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Fantasy Football Breakouts, Busts, and Locks - Washington Commanders 2022 Outlook

Welcome to our fantasy football Breakouts, Busts, and Locks, a series on RotoBaller where our writers look at three key players on each NFL team. Today, we're talking about the Washington Commanders.

With Carson Wentz under center, what will we see from this Commanders team this season? Can they be a surprise contender in the NFC East?

Below, you'll find a fantasy football breakout candidate, a fantasy football bust candidate, and a safe fantasy football pick for the Commanders based on current ADP for fantasy football drafts in 2022.

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Fantasy Football Breakout: Jahan Dotson

Someone has to be the No. 2 receiving option for the Commanders, right? We know Terry McLaurin is The Dude, but someone has to take on the No. 2 role on this team. They can't just funnel a 100% target share to McLaurin. The good news for rookie receiver Jahan Dotson is that there isn't really anyone who naturally seems to fit into that role.

I mean, there's Curtis Samuel, but in five games last season, Samuel was targeted nine times. I get that he's fast and that he's got experience playing in this system, but at some point, we've got to admit that Samuel's best used as a third or fourth option and stop thinking he'll see 100 targets. The one time he did see that many targets, he posted his worst catch rate, at just 51.4%.

And then there's...Cam Sims, Dyami Brown, and Dax Milne. Shallow receiving corps here. Add in that tight end Logan Thomas is currently on the PUP list and has exactly one good season and is 31-years-old and you can see that the runway for Dotson is wide open.

Dotson showed in college that he can make positive plays in a variety of ways. Earlier in his Penn State career, he was a big-play guy, ranking top five in the Big Ten in yards per reception in 2019 and 2020. Last year, he showed more versatility, catching 91 passes for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns, but seeing his YPR fall from 17.0 to 13.0. The Nittany Lions worked to get Dotson involved in all phases of the passing game.

With plenty of speed to make things happen after the catch, I expect Dotson to be a valuable piece in this offense, especially considering that a lot of defensive attention will go towards McLaurin, potentially opening up space for Dotson. He should also be the team's deep threat.

 

Fantasy Football Bust: Brian Robinson Jr.

Some people are hyping up Brian Robinson. I'm not really sure why these people are doing this. It's nothing really against Robinson. It's just that the Commanders have Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic and I don't really see a role developing for Robinson because of that.

Last season, Gibson had 258 carries for Washington. The rest of the team's running backs combined for 138, with 18 of those coming in the game that Gibson missed. So if we look just at the 16 games that Gibson played, he saw 68.2% of the positional carries on the team.

Then there's McKissic, who had 48 of those carries and who is still on the team. McKissic's big impact was in the passing game, as he was targeted 53 times. Gibson saw 52 targets. The rest of the team's running backs combined for 22 targets.

Robinson had a good season last year for Alabama, but his college production mainly came in that senior season. He also played five years at Bama and he's already 23 as a rookie. Gibson is only 24. This isn't one of those situations where a third-round rookie comes in and displaces a veteran player—Gibson's still in his prime.

I'm sure Robinson will get some looks, but not nearly enough for him to have standalone fantasy relevance without an injury. Robinson is currently being drafted pretty late, with an average ADP across various sites of RB66 per FantasyPros. That's probably a good place to draft him.

There are still analysts who are high on him. If you look at FantasyPros' breakdown of where individual analysts have him ranked, you can see people like RotoBaller's own Scott Engel and Pierre Camus are both very high on him. Engel has him RB41. Camus has him RB42.

That's just way too high. It's a recipe for disappointment. I'm not drafting Robinson unless I'm in a very deep league and he's there around RB65.

 

Fantasy Football Lock: Terry McLaurin

No wide receiver is completely quarterback-proof. If I were forced to play QB for the Commanders, Terry McLaurin wouldn't get very many opportunities because the ball would never get to him. McLaurin has shown he can produce with pretty much anyone throwing him the ball. In 2019, he was catching passes from Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins. In 2020, from Haskins and Alex Smith. And last year, from Taylor Heinicke.

Now, he'll be catching passes from Carson Wentz. Four different primary QBs in four years. That hasn't really negatively impacted McLaurin. After catching 58 passes for 919 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie, McLaurin followed that up in 2020 with 87 catches on 134 targets for 1,118 yards and four scores, then last year he was targeted 130 times with 77 catches for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns.

If—and yeah, it's a big if—Wentz can play a full season, McLaurin should have the best season of his career. Last year per PlayerProfiler, McLaurin ranked 70th among receivers in catchable target rate and 43rd in target quality rate. He had a 1,000-yard season despite the targets he received not being particularly good.

Meanwhile, Carson Wentz was pretty bad last year with his accuracy, ranking 29th in accuracy rating. Back when Wentz was playing in Philly, accuracy was a hallmark of his game. If he can rekindle some of that, the sky's the limit for McLaurin. And if he can't?

Then we've seen McLaurin succeed with poor quarterback play. He's the most reliable player on this offense and should be considered a strong fantasy WR2 play with upside.



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