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The Dawn of D.K. Metcalf? Fantasy Fallout From Doug Baldwin’s Release

 

The Seattle Seahawks released veteran wide receiver Doug Baldwin on Thursday afternoon with a failed physical designation — what is the fantasy fallout in Seattle?

Baldwin is expected to hang them up at just 30-years old, a sad and somewhat unexpected end to his eight-year tenure in Seattle.

Baldwin was a fantasy force in the prime of his career, posting back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2015 and 2016, finishing as the overall WR9 and WR6 respectively in those years.

He was the rare guy who laughed in the face of those of us who would suggest that that efficiency is just statistical noise, somehow posting positive efficiency numbers (reFPOE) in every single season, including his injury-riddled swan song.

But the fantasy wheel stops spinning for no man, so what can we expect to see in Seattle in terms of target distribution?

Can D.K. Metcalf Help Your Fantasy Team in 2019?

While he’s a stone-cold athletic freak, the knock against D.K. Metcalf has always been production, and we should find out pretty quickly whether or not he can put up numbers in the NFL, given the chance.

With Baldwin out of the way and Tyler Lockett manning the slot, Metcalf basically has the outside WR job locked down if he’s up for the task. Only David Moore, Malik Turner, Keenan Reynolds are listed behind him on the depth chart.

Here’s how the Seahawks distributed the bulk of their league-low 427 pass attempts among its WRs last year.1

Baldwin’s departure frees up an 18 percent share of targets, but perhaps more significantly, he accounted for a 26 percent market share of team Air Yards.

Seattle may not pass much, but they love the deep ball, and that could suit Metcalf and his limited route-running ability.

According to Player Profiler, Russell Wilson’s 4.7 deep ball attempts were the fourth most in the league, while his average pass attempt distance of 9.4 yards per attempt ranked fifth.

Let’s do a quick back-of-the-napkin projection on Metlcalf. Assuming he gets 12 percent of the target share (33% less than Baldwin), at 15 yards per reception, with a 57% catch rate (the average for all rookie over the last two years with at least 20 targets), we get 51.2 targets, 29 receptions, and 435 yards.

Of course, that’s assuming the Seahawks pass a paltry 427 times again. In the three years prior, they passed 553, 546, and 483 times. If we bump the pass attempts to 500, the catch rate to 60%, and the YPC to 16, we get a projection of 60 targets, 36 receptions, and 576 yards for Metcalf. If we increase his target share, his ceiling starts to look a little better.

Metcalf has an ADP of 122 since the draft, ahead of most of the WRs selected ahead of him.

 

His ADP will no doubt continue to rise with the Baldwin news, but looking at our somewhat conservative projections, I’m not sure he’s worth the price.

Conclusion

The real winner here may be Lockett. His bottom-line numbers weren’t that much better when Baldwin was inactive last year, but he did get a more than 50% increase in targets in those games.

Any way you split it, Lockett is likely to see an increase on his 70 targets from last year, and I love his value with an ADP in the late fifth round, much more so than taking a flier on a raw prospect like Metcalf in the single-digit rounds.

  1. In weeks 1-16  (back)
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