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2023 NFL Team Offseason Roundup: Washington Commanders

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It’s time to look ahead to the 2023 NFL season! Follow along with all our fantasy football team offseason roundups here.

It’s been a very busy NFL offseason, with free agent signings, coaching changes and several new players entering the league via the NFL Draft. As we prepare for the 2023 fantasy football season, it’s critical to have a full understanding of each team’s offseason moves. Our NFL team roundup series today covers the Washington Commanders.

 

2023 NFL Team Roundup: Washington Commanders

2022 Results

Record: 8-8-1, 4th in the NFC East
Season End: Missed the playoffs

Washington Commanders Offseason Summary

Draft

1.16: Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
2.47: Jartavius Martin, CB, Illinois
3.97: Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas
4.118: Braeden Daniels, G/T, Utah
5.137: KJ Henry, EDGE, Clemson
6.193: Chris Rodriguez, RB, Kentucky
7.233: Andre Jones, EDGE, Louisiana

Emmanuel Forbes, CB (1.16)

The Commanders leaned on their dominant defensive front to earn an upper half pass defense DVOA in 2022. But the team made a play to balance their defense with first- and second-round draft picks of cornerbacks Forbes and Jartavius Martin this offseason. Forbes is a true outside corner prospect with excellent size at 6-foot-1 and 166 pounds and 4.35-second speed. But both rookies could start in their freshman seasons — the former on the outside and the latter in the slot — next to capable No. 1 corner Kendall Fuller.

Braeden Daniels, G/T (4.118)

Daniels was the second of the Commanders’ two mid-round offensive lineman draft picks, but he may have the shorter path to a rookie starting role. Center Ricky Stromberg will presumably sit and learn behind free agent addition Nick Gates. But Daniels has the 294-pound frame and 33-inch arms to develop into either a guard or center at the next level. The team has starter options at both positions in 31-year-old veteran Charles Leno, former second-rounder Sam Cosmi, free agent additions Andrew Wylie and Trent Scott, and others. But many of those linemen have positional versatility and could shift if Daniels is a quick study at a specific position.

KJ Henry, EDGE (5.137)

The Commanders made a somewhat surprising — if less so after his 2021 ACL injury — decision to decline former top pick Chase Young’s fifth-year option. That won’t cost the team Young’s pass-rushing services in 2023, and they undoubtedly hope it will motivate him. But it also places additional importance on Day 3 edge rusher picks Henry and Andre Jones. If Henry in particular can translate his excellent athleticism into immediate productivity, the Commanders may look very different up front in 2024.

Additions

Free agent additions: T Andrew Wylie, C Nick Gates, QB Jacoby Brissett, LB Cody Barton, T Trent Scott, DT Abdullah Anderson

Eric Bieniemy, OC

Eric Bieniemy Washington Commanders Fantasy Football 2023 Team Outlook

Bieniemy’s inability to land a head coaching job after five top-five offensive DVOA seasons in as many years as the Chiefs offensive coordinator is shocking. His former team’s frequent deep playoff runs may have hurt his timing. One hopes race wasn’t a factor. But if the issue was widespread skepticism that he moved the needle next to a Hall-of-Fame head coach in Andy Reid and quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, then Bieniemy found a chance to prove his value as a coordinator of a less loaded Commanders offense. He may just have to do it with a fifth-round draft pick in Sam Howell or journeyman in Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.

Jacoby Brissett, QB

Fifth-round sophomore Sam Howell may be the Commanders’ first choice at quarterback. But the veteran Brissett has been more efficient than his journeyman status would suggest and even finished top 10 at the position with a 13.0% passing DVOA rate with the Browns in 2022. Head coach Ron Rivera may need a 2023 playoff run to keep his job, and he may have a quick leash for Howell because of it.

Andrew Wylie, T

Incumbent Commanders right tackle Cornelius Lucas blew 7.5% of his pass blocks in 2022, the highest rate among players with 100 or more pass snaps at the position. The free agent Wylie could hardly do worse. That said, Wylie has declined every season from an excellent rookie 1.6% blown pass block rate to 2.8%, 3.1%, 4.3% and finally 5.2% rates. Even with his $24-million contract, Wylie may be short-term solution as the team develops its younger linemen like rookie Braeden Daniels.

Departures

QB Carson Wentz, C Chase Roullier, QB Taylor Heinicke, LB Cole Holcomb, RB J.D. McKissic, C Wes Schweitzer, G Trai Turner, S Bobby McCain, WR Cam Sims, LB Jon Bostic, LB Nate Gerry, C Nick Martin, G Wes Martin, TE Eli Wolf

Carson Wentz, QB

Wentz suffered a rapid fall from his No. 2 draft selection and 2017 MVP consideration to his current free agency and general team disinterest at just 30 years old. But he could never pair a workable mental approach with his incredible arm talent. Wentz threw an interception-worthy pass on 6.6% of his attempts the last three seasons, the third highest rate among the 64 quarterbacks with 400 or more attempts. And fellow departing free agent Taylor Heinicke led the position with a 7.5% rate.

Wes Schweitzer, C

The Commanders let their former center Schweitzer walk in free agency in eventual favor of a rookie draft pick for the opposite reason the Giants let the Commanders’ new placeholder starter Nick Gates walk for their own rookie center. Schweitzer blew 4.9% of his pass blocks in 2022, the second highest rate among centers with 100 or more pass snaps.

Cole Holcomb, LB

Holcomb was a surprising four-year contributor as a former fifth-round draft selection. But 2021 first-round linebacker Jamin Davis broke out in his second season, more than halving his broken tackle rate to an excellent 9.6%. And that allowed the team cut its secondary linebacker expenditures and presumably start $3.5-million veteran Cody Barton at middle linebacker this season.

 

Washington Commanders Fantasy Outlook

The three most interesting Commanders fantasy options:

Sam Howell, QB

Sam Howell may not stir much real-life optimism with his inexperience and fifth-round draft pedigree. But the sophomore quarterback has more meaningful fantasy potential after a breakout rushing junior season at North Carolina. Howell exploded on mostly zone-read carries for 183 carries, 828 rushing yards, and 11 rushing touchdowns. And if he can start a full season and hold up to a similar role in the NFL with his undersized, 220-pound frame, then he could threaten QB1 value.

Terry McLaurin, WR

Terry McLaurin Washington Commanders Fantasy Football 2023 Team Outlook

Terry McLaurin has been a standout real-world and fantasy receiver in his four professional seasons, but he could have been even better with competent quarterback plays. The veteran receiver has seen a 69.6% catchable target rate the last three seasons, 71st among the 109 wide receivers with 100 or more targets in that time. That rate may not improve with a fifth-rounder in Sam Howell under center. But potential starter Jacoby Brissett ranked seventh among regular quarterbacks with a 72.4% on-target pass percentage with the Browns last season and could spur some unexpected McLaurin efficiency gains.

Antonio Gibson, RB

Antonio Gibson was more of a receiver than a runner at Memphis and on paper should be the perfect heir to departing free agent receiving back J.D. McKissic and perfect complement to second-year power back Brian Robinson. But Gibson has slipped from a promising 22.4% broken tackle rate in his rookie 2020 season to 15.1% and 10.1% rates the last two years. Gibson would be a decent fantasy option with a return to form. But he is also another underwhelming season away from the end of a meaningful professional workload.

2023 Outlook

DraftKings Sportsbook Wins Over/Under: 6.5 (-120)

Head coach Ron Rivera has won seven or eight games in all three of his Washington seasons. And he’ll be motivated to do so again in 2023 for fear of losing his job. But with three excellent teams in their division, the Commanders face the most difficult projected schedule. And as excited as I would be to have Jacoby Brissett as my backup quarterback, the team may have the worst projected starting quarterback in football, and failures there would sabotage one of the team’s few clear strengths at wide receiver. The Cowboys or Giants could fade precipitously with their indicators of potential regression. But it is still difficult to see the Commanders finishing higher than third place in the NFC East.

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