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Dynasty Rewind: Washington Commanders

2021 was a disappointing year for the Commanders and their stars were inconsistent fantasy starts. What does 2022 hold in store?

Is Terry McLaurin still a WR1 in Dynasty? 

McLaurin’s career in the NFL and fantasy has dealt with many obstacles yet continues to produce at a high level. Since coming into the league, McLaurin has played with eight different quarterbacks. Now at the age of 27, can you still be consider him a Dynasty WR1?

He has averaged 1,000 yards and five touchdowns each of his three seasons. He also had been targeted 130 times each of the last two seasons. It’s clear he is the teams’ WR1 as in 2021, the next highest targeted receiver was 63.

In 2021, there were very frustrating times for McLaurin because he had only four games as a WR1 and spent 12 games outside the top 36 wide receivers. He had one touchdown over the final nine games of the season. McLaurin had a 58% catch rate and only averaged about 10.6 fantasy points per game. He had the third most downfield targets with the second most deep targets and fourth in air yards. He continues to be a big part of their red-zone weapon with the ninth most red-zone targets this season. 

In recent news, the Commanders traded for Carson Wentz. He will be an upgrade over Taylor Heinicke, not by a lot, but McLaurin will be playing with his best QB ever. Wentz’s ability to throw the ball gives McLaurin that boost. Wentz was sixth in deep ball completions, as Heinicke was 26th in deep ball completions. Wentz has gotten the most out of wide receivers who line up outside, which McLaurin does.

Outside of his age, which is old for most fourth-year receivers, McLaurin continues to be a strong fantasy receiver. I think Wentz should make McLaurin less boom or bust and a more consistent option. He should still be worth at least a mid-first-round pick in rookie drafts. He’s someone that’s going to continue to see a high target volume, likely over 130, once again over the next few seasons. I’d take advantage now of his down season and buy into McLaurin as his situation can only improve from here. 

 Does Curtis Samuel have life in him?

Man, has Samuel’s fantasy value just vanished overnight? You learn when playing fantasy how quickly a player’s value can drop. Samuel was a favorite of mine when he was back in Carolina since they used him in that Deebo Samuel role before it was a thing. When he signed with the Commanders to join a similar coaching staff, we thought he would take the next steps in his development. He missed most of the season but does Samuel still have any fantasy value? 

Coming into the NFL, Samuel was a hybrid RB/WR; he eventually turned full-time WR. You saw potential, but Samuel never put it all together over his first two seasons. In 2019 & 2020, with increased opportunity, he put up a combined 1,400 receiving yards, nine touchdowns, and an additional 330 rushing yards with three more touchdowns on the ground. He indeed was the hybrid player that is becoming popular in the NFL.

2021 didn’t go as planned as Samuel missed all but a few games due to injuries. He is still paid well enough with a three-year $36 million contract that should allow him to redeem himself in 2022. He is still with the same coaching staff he showed the most potential. The hopeful departure of a guy like J.D McKissic could open up the doors for Samuel to truly take that hybrid role. Up to 180 targets could be gone from this team this offseason. After McLaurin, the pass catchers are unknown so that Samuel could have a shot. You probably could get Samuel for a third-round pick, maybe even a fourth-round pick right now. He could see a spike in his value, but it may not be top 24. 

Can Antonio Gibson reach elite RB1 levels?

Gibson has wowed us at times over his two careers with the Commanders. Unfortunately, he is still not being used the way we all wish he could be. With the possibility of J.D. McKissic leaving, can Gibson take another step in his development and reach the elite RB1 status? 

In 2021, fantasy owners were excited about Gibson’s potential after a solid rookie season. Through the first half of the season, Gibson was RB19 and not living up to expectations. He was only averaging 13 carries and two targets per game. If you watched some Commander games, you noticed that Gibson was standing on the sideline on passing downs and two-minute drills. The reason behind this was due to McKissic, who was their passing down back. Mckissic’s skill set works well for quick two-minute drills, while Gibson was used minimally on those plays.

The doors opened up for Gibson when McKissic went down for the season with an injury. Following that bye week, Gibson was RB8 the rest of the season. He averaged about 18 carries per game and saw four targets per game. One of the best traits for Gibson was his ability in the red zone; he dominated the touches over any other RB. He finished fourth in red-zone touches and carries among all NFL backs and finished sixth in rushing yards. 

We don’t know what is to come of this off-season. We can only hope that Gibson can take that next step. His yards per carry show a slight concern as it went from a 4.32 down to 3.3 this season. Gibson should have a firm command in the backfield carries and likely see somewhere between 30 and 40 targets. If he wants to reach that elite level, he needs to be in the 50 to 60 range. I’m not sure if Gibson can handle that workload based on the offense, so reaching that elite status might be out of his cards. Gibson is a firm hold in fantasy since he is young and should produce as a low-end RB1.

Get the Dynasty Nerds app in the Apple store and the Google Play store. Mock drafts for Superflex, 1QB, and Standard. If you are a DynastyGM subscriber, it even syncs with your actual teams so that you can do rookie mock drafts with ALL of your actual picks. Also on desktop.

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