What does this weeks Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz and Aaron Rodgers news mean for your fantasy team?
What a week it’s been for transactional news in the NFL! We began the week knowing the NFL’s franchise tag deadline was set to expire Tuesday afternoon, so while some franchise tags like Jessie Bates (Bengals) and David Njoku (Browns) received their tags on Monday, the majority of tags were placed Tuesday. That wasn’t even the most newsworthy item this week; in fact, it probably wouldn't even make the top-five news stories.
On Tuesday morning, Aaron Rodgers announced his return to the Green Bay Packers and then, just minutes later, the Broncos and Seahawks announced a trade sending Russell Wilson to the Broncos. Wednesday saw the trade of Carson Wentz to the Washington Commander in exchange for draft picks. These three quarterbacks changed the fortunes of several franchises looking to come out on top of the 2022 quarterback carousel. So what was the impact of these two trades and Rodgers coming back in terms of fantasy football?
Rodgers returning to the Packers doesn’t really change anything for fantasy football, but the real change is what the team will do about getting weapons for him. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is an unrestricted free agent and doesn’t seem likely to return to Green Bay. The Packers put the franchise tag on Davante Adams, so the ever-fruitful Rodgers to Adams connection remains intact. Rodgers still finished as QB8 in fantasy points per game despite rushing for just over 100 yards on the season.
We know how much rushing upside means to fantasy quarterbacks, with rushing work providing a safe floor to help buoy scoring even if the quarterback has a bad day passing. Despite Rodgers’ decreasing rushing work, his aversion to turnovers and offensive efficiency makes him an anomaly in this day and age. The Packers will likely bring in another weapon or two for The Packers’ LAST Last Dance. At this point, I’d still be happy to take him in the back half of the top-12 quarterbacks in fantasy football. We know that the back-to-back NFL MVP Rodgers will throw a bunch of touchdowns, run just a little bit, and not turn the ball over. He’s still a solid fantasy football starter.
Wilson with Seattle in 2021 was in the same boat as Rodgers - a back half top-12 fantasy quarterback who posted his lowest rushing output in his career as a starting quarterback. Luckily, he also provided some entertainment despite suffering a gnarly finger injury.
Now that Wilson is in Denver, he won’t have the elite level of wide receiver firepower that he had in Seattle with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but he certainly has more than capable wide receivers. Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy are a nice receiver duo, and while Noah Fant was sent to Seattle in the trade, Albert Okwuegbunam is a heck of a receiver. Okwuegbunam receiving most of the work at tight end (as it stands right now) for the Broncos should make any dropoff minimal at the position.
Wilson will likely be quarterbacking an offense in Denver that will increase the pace in 2022. That’s not hard to do from 2021, where Seattle was dead last in the NFL in pass plays per game and time of possession. Luckily, with new head coach Nathaniel Hackett and offensive coordinator Justin Outten coming in from Green Bay, we’ll see Wilson in a Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay-inspired offensive system. Wilson has thrived on efficiency throughout his career, so an increased pace and a system tailored to Wilson’s strengths should keep Wilson in the top-12 quarterback discussion in fantasy for 2022.
Wentz heads over to the Washington Commanders in a trade that seemed inevitable on the Colts’ side of things. For fantasy, Wentz wasn’t terrible but wasn’t great either as he threw 27 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. However, the Colts’ passing volume (fifth-lowest pass play percentage in 2021) would never be there with their run-heavy tendencies in Indianapolis. As a result, Wentz’s QB18 placement in fantasy points per game left much to be desired and could not be relied upon as a weekly starting quarterback.
Heading to Washington, his top receiver may have upgraded from Michael Pittman Jr. to Terry McLaurin, but there’s not much else in the way of pass-catchers that have emerged or are healthy. 2020 breakout tight end Logan Thomas spent most of 2021 injured, and the rest of the receivers on the roster are relatively unproven. Antonio Gibson may help ease Wentz in giving him a safety valve to throw to with J.D. McKissic a free agent as well. Suffice it to say, Wentz receives a downgrade in offensive environments going from Indianapolis to Washington.
For me, Wentz would be a bye-week fill-in fantasy quarterback. He’s plenty capable when Wentz is going well, but when he’s not, he can sink your fantasy team.
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