While DK Metcalf failed to do much with his targets and receptions last year even though they were career-highs. With a new quarterback in Geno Smith, Metcalf did well but not close to his usual standards. With an entire off-season with Smith, a new wide receiver in Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and hopes for a big contract, can Metcalf get back on track in 2023? Will he return to 15+ yards per catch and well over 1,000 yards?
2022 Season Recap
As mentioned above, Metcalf did quite well last year despite disappointing baseline stats. He saw a career-high 141 targets and caught a career-best 90 of them. However, he averaged a career-low 11.6 yards per catch, limiting him to just 1,048 yards. Plus, he had a career-low six touchdowns.
The former Pro-Bowler is handicapped by a different Seattle offense without Russell Wilson. Geno Smith doesn’t have a great deep ball. He isn’t a passing-oriented quarterback. The Seahawks are back to running the ball often. That limits Metcalf’s ability to garner more yards or fantasy points. You can’t catch the ball if it’s being run more often.
The same is true, as you can’t catch deep passes if you’re never given the opportunity to. Another surprising factor was that Metcalf wasn’t the same player as in years past. In years prior, he was a monster to tackle. He averaged 4.4 or more yards after contact for three straight years prior to 2022. In 2022, he only had 2.4 yards after contact. There’s no word on if he was injured. Rather, it just seemed that he was protecting himself more. Despite that, the soon-to-be 26-year-old wide receiver is set up for another strong season, albeit not like his first two seasons in the league.
2023 Season Projections
Metcalf has never had an issue staying on the field. Over his first four seasons, he’s missed just one game. That’s a great four-year run of health and staying on the field. Therefore, the only factors limiting his success this year are Smith’s arm, JSN’s new involvement as a WR3, and Head Coach Pete Carroll’s commitment to the run. Due to those three factors, it will be extremely tough for Metcalf to do any better than what he did last year.
That’s why I’m projecting him to maintain a similar pace to last year. He loses a few targets and catches but has a slightly better rate in yards per catch. He gets back into the end zone a couple more times, which aids him in his fantasy recovery. However, he doesn’t have the WR1 outlook that he did entering 2020 and 2021. Instead, Metcalf will be a sturdy WR2 that won’t win you weeks but will consistently put up around 13-14 points per game. That has value. Although, it isn’t the value you wanted if you paid up for him following the 2020 or 2021 season.
Long-Term Dynasty Outlook
Metcalf is only entering his age-26 season. He still has at least six prime years left. Even though he relies on his speed and separation to make catches, he’s still a giant man who will age well. He’s become better at running routes and could get out of Seattle sooner than later. Tyler Lockett looks like he’ll be gone from Seattle over the next few years, too. That helps ensure Metcalf can get some much-needed additional targets. This is especially true if the Seahawks keep Smith at quarterback beyond this season.
If you’re looking for a high-upside/safe-floor wide receiver to buy in dynasty, I’d recommend you make an offer for Metcalf. It should only take a mid-first and a second-round pick. Metcalf is an elite talent, but due to his team, he won’t be worth much more than that. If you’re rebuilding, hold onto him until he has a blow-up game. He always has at least one or three massive games. Sell him for potentially two firsts after one of those games. His value isn’t going to fall any further. Metcalf has a big name-brand value in dynasty.
Other team owners will want him even though his production has fallen off. Just be sure to sell him. I’d sell him even if I’m contending. Try to get one of the rookie wide receivers or a guy like Tee Higgins. Metcalf is mostly name value versus actual production. Don’t forget that.
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As always, May the Force be with You…