The frustrating arc of Terry McLaurin’s career

By | December 20, 2023

Terry McLaurin hasn't been the fantasy football star we were hoping for, but it's hardly been his fault.  (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Terry McLaurin hasn’t been the fantasy football star we were hoping for, but it’s hardly been his fault. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A simple look at a box score or a study of it Fantasy football categories don’t always tell the whole story of how a player performs. Dalton Del Don tries to identify misleading numbers worth a closer look.

Yes… The numbers lie.

Terry McLaurin’s season (and career) is a lie

McLaurin has averaged just 59.6 yards receiving with three touchdowns this season, making him the No. 40 fantasy WR in points per game. Sam Howell leads the league in pass attempts (and McLaurin leads in routes run), but his target percentage of 19.3% ranks 59th among wide receivers. Scary Terry has just four catches in the red zone this season.

McLaurin didn’t have a target percentage of 25.5% until 2021, so we know he’ll earn it if he doesn’t get abused. One after the other peaceful 50+ minutes with Howell last week, McLaurin exploded for 93 yards and nearly two touchdowns in less than a quarter with Jacoby Brissett, ending the week top-five in WR fantasy usage (and number 3 in the actual score). Unfortunately for McLaurin’s fantasy managers, Howell remains the Commanders’ starter for now.

The list of quarterbacks McLaurin has played with since entering the league is as follows: Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy, Alex Smith, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, Garrett Gilbert, Carson Wentz and Howell.

McLaurin’s misfortune continued last week: he was tackled at one, drawing a DPI penalty in the end zone and get no credit for a great catch. Hopefully Washington gets him a real quarterback and system soon. a Reception perception favorite, McLaurin is a great route runner who could be a legitimate top-10 fantasy receiver in a different lineup.

Trey McBride’s 8.3 fantasy points per game is a lie

McBride ranks a solid 11th in fantasy points per game among tight ends this season, but it also vastly underestimates his future. He played behind Zach Ertz through the first seven games of 2023, averaging just 3.0 targets and 24.3 receiving yards in that span. McBride has averaged 9.1 targets and 77.4 receiving yards in seven games since Ertz went on IR (and subsequently released). He is the No. 2 fantasy tight end and ranks first at the position in target share, targets per route run and yards per route run since taking over Arizona’s starting role.

McBride has a 31% target share of Kyler Murray since the QB’s return in Week 10, as the tight end’s usage has been equivalent to a top wide receiver. McBride was and has been a Mackey Award winner an impressive college resume. He is the real thing and whether it’s Murray or a top draft pick playing quarterback in Arizona next season, McBride has a strong case to be the top fantasy tight end on the board in 2024.

Justin Fields’ Week 15 stats were a lie

Fields wasn’t a top-25 fantasy QB last week when he posted just 4.2 YPA and threw two interceptions. His modest seven rushing attempts, after averaging 14 over his previous three games, were a fantasy disappointment (and a surprise against a man-heavy Cleveland D who turns his back on the QB), but Fields’ passing stats were extremely misleading.

Robert Tonyan dropped a perfectly thrown ball dime on a potential 74-yard touchdown, while Tyler Scott failed to haul in another pass downfield. Both of Fields’ picks came during Hail Mary tries at the end of the halves, with the first later showing a replay of the ball clearly hitting the ground. His second interception should have been collected by Darnell Mooney to win the game.

Fields also lost a rushing touchdown thanks to a Cole Kmet false start penalty, though the two scored on the next play thanks another great play from the quarterback. Chicago also recorded a pick-six, which is the worst outcome for a fantasy QB. Additionally, Fields’ opponent at home allowed an NFL-low 3.5 yards per play and gave up the fewest passing yards per game.

Fields deserved a better game on Sunday, and his reward is two favorable home matchups (Arizona and Atlanta) during fantasy championship weeks.

Patrick Mahomes’ Week 15 stats were a lie

Mahomes threw for over 300 yards for the first time in seven games, but again failed to finish as a top-12 fantasy QB last week. He hasn’t been a top five QB since Week 7, but his stats against New England have been misleading. Mahomes threw darts all game in a tough game, finishing with an above-expectation completion percentage (+10.5) in the 87th percentile (while attempting his second-most red zone passes (9) in a game this season).

He got no help from his rushing attack (2.8 YPC), lost a touchdown pass to Jerick McKinnon and saw Kadarius Toney turn around an easy catch go inside instead, another brutal interception. Travis Kelce too couldn’t secure a potential touchdown in the third quarter, meaning Mahomes’ fantasy day last week it could have been much bigger.

Expect a strong finish from Mahomes with two upcoming home games (Las Vegas and Cincinnati) in favorable matchups.

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