Kickoff: Sunday, December 27th at 4:05 PM ET
Location: FedEx Field, Landover, MD
Betting Odds: WAS -2.5, 45 total via Oddsshark
Teddy Bridgewater (Sit, QB2)
The best thing that can be said about Teddy Bridgewater as an NFL QB is that he is safe. He doesn’t take too many chances and lands in the middle of the pack in turnovers with 10 on the season. Bridgewater is averaging barely more than one passing TD a game although he has added four rushing TDs in the last five weeks. Bridgewater rarely throws the ball downfield as hit currently sits 21st in air yards in the NFL with 2,780. Also, the Washington defense has been a strength this season, allowing a scant 200 passing yards per game, third in the NFL. Washington’s front four can create havoc but might create some lanes for Bridgewater to escape and pad his rushing stats. Bridgwater might be a desperation play for fantasy managers in leagues that allow for multiple QBs but should find the bench in Championship Week.
Mike Davis (Start, RB2)
The frustration of drafting Christian McCaffrey was palatable if that fantasy manager was able to snatch Mike Davis off waivers. There is still some optimism that McCaffrey will return this season, possibly even this week, but the Panthers have nothing to play for this season and no reason to risk long-term injury to their superstar RB. Davis has been more than capable as McCaffrey’s replacement, especially in PPR leagues as the veteran is third in receptions at RB with 59 on the season. Washington has been more vulnerable to the run this season and has surrendered back-to-back games with 99+ rushing yards and have surrendered three TDs to RBs in that same time. Davis’s only real competition for touches the last few weeks has been Rodney Smith and an occasional Curtis Samuel sighting, so the volume should be there for him to return RB2 numbers for fantasy managers this week.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
DJ Moore (Start, low-end WR2), Robby Anderson (Start, low-end WR2), Curtis Samuel (Start, WR3/Flex)
It’s so hard to handicap the Carolina WRs because of the way each player is utilized. Robby Anderson leads the team in targets (119) and receptions (85) but trails DJ Moore in receiving yards (1,055 to 1,017) and receiving TDs (four to two). Then you have Curtis Samuel who has more receptions than Moore (65 to 56) and leads the WRs in total TDs with five thanks to his contributions out of the backfield. It would stand to reason that both Anderson and Samuel would be the biggest beneficiaries this week because of the pressure Washington’s front four can generate, resulting in faster-developing plays and generally shorter routes in which those two thrive. Moore has shown the ability to take any pass to the house and was the most-targeted WR last week, bumping up his projection ever so slightly for this week. Washington has allowed just two 100-yard receiving games this season and has not allowed more than one receiving TD in a game to anyone this season. Carolina projects to be throwing to keep pace which makes both Anderson and Moore low-end WR2 plays while Samuel rounds out as a solid WR3 with Flex appeal in Week 16.
Washington Football Team
Alex Smith? (Sit)
As of this writing, I’m not 100% certain who will take snaps for Washington as they play a pivotal matchup in their hunt for the NFC East crown. Week 15’s starter, Dwayne Haskins, was spotted following the loss to Seattle violating the NFL’s COVID protocols as he was photographed in a nightclub not wearing a mask. Haskins could potentially be fined, suspended, or both as a result. Haskins got the start last week because Alex Smith suffered a calf injury in Week 14 and the latest news I can find indicates Smith has a good chance at starting this week, though fantasy managers unfortunately forced to rely on Smith should monitor practice reports closely. Carolina’s defense has improved as the season has gone on and is not as juicy a matchup as they were earlier in the season. Regardless of who gets the start, fantasy managers should avoid Washington’s QB if vying for the championship.
Antonio Gibson (Start, RB2), J.D. McKissic (Start, RB2)
Much like Washington’s QB situation, their RB situation is also a bit murky. Rookie Antonio Gibson has missed the last two games and most of Week 13’s contest with a turf toe injury and his status for this weekend is unknown. Gibson did take part in individual drills last Friday, which is encouraging, but his practice participation this week will be very telling. If Gibson can start, he may see a slightly reduced workload to try and maintain his health for a potentially huge Week 17 game depending on how this week shakes out. Carolina had been better against the run in recent weeks before Aaron Jones torched them for 145 yards and one TD last week showing RBs can still have success against them. Gibson has been a nice surprise for fantasy managers this season and has posted several RB1 games but J.D. McKissic has warranted a bigger involvement in the gameplan, thus limiting Gibson’s upside. IF he starts, Gibson should be able to produce RB2 numbers in Week 16.
Speaking of McKissic, the primary source of his value is his involvement as a pass-catching RB on a team with few viable receiving options at WR. McKissic is second on the team in targets and receptions but his yardage suffers from reeling in so many short passes. In Gibson’s absence last week, McKissic did top 100 total yards and scored a TD, so he would see a slight bump if Gibson remains out for this week. Even if Gibson plays, McKissic has a chance to land in the RB2 tier based on his production in the passing game.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Terry McLaurin (Start, WR2), Cam Sims (Sit), Logan Thomas (Start, TE1)
In the last six games, Carolina has surrendered three receiving TDs to WRs three times, which bodes well for fantasy managers looking to Terry McLaurin to help lead them to a championship this weekend. McLaurin is about the only sure thing in the receiving game for Washington as he has commanded 126 targets this season, 9th in the NFL. McLaurin has had just four games this season with less than 74 receiving yards, but two of those came within the last three weeks which is slightly concerning. The volume is simply too high for McLaurin to realistically finish as worse than a WR2 this week and might be in line for some positive TD regression as he has just three on the season. McLaurin should be a solid start this week.
The only other receiving option that has been trustworthy past McKissic and McLaurin this season is Logan Thomas. Preseason reports noted the connection Haskins had with Thomas and the positive buzz turned into a solid fantasy season as Thomas is third on the team in targets (91), second in yards (570), and is tops with five receiving TDs. Carolina has struggled against TEs this season, allowing seven TDs to the position although they’ve kept the yardage totals down for the most part. Thomas is an integral part of Washington’s passing game and fantasy managers looking for a solid floor with good upside this week should look no further than Thomas. Thomas should wind up solidly in the TE1 tier this week.
The rest of Washington’s receiving options are so infrequently utilized they don’t project as contributors for fantasy managers this week… You can safely sit Cam Sims, Steven Sims, Isaiah Wright, Dontrelle Inman, and anyone else I missed this week.
Snap counts courtesy of Fantasy Data.
-Bryan Sweet (@FantasyFreakTN on Twitter)