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Why Terry McLaurin Could have a Career Year

McLaurin has been a solid receiver over his time in the NFL. Can 2024 be the elite season we've been waiting for in fantasy?

Terry McLaurin has been a stable fantasy receiver for over five years. In 2024, the Commanders have a new-look offense and probably the best passer McLaurin has ever played with. He also has an innovative offensive coordinator that could end up helping McLaurin have a career year in fantasy.

McLaurin’s Fantasy History

Since coming into the league in 2019, McLaurin has performed well for a third-round pick. He hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves since he has had four straight seasons over 1000 yards. He has gotten you at least four receiving touchdowns each year. He has been either a WR2 or WR3 finish and a top 35 receiver each year. His best season was in 2022, where he would finish WR14 in half-point PPF leagues. McLaurin would finish with 1195 yards and five touchdowns.

In 2023, it was a down year for McLaurin, and he finished with barely 1000 yards and four touchdowns. McLaurin and 2023 starter Sam Howell were never on the same page. It was the second-lowest catch rate (59.8%) and lowest yards per catch (11.7) of his career. McLaurin also had a career-worst yards per target of 7.6 yards. He would catch four passing touchdowns, but only three were from Howell. The Commanders would finish in the bottom ten in points per game. The offense was a total disaster and could only get 24 passing touchdowns on the season.

McLaurin would finish with 130 targets, which ranked 19th in the league. Despite the high targets, his target share was the lowest in his career. His catchable ball rate was 65.4%. His YPT and YPR would both be outside the top 50 within the position. The lack of opportunity last year in the red zone was a big issue, with just nine red zone targets. He saw a target on 20.3% of his route runs, which ranked 46th in the league in 2023. Since Mclaurin has been in the league, he has played with 11 different quarterbacks. That is about two per season, and none of them have been great to elite quarterbacks.

Why 2024 Can be Different

Well, for starters, the offense didn’t pick up any elite pass-catching options. The team made moves, but none to take away from McLaurin’s downfield value. Austin Ekeler seems to have lost a step but will only take away short passes from Brian Robinson Jr. The new rookie quarterback, Jayden Daniels, shouldn’t look to dump the ball off much. Ben Sinnott is a young tight end who will need time to develop but is best in the short area of the field. The team also brought in third-round pick Luke McCaffrey, who comes from a smaller school in Rice but has an NFL pedigree. McCaffrey would be best used as a slot receiver for the offense. None should take enough touches away from what McLaurin does best. You should expect him to continue to be a 130-target type of receiver for an offense that looks to have improved.

Jayden Daniels

Next is the addition of Jayden Daniels. Daniel’s overall ability is probably the best quarterback that McLaurin will play with to date. The thing that Daniels can do that Howell was unable to is the downfield throws. Howell ranked fourth in deep throws of 20-plus yards, with 74 of them. The issue was that Howell ranked 32nd in the league in completing those throws with a 28.4% completion percentage.

Jayden Daniels led the nation in deep ball completions with 63% and would have 22 touchdowns and zero interceptions. We saw Daniels help his college teammate Brian Thomas Jr thrive with downfield throws and lead the nation with 17 touchdowns. Even on the run, Daniels has shown the ability to make amazing throws. A rookie quarterback will show some favoritism to a star receiver, and Mclaurin will benefit. We saw Bryce Young heavily target Adam Theilen. CJ Stroud helped Nico Collins thrive as a WR1. Aidan O’Connell and Will Levis focused on Davante Adams and DeAndre Hopkins in their offenses.

Kliff Kingsbury Offense

Finally, Kliff Kingsbury is now the offensive coordinator for the Commanders. Kingsbury was labeled for his air raid offense coming into the league. He had three top-10 offenses in his four years in Arizona. He will have a quarterback similar to Daniels running the offense. I wouldn’t expect the same Air Raid that he did in Arizona. He will continue to push the ball downfield, as that has been his approach in this offensive, but expect more balance. Reports show that McLaurin is working out in the other receiver positions on the offense. McLaurin said. “He likes to be balanced (in play calling) and give different looks to a defense. … We’re going to use motion, move some guys around.” per Ben Standig of The Athletic.

McLaurin was already 21st in YAC, so he could move around to other positions where he could produce after the catch, which would greatly benefit him. When Kingsbury’s offense was in high gear, we saw DeAndre Hopkins go over 1400 yards and have six touchdowns. Hopkins’s shined in the offense and topped off at 160 targets. That’s something that McLaurin is capable of doing. Kingsbury will get the most out of his offense and still wants to focus on the passing game. He has the right quarterback in Daniels, who can show off his offense in ways we expected when he entered the league.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a contending in dynasty right now, you must target McLaurin. His value is lower than it’s been in years, and he has the upside to be a WR1 in fantasy football. McLaurin should continue to see a large target share in the Commanders offense as we see an improved team. He has the best quarterback in his career with him in 2024. The offense should continue to run through him since I don’t see anyone stepping up to take away targets.

Recent Trades

  • Javonte Williams & 2024 3rd for McLaurin
  • Marvin Mims and WanDale Robinson for McLaurin
  • 2024 2nds (2) & Josh Downs for McLaurin
  • Rachaad White & 2025 3rd for McLaurin & 2025 2nd

As you can see, McLaurin’s value is great right now. I’d easily smash accept on the Williams and 2024 third rounder. Williams may be on his way out of Denver, and the third rounder doesn’t have a great hit rate. Mims and Robinson are two young receivers with some upside but are not likely to be a WR1 like McLaurin. I’d sell high on Rachaad White, who may lose touches to Bucky Irving in 2024. Two 2024 seconds and Josh Downs are higher assets to give up, but McLaurin will have more upside than any of those players in 2024. If you are a contending team, you need to go get McLaurin in dynasty.

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