In our “32 in 32” series, we are highlighting three of the most notable fantasy football players for each team, covering all 32 teams in 32 days!
Geno Smith (QB – Seattle Seahawks):
Smith was the biggest surprise of the 2022 season, winning the NFL Comeback Player of the Year after a career year of over 4,600 total yards and 31 TDs to 11 INTs, finishing as the QB5 in fantasy.
It was a tremendous season for Geno Smith, going for over 100 more points than the next-best season in his career, and while he does see an improved receiving corps via 1st round WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, I have major reservations about whether he can sustain his production from 2022 in 2023.
Between non-existent production prior to 2022 and a sharp decline in the final quarter of the season, eclipsing 15+ points just once (17.1) in the final 4 weeks of the season and ranking as the QB21 in PPG, the odds are against Smith replicating his 2022 season, especially in the face of likely TD regression.
The upside is certainly there for him to finish as a top-10 QB again in 2023 (especially with his WR group), but I am anticipating regression for Smith and find myself conflicted with his high-QB2, late-9th/10th-round price tag. I don’t mind him at that price, but will be heavily favoring other options (i.e. Rodgers, Wilson, Goff, etc.) with just as much upside but more security around that point.
Kenneth Walker III (RB – Seattle Seahawks):
After finishing his collegiate career at Michigan State with an incredible 1,700+ yard, 19 TD season that saw him finish 6th in Heisman voting in 2021, Kenneth Walker was selected 41st overall by the Seattle Seahawks.
While it took a few weeks for him to truly establish a role in the Seahawks’ offense, once he did in Week 5, he took off, posting 12+ points in 11 of his final 12 games – the only one of which he failed to do that in, he was injured early in (only recording 3 carries). From Week 5 onward, Walker was the RB11 in PPR scoring, ending the season with over 1,200 total yards and 9 TDs in a near-Offensive Rookie of the Year season.
Unfortunately, there’s very little certainty for Walker heading into 2023 with the Seahawks drafting two RBs in the 2023 NFL Draft, selecting Zach Charbonnet in the 2nd round and Kenny McIntosh in the 7th round.
Walker was never a receiving back, thus making McIntosh’s acquisition relatively insignificant, but the addition of Zach Charbonnet, especially given his profile as a power RB that can carry a heavy workload and the significant draft capital invested in him, there’s no clarity on the pecking order or workload split in Seattle.
There’s always the possibility that Charbonnet doesn’t see significant work, seeing as the Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny in the 1st round in 2018 and gave him only 24% of the backfield carries as a rookie, but the odds are against that happening again.
I really like the player and the playing style of Walker, but the extreme lack of security (and absence of receiving work) leaves me very skeptical of his 2023 prospects. At his price as a mid-RB2 (RB16 on ECR, RB17 on ADP) in the 3rd/early-4th round, I am likely targeting other options as my RB2 with more security and just as much potential.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR – Seattle Seahawks):
Following a 2021 season where he exploded for 95 catches, 1,606 yards (3rd in NCAA, 1st in Big Ten), and 9 TDs, Smith-Njigba was forced to miss nearly all of his senior season at Ohio State (just 3 GP) before being selected 20th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.
JSN immediately slots into the starting slot receiver role in an offense that ranked 9th in scoring, 12th in passing yardage, and 12th in overall offense. And while Geno Smith should be expected to take a step back from his incredible 4,600+ total yards and 30 TDs, a 100+ target season is by no means out of the picture for JSN as a rookie.
I do prefer him long-term in dynasty leagues with Tyler Lockett likely being phased out of the offense over the next few seasons, but JSN in re-draft still appears to be a fairly decent price, going in the late-8th/9th round range as a high-WR4.
At that price, I am happy to take a swing on him and his WR2 (or better) upside given his talent, especially compared to other options available around the same price (Sutton, Toney, Bateman, Gabe Davis, Jakobi Meyers, etc.).