Dissecting The 2019 Radically Changing, Perplexing Wide Receiver Groups – Arizona and Seattle
I’m getting a lot of questions/asking for my opinion on…”What’s going to happen with the ___ (Arizona or Seattle) wide receiver groups for fantasy 2019?”
It makes sense…
Arizona is undergoing a radical offensive makeover and drafted three wide receivers to go along with their new QB.
Seattle drafted football analyst’s-fave-in-February-ran-from-in-April, physical freak D.K Metcalf…and then Doug Baldwin retirement rumors started to swirl…and then Baldwin retired. Seattle’s #1 WR for the past few years…gone. Hype WR Metcalf the assumed ‘winner’ in all of this, by the masses.
Some big changes in the WR depth chart landscape for these two teams, and I’d like to touch on both of their situations…what I THINK is going to happen AT THIS STAGE. I may/will change when we get info from upcoming training camps ahead of the preseason games, but if you want to act now for fantasy…how should you act? What do I think? Here goes…
In order of importance, for targets, in my projections…
1) Tyler Lockett
2) David Moore
3) D.K. Metcalf
4) Gary Jennings
5) Will Dissly (TE)
When Doug Baldwin was not healthy last year…it was Tyler Lockett who became Russell Wilson’s ‘top guy’ – 10 TDs, 965 yards, but just 4.4 targets per game. The 4.4 targets per game led to lower catch counts and yards then you want to see from a ‘top guy’, but that’s problem with Seattle, for fantasy – they possess one of the greatest QBs to play the game, and they are determined to force a dull run game as their lead punch (#32 in team pass attempts in 2018). Pete Carroll is like if Mike McCarthy was half the waist line, but full of twice as much bullshit…they are run-game, defense, QB-stiflers.
Despite an insistence on the run game, a season of low targets/pass attempts, and Doug Baldwin weaving in and out of health/production…Tyler Lockett finished top 20-24 in PPR and non-PPR PPG scoring last season. He’s a WR2 in stifling circumstances…so, he has to be a WR2 with Baldwin gone and things still stifling, probably. But what if Seattle is forced into passing more in 2019…by virtue of ARI and SF becoming much better offenses to have to chase 4x per season in-division? Seattle also has at PIT, NO, at CLE, at ATL, TB, at PHI (and don’t forget LAR-ARI-SF 6x)…the Seahawks offense may get drawn into a lot more shootouts than they expected.
If the pass game amps up, Lockett has to be a strong WR2…if not a wild card shot at a WR1. When I scouted Lockett for his NFL Draft, I thought he had Antonio Brown-like upside…back when there wasn’t a thousand interesting WRs pouring into the pros from college.
I think Lockett has a great foundation/floor as a WR2, with a chance to shine to WR1-1.5 in 2019.
Lockett will shine regardless of whether D.K. Metcalf breaks out or flops. Metcalf would be my second choice for fantasy, but my third for touches…Metcalf will get limited touches but could make some fantasy gold on big plays deep or if they figure out to bubble screen him/make him the Incredible Hulk version of Tyreek Hill.
David Moore is a wild card because he was marching towards WR2 status last year but faded off when Baldwin came back. He’s close, on-field/off-field, with Russell Wilson…and he’s talented. He is more likely Wilson’s default #2 in times of trouble, but more of a #3 for them in fantasy terms.
Rookie Gary Jennings is another wild card…because he is a terrific WR talent. Great hands, athletic…a technician. He’s everything D.K. Metcalf isn’t and vice-versa. Jennings may be so good, and Metcalf struggles so…that Jennings-Metcalf splits. Either way, Jennings a shock #3 starter or split with DKM…on Seattle’s weak-@$$ passing game -- he’s not likely to matter for FF this season.
I’d have Will Dissly higher, but I’m not sure he’ll be able to play Week 1…his rehab is in some doubt.
When it comes to Seattle – I don’t trust the coaching staff to push the passing game, and whatever does happen…Lockett is the WR to have. Everyone else is likely an erratic Hail Mary week-to-week.
The complete opposite of Seattle’s coaching philosophy. I’m sure Kliff Kingsbury wants to win games, but just behind that desire is the urge to break every offensive record the NFL has, especially in the passing game. To a degree, we need to build much of our fantasy 2019 around Arizona ‘things’. You should know all about my thoughts on Kyler (if not, please go read every other article/report I’ve written for the last 2+ months), but what WRs are going with him, for fantasy?
Here’s what has been eating at me about the Arizona WR situation… You have Larry Fitzgerald never aging and returning for at least another season, and you have Christian Kirk, an emerging star. It’s a nice 1-2 punch carryover from 2018. But then Arizona selects Andy Isabella in the 2nd-round…that’s a nice investment/statement in the player. Fitz-Kirk-Isabella…love it.
But then… in the 4th-round, the first pick in the round, Arizona takes Hakeem Butler, who I also like a lot. I’m thinking, “Man, this is great for Kyler!!” But then I wonder…who is the odd man out in 2019? You can’t start Fitz-Kirk-Isabella-Butler. Do they rotate the rookies as co-#3s, situationally? Maybe. But they aren’t situational talents. Isabella was taken highly…not to be a part-time player, I assume. Would Butler be brought along slower, and then move into the 3WR set rotation in 2020, assuming Fitzgerald finally retires?
But then it gets a little more perplexing…in the 6th-round, first pick of the round, they draft WR KeeSean Johnson. There was no need or rush to add another WR to the roster after having had drafted two of them. It’s not like Johnson is a stud/ace sleeper…but Arizona obviously liked him. It gnawed at me…why take Johnson…why take/draft three WRs with Fitzgerald and Kirk in place…with promising Chad Williams in place? Plus, they signed Kevin White, failed 1st-round pick of Chicago, earlier in the year. Why all these WRs?
Obviously, they want a plan for Fitz finally going away, but then still…all these other guys. Is Kliff Kingsbury telling us that Fitzgerald and Kirk do not fit his scheme? Fitzgerald and Kirk are two of the most ‘professional’ WRs there are…get open, phenomenal hands, make catches in tight windows. The Kingsbury offense isn’t predicated on ‘tight windows’ and ‘timing’…it’s more wide-open attack mode.
Or…does Kingsbury want several WRs because he’s going to attack-attack-attack, and doesn’t want to wear out his main WRs. Does he want fresh rotation options? If that’s true…which of them rotates out more? Does any ONE receiver matter over another?
In a radical ‘Air Raid’ style, you want a guy like Isabella…a guy who can work all over – play small ball, but also break off routes when Kyler starts scrambling and just speed past his coverage, because they cannot hold coverage all day. Isabella provides an unusual weapon that fits Kyler Murray’s style…more so than Larry Fitzgerald’s being in the right place at the right time, or just throw it to him and pray he catches it because the QB sucks and it’s his best plan/play – Kyler doesn’t suck. He doesn’t need Fitzgerald to bail him out.
Isabella provides speed and reliability. Butler provides a massive target that Murray can fire to when he sees the right mismatch or he gets in trouble and needs a bailout…Butler with so much length/range he is a better ‘I’m (Kyler) in trouble’ option than slowing down, methodical Fitzgerald.
In January, I thought Fitzgerald might be FF-great here in 2019 with Kingsbury…one more run. Now, I’m wondering if he’s actually the most useless guy for Murray in this style of offense.
It could be a lot of Kirk-Isabella-Butler with Fitzgerald starting, but sprinkling in and out – more the mentor than ‘top guy’.
I’m worried that Kirk-Isabella-Butler will share a bunch of targets…but then I also have to remember – Arizona should throw more than any team, by a wide margin. There should be room for three WRs to shine for fantasy…maybe three WR2s happening simultaneously? Maybe it produces a WR1, WR2, and WR3? Or maybe a WR1, WR1.5, and WR2?
My early guess at targeting is…
1) Christian Kirk…because he’s just so good at his job.
2) Andy Isabella…the wild card that could lead them all in fantasy.
3) Larry Fitzgerald…out of respect Arizona makes use.
4) Hakeem Butler…may have less catches and yards than the first three, and then leads them all in TDs.
5) Charles Clay…the veteran TE, who used to be a WR-TE-RB combo. A guy that can move around better than most TEs…forgotten because he played in Miami and then Siberia/Buffalo. He may be a perfect complement to all the crazy WR talent/play.
My one guarantee… This list will keep evolving, because I’ll be watching this situation like a hawk.
Last year, I built a fantasy machine on the backs of the Chiefs offense – this year, Arizona is the land of FF-opportunity…but it’s not clear outside of Kyler, who/what is going to pop with him just yet. You want a stake in Kirk-Isabella, early, and then evolve our theory from there.