The 2020 WFT Offense was one of the worst in the NFL and held the team back from making a serious run in the NFC. In his 2nd off-season as the head decision-maker of the Washington Football Team, Ron Rivera made a concerted effort to improve the offense in free agency and in the draft. Rivera upgraded the QB position by adding Ryan Fitzpatrick and also the receiver room by adding Curtis Samuel and drafting Dyami Brown.
The addition of Ryan Fitzpatrick gives Washington’s skill players more opportunity. With fantasy football draft season upon us, I wanted to take a look at Washington’s refined positional groups on offense and project which players can make the most impact on your fantasy teams.
Top 5 WFT Players for Redraft Fantasy Football
1 | Terry McLaurin
Terry McLaurin, Washington’s third-round pick in 2019, has quickly established himself as one of the best WRs in the NFL. While Terry is not yet in the elite realm of receivers like Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, and Davante Adams, Terry is trending in that direction. Furthermore, McLaurin is yet to have a consistent quarterback throwing him the football, and he still has amassed 145 catches for 2,037 yards in his two seasons.
In .5 PPR fantasy scoring last year, McLaurin was the WR18. WR18 puts McLaurin in the WR2 class, and I only expect his production to increase. For starters, Ryan Fitzpatrick, though not a perfect QB by any means, is by far the best quarterback McLaurin has played with since he entered the league. Furthermore, McLaurin finally has help on the outside. Besides adding more speed on offense, the signing of Curtis Samuel gives defenses another threat to account for. In 2019 and 2020, defenses could double up on McLaurin and dare the rest of Washington to beat them. Moving forward, teams will have to single up on McLaurin, and he is going to become even more of a problem.
2 | Antonio Gibson
A collegiate wide receiver turned into an NFL three-down back, Antonio Gibson’s development in his first season was nothing short of spectacular. Minus a toe injury, that unfortunately may continue to linger into training camp, Gibson was on his way to scratching 1,000 rushing yards and still was capable of amassing over 1,000 scrimmage yards – Gibson caught 36 balls for 247 yards and took 170 carries for 795 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Though Gibson’s touchdown total will likely fall since 11 touchdowns a season is hard to replicate, Gibson is poised to have as good of a fantasy season as any 2nd year RB. Gibson now understands the nuances of the running back position, and barring injury, he is Washington’s bell cow. However, what makes Gibson so intriguing in fantasy, is his ability to be moved around the formation. Gibson is the predominant ball carrier on Washington, but he is talented and athletic enough to catch the ball outside or in the slot and make a big play at any time. Gibson offers an RB1 ceiling and I do not see him dropping below RB24.
3 | Curtis Samuel
Curtis Samuel’s fantasy evaluation in 2021 is very interesting. On one end of the spectrum, you can argue that Samuel is Washington’s 2nd best skill player and that alone should allow him to rack up statistics. You can also note the familiarity with head coach Ron Rivera and OC Scott Turner. On the other hand, Samuel did not fully break out until last season where Panthers OC Joe Brady lined up Samuel mostly in the slot. Samuel’s success in 2021 as a fantasy player will be based entirely on how Scott Turner views Samuel – is he a slot WR with gadget ability in the backfield, or does Turner see Samuel as a complement to Terry on the outside?
Training camp, which opens this week, should give us a glimpse into the answer to this question. Based on his career so far, Samuel would benefit from lining up in the slot more often than he is outside. Samuel has great speed, but his hands are not as smooth as an every-down outside WR. Samuel offers versatility similar to Gibson – Samuel took 41 handoffs last season, the most of his career. If Washington can find a way to combo McLaurin on the outside, Samuel in the slot, and Gibson in the backfield, I can see Samuel attracting the least amount of attention, which can result in a WR3 fantasy season.
4 | Logan Thomas
Coming off a season as the third-best fantasy tight end, Thomas was rewarded with a three-year contract extension to keep him at Washington. Thomas, a former QB, broke out during his age 30 season, amassing 72 catches for 670 yards. Washington was smart to keep Thomas around as they also have two young, developmental tight ends that can learn from Thomas as he continues to dominate snaps.
While last year’s fantasy success was tied to the fact that Washington had limited skill players, the addition of Curtis Samuel, Adam Humphries, and Dyami Brown can lead to a downtick in targets. However, Thomas is by far Washington’s best tight end, and he played on 93% of offensive snaps last season. I expect Thomas to log around the same number of snaps and I expect him to finish in the top 12 of tight ends for the 2021 NFL Season.
5 | Ryan Fitzpatrick
Recently, in an interview, Fitzpatrick touted Washington’s current roster as “the best situation I’ve ever been in.” After doing some digging through old Fitzpatrick seasons, I agree with his assessment of the roster and the situation. Fitzpatrick has a solid offensive line and a very deep group of skills players at his disposal. I’ve said this since we signed Fitz and I’ll say it again – barring injury, the 2021 Washington Football Team will live and die by Ryan Fitzpatrick’s right arm.
As for fantasy football, if Washington’s offensive moves lead to the kind of improvement the team expects, Fitzpatrick should certainly have some viability as a starting option. While Fitzpatrick is not a top 12 quarterback in football, Fitzpatrick has the playmakers around him to make him better and put together a strong fantasy campaign. I can see Fitzpatrick as a borderline QB1 and great depth piece for redraft fantasy leagues.
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