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Russell Wilson Signs with Pittsburgh

Russell Wilson has found a new home with the Pittsburgh Steelers but what does this mean for Wilson and the rest of the Steelers offense moving forward!?

Free Agency has begun! Former Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson will sign a one-year deal worth up to $1.2 million with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Don’t forget that the Broncos are paying Wilson $38 million to be off the team. Wilson is or was one of the premier quarterbacks in this league. We know the Steelers seem like a team that could have been a quarterback away from doing something during the 2023 season. Let’s break down the fantasy reaction to this article with Wilson as a Steeler and what this Steelers offense looks like now.

Do We Have a QB Competition?

It may not be a competition, but the Steelers at this time do still have former first-round pick Kenny Pickett on the roster. As mentioned above, he hasn’t performed well over a whole season for the draft capital he was drafted. The Steelers can win some games, but they need more than Pickett at quarterback to get them over the top in potential shootouts. While Pickett could make some improvements this offseason, it is clear that his job could be Wilson’s for the 2024 season. The Steelers look poised to make the playoffs for the first time in several years.

Russell Wilson151529744766.43070265.886.97.210.3204.79845258
Kenny Pickett121220132462207061.946.46.210.3172.581.423173

I’d be shocked if Wilson isn’t the Pittsburgh Steelers’ week one starter. Pickett deserves more time to develop, but the Steelers are in a win-now situation. If you are a rebuilding team not competing for this season, wait until late August to trade for Pickett for the 2025 season. Wilson has nothing guaranteed after this season, and Pickett would have two more years on a rookie contract if the Steelers see development in his game. Wait until late August and offer him a late 2025 third-round pick.

Wilson’s Fit on the Offense

Let’s get back to Wilson, who is a Pittsburgh Steeler now. Wilson comes into an offense that has some talent. Wilson will now have a solid veteran in Diontae Johnson and a downfield young playmaker in George Pickens. He has a significant tight end grouping with Pat Friermuth and Darnell Washington. He will have a solid run game with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren splitting time. One issue that Wilson could have a problem with is if that offensive line does not improve from their 2023 season.

What can we expect if Wilson is the starter for this offense? Wilson will be in an Arthur Smith lead offense for the 2023 season. Smith is connected to running the ball and playing turnover-free football in the passing game. We hope Smith can help Wilson get back to solid football as he did with Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee when he was only an offensive coordinator and not a head coach. Smith failed to get consistent play at quarterback in Atlanta. Tannehill, under Smith for two years, had 6,500 passing yards. Fifty-five touchdowns and 13 interceptions. We hope that Wilson will get back to fantasy glory while in Pittsburgh. Wilson is familiar with an offense that likes to run the ball and keep the turnovers to a minimum.

Wilson will have an improved run game in which he has thrived in an offense when he has a good one. Last season, the Broncos were a middle-of-the-road team in the run game. Smith had back-to-back top-three run offensives the previous two years. Wilson had a top-12 run offensive for most of his career and a great back in Marshawn Lynch to work with. Wilson would appreciate having that as part of the offense so that he can do what he does best. My concern with a strong run game is that he won’t be asked to do much to manage and win games when necessary.

(Photo Courtesy of Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire)

Wilson could see a more efficient season with less opportunity to throw the ball in 2024. Wilson could see a similar output that he gave us in 2023 when he was QB9 through 16 games last season. An efficient offense could lead to Wilson seeing an uptake in touchdown possibilities in the offense. Wilson could see a decrease in deep ball attempts under Smith as the team focuses on the run game.

Wilson will bring leadership to the team and accuracy to the position. He was in the top six in red zone attempts and completion percentage. Wilson could have a top-12 upside in this Steelers offense, but that could still be risky in a Smith offense. If things go right for Wilson, he could finish the season between QB 11 and QB 14.

In dynasty, Wilson is in an interesting position for teams right now. He has a great chance to be a solid quarterback for contending teams this year. I’d look to give up a few second-round picks in Superflex leagues for WIlson’s service. I don’t see Pickett holding the position, and Wilson should be the starter for 17 games in 2024. While Wilson comes with some risks, I believe there’s still another season or two in him. You best believe that Wilson can improve the Steelers’ offense overall.

The Rest of the Steelers Offense

The Backfield

The backfield will see some improvements with Wilson sitting as the starting quarterback rather than Kenny Pickett. It should hopefully take the pressure off teams playing up in the backfield. Harris and Warren ranked in the top ten in stacked boxes in 2023. Wilson should help ease up on defenses from doing that.

Over his career, Wilson hasn’t always favored the running backs with targets. Last season, Wilson had 90 targets to go to running backs Samaje Perine and Javante Williams. Smith did give Bijan Robinson over 80 targets in 2023 so that Wilson could work that into his game under the right offensive coordinator. The backfield, indeed, gets a boost with Wilson as the quarterback. You made the right move if you bought into this backfield when Smith signed.

The Receivers

For the wide receivers, this will surely help a player like George Pickens. While a mention we may not see as many deep attempts, most of them will go to Pickens in his third season. Wilson has always been great at connecting with deep threats like Courtland Sutton, DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett over his career. Wilson hasn’t been as great with his deep ball as in his earlier years back in Seattle, but he can still connect. Pickens was tenth in deep ball targets, so I’d expect more accurate balls to go his way. Wilson was 18th in deep ball completion percentage in 2022.

Diontae Johnson has his situation going on, but his value should be similar with Wilson’s arrival. I don’t think Wilson overly helps unless he prefers Pickens over Johnson. Calvin Austin could be a guy with great speed in the slot who could be a player you want to go out and get off possible dynasty waivers.

Wilson hadn’t had the level of talent at tight end like Pat Friermuth since 2017 when he had Jimmy Graham. Freirmuth could be a good buy with Wilson at quarterback. He could be a safety blanket over the middle of the field that could help with a bounce-back season.

The Outlook

Overall, the offense should improve greatly under Wilson regarding accuracy. The passing offense should have more opportunities to score touchdowns and be a more consistent flex option in your lineups. Don’t go crazy buying up the Steelers’ offense; Wilson is still only on a one-year deal and will be 36 going into this season. If this season does not go well for the Steelers, they may be looking to shake everything up in 2025.

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