How High Is Tyler Lockett’s 2019 Fantasy Football Ceiling as Seahawks No. 1 WR?
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tyler Lockett
- Tyler Lockett produced one of the most efficient seasons in NFL history for a receiver last year. What will his encore look like in 2019?
- Ian Hartitz analyzes the fantasy football outlook for the Seattle Seahawks' new No. 1 wide receiver.
We’re in the thick of the NFL offseason and it’s officially time to start fantasy football prep. I’ll be answering the biggest questions heading into the 2019 season; this is part of that series.
The Seattle Seahawks have racked up double-digit wins in six of seven seasons with Russell Wilson under center. Their Legion of Boom days might be over, but Wilson’s ability to consistently make something out of nothing should help elevate the offense for years to come.
Also helping matters is the presence of Tyler Lockett, who has emerged as one of the most explosive players in the NFL. What follows is a breakdown of just how many ways Lockett is capable of beating defenses as well as an analysis on his fantasy football value entering 2019.
Tyler Lockett Can Hurt Opposing Defenses
The Seahawks have gotten Lockett the ball in a variety of ways since drafting him 69th overall in 2015.
Two players have scored at least one rushing/receiving/punt return/kick return touchdown since 2015:
Tyler Lockett 👀 pic.twitter.com/14x0AokQBH
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) June 8, 2019
Speed kills, and defenses have accordingly been forced out of their comfort zone when attempting to guard Lockett. Only six receivers had a larger average cushion from defensive backs in 2018 (PER Next-Gen Stats).
The ability to also make an impact as a rusher and returner is icing on the cake for the Seahawks’ do-everything star. Stacking Lockett with the Seahawks defense and special teams will always provide extra upside thanks to the possibility for a double-dip touchdown.
Containing a quick-twitch athlete who boasts a 4.4-second 40-yard dash has been easier said than done for defenses around the league, and this task proved to be particularly impossible last season.
Lockett Has Been Efficient on a Legendary Level
The Seahawks called the fewest pass plays in the league in 2018, as they regularly chose to take the ball out of Wilson’s hands to instead pound Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny into the teeth of opposing defenses.
Still, a lack of volume didn’t stop Wilson and Lockett from forming arguably the league’s most efficient quarterback-receiver combination.
- Wilson posted a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating when targeting Lockett.
- Lockett’s average of 13.8 yards per target was the highest mark in the league (minimum 25 targets).
- Lockett averaged a league-high 3.1 fantasy points per target.
- Lockett caught 14-of-18 deep-ball targets (78%), easily surpassing Rashard Higgins (69%) as the league’s most-efficient deep-ball receiver (among 69 receivers with 10-such targets).
The most incredible part about Lockett’s production was his ability to remain efficient with a field-stretcher role: 96 receivers had at least 20 targets with an average target depth of at least 10 yards, but Lockett’s 87.7% catch rate easily dwarfed Jordan Matthews’ second-place mark of 76.9%.
Lockett caught 14-of-18 (78%) deep-ball targets in 2018, easily surpassing Rashard Higgins (69%) as the league’s most efficient deep-ball receiver (among 69 receivers with 10-such targets according to Pro Football Focus).
Wilson’s average of 10.95 adjusted yards per attempt when targeting Lockett leads all quarterback and No. 1 wide receiver combinations. This combination is #special.
And it wouldn’t be a surprise if Lockett’s role grow in 2019.
There’s Little Competition for Targets in Seattle
Lockett has received 69, 66, 71 and 70 targets per season from 2015-2018, respectively. It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if the absence of Doug Baldwin, who averaged 115 targets from 2015-2017, leads to an enhanced target share for Lockett in 2019.
Wilson has helped elevate numerous no-name receivers throughout his career, but it’s tough to imagine a world where he doesn’t focus on feeding Lockett the ball next season.
The only real competition appears to be:
- 2019 second-round pick D.K. Metcalf
- 2017 third-round pick Amara Darboh
- 2017 seventh-round pick David Moore
- 2019 fourth-round pick Gary Jennings
- Incumbent backup Jaron Brown
The team’s backfield and tight end committees will also receive some pass-game work. Still, those groups lack a true alpha pass catcher and aren’t expected to produce a single player with much more than 50 targets.
Metcalf and Moore are capable outside threats, so Lockett could wind up with the group’s most efficient role out of the slot. The latter scenario at least appears to be the case after OTAs.
Typical 3-WR set for SEA in OTAs has been David Moore and Jaron Brown on outside, Tyler Lockett in slot. https://t.co/FX2dXRwEHJ
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) June 6, 2019
Lockett has worked as the PPR WR16, WR55, WR66 and WR41 over the past four seasons.
His current average draft position as the WR22 in PPR formats doesn’t seem to properly account for a potentially significant increase in targets, although it’s fair to wonder just how long Wilson and Lockett can keep their historically-elite efficiency going without other proven threats in the offense.
Lockett might not ever be a guy who averages even eight targets per game in the Seahawks’ run-first offense, but his worst-case scenario is as a boom-or-bust receiver with week-winning upside thanks to his additional work as a rusher and returner.