The Jets acquired Jermaine Kearse a 2018 2nd & 7th round pick in exchange for Sheldon Richardson and a 2018 7th round pick from the Seahawks. This is a significant move and shift in the real world of the NFL, but it also has fantasy implications on both sides of the ball.
Jermaine Kearse has thrived late in games for the Seahawks making some of the most memorable catches in franchise history. However, his lack of efficiency over the past couple season has held him back from being a viable fantasy option in even the deepest of leagues. Last year was one of his worst regarding production and reliability. Kearse only caught 41 of his 89 targets (46%) for 510 yards and 1 TD. Russell Wilson still held absolute trust in Kearse because of late game heroics and big moments in which Kearse would always produce. In turn, this often caused Wilson to force the ball to Kearse even with the lack of separation in his routes.
That is more so on Wilson than it is on Kearse, but going forward I think Wilson owners should breathe a sigh of relief. This opens up 89 targets from the 2016 season to now be directed at some other more efficient receivers. The emergence of Paul Richardson at the end of last season and Kasen Williams throughout this preseason helped make Kearse expendable. Tyler Lockett is coming off a major injury and should be ready by opening kickoff according to a recent press conference by Pete Carroll.
Which Seahawks receiver benefits the most?
From a pass catching standpoint, this benefits Jimmy Graham the most because he only received 6 more targets than Jermaine Kearse last season. There should be a jump from 96 targets to somewhere around 110. He is already slotted by most analysts to have another breakout season, so it’s not as if this is an earth shattering claim.
A deeper stash play, Paul Richardson is currently slotted as the number two WR opposite Doug Baldwin, and he is full of big play ability. During the Pete Carroll era for the Seahawks, Richardson has been the highest drafted WR at 45th overall in the 2nd round. He has struggled to stay on the field but has now been healthy for a full year dating back to last years training camp. After Tyler Lockett went down in week 15 vs. the Rams, Richardson stepped in to post consistent numbers. In 4 games including the playoffs after making his way into an expanded role, he had 15 receptions on 21 targets for 213 yards and 2 TDs. Richardson is the number WR2 and the player I would target, but this was all true even before the Kearse trade.
Lockett is a question mark because of his injury so the player this benefits most in this receiving corps is the homegrown kid Kasen Williams. He is a former top 10 WR recruit in the 2011 class but suffered some devastating injuries in college. He has failed to display the skills that made him a top college recruit since the broken leg and foot injury in 2013. Kasen was one of the more dominant players in the NFL this preseason. Through 4 preseason games, he has 9 receptions 208 yards for a 23.1 avg and 1 TD. He showcased his skills to go up and attack the ball, and he may now be the trusted WR outside of Baldwin in crunch time for Russell Wilson. His grab on Vikings premier CB Xavier Rhodes in preseason game number 2 put the league on notice.
The Seahawks ran the same fade route twice in the red zone with almost the exact same throw from Wilson with one going to Kearse and one going to Williams. Williams made the play that Kearse wasn’t able to for his lone score in the preseason. The coaches have spoken fondly of his development and the confidence that Kasen Williams now has in his athletic ability a couple of years removed from his injuries. I would target both Paul Richardson and Kasen Williams in the later rounds of drafts or on the waiver wire if your drafts are over. Richardson is the higher rated player for me, but Williams has the TD upside to be a good play throughout the season in deeper leagues or best ball formats.
Now for the Jets and Jermaine Kearse. He comes in as the most experienced WR immediately, but I wouldn’t say the most talented, not by a long shot. I give that nod to Ardarius Stewart the rookie WR from Alabama. This move does hurt Robby Anderson’s volume rich upside that many were banking on and Kearse seems to be a more viable option given the quarterback play and lack of talent on Jets roster.
I would avoid this situation for obvious reasons, but there is a chance that Jermaine Kearse could be the Jets WR1 for this season and this season only. If you lack depth and need to add a piece to your receiving core in a deeper league, I would not be opposed to targeting Kearse on the waiver wire, but I would not spend a draft pick on him if you are yet to have your fantasy draft.
I am not much of an IDP guy, but I will give my thoughts. Sheldon Richardson gives a boost to this Seahawks defensive line. Whether that means less focus on the surrounding pass rushers and more one on one’s for others is left to be determined. I do think it benefits Bobby Wagner the most and he will continue to be an elite fantasy play at the LB position with the opportunity to be kept clean inside with the addition of Sheldon Richardson. Another player who should get a bump for this season is Michael Bennett. He is hard enough to contain with double teams and adding Richardson to the mix should give both more room to roam free and make plays as pass rushers.
The rich get richer!