Terry McLaurin is one of the more exceptional players in dynasty fantasy football, as he has found success despite his surroundings. Can the recent change at quarterback help, and how should fantasy managers value McLaurin for the 2022 fantasy and dynasty season?
Terry McLaurin’s dynasty profile for 2022
When I lay my head on my pillow and wish for things, my first wish is not for myself. I’m not selfish. I wish for the transfer portal to open in the NFL and McLaurin to get out of Washington on the quickest jet possible. It’s the most toxic relationship in the league, and I just want to see McLaurin thriving and living his best life.
McLaurin is special. He is one of the best route runners in the NFL, but what sets him apart is his separation skills mid-phase. That’s why it’s beyond baffling he led the NFL in contested catches last season (25).
That has nothing to do with McLaurin failing to get open. It is an indictment on Taylor Heinicke for throwing McLaurin back into trouble. Heinicke’s on-target percentage of 71.5% was fourth-worst amongst starting QBs.
Coming off another 130+ target season for the second year, McLaurin hauled in 77 receptions for 1,053 yards and 5 TDs as the WR25 in PPR (WR32 in points per game). The issue was the inconsistency due to the QB play.
Inconsistency has been an issue
McLaurin was a top-12 receiver just four times last season, coming in as a WR3 or worse in 76% of his games. In his three years, McLaurin struggled in this aspect, recording top-24 (WR2+) weeks in just 37% of his games.
When you look at the quarterbacks he has played with, you understand why. Heinicke, Garrett Gilbert, Kyle Allen, Case Keenum, Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins, and Colt McCoy. That’s quite a list. Heck, Carson Wentz might be the best quarterback McLaurin has played with to date in the NFL, and he is quite a ways removed from his 2017 season.
McLaurin’s dynasty value could explode with a change of scenery
McLaurin is on the shortlist of wide receivers about to get paid. Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, and Tyreek Hill reset the market. Therefore, McLaurin — along with DK Metcalf, Diontae Johnson, A.J. Brown, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel — are set to become free agents after the 2022 season. Each will want (and likely receive) lucrative offers.
This is where McLaurin makes his escape. He can find a team that will pair him with a top QB and pay him like the elite receiver that he is. When that happens, McLaurin will explode. I’d ride out the 2022 season with him as a WR2, knowing you have a future dynasty WR1 return on the way.
Fantasy projection for McLaurin
As the No. 1 option for Wentz last season, Michael Pittman Jr. posted a respectable 88 receptions on 129 targets for 1,082 yards and 6 touchdowns. Sure, Wentz was all over the place with his play. But he did manage to help Pittman end the season as the WR17 last year.
Wentz’s play over the first nine weeks was rather promising. In fact, he was the QB10 in fantasy. However, he imploded over the back half, recording just two games with 15 fantasy points or more. He’d fall to the QB21.
On paper, Wentz should be an upgrade at QB
Even during his downward spiral, Wentz was still putting up better numbers than Heinicke (QB22). Compared to Wentz last season, Heinicke threw for 3,419 yards (Wentz – 3,563), 20 touchdowns (Wentz – 27), and 15 interceptions (Wentz – 7) with an 85.9 passer rating (Wentz – 94.6). When you add the context of his play, McLaurin becomes more impressive.
One area McLaurin excelled at was in total air yards. His 1,656 air yards were seventh in the NFL last season and 471 more than the aforementioned Pittman. Deeper targets are another area in which Wentz proves to be an upgrade over Heinicke. While Heinicke attempted more deep passes (64 to 60), Wentz had a higher completion rate, completing 43.3% (sixth in 2021) compared to Heinicke’s 32.8% (24th overall).
Even if Curtis Samuel can return to full health in 2022, McLaurin is the top dog on this team and will be Wentz’s No. 1 target. Wentz locked on to Pittman, targeting him on 26% of his throws and 45% of all WR targets. Expect a similar value for McLaurin (24% and 42%, respectively, in 2021).
A season around 80 receptions on 130+ targets for 1,100 yards feels like a solid McLaurin projection. I’d still have him as a WR2 for 2022. Just know the weekly instability will likely remain a thing this season.