Make Up or Break Up: Terry McLaurin (Fantasy Football)
Oh, Scary Terry, where to begin. I guess like with all stories; we start at the beginning. You first caught my eye three seasons ago when you were a rookie with the then-named Washington Football Team. As the season began, you were a rookie prospect drafted in the third round to a team with Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins as QB options and their biggest star, a 34-year-old Adrian Peterson. Expectations were moderate. Hey, you were going for free in most redraft leagues. A dart throw. In that first game, you came out with a bang, catching five passes for 125 yards. One of these catches was a 69-yard TD, and my interest was piqued. I rushed to the waiver wire to scoop you up. You were a delightful waiver wire gem, finishing the 2019 season with over 900 receiving yards and seven TDs. I flexed you. I liked it. All was well with the world.
Heading into the 2020 season, fantasy players and analysts alike, including Andy, Mike, and Jason, began highlighting your potential and their high hopes for you. And why not? The public was able to draft you on average in the fifth round, and you looked to be a good value there, on a team where you were clearly the WR1. Why not dip your toe in Lake McLaurin. However, the temperature was not as warm as I would have liked. You caught over 1,100 yards that season, but you only brought in four TDs. And when I looked back on your weekly fantasy finishes, I was not happy. You played fifteen games that year, and you only had a top ten fantasy finish twice. TWICE. That does not a champion make. The yardage saved you a little, but I ended the 2020 fantasy season confused about where we stood. You ended up being simply an average investment that year. You were drafted on average as the 22nd WR off the board, and you finished as the 21st. I did not hate it, but I did not love it. I was hoping for that much-touted second-year WR breakout.
But I still believed. Come 2021, I felt you were ready for some positive TD regression. You clearly could garner the WR1 yardage, no matter what caliber QB threw you the ball, it seemed, so I was hoping we would see a more stable fantasy season. Boy, was I wrong. Sure, you caught one more TD that season – five was your total that year – and you still hit 1000 receiving yards. But the roller coaster ride that was fantasy finishes with you made my stomach drop. I never knew when to start you, Terry! You were the 56th WR in week one of the 2021 season. Then the third. Then 45th. Then the fourth. And this continued week after week. After week 11, when you were WR9, you did not finish better than WR30 for the rest of the year, in the most critical weeks, where fantasy owners really needed you. To make it even worse, you were drafted that year as WR11. You were coming off the board in the middle of the third round, filling the spot for countless owners WR1 slot.
Consistency is the name of the game here, Terry – I know there are some WRs we draft with the idea that we are drafting for that high ceiling, that “knock it out of the park” guy. But you were never him. All I ever wanted was someone solid and dependable. A classic Bobby Trees circa 2019 kind of guy. Not super flashy, but reliable, and you know he will get you about 13 fantasy points a week as well as get you home in time for curfew. Without the massive ups and downs that you brought to the table – those one- and two-point weeks. Those are hard to come back from Terry. You finished the 2021 season as WR25, again not horrendous, but nowhere near valuable enough to cover the draft capital invested in you. The fact that your successful weeks were so vastly different from your unsuccessful weeks made me hold on to you on my roster much longer than I should have. Your best finish in 2021 was WR3, and your worst finish was WR100. I have difficulty staying in a relationship with a player so inconsistent.
Now we find ourselves here, Terry. You are heading into your fourth season with the (now) Washington Commanders once again as their presumed WR1. You will have a new QB in Carson Wentz and various rookies that could steal some targets from you in Jahan Dotson and Brian Robinson. It is a contract year for you, and I do not know what to think of you this season. I don’t know if the addition of Wentz gives me optimism for you – sure, the varsity jacket in mustard yellow is visually appealing, but what’s underneath? Wentz was ranked 14th in PFF’s QB NFL passer rating in 2021, which is average, and an average QB is not what I want for you, Terry. Unfortunately, Wentz encountered pressure frequently, even with the solid offensive line he had protecting him in Indy. He was second only to Kirk Cousins when it came to the frequency of him getting hit while throwing. His adjusted completion percentage was close to the bottom of the barrel for starting QBs; only Baker Mayfield, Zach Wilson, and Justin Fields performed worse. Terry, these stats do not make me feel more inclined to draft you in 2022.
But I might be wrong. Wentz did throw more TDs than your 2021 QB Taylor Heinicke did last year, and he also had half as many interceptions. Wentz was also more successful at connecting on big-time throws than Heinicke so perhaps you will have more chances to catch those deep TDs in 2022. Despite some questionable statistics, Wentz loves to force-feed his primary receiver; Pitty City received over 25% of Indy’s total targets in 2021, which translated into Pittman finishing as WR21. Could the primary receiving target love affair with Wentz continue in Washington? That could bode well for you. In addition, Wentz speaks highly of you, remembering playing against you in your first NFL game, mentioning that you were “different” and he would love to throw the ball to you one day.
As we head into the 2022 season, that day is here. Shall we give it one more go, Terry? A romance for the ages, perhaps? All I am asking for is some consistency and a few more TDs. See you on the other side, hopefully with a fantasy championship and your name on my roster.