By Dan Barnett
Special to 710Sports.com
Now hold on, Seattle. Before you call me a hater, hear me out.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has tended to start slow when it comes to fantasy football. Since 2013, he’s averaged only 17.8 fantasy points per game in standard scoring leagues over the first eight weeks, but then an average of 22.2 per game in the final eight weeks of the fantasy season. Last year was no different as he averaged only 15.68 points per game in the first eight weeks but then exploded for 27.09 per game in the next eight, including a 32-point game and a 26-point game in fantasy football playoff time. Despite his slow starts, he’s finished third among fantasy quarterbacks in scoring two years in a row.
The reason his slow starts are an issue is that Wilson tends to go too early in fantasy drafts. ESPN’s fantasy rankings, for example, slots him 50th out of all players, but average draft position indicates he’s being taken as early as the beginning of the third round. Drafting Wilson that early means missing out on more valuable players at running back, wide receiver and tight end.
This is why you shouldn’t draft Wilson this year. You should trade for him.
One of the best plays in fantasy is to buy low on quality players and sell high on those who are exceeding expectations. It works exceptionally well when someone reaches for a player and then that player doesn’t live up to his draft position. Being in Seattle, someone reaching for Wilson in the first three rounds is completely plausible. If Wilson starts the season as he has the past couple of years, there is most likely going to be some buyer’s remorse, and with the Seahawks opening against some pretty solid front sevens (Miami, Los Angeles, the Jets and Arizona), there’s a decent chance that occurs.
So who to draft instead? After Wilson, the rankings for quarterback are very inconsistent. Drew Brees, who is on the wrong side of 37 (and on the wrong side of a bad offensive line), has one of the worst matchup schedules this year and is ranked ahead of quarterbacks like Blake Bortles, Derek Carr and Carson Palmer. While there are many quarterbacks after Wilson to take, there are two to wait for specifically: Andy Dalton and Philip Rivers.
Dalton averaged nearly 23 points per game in the beginning of last season but dropped off near the end (and then got hurt). Rivers tends to start off on fire and decline near the end. Couple that with easy schedules to start the year and you have two quarterbacks likely there late in the draft and prime for the picking.
If and when Wilson is drafted early, other fantasy players will begin taking quarterbacks as well, leaving top-end running backs, wide receivers and tight ends available. Once there’s one or two quarterbacks left ahead of Dalton and Rivers, prepare to draft them. Yes, both of them. Do it in back-to-back rounds and watch as this plan comes to fruition. By Week 5, Wilson will be an easy grab for one of those quarterbacks and another player (probably a lower-end one).
The hard part is not being the one that takes Wilson too early.