article featured image background
Article preview

Sleepers, Busts and Bold Predictions: The 2023 Washington Commanders

NFL Fantasy



Michael Dolan

Contributor's Page

Welcome to Sleepers, Busts and Bold Predictions for the 2023 fantasy football season. All summer, our analysts, two at a time, will preview all 32 NFL teams for the upcoming season. We’ll pick a pair of sleepers, a pair of busts and a pair of bold predictions. Sometimes they’ll be the same pick! Sometimes they will directly disagree! And that’s fine. Today: The Washington Commanders.


Below, Michael Dolan and Daniel Kelley tackle the Commanders, starting with their picks in “The Answers,” then expanding on their picks in “The Explanation.”

2023 Sleepers, Busts & Bold Predictions: Washington Commanders

The Answers

Favorite Sleeper

DolanAntonio Gibson
Kelley: Antonio Gibson

Biggest Bust

DolanBrian Robinson
Kelley: Jahan Dotson

Bold Prediction

DolanJacoby Brissett Finishes the Season as a QB2 on a PPG Basis
Kelley: Sam Howell is a top-20 QB

The Explanations


Dolan: Antonio Gibson

If you’ve fallen into the “Antonio Gibson is going to get the CMC role” trap before, I completely understand any hesitation with this selection. Still, when watching the Commanders play, Gibson has consistently been the back who makes the most happen with the ball in his hands. 

Despite finishing with over 13 fantasy points per game (0.5 PPR) in his first two seasons, Gibson saw a smaller role and less fantasy points in 2022. He finished the season averaging 9.5 PPG, and much of this decrease was likely due to some tension with the coaching staff. Rumors swirled that Gibson’s fumbling problems caused frustration amongst the Washington coaches, and the result was less playing time. Entering the 2023 season, I’m optimistic that a new offensive coordinator means a clean slate for Gibson, and he should be able to capitalize. If he does, Gibson should easily outproduce his ADP that currently has him outside the top 30 running backs.

Kelley: Antonio Gibson

Despite missing two games and starting a career-low 6 (he had 10 and 14 starts in his previous two seasons), and despite more than 100 fewer snaps in 2022 than 2021, Antonio Gibson set a career-high in targets last year with 58, in receptions with 46, in receiving yards with 353 and in yards per reception with 7.7. He saw at least 3 targets in 14 of 15 games last year, a rate of 93.3% after 57.1% and 50.0% in the previous seasons.

What changed? Well, two things. First, Brian Robinson arrived, cutting into Gibson’s load of carries, as he set a career low with 149 carries, not even three-fifths (57.8%) of his 2021 total of 258. And second, J.D. McKissic got hurt, missing the second half of the season and not playing 25 snaps after Week 5. McKissic was a target hog in Washington, and with him gone, Gibson stands to absorb that work. Give Gibson a full season of McKissic-esque receiving work along with his 100-150 carries, and he’ll re-assert himself as a high-end flex/low-end RB2. 



Dolan: Brian Robinson

Obviously this bust selection goes hand in hand with Gibson’s status as a sleeper. I’m of the belief that the new look Washington offense will be a much better fit for Gibson’s style of play, and Brian Robinson will be getting the short end of the stick as a result. Robinson’s style of play is a bit more limited, and while he’ll surely have a role in the offense as the thunder to Gibson’s lightning, I’m not sure that’s going to be a fruitful role for fantasy unless he scores an outlier number of touchdowns.

While the Washington offense may not be great due to the quarterback position, they have plenty of playmakers at their skill position spots. I’m not sure the pie is going to be big enough for everyone to get significant slice, and Robinson is the most likely odd man out.

Kelley: Jahan Dotson

A nose for the end zone is great. Betting on a nose for the end zone is asking for trouble. As I mentioned in the Packers version of this piece Friday, Jahan Dotson had the best TD-per-target percentage of any wide receiver in football last year (min. 50 targets). The history of receivers topping a 10% scoring rate in back-to-back seasons is basically limited to Packers with peak Aaron Rodgers.

Obviously, Dotson could easily offset his likely reduced scoring rate in 2023 with an increase in targets and yards, given he only had 61 targets as a rookie and missed five games to injury. But he’s currently going as WR39 in ADP, and last year the No. 39 receiver put up 167.1 PPR points. Dotson had as many weeks better than WR20 last year (four) as he did worse than WR80. And his quarterback situation is a total wild card. I’d prefer the security of others in his range at ADP.


Bold Predictions

Dolan: Jacoby Brissett Finishes the Season as a QB2 on a PPG Basis

I get it. The Commanders really want Sam Howell to be a thing so that their never-ending quarterback cycle can finally come to a conclusion. In all likelihood though, last year’s 5th round pick likely isn’t the solution under center. Luckily for the Commanders, Jacoby Brissett is available as the current No. 2, and he’s proven on numerous occasions that he’s a starting caliber quarterback in the NFL. 

All the weapons available in Washington’s offense should make life a little easier for whoever’s under center in Washington, and my bold prediction is that before too long it’ll be Brissett. I’m not sure how long of a leash Howell will have, but I don’t envision him starting a full season. Once the transition happens, I believe the environment will be good enough for Brissett to serve as a solid QB2 or streamer for fantasy players who play in formats where that role is valuable. 

Kelley: Sam Howell Is a Top-20 QB

The original version of this bold prediction was “Sam Howell starts all 17 games,” but … I mean, that’s not a very fun bold prediction. And the simple truth is that every quarterback with at least 15 starts last year finished as QB21 or better, so once you get one, you probably get the other. Howell probably won’t be the Washington quarterback the next time they make the playoffs, but he has a better shot than Jacoby Brissett, who showed last year that he might be the league’s best backup quarterback but who also led the Browns team that probably had more talent than this Commanders unit to a 4-7 record before Deshaun Watson’s return.

There is almost no risk to the Commanders letting Howell go the whole year. In a division with three playoff teams from a year ago, they’re a long shot at best to make the playoffs, so even if Brissett is an improvement on Howell (arguable at best), he’s not better by enough to warrant going away from the young guy unless Howell proves to be completely over his head … which I don’t expect, given his pedigree (once considered a candidate to be drafted first overall) and his Week 18 performance last year. The Commanders have no reason not to let Howell start as many games as his health allows, and if he starts all year, he’ll finish as a top-20 quarterback.

Previous Trust the Gut: Fantasy Baseball FAAB Guide (Week 13) Next Whitestone’s Waiver Watch: NFBC Main Event