The Seattle Seahawks shifted their whole offense approach halfway through the 2020 NFL season. They opened with the 7th highest passing play percentage to start the year but ultimately finished 14th in passing play percentage. Because of this sudden shift, we have two distinct 2020 Russell Wilsons.
Wilson’s fantasy numbers reflect the stark change in game plan from ole Pete Carroll and the Seahawks brass. We have the good half of the season, Russ Time, Week 1 through Week 9. We have the bad half of the season, Pete’s Way, Week 10 through Week 17.
Let’s take a look at some numbers.
Explaining Russell Wilson’s 2020 Season
During Russ Time, Wilson averaged 29.52 fantasy points per game in ESPN scoring. That point total was good enough to place him as the QB2 in points per game. Last year’s eventual QB1 Josh Allen averaged 24.51 FPPG during that span (Allen finished the year averaging 25.32 FPPG). During Pete’s Way, Wilson’s fantasy production nosedived to 17.08 FPPG, and he dropped to the QB12.
What caused this sudden switch?
The Seahawks lost four games, two in each split, so I don’t see a great disparity in team quality when I look back to explain Seattle’s sudden offensive change. The Athletic did report Carroll “pulled back the reins on Wilson and the offense” midseason, leading to a riff between Wilson and his head coach, and the departure of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Injuries to offensive lineman Brandon Snell and wide receiver Tyler Lockett could also explain why the emphasis switched from pass to run. Snell missed time middle of the year and when he did return, he didn’t look right. Lockett dealt with a sprained knee for much of the second half of the NFL season.
What we do know about last year is that Russell Wilson is good and can light up scoreboards—both real and fantasy—when given the chance.
Uncertainty Has Turned Wilson into a Draft Day Steal
Things are looking up for Wilson and the Seahawks in 2021. The Seahawks made a couple of good additions to the offense that should give fantasy managers added confidence.
They’ve further bolstered their offensive line, adding former Las Vegas Raider guard Gabe Jackson and added another passing threat in tight end Gerald Everett from the Los Angeles Rams. These are not huge world changing moves but they address two of the possible reasons the Hawks offense saw a sudden switch midway through the 2020 season.
Perhaps the biggest move is the addition of former Rams passing game coordinator Shane Waldron as Seattle’s new OC. Waldron’s work under McVay gives hope to those who want to see a more explosive game-plan like we saw in the Russ Times.
Given the uncertainty surrounding Wilson’s 2020 season, he is currently going as the QB8 per FF Calculator, which is exactly where he sits in our staff rankings. He went off the board as QB9 in one of my recent dynasty startups (drafted by yours truly). This seems like terrific value to me.
We saw the highs Wilson hit to start last year where he was the QB3 in terms total points through Week 9. We saw the steps the Seahawks have taken this offseason to return to that level of play in 2021. Wilson has a real shot to return to top-3 QB status in fantasy this year and currently going as a fringe top-10 option. That’s a screaming deal in my opinion.