Terry McLaurin Fantasy Outlook 2023: Should you draft Commanders’ WR amid injury worries?

For a franchise rolling out a new quarterback and play-caller, there’s merit in giving your first-team offense plenty of reps in the preseason. However, the obvious downside is the risk of injury, and unfortunately for the Commanders Terry McLaurin, he was forced to exit the team’s preseason Week 2 matchup because of a toe injury. 

Before the injury, McLaurin was viewed as a relatively risky fantasy WR2 given the emergence of fellow wideout and sleeper candidate Jahan Dotson potentially cutting into his workload. Tack on a tough-luck preseason injury, and there are valid concerns around McLaurin’s value in upcoming fantasy drafts.

Below, we’ll break down McLaurin’s 2023 fantasy outlook and decide whether he’s a smart draft pick in fantasy football leagues.

DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2023 Fantasy Cheat Sheet

Terry McLaurin injury update: How long will Commanders’ WR be out?

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, McLaurin (toe) is considered “day-to-day” following an MRI. Rapoport also mentioned that “there is optimism for Week 1,” so it looks as if McLaurin received the best news possible. 

While the wideout’s considered “day-to-day”, it’s unlikely he will suit up for Washington’s preseason finale against Cincinnati on Aug. 26, as the team should be content letting their WR1 heal up. 

Before his injury on Aug. 21, McLaurin hauled in all three of his targets for 39 yards, recording the second-most receiving yards in Washington’s “upset” win behind Dotson (five catches, 76 yards).

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Terry McLaurin’s 2023 fantasy ranking and ADP

Entering the season, SN Fantasy has McLaurin ranked as the No. 18 WR in both PPR and standard formats. McLaurin’s still seen as the Commanders’ go-to option in the receiving game, but it’s worth noting his target share’s decreased in the past three seasons, most recently ending 2022 with a 22.6 percent target share (27th among WRs).

FantasyProshas McLaurin’s ADP at No. 51 in PPR formats and No. 48 in standard ones. His ADP translates to the overall WR22 in PPR formats and the WR24 in standard ones. SN Fantasy’s a bit higher on Sam Howell’s prospects as the team’s new QB1, which is why McLaurin’s ranked slightly higher in SN’s preseason rankings than FantasyPros’. His declining target share is a concern, but new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s offense likely leads McLaurin to a top-20 finish at his position.

In PPR formats, other WRs coming off the board around the same time as McLaurin include DeAndre Hopkins (WR20), D.J. Moore (WR21), Jerry Jeudy (WR23), and Christian Watson (WR24). In standard formats, those WRs include Watson (WR22), Jeudy (RB23), Drake London (WR25), and Christian Kirk (WR26).

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Terry McLaurin’s fantasy outlook 2023

Although he suffered a minor setback this preseason, McLaurin’s proved to be a durable wideout, playing in all 17 regular season games the past two seasons. Draft Sharks’ injury predictor does peg McLaurin as a “high risk”, projecting him to miss 2.3 games this season. However, McLaurin owns the highest possible “durability rating” per Draft Sharks’ injury predictor of 5.0, so fantasy owners shouldn’t fret much over his injury concerns.

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Ultimately, drafting McLaurin in fantasy depends on how effective you think Howell will be this season. You always need to take a player’s preseason performance with a grain of salt, but Howell’s looked sharp through his first two preseason games, completing 75.7 percent of his passes for 265 yards and three TDs.

2023 AUCTION VALUES (Standard & PPR):
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McLaurin’s lack of consistent red-zone targets is a valid cause for concern, but Howell’s steadiness and accuracy as a passer, coupled with more red-zone trips in a new-look scheme, make McLaurin a solid pick at his ADP. McLaurin’s three-catch, 74-yard, one-TD output with a 31.9-percent target share in Howell’s lone regular-season start last year was undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

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McLaurin was one of the more efficient WRs last season, posting a +57.2 EPA (15th) while averaging 9.9 yards per target (seventh), so talent isn’t an issue. He also logged the fourth-most deep targets (29), making him as strong as a pick in both standard and PPR formats. As long as you don’t reach, drafting McLaurin at his fourth-round ADP is worthwhile as a steady WR2.

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