XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 5 begins with Chicago visiting Washington for a 44.5 total game with Washington favored by 6.5. Some really fun island games we’ve been having so far this season between the NFL’s best teams, eh? The Bears are atrocious at 0-4 with a negative -62 point differential, while the Commanders are 2-2 but with a -31 point differential. We have a war of two bad teams on our hands. Both teams have allowed at least 30 points per game on average (30 on the dot for Washington, just shy of 32 for Chicago), while both teams have also struggled on offense with just shy of 19 offensive points per game for the Bears and about 22 for the Commanders. Washington’s defense is not quite this bad, really, but they’ve faced the Bills and the Eagles in the early going (though they also gave up 33 to the Broncos), while the Bears defense has been one of the worst units in the NFL so far. This is a pretty interesting slate for us to target with two bad teams that create a wide range of potential outcomes. Let’s see if we can figure it out.
On the Commanders side, the run game is split between Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson, with Robinson as the primary two-down back with minimal pass game work while Gibson holds the third down/change of pace back role. Robinson’s role has led to him averaging 15 carries per game and just shy of two targets while Gibson is at roughly three carries and 2.5 targets per game (woe to the Best Ball drafters who were taking Gibson ahead of Robinson). Their roles are very sensitive to game script. In Week 3, when the Commanders were trounced 37-3 by Buffalo, Gibson played his highest snap count of the season at 61% with Robinson at a season low of 37%, with Gibson seeing seven opportunities (including five targets) while Robinson saw just 10 carries and no targets. Given how their roles are tied to game script, I would be cautious of playing them together. I wouldn’t entirely block their ability to both appear in flex on the same roster but I would apply a negative boost to limit those pairings. I would also block Gibson from appearing on any Robinson captained rosters. We know the matchup is great against a Bears defense that is giving up an average of 115 yards per game on the ground (and they haven’t exactly faced the league’s best rushing attacks, either). While Robinson has game script risk, that makes how to use him fairly straightforward. In rosters predicated on the Commanders winning the game, he’s a strong piece who is at worst fairly priced for his talent, opportunity, and matchup (and probably a bit on the cheap side), but in rosters built around the Bears pulling off the upset, he’s overpriced while Gibson becomes an interesting piece.
Ownership updates automatically
The Washington passing game has two key players questionable in Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel. Both have gotten in limited practices so far (I’m writing this Tuesday afternoon) so my guess is they are more likely to play than not, but will update this article if we get any other news with sufficient time before lock (if the news is late, hop in Discord). Assuming they’re in, the primary wide receivers will be Terry McLaurin, Dotson, and Samuel, with Dyami Brown and Byron Pringle rotating through. Early season target distribution so far has McLaurin with 26, Dotson with 25 (albeit with a gross aDOT), Samuel with 20 (plus his usual handful of rush attempts), Brown with seven, and Pringle with three. The matchup here is extremely favorable against a Bears defense that can’t really stop anyone. McLaurin’s obviously a strong option, competing with DJ Moore for the best pass catcher on the slate. I think I have a slight lean to Moore as the superior player, and don’t really love that McLaurin is priced all the way up at $10k. Dotson is a much better value with similar volume but just $7k, while Samuel is somehow just $5,600 – a superb price for someone with his target share, a little bit of occasional rushing work, and good red zone usage. He’s my favorite of the Commanders pass catchers, and I’m curious to see how high ownership gets here as he’s in that mid-range of price that often gets a bit overlooked. At tight end we’re seeing Logan Thomas in a role similar to what he played a couple of years ago, enjoying the bulk of the snaps and a reasonable 14 targets so far on the season. At $5,200, he isn’t as good of a play on paper as Samuel (you’re paying essentially the same price for ⅔ the volume). Thomas is still fairly priced, it’s just that Samuel is a glaring value. Backing up Thomas will be John Bates, and then Cole Turner will have a very modest role, giving them both some MME punt appeal.