Fantasy Debate NFC West: Russell Wilson vs. Colin Kaepernick
With the high explosion of success by young quarterbacks in the NFL, you have to think teams like the Oakland Raiders are shaking their heads in disappointment for giving up what turned out to be valuable opportunities to gain immediate impact players the recent NFL Drafts. Of the 12 playoff teams in 2012, six of those teams had either a first or second year quarterback. Two of these quarterbacks, San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick and Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson, are creating quite a buzz in the fantasy community, and there is much debate as to which one will out perform the other in 2013. Both Wilson and Kaepernick excelled on two of the arguably top teams in the NFC in what were very abnormal circumstances.
Wilson, who was drafted 75th overall in the 2012, was considered by most analysts to be undersized and lacked the intangibles required to be a starter in the NFL. Many speculated that former Green Bay Packers quarterback, Matt Flynn, would be the starter Week 1, and undersized Wilson would spend his 2013 as his backup. At 5' 11" 205 pounds it's hard to argue against his lack of size, and it's easy to see why scouts might have had their doubts. Like smaller quarterbacks before him, such as Drew Brees and Doug Flutie, Wilson was able to overcome his lack of height by adjusting his play, winning the starting job while becoming a key factor in the Seahawks 11-5 record and their playoff win against the Washington Redskins.
The second quarterback to look at was drafted 36th overall in the 2011 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. This was considered a major reach at the time, as the 49ers traded away the 45th, 108th and 141th overall picks in exchange to move up for a player that was considered a developmental quarterback. This turned out to be a smart move by head coach Jim Harbaugh, as quarterback Alex Smith suffered a concussion in Week 10 of the 2012 season, which gave Kaepernick the opportunity to be the starter and thrived in a powerful San Francisco offense. This created some controversy because after Alex Smith was cleared to play, coach Harbaugh announced that Kaepernick would be starting Week 11 against one of the top defenses in the NFL, the Chicago Bears, on Monday Night Football. Kapernick threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns, and the 49ers shocked all by beating the Bears 32-7, solidifying Kapernick as the new starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. He continued to put up big numbers on his way to Super Bowl XLVII but fell short of winning the Lombardi trophy after a loss to the Ravens 34-31.
Both of these former baseball standouts and now respectable NFL quarterbacks could be on their way to elite careers, so how do we decide who to draft? Who will be the most valuable in fantasy football? There are a few aspects of each player's performance, changes from their teams offseason acquisitions and average fantasy football draft position that can help you decide who to take in your 2013 drafts. Lets take a more in depth look at each to decide what the future holds for both of these young but talented players.
2012 Passing Yards
Passing Yards Per Game: 195
Passing Touchdowns Per Game: 1.6
Completion Percentage: 64%
Interceptions Per Game: 0.63
Passing Yards Per Game: 227
Passing Touchdowns Per Game: 1.25
Completion Percentage 62%
Interceptions Per Game: 0.36
*Higher completion percentage and touchdown rate over a full season gives the passing advantage to Wilson
2012 Rushing Yards
Rushing Attempts Per Game: 5.9
Rushing Yards Per Game: 30.5
Rushing Average Per Game: 5.2
Rushing Touchdowns Per Game: 0.25
Rushing Attempts Per Game: 7.9
Rushing Yards Per Game: 51.9
Rushing Average Per Game: 6.4
Rushing Touchdowns Per Game: 0.63
*Dominating in every category the advantage for rushing goes to Kaepernick.
2012 Fantasy Production (In Standard Scoring Leagues)
Total Fantasy Points: 259
Fantasy Points Per Game: 16.2
Total Fantasy Points: 164
Fantasy Points Per Game: 20.5
*Due to his impressive rushing total Kaepernick takes the advantage in fantasy points per game, but the numbers could be flawed as this was done in only eight games as compared to Wilson's 16.
2013 Off-Season ADP (Average Draft Position)
Russell Wilson: 66th 11th QB overall
Colin Kaepernick: 51st 5th QB overall
Surprisingly Wilson is being selected, on average, an entire round after Kaepernick. This gives Wilson the advantage as he is coming at a significantly greater value.
2013 Notable Off-Season Team Acquisitions
Seahawks: Wide Receiver Percy Harvin, Wide Receiver Chris Harper (Rookie)
49ers: Wide Receiver Anquan Boldin, Wide Receiver Quinton Patton (Rookie), Tight End Vance McDonald (Rookie)
*This is subjective to personal opinion, but in my opinion, the addition of the dynamic Percy Harvin far outweighs the addition of veteran Anquan Boldin and rookies for the 49ers. This is close, but I give the advantage to Wilson and the Seahawks for improving their wide receivers in the offseason.
Overall, according to the numbers from last year, this was a very close comparison and it really is hard to say who will be better than the other in 2013. With that being said there are a few things to take into consideration and why I chose Russell Wilson over Colin Kaepernick. First, Kaepernick's improbable run to the Super Bowl has inflated his ADP, and he will come at a higher price than Wilson, who has nearly identical potential. Second, the majority of Kaepernick's production comes from him scrambling and accumulating yards on the ground which is great to have, but I have concerns with him staying healthy for the entire 2013 season. When you compare this to Wilson, who doesn't have to rely on running and is an efficient passer, I feel a lot more comfortable about him finishing the season healthy and productive. The last reason is the Seahawks offense; I feel they have solidified themselves as an elite offense for 2013 with the addition of Percy Harvin, who at times, even made Christian Ponder look good in 2012. Bottom line, the decision is up to you; it's really hard to go wrong with either of these quarterbacks, both of whom should be top scorers next season.