Why Washington WR Terry McLaurin Has Fringe Top 12 Fantasy WR Potential In 2021
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images. Pictured: Terry McLaurin
Editor’s note: The following analysis was written in June, but when coupled with the latest rankings and projections in our 2021 Fantasy Draft Kit, is still valuable research for your next draft.
Terry McLaurin Fantasy Rankings
|These consensus rankings from Sean Koerner and Chris Raybon and are based on half PPR scoring and as of June.|
Fantasy-relevant players have been scarce in Washington in recent years. Terry McLaurin has been the most noteworthy of the group and performed decently well in light of the team’s abysmal quarterback play in 2020.
He enters the 2021 season with an upgraded signal-caller, but significantly more competition for targets — both of which could impact his value in different ways heading into fantasy drafts.
McLaurin’s 2020 Season
- Games played: 15
- Receiving: 134 targets, 87 catches, 1,118 yards, 4 TDs
- Fantasy finishes: WR22 in PPR, WR22 in standard, WR19 in half PPR
There was significant optimism heading into 2020 that McLaurin could make the jump into the low-end WR1 territory in light of Washington’s lean receiving corps and prior chemistry with former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Instead, Haskins — who had been named a captain and the team’s Week 1 starter — took significant steps backward in his sophomore season and lost his job to a rotating cast of Alex Smith, Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke (depending on the week). Haskins was demoted to third-string and eventually released before the end of the year in light of on-field struggles and off-field scandals.
McLaurin appeared in 15 games during his sophomore campaign in 2020, catching 87-of-134 targets for 1,1118 yards and four touchdowns. It was later revealed that the 25-year-old had been dealing with two high-ankle sprains, which inevitably hindered his production. He finished as WR19 in half PPR scoring and was the team’s top pass-catcher ahead of tight end Logan Thomas, running back J.D. McKissic and receiver Cam Sims.
Previous Fantasy Performances
McLaurin is a former four-star recruit out of high school. He ran a speedy 4.35 40-yard-dash at the 2019 NFL Combine and was drafted in the third round. The Buckeye made a splash in his rookie debut and recorded five catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. He was the team’s clear No. 1 receiver with 58 catches on 93 targets for 919 yards and seven touchdowns over 14 appearances that season — good enough to finish as WR22 in half PPR.
Washington’s next-best wideout that year was Steve Sims Jr., who caught 34-of-56 for 310 yards and four touchdowns.
McLaurin was hampered by anemic quarterback play as a rookie as well, with Haskins, Case Keenum and Colt McCoy all making starts for Washington that year — the trio combined for a 62.2% completion rate for 3,205 yards, 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
McLaurin’s 2021 Fantasy Outlook
McLaurin is coming off his first 1,000-yard season, but his actual fantasy ceiling in 2020 could have been much higher had it not been for the Football Team’s disastrous quarterback crew. Washington’s QB clown car combined for a 64.7% completion rate for 3,796 yards, 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
The entire offense — McLaurin included — suffered with just 16 passing touchdowns (and an equal number of picks) to go around. The team finished with the third-fewest offensive yards per game (317.3) and the eighth-fewest points scored per game (20.9).
Washington addressed this glaring need over the offseason, signing journeyman signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year deal for $10 million. He should be an upgrade from the team’s previous situation, though it’s unlikely the 38-year-old veteran represents their long-term solution at the position.
McLaurin should benefit from the acquisition of Fitzpatrick, who completed 68.5% of his passes for 2,091 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions over nine appearances (seven starts) for the Dolphins.
Washington also added one of the league’s top available free agents in an effort to jumpstart their offense. Fellow Buckeye wideout Curtis Samuel inked a three-year, $34.5 million deal in March. He and McLaurin are expected to share targets, with McLaurin as the No. 1 option.
How to Draft Terry McLaurin
McLaurin is slated to begin Year 3 catching passes opposite Fitzpatrick, who will be the receiver’s best signal-caller since entering the league in 2019. That statement alone speaks to the feat it has been for the Ohio State product to produce at such a high level in spite of the paucity of talent around him.
Samuel’s addition will likely come at some cost to McLaurin’s fantasy value in 2021, but the extra competition is more than offset by the improvement at QB.
McLaurin belongs in the high-end WR2 conversation once again, with the real potential to finish inside the top 12.