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2020 Washington Football Team Preview: Treasure Hunting in a Fantasy Wasteland

SI Fantasy's Team Preview series from high-stakes legend Shawn Childs aims to break down the Washington Football Team to evaluate the offense, defense, coaches and everyone in between with a fantasy-slanted analysis.

This is a preview article from our Team Outlook series. If you are already a FullTime Fantasy subscriber, click here to read the expanded outlook.

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Coaching Staff

Washington gave Jay Gruden six seasons to bring the team back to prominence. Unfortunately, four years of mediocrity (31-32-1) sandwiched around two poor seasons (4-12 and 3-13) led to a search for a new head coach.

Washington brought in Ron Rivera to run the franchise after a solid run over eight seasons with the Carolina Panthers (76-63-1), which included four playoff appearances. His highlight year came in 2015 (15-1 with a loss to Denver in the Super Bowl). Rivera worked as a defensive coordinator over six seasons for the Bears and the Chargers while having 23 years of coaching experience.

Scott Turner worked as the quarterbacks coach for the Panthers in 2018 and 2019. He held the same position for three seasons for the Vikings from 2014 to 2016. Turner has eight years of experience in the NFL.

After sitting out two years after losing the head coaching job for the Raiders, Jack Del Rio takes over Washington's defense. Over 12 seasons as a head coach, Del Rio went 93-94 with three playoff appearances. His best success came in 2005 (12-4), 2007 (11-5), and 2016 (12-4). In 2000, he helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl as the linebacker coach for the Ravens. Del Rio has 20 years of coaching experience.

Quarterbacks

Dwayne Haskins (RANK - ADP)

Washington didn’t give Haskins his first start until Week 9. Over seven games as their top QB, he passed for 1,225 yards (175 YPG) with seven TDs and three Ints.

His game was trending forward over his final one and half contests (394/4) with strength in his completion rate (72.1).

Haskins suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 16, which ended his season.

Washington has a weakness at TE (44/467/3) and underwhelming options at WR (178/2069/13) other than Terry McLaurin (59/919/7). Both Antonio Gibson and Antonio Gandy-Golden offer upside, but they will take time to develop.

Haskins has talent, but he needs more weapons to push his way up the QB rankings. Look for growth this year, while still lacking a front line WRs and a viable option at TE.

As a sophomore for Ohio State with a starting job, Haskins passed for 4,831 yards with 50 TDs and eight Ints. His completion rate (70.0) edged out Kyler Murray while offering no upside as a runner (79/108/4).

He came to the NFL with a big arm and with prototypical size (6’3” and 220 lbs.). Most of his snaps came out of the shotgun in college while receiving a big passing window on a high-volume of plays. His game gives me a Philip Rivers feel while looking stronger with more rip on his throws.

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Haskins can extend plays with subtle movements in the pocket, but his lack of trust in his speed kills his chances of breaking many runs over three yards. He will be a threat to beat defenses in the deep passing game while needing to improve his decision making when forced to settle for mid-level throws.

Fantasy owners priced him as the 31st quarterback with an ADP of 204. I have Haskins projected for 3,329 combined yards with 19 TDs and 12 Ints.

Running Backs

Derrius Guice (RANK - ADP)

Over two seasons in the NFL, Guice already has three injuries (a torn ACL in his left knee, a torn meniscus in his right knee, and a sprained left knee).

He looked electric based on his 5.8 yards per rush and 11.3 yards per catch over his five games played. His best game came in Week 13 vs. the Panthers (10/129/2 with two catches for eight yards).

Over his final two years at LSU, Guice gained 2,868 combined yards with 29 TDs and 27 catches.

He attacks the line of scrimmage if the play calls for him to be a north/south runner plus run with vision and acceleration to the outside. His burst upfield is sneaky, leading to defenders being left in the dust if they fail to take the correct angle on a tackle. Guice creates space and separation with his quick cuts and the ability to downshift and upshift in a couple of steps. He’ll break many tackles while also taking some unnecessary hits in his quest to finish runs. Guice has a talent for breaking out of tight quarters when a play looks dead in the water.

A risk/reward player who will be found at the backend of the RB pool with an ADP of 92 as the 33rd RB off the table. My conservative bar comes to 766 combined yards with four TDs and 33 catches.

Adrian Peterson, Antonio Gibson & Bryce Love

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Wide Receivers

Terry McLaurin (RANK - ADP)

McLaurin hit the ground running in his rookie season after getting drafted in the third round.

Over his first five games, he caught 23 of his 38 targets for 408 yards, and five TDs highlighted two impact games (5/125/1 and 4/100/2).

When his college teammate took over at quarterback, McLaurin only played well in Week 15 (5/130/1) and Week 16 (7/86).

Washington took a pair of fliers on big WRs (Antonio Gibson and Antonio Gandy-Golden), which almost ensures that McLaurin will be their top target again in 2020.

His early projections came to 72 passes for 1,071 yards and seven TDs with an ADP of 27.

Steven Sims & Antonio Gandy-Golden 

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Tight Ends

Jeremy Sprinkle

After two minimal seasons (2/13/1 and 5/41/1), Sprinkle took advantage of the injury to Jordan Reed to post 26 catches for 241 yards and one TD. In his top two seasons, he caught 60 passes for 769 yards and ten TDs. Low-upside player who will split time with multiple other options.

Defense

Washington fell to 31st in rushing yards allowed (2,339). Ball carriers gained 4.7 yards per rush with 14 TDs plus only 16 runs over 20 yards.

Washington finished 18th in passing yards allowed (3,823) with 35 TDs and 13 Ints. QBs beat them for nine plays of 40 yards or more while their defense picked up 46 sacks.

In the premium outlook, on defense you'll find write-ups for DE Ryan Kerrigan, DE Chase Young, DT Jonathan Allen, DT Daron Payne, LB Reuben Foster, LB Jon Bostic, LB Thomas Davis, CB Kendall Fuller, CB Fabian Moreau, S Landon Collins & S Sean Davis.

To read the full outlook, subscribe now by Saturday, August 8th using promo code TD30 for 30% off your first two months!

Team Defense Outlook

Washington has plenty of talent on their defensive line with one linebacker with upside. Washington has risk in pass coverage in their secondary, although Collins can be, at times, one of the best safeties in the game. Overall, they should improve against the run with their success in their ability to shorten the passing window—a sneaky top ten defense with matchup value. 

Free Agency, Draft, Offensive Line, Offensive Schedule & Defensive Schedule

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