Washington has a new team name and now a new quarterback this season. On Wednesday, the Commanders traded with the Colts to acquire Carson Wentz. Indianapolis will get two third-round picks from Washington in return, and the teams are set to swap second-round picks in this year's NFL Draft as part of the deal.
The Commanders tried to acquire Russell Wilson from Seattle, but Wilson was instead traded to Denver on Tuesday. Washington coach Ron Rivera made it clear at the NFL Combine that he wanted an upgrade at quarterback, and he apparently left Indianapolis feeling good about Wentz.
"If we had an opportunity to get a veteran guy, we'd feel really good about that veteran stepping in," Rivera said last week.
We'll find out if Wentz is better than Taylor Heinicke, who took over for an injured Ryan Fitzpatrick (hip) in Week 1 and went 7-8 as a starter. But that's not important for Fantasy managers. We're more concerned about the two stars in Washington -- Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson -- as well as guys like Curtis Samuel and Logan Thomas.
Let's start with McLaurin, who averaged a career-low 12.2 PPR points per game last season. I had high expectations for McLaurin with Fitzpatrick, but he struggled with Heinicke, scoring 13 PPR points or more just six times. In two previous seasons, McLaurin averaged 14.9 PPR points per game in 2020 and 13.6 in 2019 as a rookie.
He has star potential, and you can argue Wentz is the best quarterback he's ever played with. In the past three seasons, the quarterbacks in Washington have been Heinicke, Fitzpatrick, Garrett Gilbert, Kyle Allen, Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins, Case Keenum and Colt McCoy. Hopefully, Wentz can bring out the best in McLaurin.
I view McLaurin as a No. 2 Fantasy receiver worth drafting in Round 4 in all leagues. He should lead the team in targets -- he had at least 130 in each of the past two seasons -- and Wentz just helped Michael Pittman catch 88 passes for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns on 129 targets in 2021. McLaurin is better than Pittman, so I expect better production this year.
Gibson's Fantasy value shouldn't change with Wentz. This is a quality offensive line in Washington, and Commanders offensive coordinator Scott Turner and Rivera have high expectations for Gibson. J.D. McKissic is also a free agent, and if he leaves, maybe Gibson will have a bigger role in the passing game.
Gibson has averaged at least 13.5 PPR points per game in each of his first two seasons in the NFL, and he scored at least 17 PPR points in five of his final eight games last year. He's worth drafting in Round 2 in all leagues. I also like Jaret Patterson as a sleeper with a late-round pick as a handcuff to Gibson.
Samuel and Thomas had lost seasons in 2021 due to injuries. Samuel only appeared in five games and finished with six catches for 27 yards on nine targets, as well as four carries for 11 yards. Thomas played in six games and finished with 18 catches for 196 yards and three touchdowns on 25 targets.
I'm hopeful Samuel can rebound this season, and it would be great if Washington used him as Carolina did in 2020 when he had 77 catches for 851 yards and three touchdowns on 97 targets, along with 41 carries for 200 yards and two touchdowns. He can be similar to Deebo Samuel, on a lesser scale, and Curtis Samuel is worth a late-round flier in all leagues.
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Thomas was a quality Fantasy tight end in 2020 with 72 catches for 670 yards and six touchdowns on 110 targets. He had 12 PPR points in two of his first three games last year before suffering a hamstring injury, and he can still be a starting Fantasy tight end in all leagues. But you don't need to draft him that way, and he will likely be a waiver-wire option in most leagues to start the season.
Dyami Brown is another receiving option to keep an eye on for Washington, but he likely won't get drafted in most leagues. He finished his rookie season in 2021 with 12 catches for 165 yards on 25 targets, but hopefully, a bigger role can improve his production, along with establishing a connection with Wentz.
As for Wentz, he's just a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback in all leagues. He's only worth drafting in two-quarterback and Superflex leagues, and he has a lot to prove after a lackluster season in 2021 with the Colts.
He averaged just 17.6 Fantasy points per game last season, and he only has one season in his career over 21 points per game, which was in 2017 with the Eagles (26.6). It's hard to expect a dramatic improvement for a 29-year-old quarterback playing for his third team in three seasons.
Maybe a return to the NFC East will help Wentz, and the offense and weapons in Washington could be a benefit for him. But Fantasy managers need to see it first, and Wentz has minimal value with his new team.
In Indianapolis, we can't fully evaluate the Fantasy options until we see what the Colts do to replace Wentz. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that the Colts could be in the mix for 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who is expected to be traded, and he would be a quality replacement for Wentz.
For now, continue to view Jonathan Taylor as the No. 1 overall pick in the majority of leagues, and Pittman remains a high-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver worth drafting as early as Round 5. Indianapolis has to decide about free agents like T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal, and Hilton can still be a late-round flier no matter where he plays in 2022.