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Washington Commanders Fantasy Football Preview

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

👆 if you set fantasy football lineups (or make player prop bets), then you need to see this 👆

Ron Rivera's first two seasons in Washington featured a different QB in each year, and year 3 will be no different after Washington gave Indianapolis a 2nd round pick and two 3rd round picks in exchange for Carson Wentz and a 2nd round pick. Unfortunately, Rivera's first two seasons statistically provide us very little to go off of when forecasting Washington in 20232.

In his first year in Washington (2020), the Washington Football Team was one of the worst in football. They ranked:

  • 25th in scoring (20.9 points per game)

  • 30th in yards (317.3 per game)

  • 27th in first downs (20.1 per game)

  • 25th in passing yards (216.6 per game) despite finishing 9th in passing attempts (37.6 per game)

  • 30th in passing TDs (16) despite finishing 9th in passing attempts

  • 25th in rushing attempts (25 per game)

  • 26th in rushing yards (100.7 per game)

  • 27th in scoring percentage (just 33.3% of their drives)

  • 29th in turnovers (27)

The lone bright spots were that they finished 8th in plays executed (65.7 per game) and finished 13th in rushing TDs with 18 on the season.

They heavy passing volume and lightened rushing volume could have started a trend, but it didn't stick in 2021. In fact, it flip flopped as Washington became decidedly run-heavy in Rivera's second season.

There was some improvement across the board in Ron's second campaign, especially in the running game as they finished 10th in rushing attempts (28.1 per game), 12th in rushing yards (121.2 per game) and 9th in rushing first downs (7.6 per game). Their passing volume dipped to 21st in passing attempts (32.4 per game) but they improved their ranking in passing yards, climbing to 21st despite less raw passing yards than the previous season (202.4). All in all, in 2021, they finished:

  • 24th in scoring (19.7 points per game)

  • 21st in yards (323.6 per game)

  • 17th in plays executed (62.9 per game)

  • 16th in first downs (20.3 per game)

  • 21st in passing attempts (32.4 per game)

  • 21st in passing yards (202.4 per game)

  • 22nd in passing TDs (21)

  • 21st in passing first downs (10.6 per game)

  • 10th in rushing attempts (28.1 per game)

  • 12th in rushing yards (121.2 per game)

  • 21st in rushing TDs (13)

  • 9th in rushing first downs (7.6 per game)

  • 21st in scoring percentage (34.6%)

  • 22nd in turnovers (24)

So Rivera's first two campaigns in Washington didn't really provide much data to go off of. He flipped from pass-heavy to run-heavy/balanced, his team got slower, but also more efficient.

Ultimately, no matter which way you slice it, there's very little to get excited about when looking at Rivera's first two seasons in Washington.

That said, say what you will about Carson Wentz, but Rivera (and Terry McLaurin) now has the best QB he's had during his Washington Commanders era. The arrow is pointing up on this offense.

Besides bringing in the best QB they've had since Kirk Cousins in 2017, Washington also added Penn State's Jahan Dotson (WR) with the 16th overall pick in the first round of this year's NFL draft, plus Alabama's Brian Robinson (RB) with their 3rd round pick. They resigned receiving specialist JD McKissic after he narrowly escaped to Buffalo, and Curtis Samuel is believed to finally be healthy after an injury-ruined 2021.

Adam Humphries (62), DeAndre Carter (44) and Ricky Seals-Jones (49) have all left town, vacating 155 targets that need to be redistributed, which is great news for Terry McLaurin and rookie Dotson (and perhaps even 2nd year WR Dyami Brown).

Ultimately, I'm anticipating 2022's Washington unit to be a relatively balanced team after bolstering both their running and their passing attacks.

Carson Wentz 😐

2018 (Eagles) fantasy points: 193.66 (QB 23) - points per game: 17.6 (QB 17)

2019 (Eagles) fantasy points: 275.86 (QB 10) - points per game: 17.2 (QB 15)

2020 (Eagles) fantasy points: 198.4 (QB 22) - points per game: 16.5 (QB 22)

2021 (Colts) fantasy points: 246.9 (QB 12) - points per game: 15.4 (QB 17)

You already know the story with Carson Wentz. Dude went hard in 2017—just his 2nd season in the NFL—looking like an MVP and franchise QB before a torn ACL ended his historic season.

It was all down hill from there as injuries, mediocre play, locker room controversy and QB competition inevitably ended his days in Philly before he was shipped off to be reunited with Frank Reich in Indianapolis last year.

Turns out, mediocre play and more locker room issues quickly ended his short stint in Indiana as well, as he was sent to the Commanders to be their new savior this season.

And the funny part is, it's the best QB Washington has had since they let Kirk Cousins walk in 2018. His arrival is good news for Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and the Commanders' offense as a whole, but what about he himself as a fantasy football option?

In 55 fantasy football games over the last 4 seasons, Carson Wentz has reached 20 fantasy points just 32.7% of the time. Funny enough, that's less frequently than Kirk Cousins has been able to do the same (46.88%).

He's landed under 10 fantasy points—tough to do as a QB—16.4% of the time during he same stretch, including 21% of the time in the last 2 seasons alone.

And as for the ceiling, he hasn't hit 30 points one time in the last 4 seasons (he hit 25 5% of the time).

And all of that despite the fact that his Eagles teams in 2018-2020 finished the year 7th, 8th and 10th in passing attempts (Frank Reich's Colts were much less pass-heavy, finishing 27th in attempts).

Again, Wentz's arrival is a good thing for his receiving core. But he himself is nothing more than a mid-low end QB 2 that's better treated as a QB 3.

Fantasy Drafts 👎: Assuming you're in a "normal" 1 QB league that isn't especially deep, Carson Wentz is not worth a draft pick for you. He could come into play as a streaming option during the season, but he's not someone you should consider in fantasy drafts. He currently goes undrafted and there's a reason for that.

If you're in a 2QB league, Wentz is better treated as your 3rd QB than your second. In 2 QB leagues, Wentz is usually drafted around pick 13.09 (13th round, 9th pick). He's surrounded by guys like Alexander Mattison, Tyler Boyd, Jakobi Meyers, the Bills DEF, Darrell Henderson, Zach Wilson, Dawson Knox, Isaiah Spiller, Ronald Jones, JD McKissic, Kenneth Gainwell, Raheem Mostert, Pat Freiermuth, DJ Chark, Buccaners DEF, Michael Gallup and Baker Mayfield.

Draft Kits: I have Wentz in Tier 2C of my fantasy football Draft Kits with Daniel Jones, Zach Wilson and Jared Goff.

Dynasty Leagues: Not much to see here. Wentz is hanging on by a thread to dynasty relevance.

Antonio Gibson 📉, JD McKissic ↔️, and Brian Robinson 📈

2021 PPR points per game: 9.8 (RB 41)

Things got really ugly in the Washington backfield during the offseason and especially in the last few weeks.

The rollercoaster started at an all-time high when it was reported that JD McKissic was signing with Buffalo, leading us Antonio Gibson truthers to rejoice at the thought of him finally becoming that every-down workhorse we've envisioned since he came into the league.

But then McKissic changed his mind and re-upped with Washington, raining on our parade as we realized McKissic would remain involved as a passing-down specialist at Gibson's expense.

And then Washington used their 3rd round draft pick on Alabama's Brian Robinson, creating speculation that even Gibson's work as an early-down runner could be in question.

And theeeeeen Antonio Gibson fumbled (again) in a preseason game while working with the backups, while Robinson played well and scored a touchdown with the first string offense. Gibson was immediately spotted working with the 3rd team and punt teams the following week in practice.

Not exactly what you're hoping to see in mid-August as you're getting ready to draft Gibson. He's plummeting down draft boards while Robinson's value skyrockets, and it's completely warranted.

Ultimately, the backfield is a complete nightmare where none of the three are particularly exciting options. Robinson is expected to handle short-yardage and goal line situations while McKissic maintains a stranglehold on passing down duties. That essentially leaves Gibson with between-the-20s work which is not at all appealing in fantasy football where we need touchdowns (Robinson) and receptions (McKissic). And that, of course, is if Robinson doesn't pass Gibson entirely.

McKissic's role figures to remain largely the same, one where he posted 127.9 PPR points (RB 35) and 11.6 PPR points per game (RB 30) last season (he was the RB 17 in points and RB 30 in PPG the year before that too). He remains on the radar as a PPR-specific flex play.

Despite back-to-back finishes inside the top 13, Gibson shouldn't be trusted as anything more than a high-risk, high-reward RB 3 until proven otherwise this season.

Robinson figures to enter the season as an RB 4 but could find his way to RB 2 value if he continues to render Gibson irrelevant.

Fantasy Drafts:

Antonio Gibson 👎 - Antonio Gibson is currently drafted as the RB 19 around pick 43 (mid 4th round). Within 6 spots of Gibson in either direction is Michael Pittman, George Kittle, Jaylen Waddle, Terry McLaurin, Diontae Johnson, DJ Moore, Travis Etienne, Josh Jacobs, DK Metcalf, Darren Waller and Lamar Jackson. Simply put, I would take all of those players over Gibson and wouldn't even think about Gibson until the 8th round.

JD McKissic 👍😐 - JD McKissic is currently drafted as the RB 47 around pick 148 (early 13th round). Drafted within 6 spots in either direction of McKissic is the 49ers DEF, Rams DEF, Cowboys DEF, Raheem Mostert, Hunter Henry, Justin Fields, Isaiah Spiller, Jarvis Landry, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Matt Gay and Michael Gallup. Considering his back-to-back finishes as RB 30, RB 47 is a mighty fine value for the pass-catching specialist in an improved offense. That said, I also like the WRs in this range instead of him. And, if you do draft him, understand that his ceiling is capped as a PPR flex. Even in the event of an injury to Gibson or Robinson, McKissic would remain "just" a passing down back and wouldn't suddenly become the RB 1. He's hit 20 PPR points in just 14.81% of his 27 games in the last 2 years and has never hit 30 PPR points. On the bright(ish) side, he's been able to top 15 37.04% of the time. That's perfectly fine, just know he doesn't have RB 1 upside in any scenario.

Brian Robinson 👍 - Brian Robinson is currently free in fantasy football drafts (RB 57 in the 17th round) and absolutely shouldn't be. I wouldn't reach above the double digit rounds in your drafts, but he'd certainly be on my radar come round 11 or so.

Draft Kits:

I have Gibson in Tier 2C (and falling) of my fantasy football Draft Kits with Kareem Hunt, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Melvin Gordon and more.

I have McKissic in Tier 3D with Nyheim Hines.

I have Robinson in Tier 3A (and climbing) with Kenneth Gainwell, Tyler Allgeier, Michael Carter and more.

Dynasty Leagues: Gibson's dynasty value is at an all-time low, causing managers to potentially panic sell him. Might be worth seeing what the Gibson manager in your league wants in return....McKissic doesn't really have much dynasty value; he's a hold...Robinson is the RB 8 in my dynasty rookie rankings and I'd be comfortable taking him around pick 2.12-3.02.

Terry McLaurin 📈

2019 (rookie w/Case Keenum/Dwayne Haskins at QB) PPR points: 191.9 (WR 29) - PPR points per game: 13.7 (WR 30)

2020 (Alex Smith/Dwayne Haskins/Kyle Allen at QB) PPR points: 223.8 (WR 21) - PPR points per game: 14.9 (WR 20)

2021 (Taylor Heinicke at QB) PPR points: 200.2 (WR 26) - PPR points per game: 12.5 (WR 35)

The bad news: Terry McLaurin will have his fourth different week 1 starting QB in four years in the league.

The good news: Carson Wentz will be the best QB he's ever had, notable since he's produced as a WR2/3 in three straight seasons with putrid QB play.

And we know Washington will try and get him the rock after he finished 10th and 13th among WRs in targets (but 23rd and 16th in catches which should tell you a lot about the quality of pass attempts he's dealt with) in the last 2 seasons.

In 45 fantasy football games over the last 3 years, Scary Terry has shown a solid floor despite subpar QB play, hitting 15 PPR points in 40% of his games. For comparison, AJ Brown has done the same 45.24% of the time, CeeDee Lamb has done it 45.16% of the time, and DJ Moore has done it 38.71% of the time.

He's flashed a solid ceiling at times as well, hitting 20 PPR points in 24.4% of his games and finally hitting 30 once last year as well.

As mentioned above, there are 155+ targets theoretically up for grabs after Adam Humphries (62), DeAndre Carter (44) and Ricky Seals-Jones (49) skipped town. Of course, 16th overall pick Jahan Dotson figures to consume his fair share of those, but he's still a rookie and McLaurin remains the only "sure thing" in the passing game. He's likely to benefit from the vacated targets as well, especially with Logan Thomas experiencing a slow recovery.

At worst, McLaurin *should* be in line for similar production from year's past. At best and I think more likely, he *should* have the best statistical season of his career.

Fantasy Drafts 👍: Scary Terry is currently drafted as the WR 15 around pick 42 (mid 4th round). Drafted within 6 spots in either direction of McLaurin are Justin Herbert, Cam Akers, Michael Pittman, George Kittle, Jaylen Waddle, Antonio Gibson, Diontae Johnson, DJ Moore, Travis Etienne, Josh Jacobs, DK Metcalf, Darren Waller and Lamar Jackson.

I'd take McLaurin over all of those not named Michael Pittman (and sometimes maybe DJ Moore or DK Metcalf).

Draft Kits: I have Scarry Terry in Tier 2A of my fantasy football Draft Kits with Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, DJ Moore and more.

Dynasty Leagues: With no obvious buy or sell window, McLaurin is really just a "hold" in dynasty leagues. Maybe there's a chance to buy before his career year, but I doubt it; very few people do not like McLaurin this season.

Jahan Dotson 📈

Often compared to TY Hilton by draft analysts before the draft, Penn State's Jahan Dotson was somewhat surprisingly selected 16th overall by the Commanders in April's draft, immediately increasing both his short and long term value.

Although it's always fair to be skeptical of a rookie's year 1 production in fantasy football, there's no denying the landing spot is a good one with virtually no one locked in as the number 2 option behind Terry McLaurin. Dyami Brown and Curtis Samuel are names to watch, but Brown is a 3rd round sophomore who didn't make a lot of noise last season, and Samuel is coming off a lost season that was ravaged by injuries.

It's entirely possible, if not likely, that Dotson will be the biggest beneficiary of the 155+ targets vacated by Adam Humphries, Ricky Seals-Jones and DeAndre Carter. And although both Washington and Carson Wentz have been relatively ineffective in their own rights over the last few years, Wentz is the best QB they've had since Kirk Cousins in 2018. Dotson could very well make at least some noise right away in year 1, and he's even more exciting as a long-term dynasty play.

Fantasy Drafts 🤷 : Jahan Dotson is currently drafted as the WR 64 around pick 187 (mid 16th round) in fantasy football drafts. In other words, he's completely free in most leagues. Frankly, that's probably how it should be in 12 team leagues with 15 roster spaces. But he should absolutely be near the top of your watch list as a potential waiver add.

If you're in deeper leagues, know that Dotson is most frequently surrounded by names like Mac Jones, Robert Tonyan, Jameis Winston, Tyler Higbee, Ryan Tannehill, Rachaad White, Ravens DEF, Steelers DEF, Evan Engram, Jalen Tolbert and Broncos DEF, all of which are drafted within 6 spots in either direction of Dotson. He's the highest upside asset of that bunch.

Draft Kits: I have Dotson in Tier 4B of my fantasy football Draft Kits with Corey Davis, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and more.

Dynasty Leagues: I have Dotson as my WR 7 and would take him around 1.09 in rookie drafts.

Curtis Samuel 📉

2018 (Panthers w/Ron Rivera) PPR points: 138.8 (WR 47) - PPR points per game: 10.7 (WR 46)

2019 (Panthers w/Ron Rivera) PPR points: 171.7 (WR 36) - PPR points per game: 10.7 (WR 49)

2020 (Panthers) PPR points: 212.1 (WR 24) - PPR points per game: 14.14 (WR 27)

2021 (Commanders): Lost season (played a total of 87 snaps over 5 games)

Curtis Samuel's debut season in Washington after being reunited with Ron Rivera was one to forget. A myriad of injuries held him to just 87 total snaps across 5 games after signing a three-year $34.5 million contract with the Commanders in the offseason.

That said, because of 2021, it's easy to quickly forget what he did in 2020 when he had 97 targets, 77 catches (21st most among WRs), 851 receiving yards (31st) and 3 TDs to go along with 41 carries for 200 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs.

He finished 2020 as the WR24, a low-end WR 2 season. He hit 15 or more PPR points in 46.7% of his games that year, including touching 20 26.7% of the time.

Still, the Commanders didn't use the 16th overall pick in this year's draft on Penn State's Jahan Dotson to watch him sit on the bench and it's more than fair to wonder if Washington/Wentz can support more than 2 WRs—or even more than 1 for that matter (not to mention Dyami Brown should theoretically progress as well).

In all likelihood, Curtis Samuel won't make much noise this season (and it certainly doesn't help that Ron Rivera said they're concerned about his conditioning) and he shouldn't be a realistic option for you in 2022 fantasy drafts (unless you're in a a deep league). That said, I'd "flag" him as someone to watch and have on your radar as someone to possibly pick up during the season.

Fantasy Drafts 🤷 : Curtis Samuel is completely free in "normal" sized fantasy leagues (WR 82 around pick 230—early 20th round). He shouldn't be on your radar outside of a possible pickup during the season.

Draft Kits: I have Samuel in Tier 5A of my fantasy football Draft Kits with Alec Pierce, Parris Campbell, Marquez Callaway, and more.

Dynasty Leagues: Still somehow just 26, Samuel's dynasty value is nearing a low point. There wouldn't be anything particularly exciting about "buying" stock in him now, but it wouldn't be much cheaper than now if you did.

Dyami Brown 📉

Dyami Brown is not even close to the redraft radar in 2022 but he's someone I really liked coming out of college last season. I've bought him cheap in a few dynasty leagues.

Logan Thomas and...I guess John Bates? 📉

Washington's tight end situation is a bit of a black hole heading into 2022. Logan Thomas managed just 6 games last year where he compiled 25 targets, 18 catches, 196 yards and a helpful 3 TDs. Then he tore is ACL, MCL and meniscus in December and looks unlikely to be ready for week 1. Worse than that, the now-31-year-old has a very real chance to start the year on injured reserve, meaning he'd automatically be out through at least week 5.

It's a real bummer after the converted QB finished 2020 with 110 targets (3rd most among TEs), 72 catches (3rd), 670 yards (7th) and 6 TDs (9th) for 176.62 PPR points (TE 3 overall).

Next in line would be last year's 4th round choice, John Bates out of Boise State. He got some run last year after with Thomas on IR who was later joined by TE 2 Ricky Seals-Jones (who is now with the Giants). Over the last 6 games of the season last year, Bates compiled 16 targets, 11 catches, 175 yards and 1 TD (5.75 PPR points per game). I don't know why I've even written this many words on him. Don't bother.

Fantasy Drafts 👎: Both of these guys shouldn't be on your radar heading into 2022. Logan Thomas could become a streamer option down the road, but he's not on the draft list.

Draft Kits: Logan Thomas is in Tier 2D of my fantasy football Draft Kits with CJ Uzomah, Tyler Conklin, Daniel Bellinger, and more. Bates is in Tier 3C with Will Dissly, Pharaoh Brown, Adam Shaheen and more.

Dynasty Leagues: Neither guy carries any dynasty value.

That's a wrap on the Washington Commanders! If you prefer your content via YouTube, be sure to subscribe to the BBFF channel so you don't miss anything! Likewise, if Podcast is more your jam, don't forget to subscribe to the BBFF podcast!

Next up: The San Francisco 49ers!

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