One of the hardest parts of fantasy football evaluations is separating talent from situation. Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin was one of the lone bright spots on the 2019 Redskins, immediately outplaying his third-round draft stock while looking like one of the best receivers in the league. Blessed with immense talent, McLaurin has the misfortune of playing for Dwayne Haskins and the underwhelming Washington offense. Can he overcome this unfortunate situation and become a top fantasy receiver?
2020 Fantasy Football Preview: Terry McLaurin
McLaurin wasted no time in showing off his receiving ability. During Week 1, McLaurin lit up Philadelphia’s secondary to the tune of five receptions, 125 yards, and one touchdown. He proved that wasn’t a one-week fluke, finishing his season with 58 receptions for 919 yards and seven touchdowns in just 14 games. This made him the WR29 overall, a fantastic finish for a rookie on a bad offense. This wasn’t a case of getting by on volume, as McLaurin ended the year as PFF’s sixth-best receiver while averaging 2.38 yards per route.
What’s truly crazy about McLaurin’s season is how great he was early on. Through the first six weeks of the season, McLaurin was the WR6 on a per-game basis and only had one game where he didn’t find the endzone or eclipse 62 receiving yards. That game came against the New England Patriots and their elite defense, and McLaurin still managed to get three receptions for 51 yards against Stephon Gilmore. He truly was a fantastic player, and he was making due with an underwhelming quarterback duo in Case Keenum and Colt McCoy.
However, everything changed for the worst in Week 7. The Redskins faced off against the 49ers in an absolute monsoon that made throwing the ball all-but impossible. McLaurin finished the night with just one reception for 11 yards, but you can’t really blame him for that result. Keenum started Week 8, but ultimately yielded to Dwayne Haskins midway through the contest.
Haskins was objectively terrible, missing several wide-open throws throughout the next couple of weeks. This plummeted McLaurin’s fantasy value, as he simply couldn’t keep producing with such subpar play. While the two improved their connection down the stretch, the damage was already done to his fantasy stock.
Nobody doubts McLaurin’s talent, but some could question whether or not Haskins is good enough to keep McLaurin relevant. Conventional wisdom suggests that the best fantasy receivers require a good quarterback and a high-scoring offense. However, a data study performed by FantasyPros shows that scoring offense can be overrated for wide receiver production. While it certainly doesn’t hurt to be on a good offense, it’s clear that target share dictates production more than scoring options. McLaurin has one of the most dependable target shares in the league and should be a lock to lead the team in targets.
Wide receivers don’t necessarily need a great quarterback to produce at a high level, but they do need one that isn’t an outright disaster. Haskins was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league by just about every measure, and it wasn’t particularly close. However, there is some reason for hope moving forward.
Most of Haskins’ terrible numbers come from his atrocious start to the season. After he got a few starts under his belt, he actually played at a serviceable level. His efficiency numbers creeped back towards the rest of the league, and PFF even had him as the QB9 from Weeks 11 to 16. During this stretch of play, McLaurin recorded 23 receptions for 353 yards and two touchdowns.
This isn’t to say that Dwayne Haskins is going to be a superstar in 2020 – he probably won’t. However, he’s capable of playing at a Case Keenum level, especially now that he has a full offseason under his belt. That’s all McLaurin needs to put up great numbers, especially since Bill Callahan and his obnoxiously run-heavy philosophy are no longer in town.
Terry McLaurin Average Draft Position
As of this posting, Fantasy Football Calculator has Terry McLaurin going off the board with the 5.08 overall selection. This puts him right in the same tier as guys like Tyler Lockett, Courtland Sutton, and Stefon Diggs.
Quite frankly, this is highway robbery. Terry McLaurin is immensely talented, is the clear-cut top option in the passing attack, and already has an established rapport with his quarterback. Playing in a subpar offense with a questionable quarterback will affect his overall performance, but those concerns are completely overblown. At the very least, he should be a solid WR2 with WR1 upside if Haskins makes a major leap in Year 2. If he’s there in the fifth, he’s an easy selection.
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