The Commanders moniker won’t be the only new addition in
Washington this season as the team will now have a new face behind
center after they acquired veteran Carson Wentz via trade. Wentz
brings a strong arm and leadership to a team desperately in need
of those things, but he does come with a long injury history that
makes him a risk for both the Commanders and fantasy owners alike.
Wentz’s 2021 saw major improvements from a 2020 season
that led to him being traded away from the Eagles. Was efficient
in a Jonathan Taylor-focused Colts offense and stayed healthy,
but was still shipped away as the Colts acquired Matt Ryan in
While he’s not a particularly exciting player, Wentz should be
an improvement over the Taylor Heinecke-led offense that Washington
suffered through in 2021. He doesn’t have the wheels or high-end
upside to realistically be a QB1, but Wentz should be a solid
QB2 in two-QB and SuperFlex leagues and he’s a player who you
could pair with someone like Trey Lance to start the season before
you switch over to the youngster with more upside.
One of the fantasy community’s favorite players, Gibson
heads into his third season with perhaps more question marks about
him than he had in either of his first two seasons.
We often hear the phrase, “if he only got more opportunities,”
but Gibson has been given the seventh-most carries among all running
backs in the NFL over the course of his first two seasons in the
league. He’s produced solid numbers with the opportunities
he’s had and the talent is obviously there, but it simply
hasn’t manifested itself into high level fantasy production
With the team opting to match the Bills’ offer to keep J.D. McKissic
this offseason, things don’t look great in regards to Gibson seeing
more opportunities in 2022 than he did in 2021. To make matters
worse, the team also added bruising Alabama running back Brian
Robinson in the third round of the NFL Draft. Commanders head
coach Ron Rivera likened the duo of Gibson and Robinson to the
duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart from when he coached
the Panthers. Without directly stating it, Washington has told
us with their actions and insinuated with words that they want
to limit the workload of Gibson who has dealt with some injuries
and is now headed into his third season.
There will almost certainly be weeks where Gibson produces big
numbers, but he could be extremely unpredictable and frustrating
to own in traditional seasonal leagues this season. His draft
cost is down from where it was in 2021 so it’ll be easier
for him to return value, but it might be tough to expect another
top-10 finish at running back.
J.D. McKissic ranked 51st at running back in total points in
2021 in standard scoring formats, but shot all the way up to 37th
in PPR formats despite playing in just 11 games. That 14-position
gap pretty well explains the fantasy outlook for this pass-catching
specialist who is essentially unusable in non-PPR formats. McKissic
carried the ball more than eight times in a game just three times
over his past three seasons and even then, the highest total of
carries he saw was in Week 15 of the 2020 season when he carried
the ball 13 times against the Seahawks.
McKissic does, however, bring some weekly boom upside in PPR
formats. He’s caught five or more passes in a game 14 times
over his past 27 regular season games. This has allowed him to
deliver some big PPR fantasy numbers in those contests, although
he has admittedly also dropped some near goose-eggs multiple times
when he gets game scripted out.
The ideal format to own a player like McKissic in is PPR best
ball, but most fantasy players haven’t gravitated over to
that format yet, which means he’s likely going to end up
frustrating a lot of owners who will inevitably complain with
phrases like, “when I start him he does nothing and when
I bench him he goes off!”
Yeah, that’s sort of what you sign up for with a player
like McKissic and it’s why he’s being drafted later
than many players whom he’ll likely outscore in 2022.
One of the more frustrating landing spots from the 2022 NFL Draft
has to be Alabama running back Brian Robinson. Robinson joins
an already crowded Washington backfield that featured do-it-all
running back Antonio Gibson along with pass catching specialist
J.D. McKissic. While Robinson’s bruising, between-the-tackles
style certainly makes him an ideal complementary player in this
backfield for the Commanders, it’s tough to imagine a scenario
in which he becomes a viable weekly fantasy asset without injuries
- perhaps multiple injuries - to other players on this roster.
Instead, what’s more likely to happen is that Robinson
ends up playing spoiler in this backfield, most likely to Gibson,
who stands to lose a greater share of his touches to Robinson
than McKissic would given their skill sets. Robinson could very
well end up being a regular contributor near the goal line for
the Commanders, which would be extremely frustrating for fantasy
managers who own Gibson. Worse yet, given that Washington isn’t
likely to be a high-powered offense to begin with, Robinson himself
isn’t likely to be consistent enough of a weekly contributor
to justify placing him in in weekly lineups.
We’ve seen “handcuffs” become relevant fantasy
assets in the past and perhaps Robinson ends up becoming one of
those players, but you’re probably better off making him
a high waiver claim during the season than you are drafting him
outright and holding him on your bench all season.
McLaurin has certainly exceeded expectations in regards to his
original third-round NFL Draft capital, but fantasy owners who’ve
been convinced that he’s ready to break into the elite WR range
have been left disappointed over his past two seasons. Still,
back-to-back 1000-yard seasons while being thrown to by the likes
of Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen and the broken down remains of
Alex Smith certainly gives us hope that we’ve yet to see the best
McLaurin now has a new quarterback as the Commanders acquired
Carson Wentz via trade. Wentz joins the team after a decent season
with the Colts and he will almost certainly be the best QB that
McLaurin has played with. More specifically, Wentz is a passer
who likes to push the ball down the field, which has been a problem
for every other Washington quarterback that McLaurin has played
with. We’ve seen McLaurin produce big numbers when he’s
been targeted downfield in the past, so there’s plenty of
reasons to be optimistic that he’s headed for his best fantasy
season yet in 2022.
On the other hand, there are some concerns that make drafting
McLaurin a bit of a risk right now. The most pressing issue is
that McLaurin is currently entrenched in a contract dispute with
the Commanders as he is looking to get paid now that he has delivered
multiple quality NFL seasons. We haven’t heard that Washington
is unwilling to give McLaurin an extension, but the fact that
they haven’t already come to an agreement and he’s
now sitting out mandatory team activities is certainly a cause
for worry. It’s more likely than not that McLaurin will
be suiting up for Washington in Week 1, but the risk that he sits
out an extended period of time remains and is rightfully suppressing
his average draft position a bit.
The other concern is that Washington has made multiple moves
to acquire new talent at wide receiver over the past two seasons.
Most recently the team drafted wide receiver Jahan Dotson in April’s
NFL Draft, spending a mid-first-round pick to acquire the former
Penn State wideout. While rookie wide receivers don’t often supplant
established star receivers very quickly, it seems obvious that
Dotson will step on the field and immediately be the best wide
receiver teammate that McLaurin has played with in the NFL. Add
in the fact that the team added Dyami
Brown with a third-round draft pick in 2021 along with veteran
Curtis Samuel and it’s starting to look like there will be more
competition for targets for McLaurin in 2022.
McLaurin is the kind of player who can make up for a lower target
share with increased efficiency on the targets he does see, especially
if Wentz is targeting him down the field consistently, but there
is a lot of potential volatility with McLaurin headed into this
year and that makes him much more of a boom-or-bust type of player
than we would’ve previously considered him to be.
Commanders’ rookie wide receiver Jahan Dotson turned in
91 catches, nearly 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior at
Penn State in 2021. He was well on his way to a 1,000-yard season
as a Junior in 2020 but missed a few games and fell just short,
so it’s good to see that he was a productive player against
high-level collegiate competition.
Dotson may not start the season as the WR2 on the Washington
depth chart, but will likely ascend to that spot by mid-to-late
season and could have some real fantasy potential down the stretch.
He’s more of a dynasty asset right now than he is a player
to be investing significant draft capital in this season, but
keep an eye on his playing time and make sure to add him if it
starts to look like he’s going to be an every-down starter
for the Commanders.
Rookie wide receivers who are drafted in the later parts of fantasy
drafts rarely exceed expectations by significant margins and it’s
even rarer for them to truly break out with a big fantasy season,
but we’ve seen Dotson’s teammate Terry McLaurin do
it recently and Dotson’s first round draft capital is significantly
higher than McLaurin’s third round draft capital.
It’s probably best to let someone else select Dotson in
your fantasy draft, then wait for the opportune time to pick him
up off of waivers once they inevitably drop him. Competing with
McLaurin for targets in a relatively low volume passing game to
begin with isn’t likely to lead to immediate results for
Dotson in his rookie season.
Samuel was an interesting offseason acquisition for Washington
heading into 2021, but he dealt with a number of injuries that
led to him missing most of the season. Now another year older
with multiple lower body injuries in his track record, Samuel
steps into a Washington offense that has significantly more target
competition now that they drafted wide receiver Jahan Dotson with
a first-round pick.
Samuel does have some Cordarrelle Patterson/Deebo Samuel to his
game as we’ve seen by his production as a runner, but he’s
in an extremely crowded backfield and is unlikely to see more
than a couple of touches out of the backfield in any given week.
His career high in receiving yards is just 851 and he’s
never scored more than seven total touchdowns in a season, so
the upside just doesn’t seem to be there other than maybe
as a late round flier in best ball formats.
Tight end Logan Thomas was one of the later-round tight ends
that a lot of fantasy experts were hyping up heading into the
2021 season, but he ended up playing in only six games and eventually
suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 13. While the medical
community has come a long way in helping players get back on the
field and Thomas is reportedly “ahead of schedule,”
it would seem like a stretch that Thomas will be ready to go to
start the 2022 season. Chances are strong that he’ll start
the season on the PUP list which would mean that he’d miss
at least the first six weeks of the season.
Additionally, the Commanders investing so strongly in their wide
receiver room isn’t a great sign for Thomas’ upside
as he was already struggling to secure a consistently high weekly
target share. The team did lose Ricky Seals-Jones in the offseason
so there isn’t much competition here once Thomas does make
his return, but it’s still rarely a great option to use
actual draft picks on already-injured players like Thomas, especially
at a position like tight end which has so few difference-making
players to begin with. Instead, it’d be wiser to let someone
else in your league draft him and use their IR spots or even flat
out drop him once he’s ruled out to start the season. Then,
when the opportunity is right, you swoop in to secure that highly
coveted borderline TE1 fantasy production!