Making the case for Garrett Wilson in Round 1

At the NFL awards earlier this year, two New York Jets took home some hardware as Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson were named defensive rookies of the year. Sauce being a defensive player isn’t really fantasy football relevant. Wilson, on the other hand, as a wide receiver, certainly is. After finishing last year with an impressive 83 catches for 1103 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2022 despite putrid quarterback play from the likes of Zach Wilson. While Mike White and Joe Flacco weren’t exactly great in the 8 games where Zach didn’t play, Garrett Wilson‘s stats were substantially better in those games.

A deeper dive into what could have been

I looked at how Garrett Wilson did with and without Zach Wilson and mapped out how the averages would play out across a 17-game season. Man, Zach Wilson was objectively terrible. Garrett Wilson would probably be a consensus first-round pick in fantasy had he had an entire season of Mike White and Joe Flacco.

In 9 games with Zach Wilson:

Total: 56 targets, 34 receptions, 450 yards

Per Game: 6.2 targets, 3.8 receptions, 50 yards

Over 17 games: 105.4 targets, 64.2 receptions, 850 yards

In 8 games without Zach Wilson:

Total: 91 targets, 49 receptions, 653 yards

Per Game: 11.4 targets, 6.1 receptions, 81.6 yards

Over 17 games: 193.8 targets, 103.7 receptions, 1387.2 yards

Garrett Wilson also scored 4 touchdowns without Zach and 0 with him. I can only imagine what he would do with a league-average QB let alone Aaron Rodgers, just two years removed from back-to-back MVP campaigns.

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Fantasy Football Output

This last part is absolutely crazy. For fantasy purposes, Garett Wilson’s 17-game projected Ptotal with Zach would have been 145.2 points, good for WR50, just ahead of Richie James. Without Zach, it would be 266.4 points good for WR8 just ahead of Jaylen Waddle and only a point behind Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Aaron Rodgers Factor

The Jets have yet to have league-average QB play for almost the entirety of the new millennium. Getting Aaron Rodgers in the off-season from Green Bay for some draft capital is a colossal move for the organization. Even in Rodgers’ worst year, it would be the best QB play this franchise has seen in the past 20 years. Rodgers is a four-time MVP and Super Bowl champion. He is a massive upgrade to Zach Wilson, Mike White, and Joe Flacco.

We already explored what an entire season with White and Flacco under center could have been for Garrett Wilson. Now comes the question of how much better Garrett Wilson would have been last year had he Aaron Rodgers instead of White and Flacco. This last part is for fun and a general sense of how much of an upgrade Rodgers could be. I converted the 17-game projections of Garrett Wilson’s 2022 numbers with White and Flacco to Rodgers’s output via Pro Football Focus (PFF) scores.

2022 statistical projections with Rodgers

I will be the first to tell you the PFF scores are not the be end all when assessing players. With that being said, for this exercise, I am using it to explore the differences in the quality of play between Rodgers and the White-Flacco combination.

Aaron Rodgers had a down year by his standards last year. This was due large in part to injuries and structural issues going on in Green Bay. For argument’s sake, though, we will look into Rodgers’s 2022 PFF analysis with the understanding that the ceiling could be much higher.

Formulas and data

Last year Rodgers had a PFF passing score of 75.9 (about league average). In the 8 games Flacco and White played, the combined PFF passing score was 57.1. The difference between the scores of 18.8 represents 24.76 percent of Rodgers’ score

If you increased Wilson’s White/Flacoo stats by 24.8 percent, it would bring him from 103.7 receptions to 129.4 receptions. That is one more than Justin Jefferson! His receiving yards total would go from 1387.2 yards to 1730.7 yards. This would have been second in the league behind Jefferson.

The 266.4 PPR point projection for Garrett Wilson with White and Flacco would go up to 322.36 points using the same statistical increase percentage. This would have put him at WR 4 ahead of Stefon DiggsThe only players in front of him are elite fantasy producers Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill, and Davante Adams. With a much-improved offense, we can also expect an uptick in catches for Garrett Wilson.
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Wrapping it up

The PFF conversion I did is not an exact science at all. I wanted to outline how awful the quarterback play was for the Jets. Also, the breakdown was meant to portray how much of an upgrade Rodgers would have been even in a down year.

In closing, Garrett Wilson is one of the top talents in the league. Considering what he was able to do last year, there is a lot to be excited about with him. I would not hesitate to take him in the latter half of the first round.

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