Sean Payton. Wilson also has 8 Top 10 fantasy finishes in his career. His worst two finishes, each in the last two years, were both QB16. He also threw for his lowest TD total of any year of his career in 2022. Enter Payton. Some people see Sean Payton as a “fixer.” He has an established system with proven success earned in New Orleans including three NFC Championship game appearances and a Super Bowl win. Payton knows what he’s doing. I’ll mention, too, that the Super Bowl was won with another QB who was considered “undersized”, in Drew Brees. Payton spent the offseason building around Russ. He brought in offensive linemen and a new running back in free agency, and targeted a speedy wide receiver in the draft.
With very little positive regression back toward his normal performance levels, Wilson could easily see an improvement on his ranking.
REASON TO SELL
Sometimes when the end comes, it comes faster than we realize. They call that “falling off the cliff” when it comes to performance. Russ never missed a game in 9 years. The last two seasons, he’s missed time due to injury. Age is as big a factor as the team around him. Yes, the Broncos as a whole were terrible last season, but Wilson’s skill level couldn’t elevate the team, as it may have done in previous seasons. If we assess who knows Wilson better than anybody, we’d probably find that to be Pete Carroll, and he knew it was time to move on. Quarterback values tend to decline beginning at age 32. That is exactly when Wilson’s decline began. There tends to be an uptick from age 35 to age 36 but that is attributed more to the overall ability of QBs that actually make it to their age 36 season. Russ doesn’t appear to be in that tier of player and what that means for him is that his value will hover at about half of what it was in his prime over the next two seasons. Wilson is not Drew Brees and he never was. Brees sustained success into his 40’s and was in his own prime at the age Wilson is now. Payton is another factor. He inherited Wilson. If the Broncos ship doesn’t recover, Payton likely won’t hesitate to bring in his own guy that he believes can do it. Do we want to be the owners to watch all of that play out?
Wilson is currently ranked as DynastyPros QB21 in Superflex leagues, Wilson SHOULD outperform his ADP, but if he’s your QB2, now is the time to make a move. Wilson is an advantageous trade piece with similar value in our trade calculator to Jordan Love, Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder, and Sam Howell. Shoot offers to owners of all of those QBs straight-up if you’re in a rebuild mode. If you’re contending, Russ and a 2024 2nd for Daniel Jones comes out pretty even. Just remember, my trade proposals are starting points. It may take more or less from either side to finesse the situation, but the bottom line is we’re in offload mode.
Startups, Best Ball, Redrafts are all the same, fade and avoid.
Brendon is from Northern California and has been playing fantasy sports for over 25 years. He started sports writing 10 years ago. He is an alumnus of Arkansas Tech University, and follows the UC Davis Aggies, Cal Bears, and Arkansas Razorbacks in the NCAA. He is a die-hard fan of the Raiders, wherever they are, the San Francisco Giants, and Sacramento Kings. To fill his time outside of sports, he acts, writes and directs, and does sketch, improv, and stand-up comedy.