WFT's Top Players to Target in Fantasy Football Drafts

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 2, 2021

WFT's Top Players to Target in Fantasy Football Drafts

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    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    The Washington Football Team was good enough to win the NFC East in 2020, though it won only seven games and relied heavily on its second-ranked defense throughout the season. That's a fine formula in the real world, but it didn't leave a ton of enticing options for fantasy football managers.

    The 2021 season should be a different story, as Washington revamped its passing attack. The Football Team added quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, receivers Adam Humphries and Curtis Samuel and rookie wideout Dyami Brown.

    Washington should again be in the mix for the divisional crown, and the offense should have more punch than it did a season ago—when it ranked 30th overall and 25th in points scored. Will that be enough to make Washington a fantasy powerhouse this season?

    Let's take a look at the Football Team's top players to target in fantasy drafts.


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    Luis M. Alvarez/Associated Press

    Before we get into our top options, it's worth assessing a few sleepers worth targeting late.

    Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is first up, as he carries streaming and high-end backup potential. While he has never established himself as a franchise quarterback, he is capable of slinging the football and having the occasional big game. In nine games with seven starts last season, he threw for 2,091 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

    Wideout Curtis Samuel also has to be considered after he topped 1,000 scrimmage yards with the Carolina Panthers in 2020. He has experience playing for head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner and will be an offensive factor.

    Then there's rookie Dyami Brown. The North Carolina product is probably only worth a late-round flier, but he is explosive and has tremendous upside.

    "Overall, Brown projects as an outside-only WR who will bring a vertical threat right away to an NFL offense with the room and traits to develop into a very good No. 2 option," Nate Tice of the B/R Scouting Department wrote.

    It will be worth following Brown during the preseason. If it looks like he's headed to a prominent role, It will be worth bumping up his draft range.

RB Antonio Gibson

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    Dean Hoffmeyer/Associated Press

    Running back Antonio Gibson was a pleasant surprise as a rookie in 2020. The Memphis product rushed for 795 yards, caught 36 passes for 247 yards and scored 11 touchdowns—in only 14 games with 10 starts.

    Gibson has established himself as Washington's top backfield option. That said, he shouldn't be targeted as an RB1 in drafts. Gibson will likely share the load with Peyton Barber and receiving back J.D. McKissic.

    McKissic, by the way, is worth targeting as a solid starting flex option. He caught 80 passes in 2020 and produced 954 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns. This places him somewhere between sleeper and flex starter territory.

    As for Gibson, consider him a high-end RB2 with some upside. He should have better numbers now that he's the full-time starter, but he's a step below the top fantasy backs. He should be targeted no early than Round 2, though grabbing him in Round 3 or later would be ideal.

WR Terry McLaurin and TE Logan Thomas

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Like Gibson, wideout Terry McLaurin is probably best targeted as a second-tier player. He's a step below the best at his position in fantasy.

    That said, McLaurin is a viable No. 1 NFL receiver, and he is a high-end WR2 or low-end WR1 in fantasy. He had 1,118 receiving yards and four touchdowns last season despite being the only quality target aside from tight end Logan Thomas—another starting fantasy option.

    McLaurin is going to carry some boom-or-bust fantasy potential in 2021 because of Washington's new additions. On one hand, the presence of Fitzpatrick should boost his value, while Samuel, Humphries and Brown can help him see less double coverage. On the other hand, Washington isn't likely to force-feed McLaurin and Thomas the ball as it did a year ago.

    Consider McLaurin a 1,000-yard receiver and an optimal WR2 target worth selecting in Round 3 or later. Thomas is a mid-level TE1 who should provide a lot of value in Rounds 10-12.

Defense/Special Teams

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    Daniel Kucin Jr./Associated Press

    It's typically unwise to target a defense earlier than the final two rounds, but Washington's D/ST unit should be worth picking up a round or two earlier. Washington ranked second overall and fourth in points allowed last season and was fairly consistent.

    Opposing offenses scored 20 or fewer points in 10 of 16 regular-season games last season.

    Washington also produced 47 sacks, 16 interceptions, 14 forced fumbles, a safety and a defensive touchdown last season.

    While managers won't want to reach for any defense, Washington is in the upper echelon of D/ST units. Grab this unit and leave it in the lineup with confidence.