Pull up the consensus fantasy football rankings or the early 2023 ADP. There are about 10-12 players there at the top, where you don’t necessarily get to choose if you can draft them or not. In that range, the randomized draft order will determine your fate. So not everyone can just grab Christian McCaffrey. After that, though, you’re free to draft whoever you want. Contrary to popular belief, fantasy football draft rankings and fantasy football ADP are merely a guide. If you want a player bad enough, reach for him. Trade for him. Get your guys. As the title already indicates, one of those guys for me this year will be Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf. Let's take a closer look at Metcalf in this fantasy football player profile ahead of the 2023 NFL season.


Seattle Seahawks WR DK Metcalf Player Profile

First, let’s take a quick look at the overall profile for DK Metcalf. Here are his workout metrics, courtesy of PlayerProfiler.

Doesn’t get much better on paper. The reason he fell to the second round of the draft was the boom/bust nature of this type of prospect. His raw size/speed combo offers big upside but he’s clearly meant to play split and his lack of agility means he either earns that job or does nothing for the team (think N’Keal Harry). GMs love taking guys that have the floor of contributing on special teams since it hurts less if they don’t fully pan out. For instance, Dolphins GM Chris Grier said that Jaylen Waddle’s “explosiveness and return game” is what gave him the edge over Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith in the 2021 NFL draft. With Metcalf, someone had to make an all-or-nothing bet because he was never going to be returning kicks or chasing down punt returners.

Now, as an NFL player, he doesn’t have the most diverse route tree. Per “The Edge” tool over at the33rdTeam.com, he ran at least 15 unique routes in 2022 which is actually down from 19 in 2021. The top guys like CeeDee Lamb and Justin Jefferson both ran 22 unique routes last year. But the “one trick pony” label for Metcalf that some tried to pin on him as a prospect/rookie isn’t valid either as only 41 of his 141 targets came on the deep routes (posts, corners, and verticals). He clearly has enough in his bag of tricks to be considered a complete wide receiver. So the bottom line profile-wise is that you have a size-speed specimen locked into a full-time role at 25 years old that is just entering the age apex for wide receiver production.


DK Metcalf Stats & Production

First, let’s look at what he does well. His 139 targets were tied for 7th among wide receivers last year per Pro Football Focus – can’t ask for too much more than that. The average depth of target of 12.1 is healthy as well, and it’s right in there with other high-end pass catchers like Tyreek Hill (12.7), Stefon Diggs (11.9) Tee Higgins (11.6), Justin Jefferson (10.6), CeeDee Lamb (10.5), Ja’Marr Chase (9.8), etc. Metcalf's catch rate of 64.7% is an improvement from last year. It could be better but it's still in line with a guy like AJ Brown (63.9%). His route participation is good, his drop rate is solid, and his contested catch rate of 47.6% is all you can really ask for. So, what separates Metcalf from the rest of the top dogs?

Well, let’s start with a stat that came down over the last two years – touchdowns. Metcalf had 10 and 12 touchdowns in 2020 and 2021, respectively, but only six in 2022. And that’s despite leading the league in end zone targets. The Seahawks threw him 22 passes in the end zone and he only caught five. Stefon Diggs was second with 18, of which he caught eight. That could improve and catching eight like Diggs instead of five would have made Metcalf a top 10 WR in PPR.  

But the bigger issue becomes apparent when you compare DK’s production side-by-side with another elite WR in AJ Brown.

These guys have similar aDot, targets, catch rate, etc. But it’s pretty clear without even checking the tape that Brown offered more after the catch. He was breaking more tackles and that difference in YAC is the real difference in yardage totals. It’s a big reason why Brown finished as the WR6 and DK Metcalf was WR16.

Fantasy Football Outlook for DK Metcalf

We’ve actually seen the elite version of DK Metcalf before. The one that finished WR7 in 2020, just as AJ Brown did this year. In that season, Metcalf broke 17 tackles (just like Brown did this year) and he had 388 yards of YAC (which is 4.4 yards of YAC per reception vs. 2.8 this year). In that year, Metcalf also caught six of his fourteen endzone targets so a lot higher catch rate on those end zone chances.

DK Metcalf has the elite traits we look for in a wide receiver and he has elite usage within the scheme. At 25 years old, he’s entering that 26 to 29-year-old age apex, which is the sweet spot for wide receivers. The Seahawks aren’t likely to make major changes to the offense in terms of target competition - it’s looking to be guys like Tyler Lockett and Noah Fant once again. What it’s really going to boil down to is whether he and Geno Smith can take their connection to another level in their second year and put Metcalf in a place to succeed. 

I can’t guarantee that happens - nor can I deny there is a chance Geno takes a step back rather than forward. What I can tell you is that based on his ADP of WR15 on Underdog, and based on his dynasty market price of a first-round pick on trade charts like PeakInHighSkool’s, I’m absolutely willing to pay the price of admission or even overpay. I understand if maybe you have your heart set on Bijan Robinson at 1.01 but I'd part with any other rookie draft pick in single QB leagues. Because I’ve seen what it looks like when DK Metcalf breaks a few more tackles or converts on a few more red zone targets. And I’m not sure even the 2020 version is the full extent of what Metcalf’s upside can be.


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