2021 Betting Preview: Washington Football Team

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2021 Betting Preview: Washington Football Team

Ron Rivera’s first season in Washington was a smashing success as they made the playoffs with the second-longest postseason odds at +700 — only the Jaguars had longer odds at +800. The Football Team also easily had the longest odds of all the division winners at +2200. They became just the third team in NFL history to win a division with a losing record (7-9, 9-7 ATS) — the 2014 Panthers and 2010 Seahawks did it before them. Washington drafted the cornerstone for its defense for the next decade by selecting Chase Young, who took home Defensive Rookie of the Year honors (+200). The Football Team won their first NFC East title since 2015 all while their owner Daniel Snyder and the franchise was embroiled in controversy. The organization finally underwent a name change after 87 years with the “Redskins” moniker. They capped their year by cutting ties with 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins after an embarrassing start to his NFL career.

Washington scored the eighth-fewest points per game (20.9) and it allowed the fourth-fewest points per game (20.6), which resulted in an 11-5 mark toward unders. The Football Team ended the year 3-5 in one-score games and 2-1 in games decided by three scores or more, and they ended the year with the league’s 14th-best point differential (+6).

Washington’s 2021 win total (8.5) climbed by three victories thanks to its run to the playoffs last season and a strong showing in free agency. The Football Team cruised past their 2020 win total by 1.5 victories and they passed their total with their sixth victory of the season over the 49ers in Week 14. Entering this season, I have the Football Team power rated as the 18th-best team in the NFL (+5000 to win Super Bowl LVI), as the eighth-best team in the NFC (+2500 to win the conference), and as the best team in the NFC East (+200).

2021 Schedule

Spreads are first-look lines from the SuperBook, which were released in early June.

WeekOpponentSpreadTime
1Los Angeles Chargers+1.51
2New York Giants-38:20 (Thurs)
3@Buffalo Bills+7.51
4@Atlanta Falcons+31
5New Orleans Saints+1.51
6Kansas City Chiefs+6.51
7@Green Bay Packers+41
8@Denver Broncos+34:25
9Bye
10Tampa Bay Buccaneers+71
11@Carolina Panthers+11
12Seattle Seahawks+2.58:15 (Mon)
13@Las Vegas Raiders+2.54:05
14Dallas Cowboys-1.51
15@Philadelphia Eagles+1.5TBD
16@Dallas Cowboys+5.58:20
17Philadelphia Eagles-31
18@New York Giants+1.51

The Good

The Football Team has the toughest slate in the NFC East, but they at least get a pair of matchups against the Eagles and Giants. Their schedule is front-loaded with difficult matchups before they have a chance to make some noise late in the season starting in Week 11 with matchups against the Panthers, Raiders, Eagles (x2), and Giants. They also have a pair of matchups with the Cowboys in Weeks 14 and 16, which could determine the champion of the NFC East.

The Bad

The Football Team will face the sixth-toughest schedule this season based on 2021 win totals (per Sharp Football). They have a particularly brutal stretch in Weeks 5-10 with five straight games against teams lined at 8.5 wins or better in the Saints, Chiefs, Packers, Broncos, and Bucs. Washington is one of 10 teams to face two opponents who will be coming off byes this season, including the Eagles in Week 15. They’ll also take on a rested Buccaneers squad in Week 10, which will negate the Football Team’s own Week 9 bye.

Key Off-season Moves

AdditionsDraftDepartures
Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB)Jamin Davis (LB)Alex Smith (QB, retired)
Curtis Samuel (WR)Sam Cosmi (OT)Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Phi)
Charles Leno (LT)Benjamin St.-Juste (DB)Ryan Anderson (DE, NYG)
Adam Humphries (WR)Dyami Brown (WR)Ronald Darby (CB, Den)
William Jackson (CB)John Bates (TE)Thomas Davis (LB, retired)
David Mayo (LB)Fabian Moreau (CB, Atl)
Darryl Roberts (CB)Kevin Pierre-Louis (OLB, Hou)
Bobby McCain (DB)Morgan Moses (OT, NYJ)
Jeremy Sprinkle (TE, Dal)

2021 Season Odds

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Team FuturesOdds
Season Win Total (O/U)8.5 (-120/+100)
NFC East+200
Playoffs (Y/N)+135/-175
NFC Championship+2500
Super Bowl+5000

Season Prop Movement

  • Win Total: 8 (-110) in late March to 8.5 (-120)

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

Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total

The Football Team has a defense that’s built to contend in the NFC this season after they allowed the second-fewest yards per game (304.6) and the fourth-fewest points per game (20.6). Washington finished with the sixth-most sacks (47) last season and neither Chase Young nor Montez Sweat reached double-digit sacks. Those two young EDGE defense should continue to improve to give Washington one of the most formidable pass-rushing combos this season.

Washington’s front office made three win-now moves to improve their chances of being in the mix in January. The most important move they made was to upgrade their secondary by landing top CB William Jackson, and they also bolstered their weak WR corps behind Terry McLaurin by signing versatile speedster Curtis Samuel. GM Martin Mayhew and HC Ron Rivera didn’t have many options to upgrade their weak quarterback spot, but they did the best they could by signing the perennially underrated Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year deal to lead the offense.

This is arguably the best team Fitz has been attached to in his career and he certainly won’t be lacking for explosive weapons between Samuel, Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas, and Antonio Gibson. I’ve been betting on major offensive improvements from Washington’s skill players in my fantasy drafts after they finished with the third-fewest yards per game (317.3) and the seventh-fewest points per game (20.9) because of a putrid quarterback situation.

Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total

Fitz has a soft spot in my heart for all of the help he’s given my fantasy teams in recent seasons off of the waiver wire, but I’d be naive not to think his play could come crashing down at any moment as he enters his age-39 season. He’s averaged a little more than an interception per game since he started seeing somewhat regular playing time in 2008 with 161 picks in 159 contests. He’s started double-digit games eight times in his 16-year career and he’s managed a winning record just once when he went 10-6 with the Jets in 2015.

The biggest question for the Football Team is along their offensive line, especially at left tackle. They signed Charles Leno this off-season, whom the Bears cut after a poor 2020 campaign. He has played well in the past and the organization is hoping a new coaching staff and the fact that he got released will rejuvenate his career. On defense, they addressed their biggest weakness at linebacker by using the 19th overall pick on Kentucky LB Jamin Davis. They need him to be ready to make significant contributions right out of the gates.

Notable Player Props

Ryan Fitzpatrick: passing yards (3900.5), passing TDs (23), most INTs (+750)

Fantasy Points Projection: passing yards (3925), passing TDs (24), INTs (14)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Fitz works his magic in Washington for the first time in his 17-year career and he cracks the 4000-yard mark for the first time with the receiving corps he’s played with.

  • Worst-Case-Scenario: Fitzpatrick’s reckless play creeps in, which earns the ire of defensive-minded HC Ron Rivera, and he’s stuck in a bit of a committee with Taylor Heinicke.

Antonio Gibson: rushing yards (1025.5), most rushing yards (+1800), most rushing TDs (+1800), OPOY (+3500)

Fantasy Points Projection: rushing yards (1175), rushing TDs (10)

  • Best-Case Scenario: After being used primarily as a runner, Gibson is fully unleashed in Year Two and he establishes himself as one of the game’s elite all-around running backs.
  • Worst-Case-Scenario: After averaging 4.7 YPC with 11 TDs on just 170 carries last season, Gibson takes a step back with his efficiency behind a suspect offensive line.

Terry McLaurin: receiving yards (1180.5), receiving TDs (6), receptions (86.5), most receiving yards (+1900)

Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (1190), receiving TDs (8), receptions (86)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Terry truly is scary with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback as his YPR (12.9) and his aDOT (9.7) skyrocket from 2020 when he played with the conservative Alex Smith.
  • Worst-Case-Scenario: McLaurin’s 27% target share from last season dips a bit with Curtis Samuel in town commanding targets and with Fitz spreading the ball around a little more.

Curtis Samuel: receiving yards (700.5), receiving TDs (4.5)

Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (715), receiving TDs (6)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Samuel edges out Logan Thomas to be the #2 option in this passing game, and he continues to be dangerous as an underneath receiver after aDOT shrunk from 14.3 yards in 2019 to 7.3 in 2020.
  • Worst-Case-Scenario: OC Scott Turner and HC Ron Rivera still can’t figure out how to effectively use Samuel even after Panthers’ OC Joe Brady gave them the blueprint last season.

Logan Thomas: receiving yards (600.5), receiving TDs (4.5), receptions (65.5)

Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (685), receiving TDs (6), receptions (61)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Thomas proves his breakout 2020 campaign was no fluke and he builds off his career-best numbers (72/670/6 receiving) with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the trigger.
  • Worst-Case-Scenario: Thomas’ 19% target share from last season dips a bit with the ultra-conservative Alex Smith gone and with Curtis Samuel added to the mix in the middle of the field.

Brolley’s Bets

Best Bets

  • Washington to win Super Bowl LVI (+8000, William Hill, Feb. 8). Risk .5 units to win 40 units.

  • Washington over 8.5 wins (+100, FanDuel). Risk one unit to win one unit.

  • Washington to win the NFC East (+260, FanDuel). Risk one unit to win 2.6 units.

  • Washington to make the playoffs (+156, FanDuel). Risk one unit to win 1.56 units.

The Football Team was getting no love from the oddsmakers early in the off-season when I placed my Super Bowl LVI bet despite the team owning a young, top-five defense. They also had a ton of cap space to make this team even better in 2021, and they did just that by signing WR Curtis Samuel and CB William Jackson to upgrade two of their weakest roster spots. They also improved at quarterback by signing the perennially underrated Ryan Fitzpatrick, who instantly gives this offense a much higher ceiling than they had with Alex Smith at the helm. Washington could have one of the more explosive offenses in the league with young talents in Terry McLaurin, Samuel, and Antonio Gibson as well as emerging TE Logan Thomas. They were also able to attack areas of concern with their first two draft picks by nabbing LB Jamin Davis and OT Sam Cosmi. The oddsmakers have made some adjustments over the off-season when it comes to the Football Team, but they’re still being sold short in the markets.

Logan Thomas over 600.5 receiving yards (-115, DraftKings). Risk one unit to win .87 units — Thomas is the latest player to successfully transition to tight end from another position after his break-through season in 2020 when he easily posted career-best numbers with 72/670/6 receiving. He could have a tough time duplicating his 19% target share and 110 targets from last season after Washington added Curtis Samuel to play slot this season, but Thomas should see higher quality targets this season to offset any dip in targets. He averaged an ugly 7.0 yards on his depth of targets last season mostly playing with the ultra-conservative Alex Smith last season, but he should see deeper targets this season playing with the more aggressive Ryan Fitzpatrick taking over the offense. Thomas turned 30 years old this summer but I’m betting on more growth from him since he’s just learning the nuances of the position after playing most of his career at quarterback.

Leans

None of note.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.