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Sleepers, Busts and Bold Predictions: The 2024 Washington Commanders

NFL Fantasy

Welcome to Sleepers, Busts and Bold Predictions for the 2024 fantasy football season. Our Chris Meaney and Daniel Kelley are going to go team-by-team around the league all summer. They’ll pick sleepers, busts and bold predictions for each team. Sometimes they’ll agree! Sometimes they will go completely opposite one another! And that’s fine, because they’ll defend their positions, and you can decide for yourself who to side with. Up today: The Washington Commanders.

Below, they tackle the team, starting with their picks in “The Answers,” then expanding on their picks in “The Explanation.”

2024 Sleepers, Busts & Bold Predictions: Washington Commanders

The Answers

Favorite Sleeper

Meaney: Jayden Daniels
Kelley: Brian Robinson Jr.

Biggest Bust

Meaney: Austin Ekeler
Kelley: Jahan Dotson

Bold Prediction

Meaney: Jahan Dotson Outscores Terry McLaurin
Kelley: 2024 Is Austin Ekeler’s Final Season

The Explanations


Meaney: Jayden Daniels

Jayden Daniels will be Washington’s 15th different starting quarterback since Kirk Cousins left in 2017. Luckily for them, I think they found something in Daniels, and he’s appealing in fantasy football right off the hop. Daniels is currently getting drafted as the 14th QB off the board, and we have him at QB13 in our fantasy football projections. However, I believe that’s his floor. Daniels has top-10 upside at the position immediately given his rushing ability. The second overall pick racked up 1,134 rushing yards last season and had over 2K in his two seasons at LSU. He also had 21 rushing touchdowns in those two seasons. He may only throw for 3,400 yards with 18 passing touchdowns in his rookie season, but if he runs for 600 yards (35 per game), that’ll put him in the top-10 conversation. Daniel Jones finished as a top-10 QB two years ago and only had 15 passing touchdowns and 3,205 yards. That’s because he ran for 708 yards and scored seven rushing touchdowns. Jones had nobody to throw the football to in 2023. Daniels has Terry McLaurin, who has at least 1,000 yards in four straight seasons despite poor play at QB. Don’t be surprised if Daniels has a better fantasy season this year than Caleb Williams, given his floor.

Kelley: Brian Robinson Jr.

Fundamentally, we just don’t really believe in Brian Robinson Jr. Maybe it’s his third-round draft stock. Maybe it’s the shooting before his rookie season. Maybe it’s his lack of elite receiving history and the fact that he’s always a productive receiving teammate. But as I noted in my “Perception/Production Gap” piece, Robinson has bested his ADP both years of his career, including being drafted as RB32 in PPR last year and finishing as RB21. Heading into 2024, he’s undervalued again, going as RB35. This despite the fact that the only real touch competition in Washington is Austin Ekeler, an undersized 29-year-old who saw his numbers drop basically across the board last year. And of course, the Commanders now have a run-heavy QB in Jayden Daniels, and sure, Daniels will take some runs and dumpoffs that would otherwise go to running backs, but we also know that the threat of a QB run often opens up more lanes for the running back. Robinson’s yards per carry climbed from 3.9 as a rookie (recovering from a shooting) to 4.1 last year, and I expect it to climb more in 2024.


Meaney: Austin Ekeler

Ekeler can help Daniels pile up a few fantasy points with his ability to catch passes out of the backfield, but I believe Ekeler’s elite days as a fantasy back are over. The former Charger is coming off a season where he had a career-low 3.5 yards per carry, and his 44.9 rushing yards per game was his lowest mark since 2019. His two best seasons came in 2021 and 2022, when he topped 900 rushing yards in each campaign with 38 total touchdowns and 177 catches. He also finished third in red zone rushing attempts in 2022 with 47. Ekeler has been the lead in Los Angeles for the past couple of seasons, but that won’t be the case in Washington with Brian Robinson Jr. on the squad. Ekeler may be able to flirt with 40-plus catches again, but he won’t be a big player on the ground and isn’t a lock for goal-line work. The 29-year-old has to deal with a rookie QB who runs, and he moves from a high-powered offense to one with plenty of questions. Ekeler is an easy fade in standard and half-PPR leagues.

Kelley: Jahan Dotson

Jahan Dotson was a big disappointment last year, drafted as the WR37 and finishing as the WR56. And while it’s true he regressed in several categories from his rookie season, it’s also true that the drafting community overrated Dotson coming out of his debut season because he scored 7 times on a relatively measly 61 targets. He scored 4 times on 83 targets last year, which might be an overcorrection, but it’s less of an obvious outlier. Give Dotson a normal scoring rate as a rookie, and what is there for big-time optimism? Two years of a sub-60% catch rate? A carry 1.0 yards per route run, including 0.8 last year? With Luke McCaffrey, Zach Ertz and Ben Sinnott added to this group of receiving options, I don’t expect Dotson to finish even fourth on the team in targets in 2024.

Bold Predictions

Meaney: Jahan Dotson Outscores Terry McLaurin

Dotson had a disappointing sophomore season in 2023 and spent most of the year on the fantasy football waiver wire. He only had 49 catches on 83 targets for 518 yards over 17 games. He scored four touchdowns, despite scoring seven in 12 games as a rookie. I don’t believe his success in the end zone was a fluke, as he had more end zone targets than Terry McLaurin despite playing five fewer games. Compared to his sophomore campaign, Dotson had more yards in his rookie season (523), despite fewer targets (61) and catches (35). He started off strong, missed time in the middle of the season due to a hamstring injury, and then finished strong. It was a promising season and there were reasons to believe he could grow in Year 2, and he went down as one of the biggest busts in fantasy.

However, was that on him, or was it on the poor QB play and playcalling? Dotson had three or fewer targets in five of his final 12 games last season, but he wasn’t phased out of the offense. He was still among the leaders in snaps and routes, but the team lost eight straight games and failed to move the ball in most of those games. Washington drafted WR Luke McCaffrey and TE Ben Sinnott, but Dotson will open up the season as the teams’ No. 2 receiver. Look for him to get back to the 13.98-yard aDOT he had in his rookie season, and don’t be surprised if he puts up similar numbers as Terry, who is going much earlier in drafts. There’s no telling right now who Daniels’ go-to guy will be in the offense or the red zone. McLaurin hasn’t topped five touchdowns in any of his last four seasons. Dotson is going outside the top 60 picks at wide receiver, and I’m selecting him every time. 

Kelley: 2024 Is Austin Ekeler’s Final Season

No matter what happens going forward, Austin Ekeler’s NFL career is a massive triumph. He was an undrafted free agent who had to fight his way for even a tryout, and he went on to lead all flex players in PPR points in 2021-2022 at 716.5, 17.4 ahead of No. 2 Justin Jefferson and 162.2 ahead of the No. 2 running back, Josh Jacobs. A true triumph.

But at this point, he’s a 29-year-old who had to settle for $4.2 million guaranteed in free agency coming off a yard with a huge reduction in yards per attempt (4.5 in 2022, 3.5 in 2023) and yards per route run (1.7 to 1.3). The Commanders are only on the hook for $1.5 million in dead cap if they get out before 2025, and given my faith in Brian Robinson Jr. (above), it wouldn’t make much sense for them to commit to a then-30-year-old Ekeler in 2025. Ekeler has enough off-the-field interests that it wouldn’t be surprising if he moves on rather than float around as a has-been to wind down his career.

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