Tyler Lockett Fantasy
With the loss of Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson to free agency, the Seahawks have over 1000 yards and 16 touchdowns to replace.
There is a large gap in production between Doug Baldwin and the rest of the wide receiver group. That means that someone will need to step up into that #2 WR role. Without many other established options, it looks like Tyler Lockett will get the first crack at more targets. The Seahawks have been waiting patiently for Lockett to have a breakout season, after seeing brief flashes of greatness.
Tyler Lockett is entering his fourth year in the league and up until this point, arguably, hasn’t lived up to expectations as a wide receiver. A Pro Bowl returner in his rookie year, the speedy Lockett has been unable to translate that success to the offensive side of the ball for the Seahawks.
After breaking his leg late in the 2016 season, Lockett seemed to struggle to get back to his old self throughout 2017. Being fully healthy and having a shot at an increased workload gives Lockett sleeper potential heading into 2018. With his contract due at the end of the season, this is his year to breakout or bust.
New Look Seahawks
The Seahawks look like they are trying to balance out their offense with their selection of running back Rashaad Penny in the first round of the NFL Draft. Russell Wilson has been left out to dry the last couple of years without a solid rushing attack. Whether it is Penny or Chris Carson leading the backfield, they can help take some pressure off of Wilson.
In the last three years, Wilson has consistently thrown for around 4000 yards per season, and you can expect him to continue to throw the ball a lot. A (slightly) improved offensive line and two solid options at running back, should keep Wilson out of some of the ridiculous third and long situations that he has found himself in over the last few years.
The departures of Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Sheldon Richardson this offseason, and question marks surrounding Earl Thomas’ future make the Seahawks defense seem a lot less mighty. Without an elite defense, the game script should remain positive for wide receivers, since the team could easily find themselves in more shootouts this year.
A Need for Speed
Without an established run game in 2017, defenders were able to compensate for Lockett’s blazing speed. Lockett averaged 7 yards of cushion per snap from defenders, which was tied for 7th most in the league. Defenses knew that Russell Wilson had to throw the ball to be successful, so they took away the threat of Lockett beating them over the top. If Penny and Carson can be successful on the ground, that average will likely come down if defenders have to consider a running threat, and not just focus on taking away the deep ball.
Lockett is at his best when he is able to use his 4.4 speed to create separation and make defenders miss. In his best season in 2015, Lockett was used as a dynamic playmaker to stretch the field, but also to make plays in space on short and medium routes. For him to be successful, new Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer needs to figure out how to use Lockett as more than just a downfield threat. Lockett’s potential and his past success alone give him the greatest chance to step up into a solidified starting role in the Seahawks offense in 2018.
Lots of Mouths to Feed
The worry with Lockett is that there are a lot of guys on the Seahawks WR depth chart that are looking to have a similar break out season. The Seahawks continued interest in adding wide receivers throughout free agency and the draft doesn’t show that they much confidence that Lockett can take that next step this year. The additions of Brandon Marshall and Jaron Brown add more mouths to feed, and Marcus Johnson and Amara Darboh are both looking to step up in their sophomore seasons.
Targets could come at a premium for Seahawks wide receivers. Lockett should get the first crack at a high volume of targets, but if he doesn’t get out to a hot start there are a lot of guys on the roster that can eat into his targets. The opportunity and talent are there, but he could easily be usurped if he doesn’t have early season success.
An expanded role could be beneficial for Lockett, but his usage hasn’t been the problem the last couple of years. Lockett and Paul Richardson ended the year with similar targets and receptions, with Lockett actually having the edge in receptions by one. But that is where the similarities in their stat lines end.
While Richardson took his increased targets and turned it into a career-high 703 yards and 6 touchdowns, Lockett had another underwhelming year.
With the potential for similar or increased usage in 2018, Lockett needs to show the coaching staff that he can be productive with his targets.
Tyler Lockett Fantasy Breakout or Bust?
My Personal Take
It seems like the stars have aligned for a breakout season. The opportunity for an increase in quality targets and a more balanced offense makes Tyler Lockett’s Fantasy value a great late-round sleeper. If he can put it all together and take on the #2 role early on, he has that big play potential to win weeks for fantasy players.
Lockett’s current ADP according to fantasy football calculator is the 9th pick in the 13th round. This is a low-risk spot to pick him up, with a chance to be the #2 WR on a team that is going to throw the ball a lot.
He has a lot of upside in 2018, but don’t wait around for him to turn into a starting wide receiver. If he gets off to a slow start and doesn’t take a firm hold on that second spot on the depth chart, some of the other receivers could start eating into his target share.
Lockett has the potential to return some value as a late round pickup, but if he can’t put it all together within the first few weeks of the season he should be one of the first casualties on the waiver wire.
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