2023 Washington Commanders Team Preview

Jul 8th 2023

Hayden Winks

The Washington Commanders have some fun skill guys if they can just figure out starting QB. We can draft them all on Underdog Fantasy with promo code 'UNDERBLOG' to match your first deposit up to $100. We have the biggest fantasy football tournament of all time ($15M) right now.

2022 Washington Commanders Advanced Stats

When things are humming, this is a team that wants to win with a top-10 defense (9th in EPA allowed) and a balanced offense. The Commanders were 30th in neutral pace and 30th in neutral pass rate, setting up deep shots to an underrated 1-2 punch at receiver on the 6th-highest play action rate. That philosophy will stay directionally accurate, but there is a new QB and OC. Eric Bieniemy ran a lot of trickeration with quick passes in Kansas City, and he has the personnel to replicate that with YAC studs at WR and RB. Where the team definitely needs to improve is up front. A 23rd-ranked OL in adjusted sack rate was iffy opening up lanes for Brian Robinson, who probably looks more explosive without rehabbing a bullet wound. They were 23rd in rushing EPA and 24th in passing EPA. This is what an average NFL team looks like.

2023 Washington Commanders Starting Lineups

3-WR Sets (7th in snaps, 70% of snaps)

  • WR: Terry McLaurin --> Dyami Brown

  • WR: Jahan Dotson --> Marcus Kemp

  • SLOT: Curtis Samuel --> Dax Milne

  • TE: Logan Thomas --> John Bates

2-WR Sets (22nd in snaps, 22% of snaps)

  • WR: Terry McLaurin --> Dyami Brown

  • WR: Jahan Dotson --> Curtis Samuel

  • SLOT TE: Logan Thomas --> Curtis Hodges

  • INLINE TE: John Bates --> Cole Turner

RB Usage (3rd in expected half PPR)

  • GOAL LINE: Brian Robinson --> Antonio Gibson

  • PASSING DOWN: Antonio Gibson --> Chris Rodriguez (R)

Offensive Line (mid with new faces)

  • LT: Charles Leno (good returning starter)

  • LG: Chris Paul (not the dirty NBA PG)

  • C: Nick Gates (mid new starter on $5.5M)

  • RG: Sam Cosmi (decent starter switching from RT)

  • RT: Andrew Wylie (mid new starter on $8M)

2023 Washington Commanders Fantasy Preview

Per reports, Sam Howell has to lose the job for Jacoby Brissett ($8.5M) to be the starter, and we've seen Day 3 QBs lose jobs plenty of times before. Howell's case for some fantasy QB3 upside starts with a good skill group around him that can create downfield explosives, but the real secret sauce is his rushing. He had 35 yards and a scramble TD in his lone rookie start, and the North Carolina alum had 828 rushing yards and 11 TDs as a junior. When he starts, he'll have a shot at some spike weeks. I'm unsure if he has the skills to hold onto the job when this head coach's seat could not be hotter with new ownership in place. The second there are turnovers, he could be yanked. I saw some panicky feet and poor decisions on tape last year, which is exactly why he wasn't drafted until the 5th round. Brissett can play the conservative ball that this staff, defense, and ground game want to play with if Howell isn't ready. The veteran was 6th in PFF grade, 3rd in completion percentage over expected, 8th-best in INT rate, and 17th in success rate. Not bad.

Terry McLaurin has been the WR28 and WR31 over the last two seasons in fantasy points over replacement per game using Underdog Fantasy scoring, despite being the WR15 and WR22 in PFF grade. Only 3 receivers finished with more deep targets than McLaurin last year, but raw TDs have been difficult to find in this offense. In fact, he only has 3 career TDs inside the 10-yard line. Three!!! He's reliant on big plays, especially with WAS going very run heavy in the red zone. That limits his season-long ceiling to boom-bust WR2/3. ... 2022 1st-rounder Jahan Dotson projected as a vertical slot, but he showcased outside talent as a rookie. He is long for his size, and his impressive ball tracking downfield allows him to play even bigger. In fact, he caught 61% of his contested targets (that's very good). Because of his slot background, Dotson also has great feel to work underneath, over the middle, and in zone coverage. He's fluid in all phases, including against press man coverage in the red zone. The only thing missing before he takes another step is more schemed up looks. Ex-OC Scott Turner used Curtis Samuel in this schemed-slot role, but Dotson would also shine here if given more opportunities. Without schemed looks, some of his advanced numbers - like targets per route run (0.15) and yards per route run (1.4) - will suffer. The only buyer beware is an unrealistic TD rate. Dotson scored +3.7 more times than expected, the 4th highest of all WRs. ... 28% of Curts Samuel's receptions came on screens. That's probably a bad thing, but at least his new playcaller is used to that skill set. It'll be difficult to replicate his WR40 finish last year with Dotson emerging. He also won't be completely forgotten about thanks to a big $13M cap hit. He's better in full PPR redraft.

32-year-old Logan Thomas had a career-low PFF grade on a bad 0.9 yards per route run while coming off a torn ACL. His explosiveness isn't the same, which helps explain a lower average depth of target. I was surprised the Commanders held onto his non-guaranteed $8M contract, but there's little behind him. 2021 4th-rounder John Bates has a career 1.1 yards per route run in backup duties. I wouldn't rule out Bates (6'6/260) playing more snaps at the expense of Thomas in 2023. Neither are fantasy options.

I think Brian Robinson be more explosive in year two after starting last season with a tragic gunshot wound. His pre-draft weakness was below-average speed, and that was very evident as a rookie. If it improves, we may have a decent early-down rusher. Robinson averaged 18.1 touches per game and even held his own in pass protection. His size is an asset (especially in fantasy), and he's a consistent between-tackles rusher with a decent 43% success rate and 81.0 PFF grade. There's little wasted movement and a fall forward mentality, despite an upright build. Washington's OL was disappointing last year, but that lackluster speed certainly aided in his concerning 2.7 yards after contact and 3% breakaway rate. There was never receiving upside in his profile, so for now, Robinson is an emerging short-yardage and early-down hammer that will pick up the yards blocked for him. A surprising amount of RBs are unable to do that. He was the 101st overall player in fantasy points over replacement per game last year. ... Antonio Gibson was 102nd overall, but his usage declined in the second half of the season. B-Rob averaged 20.1 touches after Week 8 to Gibson's 13.1. The upside case for Gibson is legit, however. He'll be used on passing downs where Bieniemy created spike weeks for Jerick McKinnon, and Gibson still has the size to handle bellcow work if Robinson missed time. Gibson was the 52nd overall player as the lead back in 2021. ... I don't believe the hype for nearly 23-year-old 6th-round rookie Chris Rodriguez. He had one college season with over 1,000 yards.

2023 Washington Commanders Fantasy ADPs

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  • WR24 Terry McLaurin (44.6 overall) --> Mixing in

  • WR39 Jahan Dotson (74.1) --> Buying

  • RB32 Antonio Gibson (101.1) --> Mixing in

  • RB36 Brian Robinson (111.4) --> Buying

  • WR75 Curtis Samuel (173.8) --> Mixing in

  • QB27 Sam Howell (194.6) --> Fading

  • TE34 Logan Thomas (214.6) --> Fading