Before we get into the Dynasty Football Debate: Jahan Dotson, let's do a quick review of some other things we could not have predicted so far.
Hard to believe we are already four weeks into the 2023 NFL season. It feels like just yesterday I was studying film preparing for startup draft season. We are here though, and there's been some surprising starts to the season for Fantasy Football.
Sam Laporta is him apparently, David Montgomery has been a thorn in Jahmyr Gibbs truthers' sides, Jaxon Smith-Njigba has started slower than many would have liked, and the Falcons continue to ignore Drake London and Kyle Pitts. One thing that has been a major surprise to me thus far: Jahan Dotson, where are you? This is the Dynasty Football Debate: Jahan Dotson.
I expected Dotson to have a monster season this year (he still can obviously), but through his first three games, he has only been targeted 16 times despite playing over 88% of snaps (more than Terry McLaurin). To be fair McLaurin has also only seen 16, but has been slightly more productive with his opportunities.
So is Dotson's lack of Fantasy production more of a result of a young quarterback still finding his way in a brand-new offense? I think that's more likely than Dotson suddenly being bad at football.
Here's why I'm buying Jahan Dotson in Dynasty right now.
Dynasty Football Debate: Jahan Dotson
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One key factor to consider is the presence of rookie quarterback Sam Howell. Howell is only in his fifth NFL start and is still acclimating to the complexities of the professional game. It's crucial to remember that building rapport and chemistry between a quarterback and his wide receivers takes time. In Dotson's case, this learning curve may be the primary reason for his underwhelming production so far.
When assessing Dotson's potential, it's essential to remember that young quarterbacks often need a few games—or even an entire season—to adjust to the NFL's speed, complexity, and intensity. They need time to develop trust in their receivers, understand their tendencies, and execute the playbook efficiently. Dotson's lack of targets may be a temporary issue stemming from Howell's inexperience rather than an indictment of Dotson's abilities.
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The Eric Bieniemy Effect
Another significant factor impacting Dotson's Fantasy output is the arrival of Eric Bieniemy as the Commanders' offensive coordinator. Bieniemy, known for his time with the Kansas City Chiefs, brought his offensive philosophy to Washington. While the Chiefs' wide receivers have been inconsistent Fantasy performers since Tyreek Hill's departure, it's important to note that Patrick Mahomes had a "go-to" target in Travis Kelce, often limiting the distribution to wide receivers.
Despite Bieniemy's offensive scheme allowing quarterbacks to spread the ball among various options in the passing game, Dotson still has the ability to step in and be a go-to target for Howell. He has consistently displayed the ability to beat man and press coverage. While he may need to improve against zone defenses, this aspect of his game should develop over time as he gains more experience in Bieniemy's system.
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Target Share: An Issue of Circumstance
When evaluating Dotson's Dynasty prospects, it's crucial to consider the broader context of the Commanders' passing game. Washington's wide receivers have been targeted only 53.3% of the time through the first three weeks of the season, ranking them No. 30 in the NFL. The only teams targeting receivers at a lower rate right now are the Bears (50%) and the Falcons (35.5%). This statistic may seem discouraging for Dotson's Fantasy managers, but it doesn't tell the whole story.
The limited target share is not solely a reflection of Dotson's abilities or role. It's a multifaceted issue influenced by the team's offensive adjustments, Howell's learning curve, and the need for all offensive components to find their rhythm within the new system. McLauin and Dotson are both sitting right around 17% target share, so it's not like Terry is setting the world on fire with targets either.
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The Path Forward
As we assess Dotson's value in Dynasty Football, it's crucial to look beyond the early-season struggles and consider the long-term outlook. Howell has already shown flashes of his potential, and with more experience, he could develop into a reliable NFL quarterback. Additionally, as the offensive line improves and players become more comfortable in Bieniemy's system, Dotson's opportunities are likely to increase.
For dynasty managers, the current uncertainty surrounding Dotson provides a golden opportunity to acquire a talented, young wide receiver with immense upside. His current value in Fantasy circles has taken a hit, and you might be able to secure him for a 2024 second-round pick and a veteran wide receiver like Michael Thomas or Adam Thielen. Such a trade could prove to be a shrewd move in the long run.
It's crucial to remain patient and look beyond short-term struggles. Dotson, despite a slow start to the 2023 NFL season, possesses the talent, skill set, and situation to become a valuable asset for Dynasty managers in the years to come. The challenges he faces, such as a rookie quarterback and a new offensive coordinator, are part of the growing pains associated with building a successful NFL career.
Dynasty managers should not panic but instead, seize the opportunity to acquire Dotson at a discounted price. As Howell gains experience, Bieniemy's offense matures, and the Commanders' passing game finds its rhythm, Dotson's fantasy value is poised to soar.
Investing in him now could yield significant dividends in the future, making him an attractive buy-low candidate in Dynasty Football.
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