Ryan Fitzpatrick heading to the Washington Football Team is fun. He agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract Monday night, according to ESPN, and he's expected to be the starter this season. That means Fantasy managers get to experience Fitzmagic at least one more time.
The 38-year-old spent the past two seasons in Miami, and he is expected to replace the recently cut Alex Smith. Taylor Heinicke will compete with Fitzpatrick for the starting job, but Fitzpatrick "is expected to head to camp as the starter," per ESPN.
Fantasy managers should be excited for Fitzpatrick to win the job. With the Dolphins, he was a capable Fantasy quarterback with No. 1 upside. He started the first six games in 2020, and he scored at least 20 Fantasy points in five of them, averaging 22.3 Fantasy points per game over that span.
The Dolphins decided to bench Fitzpatrick in favor of rookie Tua Tagovailoa prior to Week 8, but Fitzpatrick started one more time in Week 12 against the Jets and scored 23 Fantasy points. And in 2019, he started the final 11 games and scored at least 22 Fantasy points in seven of those outings.
You're not drafting Fitzpatrick as a Fantasy starter in most one-quarterback leagues, but he's definitely a starting option in two-quarterback and Superflex leagues. And he's a streaming option in one-quarterback leagues when the matchup is right -- or when he gets hot.
The Washington Football Team should allow Fitzpatrick to put up points. Despite using four quarterbacks in 2020 -- Smith, Heinicke, Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen -- Washington was No. 9 in pass attempts with 601. If Fitzpatrick can average around 37.6 pass attempts per game it could be a roller coaster ride, with hopefully a thrilling ending.
With Washington, he has enough weapons to succeed, which could still improve during free agency and the NFL Draft. Terry McLaurin is a quality No. 1 receiver, and Logan Thomas, Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic are good complementary options. Fitzpatrick has proven he can thrive with less, including his time in Miami.
This is a great move for McLaurin since Fitzpatrick has a history of leaning on his top receiver. Since 2010, in stops with the Bills, Titans, Texans, Jets and Dolphins, Fitzpatrick has eight seasons with at least nine starts. Over that span, his No. 1 receiver -- Steve Johnson (three times), Kendall Wright, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall (twice) and DeVante Parker -- had at least 128 targets on the year.
There were seven times where the No. 1 receiver had at least 72 catches, six times where the No. 1 receiver had at least 1,000 yards and three times where the No. 1 receiver had at least 10 touchdowns. Now, not all of that production came entirely from Fitzpatrick, and he also had two seasons where a No. 2 receiver had at least 127 targets (DeAndre Hopkins in 2014 in Houston and Eric Decker in 2015 with the Jets), but McLaurin should get plenty of attention from Fitzpatrick.
McLaurin was solid as a rookie with 58 catches for 919 yards and seven touchdowns on 93 targets in 14 games in 2019. In 2020, he had 87 catches for 1,118 yards and four touchdowns on 134 targets in 15 games. I'm expecting this to be his best season yet, and I have him ranked as a top-10 Fantasy receiver worth drafting in Round 3 in all leagues.
No other wide receiver in Washington had more than 48 targets last year, and this is a position of need this offseason -- although I'm still hopeful for Antonio Gandy-Golden in his second year. But Thomas, Gibson and McKissic are players Fantasy managers are definitely interested in.
I'm skeptical of Thomas replicating his production from 2020 without Smith. Thomas, 29, got his first chance to be a featured tight end, and he was successful with 72 catches for 670 yards and six touchdowns on 110 targets.
I'm expecting Thomas to regress, especially if Washington adds other pieces to this receiving corps as expected. And Fitzpatrick has moderate success with his tight ends.
In looking at the same time frame as we mentioned with the receivers when Fitzpatrick made at least nine starts, his best tight ends were Scott Chandler with Buffalo in 2012 (43 catches, 571 yards and six touchdowns on 74 targets), Delanie Walker with Tennessee in 2013 (60 catches, 571 yards and six touchdowns on 86 targets) and Mike Gesicki with Miami in 2019 (51 catches, 570 yards and five touchdowns on 89 targets).
Thomas should be around that level of production this season if healthy, which would make him a low-end starter in all leagues. He's only worth drafting with a late-round pick.
As for the running backs, Gibson would be a No. 2 Fantasy option no matter who started at quarterback in Washington, and he's worth drafting in Round 2 in all leagues. As a rookie in 2020, he had 170 carries for 795 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with 36 catches for 247 yards on 44 targets. He should improve on that production this year.
McKissic, meanwhile, was a star in the passing game last season with 80 catches for 589 yards and two touchdowns on 110 targets, and he also added 85 carries for 365 yards and a touchdown. His stats in the passing game are due to regress with Smith gone, and McKissic is only worth a late-round pick in all leagues.
Fitzpatrick does like throwing to his running backs, but not like Smith. There have been eight times where a running back had at least 50 targets and 31 catches with Fitzpatrick using the same time span -- Fred Jackson (2010 and 2011 in Buffalo), C.J. Spiller (2011 and 2012 in Buffalo), Chris Johnson (2013 in Tennessee), Arian Foster (2014 in Houston) and Bilal Powell (2015 and 2016 in New York) -- and Powell is the leader in those categories with 74 targets and 58 catches. Spiller had 459 receiving yards in 2012, and Foster caught five touchdowns in 2014.
We'll see how Fitzpatrick adjusts to playing in Washington under Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner. Most of Fitzpatrick's success came with Chan Gailey as the head coach or playcaller, but I'm expecting Fitzpatrick to be fine in this system.
He has the chance to help Fantasy managers as a quarterback. And he should make McLaurin and hopefully Gibson into bigger stars.
It's fun having Fitzmagic back as a starter this season.