After the 2020 NFL season, D.K. Metcalf received his first Pro Bowl honors and was named second-team All-Pro. He finished the 2020 season with 1,303 receiving yards and ten receiving TDs, good enough to make him WR5 in standard scoring.
Metcalf had just turned 23. He was dominating defenses. His production was undeniable. Naturally, his ADP and value reflected this. One year ago, Metcalf was selected as WR2 and the seventh pick overall on average in non-Superflex leagues.
A year later, Metcalf is coming off a season where he ended just short of 1,000 yards and tallied 12 TDs, but his draft stock has dropped to 23 overall and WR11 in 1QB leagues.
Why the drastic downturn in value for a WR still under the age of 25 and producing at a high level? Should he be a veteran buy for a competitive team, or is he too big of a risk? And what is fair value for Metcalf in a trade for the star wideout?
Let’s get into the curious case of D.K. Metcalf.
Career thus far
Coming into the league, Metcalf had some question marks surrounding him after some lackluster numbers at the combine scared away some teams. He fell deep into the second round before the Seahawks took him with the 64th overall pick. He was the ninth WR taken in the draft after names like N’Keal Harry, Mecole Hardman, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Parris Campbell, and Andy Isabella.
It didn’t take long for Metcalf to show teams that they were wrong overlooking him as he posted 900 receiving yards and seven TDs in his rookie season. His blazing speed combined with exceptional height and weight made him a true alpha receiver equipped to be a fantasy darling for years to come.
And Metcalf didn’t disappoint. His sophomore season (the aforementioned 1,303 yards, ten TD year) put him in the top class of receivers in the league. Adding in his youth, fantasy owners believed Metcalf was geared up to be a top-five receiver for the next four to six seasons.
The 2021 Dip
But then the 2021 season came. The regression in Metcalf’s yardage was worrisome to many of his fantasy owners. While playing in all 17 games, Metcalf failed to reach the 1,000-yard mark, totaling 967 receiving yards.
However, those stats are a bit deceiving. It has been well documented that the return of Russell Wilson from injury came several weeks too early. Wilson, a career 65% completion QB, failed to reach his career average in completions in seven of the final nine games of the Seahawks season after his return.
This played an impact on his receivers, and Metcalf was no exception. In the six weeks after Wilson returned, Metcalf totaled only 23 catches, 225 yards, and 0 TDs. This is 5.7 PPG in half-point format.
In the other 11 games in 2021, Metcalf totaled 52 catches, 742 yards, and 12 TDs. In fantasy terms, he averaged 15.7 PPG in the 11 games outside of Wilson’s first six games back from injury when he was the least accurate he has been in his career.
Even without Wilson in three games, D.K. totaled 14 catches, 197 yards, and three TDs, or 12.5 PPG. Wilson’s absence wasn’t what killed Metcalf’s season. His presence when returning too early from injury led to Metcalf’s lackluster mid-year.
With the Russell Wilson trade to Denver, who Metcalf will be receiving passes from in 2022 is a bit up in the air. Currently, Drew Lock seems to be in line for the starting position. But there are still months before week one of the 2022 season. Rumors swirl that Baker Mayfield could be a candidate under center in Seattle.
While who Metcalf’s QB is in 2022 will play an impact on his season, I don’t believe a WR of his skillset and caliber takes a huge dip without Wilson in Seattle. Metcalf is a dynamic, skilled player when the ball is in his hands. Seattle will gameplan to make sure he is targeted often and gets a chance to help his team succeed.
Even if Lock ends up being under center in Seattle, he has shown the desire to take shots deep downfield. He isn’t afraid to try and let his receivers make a play. Yes, his deep ball accuracy and skill will not match Wilson, but Metcalf will have plenty of chances to make big plays if Lock is under center.
All of this defending of Metcalf I am doing stems specifically from seeing what he is currently being valued at in fantasy trades. Using our DynastyGM Trade Browser, we can see some of the following deals that have happened involving Metcalf:
Judging from these deals, it’s possible to acquire Metcalf for a first and second-round rookie pick in your leagues. That’s incredible value for a 24-year-old WR that was WR5 and WR10 the last two years in standard scoring.
When you make a trade like a first and a second-round pick for Metcalf, you hope that the first-round pick you acquired becomes someone as good as Metcalf. Often, these first-round picks do not give you that production. To get a deal where you get a guarantee to have Metcalf’s talent, and you only have to throw in a second-round pick to eliminate any risk? That is a fantastic deal.
Metcalf was a top-ten dynasty asset just a year ago. He is still a top 20 asset at worst. You should be willing to trade a first and second-round pick for him, no matter your situation. If you are in a rebuild, this is still a great deal. Metcalf is 24 years old. He fits every window right now.
Curiously, Metcalf is still undervalued in leagues, even as a young stud with great production in his early career. While Wilson leaving Seattle is worrisome, it is nowhere near a death sentence. WRs produce in fantasy with subpar QB play on their team. Believing that Metcalf’s value has plummeted this much simply from a QB switch is nearsighted. Trading him for a first and second-round pick is a move you will almost certainly regret later.
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