Nicknames are fun. Especially when they’re natural, effortless and catch on; like Air Jordan, Refrigerator Perry or Squeak from Baseketball. Back in college they used to call me ‘Big Dumb Animal.’ It was accurate. Then a few years back I was out on the golf course and sunk a 15 foot putt to win a match and secure a decent chunk of change for my team. I tried to coin a new nickname: ‘Big Dick and Putts.’ It didn’t stick, but I tried.
Terry McLaurin is no stranger to the nickname game. It was a hot topic around the fantasy community during his rookie season. Many critics attempted to shoot down the unoriginal ‘Scary Terry’ nickname coined by Case Keenum in training camp, prompting alternate options: McLaurin F1, Touchdown Terry and, my personal favorite, Terrence of Scarabia. But I keep coming back around to the original-unoriginal nickname, because the visual of Scary Terry from Rick and Morty is just too good:
That ball sack on Scary Terry’s face gets me every time. Scrotum chins aside, Terry McLaurin had an incredible rookie season. Coming into the 2019 draft, pundits questioned his acceleration off the line as well as his pass catching skills. But TMac proved all his critics wrong with a fantastic rookie season catching 58 passes for 919 yards and 7 touchdowns. The question still remains, was this outburst a product of volume due to the lack of other options in Washington or is McLaurin an elite fantasy WR in the making?
When I ranked Chin Sack Terry #51 overall in my Top 200 Dynasty Rankings for 2020 Fantasy Football, a segment of the readership felt it was a major snub. McLaurin did after all just post the second most fantasy points among the loaded 2019 rookie wide receiver class behind only A.J. Brown; while I ranked him #5 in the class behind Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Deebo Samuel and Marquise Brown. Just note off the bat, most kids are a full two years younger than McLaurin who will turn 25 this coming season and had much more target competition in their respective offenses.
Mr. McScary finished 2019 with 37.09% of the Redskins total team targeted air yards. If you’re thinking that sounds like a big piece of the pie, you’re right. That mark landed McLaurin at #6 in the league in terms of percent of team’s targeted air yards. In other words, the rookie had a ton of opportunity because A) The Paul Richardson dream is dead, B) Someone named Steven Sims was the second most target receiver on the team, C) Steven Sims may or may not be a real person. The Redskins also found themselves playing from behind early and often which naturally increased opportunities in the passing game.
Looking further, Terrence of Scarabia came in with the 4th highest snap share in the entire NFL at 98.2%. This means he was only off the field on 1.8% of the Redskins plays, an incredible mark for a rookie wide receiver. It’s possible he continues to stay on the field for every single play and it’s also possible the Redskins don’t spend a 3rd or 4th round draft pick on wide receiver help. Even so, fellow rookie Kelvin Harmon came on strong down the stretch and could be in line for an increased role in the offense if no one else comes in.
On the flip side, there’s plenty of positives. First, he’s really, really fast. I mentioned at the start he doesn’t have top end acceleration off the line, but Terry flies once he gets up to speed (4.35 40-time at the combine).
I noted in my Diontae Johnson Dynasty Outlook last week that Johnson ranked #1 in the league in separation from defenders when the ball arrives (3.6 yard average). McLaurin is on the opposite spectrum with an average separation mark of 2.1 yards, which is the tied for the 3rd worst mark in the league.
I know this doesn’t sound great, but I’m getting to the optimism—McLaurin’s contested catch rate of 68.4% is the top percentage in all of the NFL. So while he wasn’t creating much separation, he was still hauling in catches while being blanketed. The bottom of the separation ranks is littered with great receivers—Julio Jones, Kenny Golladay, Mike Williams, Allen Robinson—McLaurin finished ahead of all those big bodies in contested catch rate.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the quarterback situation before wrapping this up. McLaurin caught 11 touchdowns from Dwayne Haskins at Ohio State in 2018 as they went on to win the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately that chemistry didn’t carry over to the NFL, we’re Haskins looked overmatched in 7 starts.
I’m not ready to write the highly touted young QB off just yet, but it certainly wasn’t the rookie season we hoped for. Not going to knock McLaurin too much for the quarterback situation either, remember he posted very good numbers with the blah Case Keenum at the helm most of the season. And at least there’s some upside and history with Haskins.
You may have gathered that I do attribute a decent portion of McLaurin’s rookie success to sheer volume. But there’s still a lot to like here and no guarantee that volume dries up in season two. Most receivers also take a step forward in their second season. While I do have reservations, a #51 dynasty ranking is hardly a kick to the chin sack. I’d be open to selling if a more proven asset is on the table, but “hold” seems like the appropriate label here.
All statistics sourced from ProFootballReference.com, PlayerProfiler.com & NextGenStats.NFL.com