Recently, Doug Baldwin and the Seahawks worked out a contract extension that keeps him in Seattle through 2016. Baldwin isn’t the kind of guy who typically gets a lot of ink dedicated to him, which is actually kind of strange. He’s the only undrafted rookie to ever lead his team in receptions and receiving yardage, which would typically make a player a folk hero on par with Pecos Bill. You may also remember that he won the Super Bowl earlier this year. Despite that, he’s not a big name player. But he is a big time value.
Let’s start by examining his contract. He’s making an average of $4.3 million over the next three years. That’s RB money for a WR who has been a pretty consistent contributor while also coming up big in key moments. It doesn’t really become practical for Seattle to part ways with him until 2016, when they can save $4 million by doing so, per Over The Cap. That’s good news if you own Baldwin in dynasty; Seattle may not pass a lot, but at least you know he’ll get targets there. Interestingly enough, Golden Tate signed with Detroit for only $6 million a year. That seems to suggest Seattle sees them as similarly valuable players, or that they maybe even like Baldwin more. Seattle may value them similarly, but drafters don’t; According to My Fantasy League ADP data, Tate is going off the board as WR43, whereas Baldwin is WR67. Seattle and Detroit project to play very different kinds of football, but you can make a case for Baldwin as Tate arbitrage.
But is Baldwin actually good? Well, you know how I mentioned that he led the team in receptions and receiving yards in his rookie season? Tate was not only on the team then, he was in his sophomore season. The difference in their 2013 stats is fairly minimal. Tate outproduced Baldwin by 14 receptions, 12o yards, and 1 TD. You would expect a larger difference between a 2nd round pick/Biletnikoff Award winner and a guy who went undrafted. As I explain in this article, Baldwin was actually the most efficient of Seattle’s receivers last years, as Russell Wilson had an AYA1 of 10.18 when targeting Baldwin. That’s a very good number, and it was only slightly lower at 9.97 when Tarvaris Jackson was QB in 2011.
Despite playing on a run-heavy team and not being their nominal WR1, Baldwin actually had fantasy utility last year. In PPR, he put up weeks with scores of 19.5, 19.1, 17.7, 16.4, 14.3, 13.0, and 12.6. He may never be a gamebreaker, but in best ball formats like MFL10s you’ll likely get starts from him. He’s a value regardless of format at the price of WR67, as he finished both 2013 and 2011 as WR41.
There’s also some upside to be had with Baldwin, as Golden Tate’s 97 targets have to go somewhere. Percy Harvin would seem to be the obvious recipient, but there’s a well-documented reason he only had one reception last season.2 Rookie 2nd round pick Paul Richardson also figures to see some involvement, but we know rookies don’t typically live up to their expectations when compared to more experienced players. Even if Harvin stays healthy all season and Richardson is more involved than expected, I’d expect Baldwin to receive about 20 extra targets. If Harvin misses time or Seattle finds themselves in a situation that dictates they rely more on the passing game than they have in the recent past, Baldwin could definitely combine some new found volume with his historic efficiency to surpass expectations.
Well, I better leave it at that. I’m not sure people are allowed to write that much about Doug Baldwin.