Fantastic case against DK Metcalf: Oh no, Geno
Summer is here, which means we’re getting closer to the start of the fantasy football draft. Success in these drafts will come from striking good deals in the mid and late rounds while avoiding players who may see their numbers dwindle compared to 2021. This last exercise is not easy, however, especially in the case elite players. to their position or have just had exceptional seasons in the stat sheets.
Concrete example. In 2020, Allen Robinson recorded 102 catches on 151 targets for 1,250 yards and six touchdowns. All of that was enough for him to finish ninth in fantasy points among wide receivers, and it was his second straight year in the top 10. As a result, fantasy managers felt good about drafting Robinson as the that low-end No. 1 width in the 2021 Drafts. In fact, he had an ADP of 32.7, according to Fantasy Football Calculator.
Unfortunately, the veteran has seen a massive drop in his fantasy totals across the board. In fact, his catches, yardage and touchdown numbers were his worst since his rookie season. Who knew he would miss Mitchell Trubisky so much or that rookie pick Justin Fields would actually be bad news for Robinson’s stock?
Thing is, not many saw it coming because Robinson was so good the previous two seasons. The proof, of course, is in its premium ADP number. That brings me to this series, aptly named “The Fantasy Case Against…” where I’ll do my due diligence looking at the players everyone in Fantasy Land seems to think is a safe bet to stay ultra-productive after finding a high level of success in past seasons.
The series shines a light on big-name players or those coming out of huge statistical years who could see a surprising drop in fantasy success. Like I always say, the one thing predictable about the NFL is that it’s often unpredictable. And while we love our fantasy heroes on the grill, no one is ever guaranteed success.
Next, I’m going to take a look at Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf.
Fantastic Deal Against: Cooper Kupp | Davante Adams | Deebo Samuel | Amon-Ra St. Brown | Diota Johnson | Cordarelle Patterson | Michael Thomas | James Conner | Javonte Williams
Metcalf saw statistical declines in almost every area from his 2020 totals. He saw the same number of targets (129) but played one more game, and his receiving (-8) and yardage totals (-336) were both down. However, Metcalf posted a career-high 12 touchdowns, and he still finished 14th in fantasy points among wide.
Did you know?
Metcalf averaged 14.4 fantasy points per game last season compared to an average of 17 in 2020. He was very inconsistent, however, as he scored under 12.1 fantasy points 10 times in 17 games. It’s almost 60% of the time. He also scored seven of his 12 touchdowns in just three games (58%), and he was held without a score nine times. Metcalf also only played one game with over 100 receiving yards.
Metcalf will enter his first season in the NFL without Russell Wilson at center. In his three pro years (46 games) with Wilson at the helm, Metcalf averaged a fantastic 14.6 points and scored 26 touchdowns. That average jumps to 15.6 points per game if we scale it down to the last two seasons and exclude his rookie numbers.
Now, let’s take a look at the numbers wide receivers have produced historically with Geno Smith or Drew Lock under center. With Baker Mayfield traded to the Panthers, it looks like these two quarterbacks will battle to start in Seattle.
Let’s start with Smith, who hasn’t been a regular starter in his first two years in the league. In 2013, his top rusher with the Jets was Jeremy Kerley, who had 43 catches, 534 yards and averaged 9.5 points per game. In 2014, Eric Decker led the team with 74 catches, 962 yards and an average of 13.4 points per game.
In Smith’s three starts in Wilson’s absence last season, however, Metcalf averaged 17.2 points per game. He had 14 catches and three touchdowns.
Now let’s move on to locking. In 2020, as Denver’s No. 1 quarterback, his top fan was Tim Patrick. He had 51 catches for 742 yards and averaged 10.8 points per game. Jerry Jeudy finished second with 52 catches, 856 yards and an average of 9.9 points per game. Lock’s leading wide receiver in three starts last season was Patrick, averaging just 9.6 points. Jeudy averaged seven points in those three contests.
This data may be a little unfair as Smith and Lock were in the very early stages of their respective careers, but it still doesn’t paint the most optimistic picture for Metcalf outside of a short three-game sample of the starts. limited from Smith since the last. season.
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Training and personnel changes
Pete Carroll will enter his 13th season in the NFL as head coach of the Seahawks, while Shane Waldron is in his second season as the team’s offensive coordinator. In his first year in that role, Seattle ranked dead last in offensive plays per game (56.1). The team threw the football 56.7% of the time (20th) and used the run at a clip 43.3% (13th).
In three games with Smith as a starter, the Seahawks ranked 29th in offensive plays, 27th in passing percentage and sixth in rushing percentage. The most problematic numbers for Metcalf are that Seattle was also 31st in pass attempts and 29th in net passing yards during that time. Carroll and Waldron want to run football, and those three games came before Rashaad Penny’s late-season mini-breakout. The disappointing Alex Collins was Seattle’s best running back with Smith under center.
I’m a big fan of Metcalf as a receiver, but I hate the situation he’s been in this season. While his numbers have been good in a short three-game streak with Smith under center in 2021, that’s not enough for me to rank him among the top 15 wide receivers. That’s where he drops off the board based on average draft position data on Fantasy Football Calculator (WR13), and that’s just too high based on the situation.
Remember the arguments for letting Russ cook in Seattle over the past two seasons? This all grew out of Carroll’s desire to lead football. As I mentioned earlier, Seattle finished sixth in rushing percentage in Smith’s three starts last season, with Collins, not Penny or Chris Carson, leading. This will be to be a race-based offense in 2022.
I can promise you there won’t be any calls from Seahawks fans to let Geno or Drew cook this season. From what I hear they will barely be allowed in the kitchen.
Seattle’s backfield has a new weapon as the team selected Kenneth Walker III in the second round of the NFL Draft. Even with questions about Carson’s return from neck fusion surgery, the Seahawks will try to establish the run every week.
Metcalf is very unlikely to be an elite fantasy receiver with an expected drop in pass attempts and Wilson’s demotion to Smith or Lock. Sure, he’ll have some big games from time to time, but he’ll also be more touchdown-dependent than in previous seasons. No matter the eventual starter, Metcalf shouldn’t be drafted as more than a fantastic No. 2 wide range or a potential flex starter in most 10- or 12-team leagues.
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Michael Fabien is awarded fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and instagram for your fantastic breaking news and the best analysis in the business!