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Carson Wentz the Commander: Fantasy Impact

carson wentz fantasy football rankings NFL DFS lineup picks

The first official QB of the Washington Commanders will be the former second overall pick, Carson Wentz. Wentz has been tough to watch since his injury-shortened 2017 season, but teams continue to trade for him with the hope that he can regain some semblance of that year's near-MVP form.

Wentz is still a capable rusher who does not throw many picks but the throws have been quite questionable (to say the least). The Colts falling short of a playoff appearance this past season can solely be placed on Wentz's shoulders given his failures in the final game of the season. Jacksonville was ready to move onto 2022 but Wentz's frightened eyes could not see past the line of scrimmage and it resulted in a back-breaking loss that eventually sent him packing.

After news of Russell Wilson heading to Denver and Aaron Rodgers staying in Green Bay, this wasn't the move that many Washington fans were hoping for. Will fantasy managers feel the same about him and his new teammates in 2022?

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Carson Wentz's Fantasy Impact in Washington

He heads away from the friendly confines of an indoor stadium to the slaughterhouse that is FedEx Field. Not that FedEx isn't filled with great fans or (football) history, just a brutal turf that has taken the legs from under Alex Smith and Robert Griffin III.

Wentz is historically quite injury-prone due to the nature of his play in and out of the pocket. He is great at shedding tacklers, but he lets that get too far as he will seek contact rather than protecting himself. This is great for the sake of his fantasy production but awful for his ability to stay on the field. He has played 69 games out of 81 possible over the past five seasons and dealt with back, knee, and foot injuries in this span. Wentz seemingly has not been the same since his 2017 knee injury which sidelined him throughout the Eagles' Super Bowl run.

In relation to fantasy, he remains a viable option at QB thanks to his aforementioned rushing ability. Over the past three seasons, Wentz has averaged 3.8 rush attempts and 16.3 yards per game with 7 total TD in this span. While this may not seem like much, it is equivalent to an extra 50 passing yards per game. Rushing isn't even the primary source of his value as Wentz does have three seasons with at least 27 passing TD in which he threw exactly seven INT.

Wentz's per-game QB finishes by season:

2016 - QB29 (rookie)

2017 - QB2

2018 - QB18 (torn ACL/LCL from year prior)

2019 - QB13

2020 - QB18

2021 - QB18 (preseason foot fracture and Week 2 high-ankle)

Does Wentz have upside? Yes. He can play at a high-end QB2 and maybe low-end QB1 level for fantasy. Just do not expect much more given the limited array of weapons in Washington and his diminished body after all of these injuries.

 

Impact on Washington's Skill Players

Antonio Gibson

Carson Wentz is objectively a better QB than Taylor Heinicke and will logically make Antonio Gibson better to a certain degree. However, one of the most important boons to Gibson's value is not the addition of Wentz but the potential departure of JD McKissic. Gibson is an interesting case overall due to his 2021 shin injury that couldn't heal due to him playing weekly. Gibson gutted out 16 games with 300 touches and finished as RB12 in total points while just RB19 in PPG.

Gibson is set up for a much better 2022 season assuming he comes in healthy. His efficiency should match his incredible 2020 numbers rather than the injured 2021 while Wentz's presence potentially creates more touchdown opportunities for the offense. If Gibson takes over just half of McKissic's role as well, the sky is the limit given his history as a receiver in college.

Terry McLaurin

McLaurin has the most to gain or lose with the addition of Carson Wentz. While he has found moderate success with mediocre QBs over the past few seasons, McLaurin's true upside remains in question. He finished as WR25 overall this past season with Heinicke and has fluttered around the low-end WR2 range throughout his 3-year career.

While Wentz's career TD rate should be a plus for the offense, will he and McLaurin have the same type of relationship he and Michael Pittman Jr. did in 2021? McLaurin is not the typical archetype of WR Wentz favors. He likes the big-bodied, possession-style receiver (Pittman, Ertz, Jeffery) he can throw in a range of that hauls it in with box-outs of defenders.

Yes, Wentz will take his fair amount of deep shots that should go McLaurin's way, but will the passing offense be consolidated towards the soon-to-be 27-year old that never projected as an alpha? McLaurin's talent is not so much in question but if he and Wentz cannot form a solid connection early, it is hard to imagine anything more than a plateau that's built the past few years.

The best bet would be to gauge the market first before reacting one way or another as McLaurin is often reached for in drafts by believers who see a WR1 that's never come to fruition. He has the ability to separate and haul in contested catches, but is that enough for the ever-fickle Wentz? Time will tell.

Curtis Samuel

Samuel was a big-time signing for Washington after his breakout in 2020. Unfortunately, he missed most of 2021 due to soft-tissue injuries that lingered from the preseason. Samuel played just five games and touched the ball 10 times for a total of 38 yards and no touchdowns.

Nevertheless, a 3-year, $34 million dollar contract is nothing to scoff at and pretty much guarantees a significant role for Samuel early on if he is healthy. His ability with the ball in his hands and speed are undeniable. The only issue will be getting him the ball which could be troublesome if Wentz continues to play scared. Luckily, Samuel can operate on jet sweeps that get him the ball behind the line-of-scrimmage and mitigate Wentz if he were to be cumbersome to the offense.

Given that Samuel's price should be near the back end of any draft in 2022, he is a worthwhile pickup as an upside WR.

Logan Thomas

Thomas had a rough 2021 after becoming a breakout darling in 2020. Despite moderate expectations, Thomas failed to return much value in fantasy due to multiple lower-body injuries; the second of which ended his season and could possibly linger in the next.

Thomas is talented by all means and has been held back by a mediocre supporting staff but it is hard to believe he receives much of a leash even upon return from his torn ACL. With Wentz in town and the potential trade or signing of a free agent starter/rookie, Thomas will be left to fight for his spot on top of his attempt to return to 100%.

Do not have much hope for this season or even beyond given his limited career as a tight end and potential loss of juice post-injury.

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