3 Lessons Learned After Week 15

Chris Allen reviews three noteworthy performances coming out of Week 15 and provides some advice for fantasy managers on how to approach their situations going forward.

We’re into the final week of the fantasy season. Championships are on the line and it’s almost fitting for the 2020 season for us to be sweating the games on Christmas Day. Regardless, this is my last column for the season. I’m incredibly thankful to join the FBG community and work with such a tight-knit crew. Special thanks to Joe Bryant and Sigmund Bloom for bringing me aboard. Another shout out to Clayton Gray for keeping the content on schedule. My transition over to the team was seamless. It’s been a learning experience for me putting this together and I hope you all have found some value in it as well. Let’s dig into the lessons learned from Week 15.

Quarterback: Russell Wilson, Seahawks

Week 15 Results: 23.2 (Projected), 15.0 (Actual)

The Seahawks are likely bound for the playoffs, but not in the way we had hoped. We’ve struggled to find fantasy value in what was once a bountiful passing game. Tyler Lockett hasn’t scored since Week 11. D.K. Metcalf has been held under 100 yards in three consecutive games. In the midst of it all, Russell Wilson has continued to try and make something out of nothing. The constant scampering around the pocket has still there, but the result (typically a deep touchdown pass only he could throw) hasn’t. With another down performance in the fantasy playoffs, I looked a bit closer at Seattle’s offense and if we can trust Wilson to deliver us a fantasy championship.

Advice Moving Forward:

Fantasy managers should at least consider other options over Wilson in Week 16. We’ve seen this before from Wilson. He averaged just 14.5 PPG throughout the fantasy playoffs last year and on a similar trend in 2020 (16.4 PPG). To explain the drop, there are a couple of macro and micro trends to consider.

Weeks
Overall
Crossing Routes
Neutral Pass Rate
RZ Pass Rate
Passing Rate
EPS Per Play
Avg Yards Gained
Total TDs
Weeks 1 - 4
62.4%
63.6%
34.3%
0.37
130.5
5
Weeks 5 - 9
70.1%
68.0%
33.1%
0.85
160.3
9
Weeks 10 - 13
63.5%
55.0%
24.4%
0.04
53.5
0
Weeks 14 - 15
55.1%
47.4%
21.1%
0.58
48.5
2

The ‘Let Russ Cook’ philosophy has been reduced to a low simmer. Admittedly, it’s a two-game sample but it coincides with Seattle having all of their primary running backs (Carson, Hyde, and Penny) active for the first time this season. All three were worked into the rotation despite Washington being third in rush EPA allowed (-0.25) since Week 12. To be fair, it’s possible the shift was to take the pressure off of Wilson (literally). Opposing defenses had generated pressure on 25.0% of his attempts in six consecutive games. The lack of plays within structure has partially fueled his interceptions and drop in efficiency (24th in EPA per Play). However, even the in-structure plays have become less effective.

Seattle’s passing offense is predicated on misdirection and use crossing route combinations to gain separation. An example would be Tyler Lockett running a drag underneath across the interior while D.K. Metcalf cuts past the safety on a post route. If the primary reads aren’t there, the ancillary players (e.g. David Moore) get lost in the shuffle and wind up making big plays. It worked beautifully to start off the season. Wilson had 14 touchdowns through the first nine weeks of the season using this blueprint. However, teams have caught on to the approach. Seattle has used crossing routes at a decreased rate as a result, but their counter-punch has been lacking. Wilson has had just one game over 250 yards in the last month and has an interception in three consecutive games. With another matchup against the Rams in Week 16 (scored 9.9 points in their last meeting), fantasy managers should strongly consider a waiver-wire option instead of blindly adhering to the ‘start your studs’ mantra.

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