2021 Franchise Focus: Washington Football Team

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2021 Franchise Focus: Washington Football Team

The Team was a great story last year, with Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith defying the odds and leading his squad to a division title — albeit in an awful division.

Still, it was more impressive that Smith simply proved he could get back on the field after his catastrophic leg injury than anything to do with his play on the field. Smith retired, and the Team sought out a QB upgrade during the off-season, bringing in the ageless Ryan Fitzpatrick.

With Fitz in town, the Team’s offense will be more aggressive, good news for Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas. But with one of the NFL’s best defenses and a solid offensive line in tow, it should be a good environment for Antonio Gibson and the run game, as well. Washington has plenty of appealing fantasy options.

Washington Football Team Franchise Focus Companion Podcast

The Basics

Team FuturesOdds
Season Win Total (O/U)8.5 (-115/-105)
NFC East+200
Playoffs (Y/N)+120/-160
NFC Championship+2200
Super Bowl+5000

Season Prop Movement

  • Win Total: 8 (-110) in late March to 8.5 (-115)

  • Super Bowl: +6000 in early February to +5000

Premium 2021 Betting Preview from Tom Brolley found here.

Key Offseason Moves

AdditionsDraftDepartures
Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB)Sam Cosmi (OT)Alex Smith (QB, retired)
Charles Leno (OT)Dyami Brown (WR)Morgan Moses (OT, NYJ)
Ereck Flowers (OG)Dax Milne (WR)Geron Christian (OT, Hou)
Tyler Larsen (OC)John Bates (TE)Bryce Love (RB)
Jaret Patterson (RB, UDFA)Will Bradley-King (DE)Jeremy Sprinkle (TE, Dal)
Curtis Samuel (WR)Shaka Toney (DE)Thaddeus Moss (TE, Cin)
Adam Humphries (WR)Jamin Davis (ILB)Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Phi)
DeAndre Carter (WR)Benjamin St.-Juste (CB)Ryan Anderson (DE, NYG)
Sammis Reyes (TE, UDFA)Darrick Forrest (S)Kevin Pierre-Louis (OLB, Hou)
Joe Walker (ILB)Thomas Davis (ILB, retired)
David Mayo (ILB)Mychal Kendricks (ILB)
William Jackson (CB)Ronald Darby (CB, Den)
Bobby McCain (CB)Fabian Moreau (CB, Atl)
Darryl Roberts (CB)
Linden Stephens (CB)

Scott Barrett’s Fantasy Strength of Schedule

Quarterback: 7th-softest (+0.46)

Running Back: 12th-toughest (-0.35)

Wide Receivers: 9th-softest (+0.53)

Tight Ends: 9th-softest (+0.23)

Pace and Tendencies

Pace (seconds in between plays): 26.0 (3rd)

Plays per game: 64.6 (13th)

When the game is within a score — Pass: 59.5% (10th) | Run: 40.5% (23rd)

When the team is ahead — Pass: 41.2% (30th) | Run: 58.8% (3rd)

When the team is behind — Pass: 70.5% (4th) | Run: 29.5% (29th)

OC Scott Turner did a phenomenal job in his first year turning around Washington’s offense after an abysmal 2019 season. Two years ago, Washington finished dead-last in points per game, plays per game, third-down conversions, and they were third from last in yards gained per drive. Is that bad? Even with the musical chairs at quarterback, Turner righted the ship and made some key changes last season. First and foremost, Washington played much faster. Back in 2019, their old staff ran their offense at the second-slowest pace and that was a large part of the reason they only managed to get off 55 plays per game. Secondly, Turner leaned on the passing attack when the score was close, and then salted defenses away with the run game when they built a lead. Structurally speaking, there is a lot to like about how Turner set up the offense. Now with improved quarterback play, Washington has a chance to take a big leap in the weak NFC East.

Key Statistics

  • Washington’s defense only allowed a score on 30% of their drives (fifth-best).

  • They forced a sack on 8.2% of the opposing teams dropbacks (fourth-best).

  • Terry McLaurin saw at least 6 targets in all 16 games (including playoffs).

  • Despite all the QB turnover, McLaurin still had a remarkably consistent season. He finished as a WR2 or better (top-24) in 7-of-15 games and had 10+ PPR points in 12 games.

  • McLaurin’s three games where he was held to single-digit points came against the Rams, Steelers, and 49ers. All three of those secondaries were 32nd, 31st, and 30th in passing yards allowed per game.

  • Logan Thomas was the opposite of McLaurin, faring better when Smith was the QB. Thomas averaged 11.9 fantasy points on 7.9 targets per game with Smith under center and 10.1 fantasy points on 5.9 targets per game without him.

  • Thomas was basically used as a big slot receiver. OC Scott Turner lined Thomas up in the slot on 66% of his snaps, which was the third-highest rate among TEs behind only Mike Gesicki (67%) and Anthony Firkser (71%).

  • There is no doubt Antonio Gibson answered all of the questions of whether or not he can be a featured runner. Among the 25 running backs that got at least 150 carries, Gibson ranked seventh in both missed tackles forced per carry (per PFF) and seventh in success rate (per SIS).

  • However, Gibson’s lack of involvement as a receiver made him very touchdown dependent. 32% of Gibson’s fantasy points came from rushing TDs, which was the second-highest rate behind only Nick Chubb (34%) among the top-24 running backs in fantasy points.

  • A total of 28 RBs saw 40+ targets in 2020. Of this group, Gibson ranked last in routes run per game (13.0).

  • Per PFF, McKissic out-snapped Gibson on third downs by a massive 197 to 22 margin.

Huber’s Scheme Notes

Offensive

Perhaps the most important offseason move from Owner Daniel Snyder was removing HC Ron Rivera’s interim GM title with an official one for Martin Mayhew. During his eight seasons as GM of the Lions, Mayhew was responsible for drafting an impressive list of talent that includes Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh, Cliff Avril, Darius Slay, Nick Fairley, Riley Reiff, Ezekiel Ansah, Eric Ebron, Laken Tomlinson, Theo Riddick, Larry Warford, Kyle Van Noy, Quandre Diggs, and Nevin Lawson. To be clear, the salary cap issues Mayhew inherited were not entirely the responsibility of Rivera. Many of the egregious budgeting issues are on Snyder and former President Bruce Allen. The focus of this portion of the team’s outlook is intended for other purposes, but some cap details simply cannot be overlooked.

First and foremost, the decision to throw nearly $100 million — $55 million guaranteed — at a 35-year-old QB with only two top-10 seasons spanning an 11-year career as a game manager was disgraceful. Nobody could have predicted Alex Smith would suffer spiral and compound fractures in his right leg during the very first year of that contract in Landover. Projecting a precipitous decline at the tail-end of his career should’ve been fundamental. Alas, the franchise was on the hook for $20.1 million in 2019 (11% of the cap), $21.4 million last season (11% of the cap), and, following his retirement, still sits on the books for an $8.2 million dead cap hit this season. And we won’t even touch on the Snyder/Allen-Trent Williams saga. As for Rivera, his own handling of Dwayne Haskins places an indefinite stain on the franchise.

Not that all of Mayhew’s offseason decisions left a sparkling glow. Why he would release right tackle Morgan Moses after the best season of his seven-year career is puzzling. The Jets were happy to swoop in to snag his services on a one-year deal of only $3.6 million. Keep in mind, WFT currently sits at a cool $15.6 million under the ‘21 cap (13th-most). But Mayhew collected his 38-year-old starting QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick, on a bargain one-year, $10.5 million deal. He restocked the O-line with Charles Leno, Ereck Flowers, and ‘21 second-rounder Samuel Cosmi. He finally surrounded Terry McLaurin with the WR talents of Curtis Samuel and ‘21 third-rounder Dyami Brown. And he filled the two pressing needs on defense with William Jackson III and ‘21 first-rounder Jamin Davis.

Fitzpatrick is not a top-10 QB. He’s also a clear sit candidate whenever he’s facing off with Cover 3- and/or Cover 6-heavy defenses. But he also takes an extremely aggressive approach, trailing only Jameis Winston, Josh Allen, and Russell Wilson with his 9.51 air yards/attempt over the last three seasons. Fitzmagic is not the guy you want to see on the field when your defense is in a Cover 4. During the last three seasons, Fitzpatrick ranks second-best with both his 0.47 FPs/dropback and 107.1 passer rating vs. Cover 4. And he’s also in the DFS discussion when opposed by Cover 1 and/or Cover 2 defenses.

Shifting from Miami to Washington, Fitzpatrick will greatly benefit from the Football Team’s O-line. Pivoting away from the Cornelius Lucas-Geron Christian Sr.-David Sharpe rotation to Leno at left tackle is most definitely an upgrade. Leno’s addition allows Lucas to swing his excellent pass pro over to right tackle until Cosmi is ready for primetime. The cornerstone of Washington’s O-line is right guard Brandon Scherff. Flowers is expected to battle incumbent Wes Schweitzer at left guard, and ‘17 sixth-rounder Chase Roullier has emerged as a top-10 performer at center. Granted it will take time for the group to mesh, but Fitzpatrick still offers outstanding mobility despite his age until that time.

If “McLaurin F1” were to be working with a top-10 QB, his dynasty stock would soar. That’s significant since his dyno stock is already very high. If everything plays out accordingly with Samuel and Brown drawing safety attention away, “Scary Terry” could end up posting ridiculous numbers. It boggles the mind how McLaurin lasted until the 76th pick of the ‘19 draft after showcasing 4.35-speed (81st-percentile), a 37.5-inch vertical, and 125-inch broad jump at the combine. He’s utilized that speed and explosion to become one of the most dangerous WRs in the game against Cover 1, Cover 2, and Cover 3.

Samuel is currently housed on the PUP list with a minor groin injury. But OC Scott Turner has already made it clear that he will not require any practice time before being ready for game action since he already knows the system. Ensuring that he is 100% for the start of the season is the singular focus. Samuel is an extremely unique athlete, offering his 4.31-speed (87th-percentile) as both a ball carrier and receiver. Like McLaurin, Samuel’s numbers have suffered from playing with below-average QBs during his career. As is understandable, Samuel is nearly unguardable in one-on-one matchups. Fitzpatrick will be the best QB he’s ever worked with, and Turner has big plans for him. Do not be surprised if Samuel is peppered with upwards of 120 targets this season.

One of the big storylines out of their world-class training center in Richmond, Virginia has been the emergence of Brown. Mayhew is obviously far from surprised at the news regarding his third round investment. At his North Carolina Pro Day, Brown posted 4.44-speed (68th-percentile), a 6.85-second 3-cone (71st-percentile), and 128-inch broad jump (61st-percentile). As was also the case for McLaurin and Samuel, those impressive athletic measurements are accompanied by outstanding collegiate production.

We definitely can’t forget about Logan Thomas. At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, the former QB was timed with 4.61-speed (75th-percentile) and a 7.05-second 3-cone (71st-percentile) at the 2014 Combine. He literally exploded onto the scene for WFT last season with 72 receptions, 670 receiving yards, and six TDs on the fifth-highest TE target share (20.2%). Just don’t confuse Thomas with an inline TE after ranking 76th — 91 qualified TEs — in block rate, and running 74% of all routes from the slot or out wide. Mayhew also added ‘21 fourth-rounder John Bates and undrafted, athletic phenomenon Sammis Reyes to the mix.

With all of 33 career collegiate carries, Antonio Gibson erupted for 826 rushing yards and 11 TDs during his rookie season. If not for a lingering turf toe injury sufffered in Week 13, his numbers would have challenged for the top marks in the league. Gibson’s skills are a perfect complement to Turner’s balanced rushing attack. Washington blends an even mix of Inside and Outside Zone, a top-10 rate of Pulling Linemen (Power and Traps), and a top-10 rate of Counter/Misdirectional blocking. The news out of camp suggests Gibson has overtaken J.D. McKissic for the passing down role. If that comes to fruition, Gibson could finish the season among the top-five RBs in fantasy scoring.

Mayhew made his presence immediately felt. He invested 12% of the cap into an offense that appears far superior to the one in action last year. The ceiling for Turner’s offense will entirely depend on Fitzpatrick. Should Fitz have a career year, Washington will easily take the NFC East, and potentially give Tampa Bay, Green Bay, and/or the L.A. Rams a run for their money.

Defensive

There is a distinct reason GM Martin Mayhew only spent half as much of his available salary cap on the defense as he did for the offense. Washington’s defense was already among the most-talented in the game. And a strong argument can be made that WFTs D-line is only bested by that of the Rams and Buccaneers. And for good reason. WFT invested a first-round pick on their D-line in four consecutive seasons (2017-20). Jonathan Allen (2017), Da’Ron Payne (2018), Montez Sweat (2019), and Chase Young (2020) combined for 183 QB pressures (66% of the team total) and 26 sacks (50%). Young and Sweat are also already two of the NFLs best EDGE rushers in run defense.

One area where Mayhew knew he needed to improve was at WILL linebacker. Tackling the issue with his very first pick, he selected Jamin Davis out of Kentucky, the top coverage LB prospect in the class. MIKE Cole Holcomb ranked second-best in yards allowed/coverage snap (YPCS), first overall in FPs/coverage snap (FPCS), and third-best in passer rating on targets into his coverage among 47 qualified “slot” LBs. Holcomb and Davis will provide Washington with outstanding coverage over the middle of the field.

The final need on defense was a quality replacement for Ronald Darby at left corner. Let’s just say Mayhew accomplished that goal with the addition of William Jackson III on a three-year, $40 million deal. Jackson was well on his way toward entering the discussion as a top-10 shadow corner for Cincinnati. He’ll provide DC Jack Del Rio with one of the top outside corner combos in football opposite Kendall Fuller. And they have impressive depth behind them between Jimmy Moreland, Bobby McCain, Darryl Roberts, and ‘21 third-rounder Benjamin St-Juste.

Del Rio’s coverage rotation calls for a top-10 rate of Zone schemes that consists primarily of Cover 3 and Cover 4. Their elite D-line permits Del Rio to avoid sending all-out blitzes, only mixing in Cover 1 to keep QBs guessing. Reports suggest free safety Landon Collins is well on his way in his recovery from a Week 7 Achilles tear. Even if he is forced to miss early games, Washington already found an unexpected talent after a breakout from ‘18 fourth-rounder Troy Apke. It just so happens they also discovered their starting strong safety following a breakout season from ‘20 seventh-rounder Kamren Curl. WFTs safety group is one of the deepest units on the team, with Jeremy Reaves, McCain’s experience at safety, and ‘21 fifth-rounder Darrick Forrest behind Collins, Curl, and Apke.

If we’re looking for reasons to doubt Washington, their defense is not the best place to look. Whenever Mayhew decides on his QB of the future, that youngster will inherit a loaded team already primed with one of the most promising rosters in the NFC. Until then, Fitzpatrick will have his right arm on the pulse of the franchise’s outlook. He has more than enough weapons to submit a Fitzmagical season.

Projected Fantasy Contributors

Ryan Fitzpatrick (Proj: QB22 | ADP: 168 | Pos ADP: QB21)

The QB mercenary is on to his ninth stop of his NFL career, and it’s arguably his most important. Washington is on the precipice of really competing in the NFC and it was obvious last year that their quarterback play simply wasn’t good enough to make a deep run into the playoffs. Ryan Fitzpatrick is by no means perfect, but he certainly gives Washington a chance to reach new heights. What’s most impressive is just how much Fitzmagic has improved as a player late in his career. Over the last four seasons, Fitzpatrick is tied with Kirk Cousins for ninth-best in YPA (7.7) and is tied with Matt Ryan for 17th in FPG (17.9). With the cast of weapons and a borderline elite defense backing him, Fitzpatrick is in such a fantastic spot to succeed. Their defense is going to keep them in plenty of tight ball games, which, theoretically, will allow Fitzpatrick to not play loose with the football and take unnecessary risks. With all of that said, while Fitzpatrick is a fantastic target as a QB2 in SuperFlex leagues, he’s right on the borderline of relevancy in 10- or 12-team 1QB leagues. At the very least, we’ll surely recommend Fitzpatrick as a streamer or DFS a few times this season.

Taylor Heinicke (Proj: QB43 | ADP: 280 | Pos ADP: QB67)

Heinicke’s playoff performance against the Bucs’ stout defense in the Wild Card round was nothing short of heroic. He ended the season as Washington’s fourth starting QB and played well enough to keep the game against the eventual Super Bowl champs close. Heinicke tossed for 306, 1 TD, and 1 INT while adding 6/46/1 on the ground. Heinicke’s dual-threat ability will make him an interesting streamer play if Fitzpatrick were to miss any time and he’s an excellent stash in deep dynasty SuperFlex leagues.

Antonio Gibson (Proj: RB8 | ADP: 16 | Pos ADP: RB12)

Antonio Gibson comes into 2021 with league-winning potential. As a rookie, Gibson answered all of the questions about his ability as a runner, going for 170/795/11 on the ground and ended the season as the RB19 in FPG (14.7). Gibson was immediately trusted as Washington’s primary back on early-downs and cemented himself as the goal-line back, too. He turned his team-leading 13 inside-the-five carries into 7 scores even while their coaching staff gave dusty Peyton Barber seven inside-5 totes. With the early-down and goal-line role on lock, the missing piece for Gibson is ironically getting more involved as a receiver. Good news, though! There has been a steady drumbeat all offseason that Washington and OC Scott Turner are jonesing to unlock Gibson in the passing game and made it a point emphasis back in OTAs/minicamp. That’s huge, because J.D. McKissic out-snapped Gibson by a massive 197 to 22 margin on third downs last season. If Gibson can indeed close the gap and earn a larger role in the passing game, a top-5 finish is well within his range of outcomes. We have bumped Gibson up our ranks all season and he is one of our favorite players to target in the second round.

J.D. McKissic (Proj: RB46 | ADP: 135 | Pos ADP: RB48)

Last year was a dream season for McKissic where so many stars aligned. Washington’s new rookie back Antonio Gibson had his offseason practice and prep time cut short because of COVID, so the team couldn’t install and work on Gibson’s role as a pass catcher and blocker. So, as a result, Washington let McKissic take control of the passing down role in the backfield. J.D. McKissic ended the season first in targets (110) and fourth in routes run (24.9) among RBs and it culminated in him finishing as the RB29 in FPG (12.1). McKissic thrived with captain checkdown Alex Smith under center and saw a big spike in volume when Smith was the QB. He averaged 8.1 targets per game with Smith and 5.6 T/G without him. He was also very game-script dependent, putting up 14.9 fantasy points per game in losses and just 8.4 FPG in their wins. Now with Gibson set to take on a much larger role and a new QB under center, we’re expecting McKissic to regress quite a bit. He isn’t a priority target of ours.

Jaret Patterson (Proj: RB74 | ADP: 288 | Pos ADP: RB132)

After going undrafted, Jaret Patterson landed in Washington and is in a competition for the No. 3 role with veteran Peyton Barber. In three years of MACtion at Buffalo, Patterson ran for over 1,000 yards in every season and set team records in yards and TDs in 2019. Patterson is undersized at 5-6, 195lbs but he runs much stronger than you might expect for his frame. He’s not on the fantasy radar yet, but he’s unquestionably more explosive than Barber at this point in his career.

Peyton Barber (Proj: RB82 | ADP: 263 | Pos ADP: RB101)

It took all of about two weeks for Barber to lose his job to Antonio Gibson last season and he’s now in a camp battle with Jaret Patterson for the No. 3 job. We’re expecting Patterson to win it. Barber is a career plodder and averaged an absolutely world-beating 2.7 YPC last year. He’s on the last legs of his NFL career.

Terry McLaurin (Proj: WR9 | ADP: 28 | Pos ADP: WR10)

Terry McLaurin’s ascension continued in 2020 and it culminated in a remarkable season despite the musical chairs at quarterback. McLaurin dropped 87/1118/4 in 15 games and was the WR20 by FPG (15.1). McLaurin did have wide splits with the different passers under center, though, as he averaged just 12.9 fantasy points per game when Alex Smith was the starter and 17.4 FPG without Smith under center. A large part of that dip in production was because Smith refused to push the ball downfield and his average depth of target was just 5.1 yards, which was by far the lowest in the NFL. McLaurin’s QB upgrade from Smith to Ryan Fitzpatrick can not be understated. Fitzmagic has a history of supporting elite fantasy receivers in recent years from Brandon Marshall (WR3 in 2015) and Eric Decker (WR14 in 2015), to Mike Evans averaging more FPG with Fitz (17.3) than without him (14.7) in 2017-18, and DeVante Parker scoring a career-high 15.4 FPG en route to a WR16 finish in 2019. McLaurin is among the strongest receiver targets in the third round.

Curtis Samuel (Proj: WR52 | ADP: 99 | Pos ADP: WR42)

After a breakout season (77/851/3 receiving; 41/200/2 rushing), Curtis Samuel got paid in March to join Washington via free agency. The Samuel-to-Washington connection runs deep. Apparently, HC Ron Rivera tried to trade for Samuel last season, but the Panthers balked. Rivera drafted Samuel in Carolina and Washington’s OC Scott Turner was a part of game-planning for that offense back in 2018-19 when his dad Norv Turner was OC of the team. And finally, Terry McLaurin were college running mates at Ohio State (in 2015-16). Interestingly, Samuel was completely miscast as a deep threat in 2019 under the old Panthers staff. Samuel’s average depth of target was 14.8 yards in 2019, and that ranked 11th-highest out of 75 WRs. Under Joe Brady, Samuel was used way more as a slot receiver and his aDOT dipped to 7.5 yards (9th-lowest out of 77 WRs) last year. Has Turner learned from his mistakes and will he use Samuel in the slot in 2021? That is the question. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen Samuel on the practice field yet. He’s dealing with a groin injury and had a stint on the COVID list. Even though he’s familiar with the coaching staff, we’ve dropped Samuel in our ranks because of all this missed practice time.

Dyami Brown (Proj: WR95 | ADP: 270 | Pos ADP: WR155)

The 82nd overall pick in the NFL Draft, Dyami Brown is quietly going to be a huge piece of what Washington will do on offense this year. It may not translate to the stat-sheet, but Brown is a much-needed deep-threat that Washington’s offense has been missing. Brown went over 1,000 yards in each of his final two seasons at UNC and averaged over 20 yards per reception each year, which is just ridiculous. Having Brown stretch the defense vertically will be huge in opening things up for Terry McLaurin on the opposite side. Brown isn’t really on our radar for 2021 seasonal leagues, but he is a nice target in the third round of rookie dynasty drafts in a very weak class.

Cam Sims (Proj: WR108 | ADP: 273 | Pos ADP: WR159)

Sims ended up being the fourth-leading receiver on Washington last year (32/477/1) as the team ran a rotation at their No. 2 slot opposite Terry McLaurin. Even though it was by no means a massive season, Sims’ 2020 was a bit of a breakout for the former member of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Prior to last year, Sims played in just 8 games and caught 2 balls in his two previous seasons. Sims will have to compete for snaps with Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown now, though, so he’ll be at best their No. 4 wideout to start the season.

Adam Humphries (Proj: WR113 | ADP: 282 | Pos ADP: WR170)

After a disappointing two seasons in Tennessee, Adam Humphries signed a one-year deal with very little guaranteed money to compete for slot snaps in Washington. There is no guarantee he makes the team, but Samuel’s injury has definitely gotten him plenty of reps to try and earn a roster spot.

Steven Sims Jr. (Proj: WR125 | ADP: 248 | Pos ADP: WR121)

Steven Sims has been a big part of the team’s No. 2 receiver rotation over the last two seasons, but that figures to change quite a bit with their additions this offseason. Sims isn’t a lock to make the final 53-man roster and is not on the fantasy radar.

Logan Thomas (Proj: TE7 | ADP: 99 | Pos ADP: TE8)

Fifth-year breakouts rarely happen at tight end, but Thomas proved himself as an outlier last season after busting out for 72/670/6. Thomas tied for a TE6 finish in FPG with T.J. Hockenson (11.0), but that was still a whopping 9.8 points behind the TE1 Travis Kelce and 7.5 points behind TE2 Darren Waller. Even though Thomas helped a lot of teams as a waiver wire darling, there were some underlying issues in his efficiency. Last year, Thomas was primarily targeted on short/intermediate routes as his average depth of target was just 7.7 yards downfield. And he wasn’t particularly efficient despite seeing 105 targets (third-most among TEs). Thomas’ 670 yards ranked seventh-most, his 68% catch rate ranked 20th, and was 22nd-of-26 TEs in yards per route run (1.10). Now with more target competition added in Curtis Samuel, Thomas’ upside is a bit capped as the No. 3 target on the team.

Final Points

You never know with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but based on the tape he’s put out the last couple seasons, the odds are good that he will play well this year in what is overall a good spot. Fitzpatrick can be more of a game manager on a team with a top defense, but he’s a gunslinger at heart, so he will aggressively throw the ball, and he still runs 3-4 times a game most weeks. Fitzpatrick is a great value pick at QB this year, with an ADP of 165 (QB21), and he’s an excellent QB2 in 2QB and SuperFlex leagues. There’s enough here at receiver, plus some pass-catching RBs, for him to do consistently well.

He’s a nice backup, but Taylor Heinicke is just that, a backup. He’s not a threat to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s job, so he’s not worth drafting unless we’re talking about a 2-QB league where actual NFL backups get selected.

He’s probably my favorite breakout player this year, and we’re all in on Antonio Gibson, especially at his Round 2 ADP. He will definitely see more work for this former college receiver in the passing game this year, and with Ryan Fitzpatrick added and a good defense, they should play in a lot of close games, giving him a good chance at volume. If all goes well with the talented Gibson, a top-5 PPR finish at RB is in play. So far, his lingering toe issue hasn’t been a problem. I’d love him as an RB2 in the second round or an RB1 after I grab a stud wideout in the first.

His ADP has dropped steadily all off-season, so JD McKissic should return solidly on his 135 ADP (RB48) in PPR leagues. But to expect him to have anywhere near the same role as he did last year is unwise, since Antonio Gibson’s role as a pass catcher is set to rise. McKissic was great with captain checkdown Alex Smith last year, but Ryan Fitzpatrick will check it down well, so JD will flirt with 50+ catches. Just know his role is decreasing from last year,

We still have a position battle for the #3 RB spot, but the undrafted free agent Jaret Patterson has a chance to beat out veteran Peyton Barber, and Patterson is an intriguing guy on the low end. He’s undersized at 5’ 6”, but he runs hard and he can actually catch the ball. If he makes the team, he’s probably the best RB handcuff option behind Gibson in terms of the early-down snaps.

We are expecting rookie Jaret Patterson to win the No. 3 job, but Barber could still edge him out, especially since he’s dropped some weight this off-season. But he’s not draftable, obviously.

After he finished last year as a WR2 or better (top-24) in 7-of-15 games, we’re all totally sold on Terry McLaurin, especially since he’s now teamed with a better QB who will feed him the ball in Ryan Fitzpatrick. McLaurin is the clear alpha dog here, and Fitz has traditionally gotten a lot out of those types, like DeVante Parker scoring a career-high 15.4 FPG en route to a WR16 finish in 2019. If you’re looking for a viable WR1 or a great WR2 in the third round, McLaurin is a guy to home in on.

He’s just been taken off the Covid-19 list on 8/9, Curtis Samuel then landed on PUP, since he’s behind in terms of conditioning. Samuel does know the offense from his time with OC Ron Turner, but it’s worth noting that Turner & Company didn’t actually do a good job with Samuel back in 2019. But HC Ron Rivera is a fan, and Samuel was a teammate of Terry McLaurin in college, so there’s some continuity with Samuel. However, with an ADP of 100 and WR42, he is a little pricey, so I do not find myself targeting him.

He was taken with the 82nd pick in the NFL Draft this spring, which was a surprise, but they do like Dyami Brown quite a bit in Washington, and he’s been off to a good start in their training camp. That’s very notable in dynasty leagues, since he could be the #2 opposite Terry McLaurin on the outside for the next 3-5 years, but with an ADP of 270, he’s not on the radar for most in redraft leagues.

He’s a nice depth guy with size for them, but Cam Sims isn’t guaranteed anything in Washington, so he’s merely a guy to look at on the WW if he’s set to have a larger role during the season.

We’ll see if he makes the team, but Adam Humphries did have a lot of success with Ryan Fitzpatrick in Tampa, so it would not be a shock if he hauled in 50 balls for them in 2021. Curtis Samuel’s injury has definitely gotten him plenty of reps to try and earn a roster spot, but he’s a possible in-season pickup only.

He may still make the team, but with Curtis Samuel added and Adam Humphries in the mix to make the team, Steven Sims is not on the fantasy radar.

He has some limitations in that he’s mainly a straight-line, but Logan Thomas is also a speciman whose really tough to stop due to his imposing size and his ability to run well. The team is optimistic he can continue to ascend, and they re-signed him to a new deal this off-season, so things are looking up. He also now has a QB in Ryan Fitzpatrick who can definitely get him the ball. But the best news of all is that this Top-5 TE is a really nice value in redraft leagues with an ADP of 95-100 and TE8. He’s an excellent choice around that spot if you pass on drafting one of the top guys in the first 4-5 rounds.

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