Doug Baldwin battled injuries all of last season and missed three games. He was more injured than initially known and underwent knee, shoulder, and sports hernia surgery this offseason. During the NFL Draft rumors that he could be forced to retire cropped up. Those rumors are looking likely now that he has been released by the Seahawks.
Seahawks released veteran S Kam Chancellor and WR Doug Baldwin with failed physical designations. End of an era in Seattle.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 9, 2019
Despite not looking right all year, Baldwin still commanded 73 targets, catching 50 passes for 618 yards and 5 TDs in 2018. So there are a lot of opportunities to be distributed, but where will they go?
The Incumbent WR1
Tyler Lockett was incredible in 2018, vastly outproducing his 11th round ADP. He went on to lead the NFL in most efficiency statistics, including Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement and Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, which is a fancy way of telling you that he did more with the opportunities coming his way than anyone else in football. He managed to turn 70 targets into 57 receptions, 965 yards, and 10 touchdowns, to finish as the WR16, which is no mean feat with just 57 receptions. In 13 games with Doug Baldwin last year, Lockett averaged just four targets per game. This increased to 6.4 targets per game in the games Baldwin missed, this is a season-long pace of 102 targets. If we see 100+ targets for Lockett, and he is even close to his 2018 efficiency, a top 10 finish is well within the realms of possibility.
While the phenomenal physical specimen D.K Metcalf may have grabbed the headlines, it could actually be fourth-round selection Gary Jennings that could have fallen into a primary role from week 1. Having played mainly as a slot receiver in college, Jennings could not have asked for a sweeter landing spot. Doug Baldwin ran 62.3% of his routes from the slot in 2018 so there should be a lot of opportunities for Jennings to snap up.
Jennings is a plus athlete with good production during his time at West Virginia.
Metcalf will of course also demand targets. Projected as a potential first-round pick pre-draft, the Seahawks traded up to take him with the last pick of the 2nd round. I would not rush out and make moves for Metcalf based on the Baldwin news alone, as while he is a huge target with blistering speed, he has never been a heavy volume guy, he received just 26 passes in his final year in college. Despite the low volume, Metcalf did average 21.8 yards per reception and score 5 touchdowns, and I can see his NFL career following a similar path of lower utilisation and high efficiency, making him way more desirable in best-ball than redraft.
The newly crowned highest paid player in the NFL is coming off a season in which he threw less than he has in four years, and had the least rushing attempts of his career. This did not stop him setting career highs in passer rating and passing touchdowns with 35, and matching his career best of just seven interceptions. The QB9 on the season, he was solid for fantasy again despite his lower volume. The weapons at his disposal have arguably improved. Doug Baldwin led the team in targets despite looking like a shell of his former self in 2018 and his condition alone could have been a contributing factor in Wilson’s overall lower passing volume. With a full set of weapons at his disposal, we should see Wilson’s passing attempts rise closer to the 550 we saw in 2016 and 2017.
I don’t see any of the fringe receivers getting much of a notable bump, and the Seahawks’ average crop of tight ends are not going to benefit greatly from Baldwin’s departure.
Who do you think benefits the most with Baldwin’s departure? Let me know @fantasygeordie.