Courtland Sutton envisions himself as Russell Wilson's DK Metcalf in a pass-happy Broncos offense

Courtland Sutton envisions himself as Russell Wilson’s DK Metcalf in a pass-happy Broncos offense

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — On March 8, Courtland Sutton was taking a nap when his phone started blowing up. He tried to sleep through it, but the calls and texts were too much. His friends and loved ones were trying to get a hold of him to see if he heard the news.

Finally, when Sutton woke up, he was all smiles. He saw the Broncos had traded for quarterback Russell Wilson.

Denver feels Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a fifth-round pick to Seattle for Wilson and a fourth-round pick. Sutton knew his life was about to get much easier with Wilson now as his quarterback.

“We got the guy that we were looking for,” Sutton said. “The leader, the guy that’s going to come in and be the captain. The guy that’s going to want the torch handed to him and wants to take us as far as he possibly can. … As long as we work our butts off and listen and learn as much as we can, the sky’s the limit for us.”

I caught up with Sutton during one of his offseason workout sessions at XPE Sports, which is a training facility for NFL athletes, mostly with a focus on speed. Sutton has worked out at XPE Sports since prior to the NFL Combine, and he comes to South Florida every offseason to train.

But he knew there would be a call coming from Wilson to go work out, and Sutton wanted to be ready. The two finally got together in Denver, and Wilson tweeted a video of him throwing a long touchdown pass to Sutton on March 22 with the caption “uh oh.” That had Fantasy managers — and Broncos fans — excited, and Sutton knows there are big expectations for Denver’s passing game this year.

Sutton said Wilson will bring out the best in him, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, KJ Hamler and Albert Okwuegbunam, and Sutton said he wants the Broncos to be a pass-happy team in 2022.

“Our room is full of excitement,” Sutton said. “We all have different things that we’re good at and are higher on in our toolbox than others. We’re able to build off each other and keep people off balance. We have guys that can do anything. It makes our room special . We want the burden. We want our team to lean on us to make plays. Give us the opportunity. Throw the ball 50 times a game if we need to. We’ll put the burden on us to win the game.”

New coach Nathaniel Hackett seems to agree with Sutton. Although the Broncos have Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon in the backfield, Hackett and the Denver front office didn’t make the move to acquire Wilson to watch him hand off. The Broncos plan to let Russ cook, which is great for the receiving corps.

“I watched their tape from last year, and it’s going to be great to see them be implemented into our system and how they’re going to fit at all the different positions,” Hackett said of the receivers at the NFL owners meetings. “We want to move guys around as much as possible. We want to have them play all over the field. We don’t want to put guys just in one spot. As they can slowly develop and learn the system, it’ll be great to see all the things they can do.”

Sutton and Jeudy profile as the top two receivers for the Broncos, and I like Jeudy slightly better as a No. 2 Fantasy option. I would draft him in Round 4 in the majority of leagues.

Sutton had nothing but high praise for Jeudy, who had a down season in 2021 with just 38 catches for 467 yards and no touchdowns on 56 targets. He missed six games after suffering an ankle injury in Week 1, and he never seemed to get on track after returning to action in Week 8. But Sutton said Wilson will help Jeudy showcase the skills that made him a first-round pick in the NFL Draft in 2020 out of Alabama.

“Jerry is special,” Sutton said. “I tell people all the time it’s hard to put into words what Jerry does. What Jerry does is what Jerry does. Nobody else does what Jerry does. He’s so special in his abilities that God has given him, and he maximizes that. Russ knows that. Russ is excited about being able to tap into his ability. The league hasn’t even seen a glimpse of Jerry Jeudy. They’ve seen bits and pieces, but they have no idea the caliber of player he can be. He doesn’t even fully understand the caliber of player he can be. He’s so special, so talented.”

Sutton should be drafted right after Jeudy in most Fantasy leagues, and he shouldn’t get out of Round 5. Sutton might even be better than Jeudy based on his ability to make plays down the field.

At 6-foot-4, 216 pounds, Sutton closely resembles DK Metcalf (6-foot-4, 235 pounds), and I asked Sutton if he watched film of Metcalf to see what he did to earn Wilson’s trust.

“Being a bigger receiver, knowing that Russ has had DK and other big receivers, I’m excited,” Sutton said. “I’ve seen him throw the back shoulders, I’ve seen him throw the red-zone fades. I’ve seen him make those throws that I’m so anxious to have those opportunities. I’ve seen what I need to see.”

In 2019, his second year in the NFL, Sutton had 72 catches for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns on 125 targets. Then he suffered a torn ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 campaign, and he struggled in his return last year, catching just 58 passes for 776 yards and two touchdowns on 98 targets.

But Wilson should bring out the best in Sutton, which is why he ran to Denver the moment Wilson set up their throwing session.

“We want to get familiar with each other,” Sutton said. “This isn’t just something that we’re going to sit by and be happy this happened. The work has to start now. We have to start putting in that work to get it to where we want to get to in February. It starts now. It’s going to be exciting. I’m definitely excited to have such a prolific quarterback. I can’t wait to be able to get to work.”

After Sutton, Fantasy managers shouldn’t forget about Patrick, who should be drafted as early as Round 8 in most leagues. He’s been Denver’s best Fantasy receiver the past two seasons due to injuries to Sutton and Jeudy, and Patrick has combined for 104 catches for 1,476 yards and 11 touchdowns on 164 targets over that span.

Sutton said, “Tim worked his butt off to get to the place he’s in,” and he’s a great complementary weapon to Sutton and Jeudy. The same goes for Hamler, who is coming off a torn left ACL in September.

Hamler is more of a late-round flier in deeper leagues, but he can win you a week or two with his big-play ability. He has been clocked at running the 40-yard-dash in 4.27 seconds.

“He can fly,” Sutton said. “If people thought that Russ throwing these big posts to Tyler Lockett was fun, just imagine Russ throwing that post to 4.3 (seconds).”

Okwuegbunam also is in a great spot as the new starting tight end for the Broncos. Fant leaves a big void since he led Denver in catches last season with 68, adding 670 yards and four touchdowns on 90 targets.

Okwuegbunam had 33 catches for 330 yards and two touchdowns on 40 targets last season, but Sutton said get ready for a lot more this season. Okwuegbunam is one of my favorite late-round tight ends to target in all leagues.

“He’s a well-kept secret, but the league will know about him soon,” Sutton said. “He has the potential to be the best tight end in the league.”

It’s going to be a fun season for the pass catchers in Denver now that Wilson is under center, and Wilson should be considered a borderline top-five Fantasy quarterback in all leagues. Prior to the NFL Draft, I have him ranked No. 6 behind only Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, but I could see myself moving Wilson up to No. 3. This could be his best season yet in the NFL.

But let’s also not forget about Williams and Gordon, who re-signed with Denver as a free agent Tuesday night. Even with Gordon back, Williams should be considered a low-end No. 1 Fantasy running back worth drafting as early as Round 2 in most leagues.

Last year, in tandem with Gordon, Williams showed flashes of brilliance. He had eight games last season with at least 15 total touches, and he averaged 14.0 PPR points per game over that span, including three games with at least 19 PPR points. Hopefully, he gets that type of work more often this season. And in the one game when Gordon was out in Week 13 at Kansas City, Williams had 23 carries for 102 yards, along with six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown on nine targets for 29 PPR points. So you can see the star potential.

“Javonte is another one of those dudes that’s special,” Sutton said. “He keeps everybody on their toes. … The dude loves football. He doesn’t say anything, he doesn’t complain, he goes to work every day in practice. What do you need him to do? He does it. He doesn’t complain about touches, he doesn’t complain about playing time, he just works. He loves the game. He’s that guy. I love that about him.”

Gordon is worth drafting by Round 7 as the No. 2 running back in Denver. He’s 29, but last year he averaged a respectable 11.5 PPR points per game with 203 carries for 918 yards and eight touchdowns, along with 28 catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns. I expect those numbers to decline as Williams gets a bigger role, but Gordon still has plenty of upside as a potential flex play in all formats.

It should be a fun season for the Broncos, and they are loaded with Fantasy talent. The addition of Wilson is a huge boost for all the players in Denver, and Fantasy managers should benefit from the Broncos in a big way.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.