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2022 Buckeyes in the NFL Fantasy Football Preview: Terry McLaurin

Scary Terry has been a model of surprising consistency since entering the league in 2019. He will be looking elevate his game in 2022, with help from an improved support cast.

Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Terry McLaurin was a versatile and hardworking burner at Ohio State, but also a player whose stats never really jumped off the page. He finished his OSU career with 75 receptions for 1,251 yards and 19 touchdowns. Notice I said finished, not ended. Ended would imply that he accrued those stats during his last season, but such is not the case. His senior season was his indeed best in Columbus, but he topped out at a very pedestrian 701 yards — although he did add 11 of his 19 career TD.

Scary Terry just did it all, and he was one of the most highly respected players and teammates of the Urban Meyer era, but his college production did not scream NFL star or fantasy football stud. Long story short, McLaurin has developed into both.

Drafted in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the now-Washington Commanders, McLaurin hit the ground running and has never looked back. As rookie, he hauled in 58 receptions for 919 yards and 7 touchdowns. He put the league on notice, and his profile as both a star receiver and fantasy football asset has continued to grow. McLaurin has since added back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, earning him a lucrative contract in the offseason. He will enter 2022 season as Washington’s go-to pass catcher, provided he is able to develop chemistry with the team’s new quarterback.

The Commanders traded for Carson Wentz shortly after the conclusion of the 2021 season — a move which became highly debatable. Since he helped lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl – and subsequently received MVP votes – Wentz has been hit-and-miss as a signal caller. He holds the ball too long, commits untimely turnovers, and is generally not viewed as the strongest leader. But guess what? If you are looking to pick up McLaurin in a fantasy draft, you could care less!

Wentz endured a down season in 2020, but threw 27 TD in both 2019 and 2021. He averaged 3,800 yards passing in those two seasons. The guy can play, and his QB transgressions mean very little to non-fans. At a minimum — and I do mean minimum — he is an upgrade over Alex Smith, the late Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, and Taylor Heinicke. Those were the quarterbacks from whom McLaurin was catching passes in 2020 and 2021. Despite the often poor QB play, Scary Terry was still able produce at a high level.

Perhaps more impressively, McLaurin outperformed expectations while being a weekly focal point of the opposition’s defensive secondary. Due to Washington’s typically poor team-building, he was flanked on the outside by the likes of Cam Sims, Isaiah Wright, and Dyami Brown. Tight end Logan Thomas has been the team’s second pass-catching option, and the second highest yardage total produced by a WR (besides McLaurin) was Sims’ 477 yards in 2020. The Commanders hope to have addressed their lack of additional weapons with the signing of another former Buckeye in Curtis Samuel (2021, injured), as well as the drafting of Penn State’s Jahan Dotson in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

With improved QB play and better weapons around him, McLaurin should be setup for fantasy success. The team has potential to improve record-wise as well, which OSU fans can root for due to the presence of McLaurin, Samuel, Andrew Norwell, and Chase Young. But getting back to fantasy football: the fourth-year wideout has tremendous upside in what is likely to be a much better situation.

At just 26 years old (27 in September), McLaurin is just beginning – or in the beginning stages of – his prime. The speed, the athleticism, the ability to grow and develop mentally as a player is all on the table. We have also already seen what his theoretical floor is. With poor QB play and no help, he is an 80+ catch, 1,000-yard WR2 with WR1 upside in fantasy. And I happen to think he is a much safer draft pick than his fellow former Buckeye receivers.

For starters, McLaurin is healthy. Michael Thomas is an elite, elite player when healthy, and he would otherwise be the top WR with Ohio State ties, but we have not seen him at full capacity in nearly two years. McLaurin has been banged up here and there, but missed a total of just three games over his first three seasons. That leaves Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave as the other Buckeye wideouts to target in fantasy drafts, but as much as I love their potential, I could never draft a rookie over a 26-year old with three highly productive seasons under his belt.

Scary Terry is scary good, and his fantasy value is reflective of his ability. Even after a drop-off from the 2020 to 2021 seasons, he is a bonafide top-20 player at his position. FantasyPros has his ADP as WR#17, making him a fringe WR1 in your lineup(s). His overall ADP of #43 means that you will want to target McLaurin in the third or fourth round. I would even consider him in the second round of a 12-team league, because against my better judgement, I trust Carson Wentz to get him the ball.

What the hell am I thinking? Any Wentz support is likely to backfire, but confidence in McLaurin should not. Draft him with high expectations and reap the rewards.