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What to do about the Washington DST (after Week 2)?

Date:
September 19, 2021

What to do about the Washington DST (after Week 2)?

 

Preseason, I debated whether Washington has the best/most talented defense in the NFL…and how that was great for NFL purposes, but they had a killer schedule early on and it might not be worth it for Fantasy. Perhaps Washington-DST could work in a rotation with another defense to get past the early schedule problems?

Some of us rolled the dice and went with Washington-DST out of the gates. Others had them as part of a duo and the first green light start was Week 2 versus NYG.

What was not to like about Washington-DST Week 2 hosting NYG? The scenario was simple: A top defense. Facing Daniel Jones, and the weak O-Line of NYG. Rainy conditions to boot.

It all seemed great…on paper, in theory. But then we watched the Giants score 29 points against Washington on TNF. We watched Daniel Jones throw with ease and run with even more ease against the Washington-DST. No turnovers produced. Four sacks, but limited pressure delivered to Daniel Jones most of the game...especially strange given the Giants O-Line is terrible, lost a key starter going into the game (Lemieux) and lost one in-game (Gates).

Washington was projected to be the #1 scoring DST this week (Week 2)…and they put up an FF dud.

Was it just a bad night or what?

All I can do is judge Washington’s defense by their first two games of the season, first two ‘cards dealt’ in this poker game – and I have to conclude that Washington’s defense isn’t all that great. It’s not bad, but it’s not that killer elite I speculated they might be.

Washington-DST was the 6th best in Fantasy PPG in 2020 (Weeks 1-16). They were #3 in FF PPG from Week 10 to Week 16. They were #6 in the NFL in sacks and #4 in PPG allowed in the NFL 2020 season. This emerging 2020 defense kept the core group intact, added a top corner (W. Jackson), got back a top safety from season-ending injury (Collins). At worst, this should be a top 5-10 NFL/FF defense, but with hopes of being a #1-2.

However, through the first two games they are not a top 10 NFL/FF defense. Probably won’t be a top 20 NFL/FF defense through two weeks.

The Giants went into Week 2 a wounded bird that the Football Team DST should’ve crushed, if they were an elite type DST. They didn’t. The defense was OK, good in spurts, but failed to halt NYG much more than ever stopping them.

In Week 1, the Chargers got into the red zone on seven out of 9 drives against WSH-DST…but only scored 23 points as the Washington defense stiffened some with their backs up against the end zone but got lucky with Chargers errors or penalties that led to FGs instead of TDs too often.

Washington is lucky not to be (0-2) right now…but they had a chance to be (2-0) as well.

Two games in, no radical stat performances for their DST. They could be forgiven for the Chargers struggle…Justin Herbert is very good. But I can’t unsee that NYG flop…watching Daniel Jones with too much time and just picking apart the weak zone of Washington too often – it shouldn’t be with this Washington defense at full strength, as it was (and NYG’s offense not at full strength).

Two games in, all we can surmise is that…

Worst case, Washington DST is OK/good.

Best case, they are just ‘good’.

‘The best’ or ‘elite’ is not on the table. Not on the table in statistical output. Not on the table to my eyes.

Part of my dismay here is – I really don’t see an elite defense with my eyes. I could argue the Giants have as good a defense as Washington. I expected to see the bookend DEs of Young-Sweat being a menace every snap, but Young has no sacks so far this season and no QB hits while Sweat has 2.0 sacks and 3.0 QB hits.

I’m starting to wonder if Chase Young is the new Jadeveon Clowney – all ‘supposed to be’ but never is. 18 career NFL games (including 1 playoff game) and Young has just 7.5 sacks and just 12 QB hits.

My eyes don’t see ‘it’ here, and the stats/output backs that up. So, what’s to love with a DST that is ‘good’ (at best) but faces Allen-Ryan-Winston-Mahomes-Rodgers-Teddy-BYE-Brady the next 8 weeks? Am I holding them on the bench Week 3 (v. Josh Allen) to get to Week 4 (v. ATL) then to just wonder about Week 5 (v. NO, and a top O-Line) and then no way I like Weeks 6-7-8-9-10 for QB and O-Line reasons.

Expectations were big coming into this season for Washington DST, but they aren’t living up to it. The early schedule scared the hell out of me…and the roughest patch is coming. My eyes tell me something isn’t clicking here. If all this is true, and I have to make a big boy decision…I know I have the sunk costs/expectations with them – but I have to choose a side now, today, and I have to say…not a hold. Not a hold, and we have to find other options. You can hold to see if they turn…they aren’t awful – but just ‘good’ + a rough schedule ahead is not going to be a winner.

I have added Arizona-DST everywhere I didn’t have them before this week, so there’s the ‘easy’ answer/solution/fix. Outside of that, we’re going to have to stream our way through – which is not shocking/typical. I can’t trust Washington-DST ahead, except Week 4. I can’t keep carrying this sorry ass defense as a 2nd defense in many cases…so, I’m onto other options looking for greener pastures.

 

After watching every game Week 1 now, the best-looking defenses to my eyes are:

1) Arizona

…and then a drop-off to

2) Pittsburgh

…and then a drop-off to

3a) New Orleans

3b) Carolina and Rams

4) Buffalo

I’ve probably overlooked/didn’t ‘see’ one that should be in this top 5 mix, but hopefully I’ll see ‘it’ next week. The problem is so many promising units have terrible schedules (Like LAC).

 

Honestly, it’s Arizona and then I could see any of the other five battling for the #2 spot. With the Saints getting Bradley Roby Week 3 (from suspension) and then Marshon Lattimore likely missing this week and then back Week 3…they might be the real #2 DST talent out there after Arizona come Week 3, and those two DSTs well ahead of the pack…with the Steelers trying to get in there (or are, and I’m not seeing it as well).

 

Carolina is interesting because of all the teams I’ve just listed, because they are the most likely sitting on waivers today/available now – but they are nearly as talented, maybe more talented than Washington…but with a much better schedule.

I noted Washington as the #3 DST for FF from Weeks 10-16 last season…the Panthers DST was #1 in that stretch. It’s a solid defense, young and emerging. They face Winston-Tyrod the next two weeks before running into issues Weeks 4-5 with DAL-PHI. After Weeks 5-6, it’s a nice schedule run until Week 14.

Long story short, we’ve got a Washington letdown/mediocrity/not-as-good-as-we-projected problem to deal with…and the schedule ahead just agitates the problem eve more. Having to make a decision for Week 3 going forward…I’m moving on, looking for greener pastures. Arizona is that pasture I’m already sitting on 90% of the leagues as my top waiver pickup already stated going into Week 2 – but today they are likely gone in your league, so if you bypassed them and stuck with Washington -- look for the Saints or Panthers for some relief ahead, but they are not slam dunks either given their schedules the next few weeks.

Finding the perfect storm good+ defense with a great schedule in 2021…is nearly impossible anymore (too many good QBs/rare few QB duds to ring the register on). It’s going to be a streaming year unless the Cardinals-Saints (or PIT) become ‘it’ defenses…or Buffalo is good+ with a mostly great schedule .



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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

Email rc4metrics@gmail.com

Learn more about RC and the Fantasy Football Metrics system >>