After finishing 27th in total defense in 2019, The Washington Football Team elevated their defense to a top-5 defense in 2020, only allowing 20.8 points per game. This was likely due to their weak division, but also due to the addition of Chase Young with the second overall pick in the draft. Furthermore, they did lose stud safety Landon Collins in week 7, but seventh-round rookie Kamren Curl stepped in and played well in Collins’ stead.
Another contributing factor to Washington’s improved defense was the addition of Jack Del Rio as the Defensive Coordinator. Del Rio changed up the scheme from a traditional 4-3 defense to a more flexible 3-4.
Washington looks to continue their defensive dominance in 2021. In free agency, they added veteran linebacker David Mayo, as well as cornerback William Jackson from Cincinnati. They also added emerging star linebacker from Kentucky, Jamin Davis in the first round of the 2021 draft. These additions will help improve the interior of the linebacking corps, as well as their outside secondary strength. As you will see, Washington has several “must roster” players at every level. I’ll breakdown players in each of the three main IDP categories; Linebackers, Defensive Line, and Defensive Backs.
In this section, I’ll focus on the inside linebackers since WFT primarily runs a 3-4 defense with their outside linebackers being used as primary pass rushers. I’ll cover those in the Defensive Line section. The inside linebackers are anchored by veteran John Bostic, and young stud Cole Holcomb. First-round draft pick Jamin Davis looks to insert himself into the aging Bostic’s role sooner rather than later.
Jon Bostic is no stranger to the field. He is entering his ninth season, and third with Washington. In the previous two years, Bostic totaled over 100 combined tackles (105 in 2019 and 118 in 2020) and was able to be somewhat disruptive in the backfield with four sacks, nine TFLs, and 12 QB hits over those two seasons. That being said, he still lacks elite playmaking ability.
Bostic will be attempting to prove he deserves to keep his starting job in 2021 with the addition of Jamin Davis. He may end up taking a step back as a veteran leader in the locker room, and back-up to the shiny new toy.
If you’re able to hold him on your roster, you might find yourself with a serviceable flex IDP. That is, if he keeps his starting job. His tackle floor will still be relatively high, but don’t look for him to make many impact plays. He’s worth a late-round stash in deeper leagues, but not much more.
|2 yr||2 yr||CHI||29||17||1||0||0||4||2.0||142||104||38||9||2|
|2 yr||2 yr||WAS||32||31||2||26||0||5||4.0||223||117||106||9||12|
|1 yr||1 yr||IND||14||14||0||0||0||3||1.0||97||57||40||6||2|
|1 yr||1 yr||NWE||11||1||0.0||2||1||1||0||1|
|1 yr||1 yr||PIT||16||14||0||0||0||3||2.5||73||46||27||5||4|
Cole Holcomb got off to a rocky start in 2020. He was injured in the first game and ended up missing a total of five games. To make matters worse, he didn’t see over 70% of defensive snaps until week 9. This probably upset fantasy owners who drafted him relatively high after a decent 2019 season where he broke the 100 combined tackle mark as a rookie fifth-rounder. In his 11 games in 2020, he did manage to show that he is still a capable starter amassing 72 combined tackles (45 solos, 27 assists), 2.5 sacks, and six TFLs (matching his 2019 total).
Much like Bostic, Holcomb will be fighting for a starting position. He has a slight advantage over Bostic based solely on age, but Holcomb also struggles to be an elite playmaker. He’s definitely worth a stash, and, if he keeps his starting job, look to use him as a low-end LB2/Flex option.
Unless you are a Wildcats fan, or someone who plays Devy/C2C, you probably didn’t know who Jamin Davis was until the NFL draft. I know I didn’t know much about him until I started researching incoming IDP rookies. After watching some of his highlights, and seeing his Pro Day numbers, I quickly began to view Davis as a potential LB1 in the rookie class, even above Micah Parsons. I’ve since flip-flopped back-and-forth more times than John Kerry (I know… I’m dating myself).
Davis was a depth player in Kentucky until 2020 when he got the starting nod at middle linebacker. He put up outstanding numbers: 102 combined tackles (48 solos, 54 assisted), 1.5 sacks, four TFLs, three INTs (including a 90 yd pick six). Washington needed a new QB after giving up on Dwayne Haskins, and signing veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. They didn’t move up to grab one of the top QBs, so they chose to bolster another position by drafting Davis 19th overall (third LB off the board).
Davis will have to fight for a starting job over the two previous players I mentioned earlier, but it shouldn’t be a tough fight. I’m expecting him to contribute early and often. Look to pick him up in the middle of the second round of your rookie drafts. If he lives up to expectations, I believe he can become a high-end LB2 with a low-end LB1 upside.
Defensive Line/Edge Rushers
Washington’s pass rush is anchored by two young elite pass rushers, Chase Young and Montez Sweat. The two of them combined for over 15 sacks, as well as several other impact plays. They had some veteran help from Ryan Kerrigan and Matt Ionannidis. Kerrigan has since departed for the Eagles, and Ionannidis is coming off of a significant injury. Washington also has a pair of interior linemen who can make plays in Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen. Neither are going to blow up your fantasy lineup, but they’re talented enough to create opportunities for Young and Sweat.
Chase Young’s junior year at Ohio State was enough to send him to New York as a Heisman Finalist alongside fellow Buckeye Justin Fields, Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts, and eventual winner Joe Burrow. Young was selected second overall in the 2020 Draft. He got off to a bit of a rocky start due to a mild injury but quickly showed why he was worth the draft pick. He ended the season with 7.5 sacks, 10 TFLs, 12 QB hits, as well as decent tackle numbers (44 total).
For 2021, I can only imagine he’ll improve upon those numbers with a full off-season, clean bill of health, and shoring up other defensive units to help create more opportunities to wreak havoc in the backfield. His preseason ranking/ADP has him in the top-5 DLs, and rightfully so. Grabbing him after players like TJ Watt and Myle Garrett is completely reasonable.
It might be difficult to believe, but Sweat actually had a better year than Chase Young in 2020. Partly due to him not missing a game, but that’s not the whole story. He may not have the athleticism of Young but is just as capable of a playmaker. Here are his 2020 numbers: 45 combined tackles, nine sacks, 12 TFLs, and 20 QB hits. All of those numbers were higher than Young’s.
Sweat’s ADP is significantly higher than Young’s in startup and redraft, but your “return on investment” might end up being higher than several other top DLs. I’m seeing him going several rounds after the initial run on DLs like Watt, Garrett, and Young.
Going into 2020, WFT had only one “must roster” defensive back in Landon Collins, but he was lost for the season in week 7 due to an Achilles injury. When he went down, nobody was sure who would fill his shoes. That’s when rookie seventh-rounder Kamren Curl stepped into the spotlight. He quickly became a waiver wire “must add”, and likely salvaged your DB corps if you managed to pick him up.
Collins was drafted by the Giants back in 2015 and quickly became an elite DB. He tallied over 100 tackles in all but one season (other than 2020). He only got 96 combined tackles in 2018 despite missing four games. In 2019, he signed a huge six-year deal with Washington, and many thought he would be an elite DB for years to come.
In week 7 of 2020, however, Collins went down with an Achilles injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season. Hopefully, he can return to form, and once again become an elite playmaker. If you already have him on your team, I would hold onto him. I believe he can and will be a valuable asset to your team. In startups, look to pick him up for a steal with people likely sleeping on him. He’s not getting drafted until around the 15th-20th round, which is an absolute steal. If healthy, he will have at least four more years of solid production.
Looking back at potential IDP top rookies for 2020 would’ve brought up no results for Kamren Curl. It was uncertain if he would even be drafted. He got picked up in the final round of the draft (216th overall), and few people thought much of it… Fast forward to week 7 of a chaotic 2020 season. Collins goes down with the injury, and Curl steps in. He had earned himself a spot as a rotational defensive back in nickel and dime packages, but only average around 20% of defensive snaps. Week 8 was WFT’s bye, and Curl gets the starting nod in Week 9. From that week on, he took over 90% of defensive snaps at the safety position, and racked up 88 total tackles, two sacks, and three INTs. If anyone had money on Curl cracking 80 tackles at the beginning of the season, they probably made a lot of money… if there are prop bets on things like that.
Moving forward, Curl seems slated to keep his starting role as the team’s Strong Safety, with Collins moving into the Free Safety role. The question remains, can Curl keep up the momentum gained in 2020? I think he can. You can get Curl as your high-end DB2 pretty late in startups, and can probably trade for him on the cheap. Plenty of other DBs are garnering more attention this fantasy off-season to keep him flying under the radar.
Washington appears to be slated to repeat their dominant defensive performance from 2020. They shored up their cornerbacks, added a shiny new linebacker, and they get their all-pro safety (Collins) back from injury. Young will likely see a “sophomore surge” as most edge rushers do, and Sweat looks to keep his upward momentum going. Anchored by a solid interior line, you’d be hard-pressed to find better complete defense going into 2021.
My five “must roster” players for the Washington Football Team are: Young, Sweat, Davis, Collins, and Kamren Curl… in that order.
I was excited to write about Washington’s defense, especially after being somewhat disheartened by my Broncos write-up. Please feel free to comment below or contact me @IDP_Baumer on Twitter. And also, stay tuned to @DynastyNerds for a all of our latest articles.
Get the Edge – Join the #NERDHERD
- Dynasty Nerds Logo | Trucker Cap 24.50$
- Dynasty Nerds - Champion Hoodie 54.99$
- #Nerdherd Pennant - American Apparel 3/4 sleeve raglan shirt 34.99$ – 37.49$
- Dynasty Nerds Embroidered Champion Packable Jacket 49.00$ – 52.00$
- 3/4 sleeve raglan shirt 24.95$