Predicting WFT's Key Stat Leaders for 2021 NFL Season

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2021

Predicting WFT's Key Stat Leaders for 2021 NFL Season

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    The Washington Football Team won the NFC East in 2020 with a 7-9 record. The good news is that Washington landed a quality journeyman quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick and bolstered its receiving corps in free agency and the draft.

    On paper, the Football Team should be even better than it was a year ago.

    The bad news is that the rest of the division looks to have improved as well. The Philadelphia Eagles found themselves a No. 1 receiver in DeVonta Smith, the Dallas Cowboys are getting back a healthy Dak Prescott, and the New York Giants added a bevy of offensive talent.

    For Washington to repeat as the leader in the East, it is going to need some big-time statistical contributions from its top stars. Who might its key statistical leaders be in 2021? We'll examine that here.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Fitzpatrick might not be the first player who comes to mind when you think of a quarterback answer. He's played for eight different franchises and has never lasted longer than four years with a single team. However, Fitzpatrick has shown in recent years that he can be a quality starter when given the opportunity.

    In 2019, Fitzpatrick started 13 games for the Miami Dolphins and finished with 3,529 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Last season, he made seven starts and finished with a passer rating of 95.6.

    According to Fitzpatrick, he has plenty left in the proverbial tank.

    "I have a lot of great football ahead of me, which sounds crazy," he said, per ESPN's John Keim.

    Fitzpatrick has a legitimate No. 1 receiver in Terry McLaurin, a quality receiving back in J.D. McKissic and some intriguing complementary weapons in free-agent acquisition Curtis Samuel, tight end Logan Thomas and rookie Dyami Brown.

    While Fitzpatrick may not be an elite signal-caller in 2021, expect him to produce some of the best statistics of his career.

    Prediction: 4,512 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 275 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns

WR Terry McLaurin

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    Susan Walsh/Associated Press

    The additions of Samuel and Brown won't just help Fitzpatrick. They're going to make life easier on McLaurin, who hasn't had the benefit of a strong supporting cast as a pro.

    Last season, McLaurin led Washington with 87 receptions and 1,118 receiving yards. No other wideout on the roster logged more than 477 receiving yards, and Washington finished ranked 25th in passing yards.

    With receivers like Samuel and Brown on the roster, though, opposing defenses should have a tougher time doubling McLaurin consistently. This should open up receiving room for the Ohio State product and help increase his big-play potential.

    With the strong-armed Fitzpatrick under center, McLaurin should finally make the leap from being a quality receiver to an elite playmaker. Like Fitzpatrick, McLaurin should produce the most impressive statistics of his career this season.

    Prediction: 96 receptions, 1,254 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns

Edge Chase Young

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    2020 second overall pick Chase Young proved to be an instant difference-maker for Washington last season. The Ohio State product appeared in 15 games and finished his rookie campaign with 7.5 sacks and 24 quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Reference.

    According to Pro Football Focus, Young was the league's most efficient pass-rusher in the red zone too.

    With a year of seasoning under his belt, Young should take the sort of step that Myles Garrett had in his second pro season—Garrett had seven sacks as a rookie and 13.5 in Year 2.

    While Young isn't the only talented sack artist on Washington's roster—Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne can all pressure the quarterback—he's the most dangerous player the Football Team has off the edge. With a talented defensive front supporting him, Young should get his fair share of one-on-one blocking.

    For the most part, Washington's pass rush will be a collective effort in 2021, but Young should lead the way in sack production. Sweat led the team with nine sacks last year, but expect Young to take over the lead this season.

    Prediction: 12.5 sacks, 34 quarterback pressures, 4 forced fumbles, 52 total tackles