The Seattle Seahawks passing attack isn’t considered an attractive fantasy option. The 2018 season saw Seattle attempt 26.7 passes per game, the least in the NFL. Russell Wilson threw for 3,448 yards, his lowest total since 2013, his second year in the league. I lead with this information as a strategic feint, because even with all of the negatives I still want you to buy Tyler Lockett.
Athletic ability and football run in Lockett’s blood; his father and uncle were both standout wide receivers at Kansas State University, while his mother was a track and basketball star. Lockett seemed to follow his destiny with ease, becoming one of Oklahoma’s top sprinters, as well as starring on the football field and basketball court. While being recruited, Lockett was named All-State as a cornerback and wide receiver, earning himself three stars from Rivals.
Lockett decided to follow his bloodlines and attend Kansas State University. Every year of experience in college brought higher totals in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. His senior year, 2014, consisted of 106 receptions, 1,515 yards, and 11 touchdowns, which culminated in a team record of 9-4, leading to a bowl game loss to UCLA. These numbers were produced against a strength of schedule ranking 37th best in NCAA Division 1, denoting Lockett’s ability to succeed against top competition.
These statistics ultimately led Lockett to be selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft.
Since being drafted in 2015, Lockett has been paired with Wilson, while also being the number two receiver behind former teammate Doug Baldwin. During Lockett’s rookie campaign, he amassed 68 targets, 51 receptions, 664 yards, and six touchdowns, good for the WR43 in PPR. These numbers obviously are not eye-popping, but they were totaled as a secondary receiver on a team with a legitimate alpha. Baldwin saw 103 targets come his way, reeling in 78 of them for 1,069 yards, and a whopping 14 touchdowns.
Lockett’s second year was hampered by injuries, consisting of a PCL tear suffered in Week 2, which he played through, as well as a fibula fracture in Week 16, ending his season. Along with the injuries, Lockett’s overall drop in production can be attributed to Baldwin’s stellar play and a lack of passing touchdowns from Wilson. Lockett finished as the WR65, totaling 66 targets, 41 receptions, 597 yards, and two total touchdowns. In comparison, Baldwin had 125 targets, 94 receptions for 1,128 yards, and seven touchdowns. Both Lockett and Baldwin saw their touchdowns drop, as Wilson went from 34 touchdowns in 2015 to 21 touchdowns in 2016.
His 2017 campaign consisted of an increase of targets and receptions to 71 and 45 respectively, to go along with 555 receiving yards, two touchdowns, as well as a kick return touchdown - finishing as the WR57. The increase in usage was most likely a product of Lockett’s growth, but it also saw Baldwin have his lowest reception total since Lockett entered the league. Baldwin was targeted 116 times, catching 75 for 991 yards, 8 of them being touchdowns. Tight end Jimmy Graham had his best season for the Seahawks in 2017, capping receiver production by catching 10 touchdowns himself.
Up until Lockett’s 2018 season, the Seahawks relied heavily on Wilson’s ability with his arms and legs, as well as Baldwin’s status as an elite receiver. Throughout the years, other playmakers such as Graham, Marshawn Lynch, Thomas Rawls, Jermaine Kearse, and Paul Richardson, garnered high numbers of targets and overall usage, but the 2018 season saw the Seattle Seahawks shift to a run heavy offense. Wilson’s pass attempts decreased from 553 in the previous year to 427. Seattle attempted 534 rushes, increased from 409 attempts in 2017. 2018 was also the first year since 2012 Baldwin did not play an entire season, being limited to 13 games - Graham also departed for Green Bay prior to the 2018 campaign. The Seahawks offense was clipped and pruned down to a run-first machine depleted of elite pass catchers save for Lockett’s incredible breakout season.
Lockett did not see an increase of targets (70) but the rest of his statistics skyrocketed - catching 57 passes for 965 yards and 10 touchdowns, finishing as the WR16. Baldwin was limited, and his numbers showed it; 73 targets, 50 receptions, 618 yards, and five touchdowns, significant decreases from all three previous years. Wilson was able to keep his touchdown passes up, thanks to Lockett, totaling 35, but he only completed 280/427 for 3,448 yards, declining from the year prior.
The comparison from 2017 to 2018 for Lockett cannot be understated. He went from being on the field 68% of the time to 90% of the time. His contested catch rate went from 40% to 89%. The amount of points per route rose from 1.67 to 3.10. Every metric tells you he is progressing into a statistically more productive wide receiver.
The 2018 season began with Baldwin still being the unquestioned WR1. But time is a fickle beast, seeing as Baldwin is now retired entering the 2019 season. This leaves a large vacuum to be filled, and Lockett seems capable of filling it. Lockett produced more with no change in targets, meaning his ability with the ball changed, as well as the position he was put in, becoming Wilson’s most trusted receiver.
The most intriguing aspect of the 2019 campaign is Lockett is now the unquestioned top target in Seattle’s offense. The presumed wide receivers filling the ranks behind Lockett are dinged up and unproven. David Moore has shown ability, but he is dealing with a shoulder injury likely to sideline him for a few more weeks. New draft pick DK Metcalf had “minor” knee surgery, which he is successfully recovering from. While Metcalf’s physical traits are off the charts, it is yet to be seen if he can produce at the NFL level.
The Seahawks go into the 2019 season scheduled to have 12 games against teams ranked 16th or worse in terms of pass defense according to ESPN. While these numbers can be deceiving, I still like the odds of Lockett taking advantage of these favorable situations.
Furthering the possibility of Lockett’s outbreak is the Seahawks’ inability to stop opposing offenses from scoring. They were the eighth worst team in terms of points allowed and the worst team in terms of rushing yards allowed. The fact is, the Seahawks are going to be playing in games where scoring will be plentiful due to the lack of defense, increasing the likelihood of Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimmer having to stray from his run-centric approach.
This is the year Lockett will be able to combine ability with opportunity. He has never accumulated more than 71 targets in a season, limiting his production. 2019 is the year this all changes. Buy Lockett and enjoy his rise to the land of elite wide receivers.