Fantasy Reaction: Terry McLaurin Signs Three-Year Extension with The Washington Commanders (Fantasy Football)
On Tuesday afternoon, Terry McLaurin agreed to terms with the Washington Commanders on a new three-year deal worth up to $71 million, keeping him in Washington through the 2025 season. McLaurin has flashed fantasy upside and talent throughout his three professional seasons, but lackluster QB play has prevented the former Ohio State WR from reaching his true ceiling. Now with a new contract that makes McLaurin one of the highest paid WRs in football, what can we expect from the Washington WR in fantasy? Let’s dive in.
Terry McLaurin was drafted in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and immediately produced 919 yards and 7 TD on just 93 targets. It was one of the most efficient seasons for a rookie WR over the last five seasons, and McLaurin popped with an impressive 2.05 yards per route run and 9.9 yards per target en route to the WR28 finish as a rookie. To put McLaurin’s 2019 rookie season in perspective, he’s just one of eight rookie WRs since 2017 to top 2.0 yards per route run (minimum of 50 targets). The others? Ja’Marr Chase, Chris Godwin, Hunter Renfrow, A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, Kadarius Toney, and Justin Jefferson.
Following his impressive rookie campaign, McLaurin posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, but failed to deliver in the TD department, hauling in 4 TD in 2020 and 5 in 2021. Since his rookie year, McLaurin has played with eight different starting QBs, including Taylor Heinicke for most of last season. Among QBs who dropped back to pass at least 100 times last year, Heinicke ranked 35th in PFF passer grade, 28th in adjusted completion percentage and 28th in passer rating. Certainly, a lack of even replacement level QB play has not been fruitful for Terry’s fantasy outlook.
Enter Carson Wentz, who seems to be on his last leg as a starting QB in the NFL after both the Eagles and Colts moved on from the former #2 overall NFL Draft pick. While Wentz leaves a lot to be desired as both a fantasy QB and a winning QB in the NFL, the numbers suggest he’s an upgrade at QB for McLaurin, at least from a fantasy perspective. Among qualified QBs, Wentz ranked 22nd in PFF passing grade, 36th in adjusted completion percentage and 17th in passer rating. While Wentz isn’t likely to make a leap into a top-10 QB, his career 4.5% TD rate at least suggests we could get replacement level QB play, which might be the best QB play McLaurin has ever had in his career. A year ago, Wentz was able to support Michael Pittman Jr. as the WR15 in fantasy. With McLaurin set to dominate the target share in Washington, a similar season is in the range of potential outcomes, which would be a career best according to our Career Snapshot Tool in the Ultimate Draft Kit. Of course, for McLaurin to post his best fantasy finish of his career, he’ll need to improve upon his previous TD totals.
From a dynasty perspective, McLaurin is still entering his prime in his fourth year as a pro and this financial commitment from the team suggests he should continue to operate as the WR1. He’s set to turn 27 in a few months and is now locked up in Washington for the next three seasons. Interestingly enough, Washington can move on from Carson Wentz after the 2022 season for $0 in dead cap according to Spotrac, so if things don’t work out well for Wentz in the nation’s capital, it’s likely we see the team pursue a rookie QB in a deep 2023 class. Given that rookie QBs generally don’t support elite fantasy production for wide receivers, McLaurin dynasty managers may be wishing for a QB upgrade for yet another season. For now, consider McLaurin a solid WR2 for fantasy. He’s currently the WR17 in our dynasty startup rankings.