• Broncos Fantasy Winners with Russell Wilson

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    How should fantasy football value Broncos fantasy winners, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Albert Okwuegbunam after the blockbuster Russell Wilson trade?

    Denver finally found its signal-caller: an NFC star with a Super Bowl ring, over eight Pro Bowls, and a career average passer rating of over 100.

    And while all that applies to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers it’s actually Russell Wilson who will swap the silver for orange on his way to the Mile High City. The blockbuster deal included a barrage of picks — including the number nine pick in the upcoming draft and a 2023 first — as well as Shelby Harris, Noah Fant, and Drew Lock.

    Suffice it to say the Broncos are expecting a bounce-back season for Wilson en route to the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2015 when they won the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning and the “No Fly Zone” defense. But those are all the fun, real-life details. There are a lot of fantasy winners in Denver.

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    Courtland Sutton

    Does anyone remember Sutton’s 72-reception, 1,124 yard-season from 2019? Those were the days.

    Sutton surpassed 50 receiving yards just five times in 2021 despite appearing in all 17 games. His talent downfield given his size and speed combination went completely underutilized over the last couple of seasons, largely a result of the dink-and-dunk offense run through Lock and Teddy Bridgewater.

    Sutton and D.K. Metcalf have nearly-identical yards per reception, 15.2 to 14.7, respectively. Yes, they are different players. Metcalf offers more athleticism after the catch, and Sutton is a bit more polished as a route-runner. But while the offenses are different the usage can be similar. The Seahawks receiver saw 129 targets in each of his last two seasons. Sutton can hover around that range, closer to 120 than 130.

    What’s exciting for the 2018 second-round pick is the red zone upside that did not exist before. Sutton has scored just 12 touchdowns in 50 career games. Again, comparing him to Metcalf offers a glimpse of what Wilson’s “X” receiver can do. Metcalf has scored 29 touchdowns in 49 games.

    That’s quite the difference. Remember: Denver paid him over $60 million in December — the team wants him to succeed and will use him accordingly. If Sutton can get close to 10 touchdowns in 2021 he can easily be a top-15 fantasy WR. If he remains around six scores, he should still be viewed as a back-end WR2.

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    Jerry Jeudy

    Hear that? That’s the sound of Jeudy’s value soaring off to space in a gold-plated rocket ship.

    If Sutton has the chance to score more touchdowns it is doubly true of Jeudy. He has turned 169 targets across 26 games into a mere three touchdowns. He saw just three red-zone targets in 2021. That’s historically bad, particularly for a player with so much talent.

    In the same vein that Sutton resembles Metcalf in the offensive scheme, Jeudy should possess the Tyler Lockett role. While people may not assume the Seahawks wideout as a red-zone threat due to his size, his value in the end zone was crucial to the Seahawks.

    (Lockett’s red-zone targets by year since breakout):

    2018: 4 targets with 10 TDs
    2019: 23 targets with 8 TDs
    2020: 16 targets with 10 TDs
    2021: 7 targets with 8 TDs

    I’ll be the first to say Jeudy is not Lockett. The connection between Wilson and Lockett was so unique and efficient that it cannot be replicated. Still, even part of that red zone usage combined with the possibility of more passing volume in Denver bodes well for Jeudy. It helps that he cut his drops down from 10 in his rookie season down to just one.

    The days of uncatchable passes will be in the past with Wilson at the helm. While Jeudy is not immune to criticism — you’d like to see him command more than the 5.6 targets per game he had in 2021 — the ceiling is remarkably high.

    The third-year breakout is still very much a thing, despite the increased urgency by NFL franchises. Jeudy will take a huge step forward with Wilson to the tune of top-15 production, lurking near a back-end WR1 finish.

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    Albert Okwuegbunam

    Okwuegbunam is finally making noise beyond dynasty circles. Sometimes it takes a franchise-altering trade to get a fourth-round tight end on the field.

    The Broncos backup TE is now slated to be the starter with Fant now residing in Seattle. Despite splitting snaps Okwuegbunam took a step forward in year two, catching 33 passes for 330 yards and two scores in 14 games. Of TEs with at least 30 targets, Okwuegbunam ranked third in yards after the catch per reception (7.4). Only Josiah Deguara (8.2) and Jonnu Smith (8.3) finished with a higher rate.

    Now, Deguara and Smith were not fantasy-relevant in 2021, let alone breakout stars. All this shows is his athleticism, which is important for TEs that compete for targets. Okwuegbunam has to be able to break big plays and score.

    The latter bit is more of an issue than the former. Between Sutton, Jeudy, and Tim Patrick — a forgotten name in his own right — there are a lot of mouths to feed in Denver. There will also be a steady rushing attack led by Javonte Williams.

    Wilson’s history of throwing to the TE is also a mixed bag, largely due to a lack of talented options. Jimmy Graham was his last fantasy-relevant TE, back in 2017, scoring 10 TDs. Seattle TEs have yet to combine for nine single-season TDs since.

    There’s also new head coach Nathaniel Hackett in town. His offenses in recent years utilized Robert Tonyan — who finished as the TE4 in 2020 — as a TD threat. However, how much influence did Rodgers and Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur have?

    Expect the Broncos to add a TE in free agency and another one in the draft, likely on day three. Regardless of that Okwuegbunam will be the Week 1 starter. He will be a popular breakout candidate this summer worth a draft pick in a high-powered offense.

    Thank you for checking out my article! You can read all of my articles on my IDP Guys' author page. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @Michael__Sicoli and @IDPGuys (we have offense too) and please check out our website at idpguys.org.

    Michael Sicoli

    A dynasty enthusiast and fantasy football addict, there's not much more I'd prefer to write about. I'm a New Yorker at a Connecticut university -- Quinnipiac -- who's a firm believer that the NFL doesn't have an offseason.
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