For most people, the fantasy football season officially reached its’ end after Week 16’s action. However, for some, the fantasy season continues into Week 17. The New Orleans Saints have their playoff seeding locked up and will be resting their stars in championship weekend. While Alvin Kamara might not see a large workload, players like Dwayne Washington can see high volume in their place.
Any fantasy owner with Alvin Kamara should, at the very least, be looking into Washington. Can you comfortably start him, or should you look somewhere else for running back help?
Fantasy Football: Setting Expectations For Dwayne Washington
First off, let’s begin by saying Sean Payton hasn’t officially announced he’s resting his starters. That said, common sense dictates he will and his track record backs up that assessment. It’s safe to assume that Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram will see little-to-no action. This sets the table for Dwayne Washington to see a high volume in Week 17’s matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
However, a high volume doesn’t always equate to fantasy success. If Washington isn’t capable of moving the ball on the ground, he won’t be a good play regardless of his workload. Let’s take a look back at the film and his history to see just how good he is.
Washington made his NFL debut with the Detroit Lions back in 2016, Washington has just 335 yards and one touchdown on 126 career carries. This corresponds to an ugly 2.8 yards-per-carry. This obviously isn’t good, and it’s hard to paint a prettier picture. Washington has just 12 receptions for 76 yards in his career, meaning that he’s not a threat in the passing game. Additionally, the Detroit Lions had one of the worst running back situations in football from 2016 to 2017, yet Washington still couldn’t consistently crack the roster.
All of this is to say that there’s a reason Washington is a third-string running back. Washington has 46 rushing yards on 16 carries with the Saints, good for 2.9 yards-per-carry. However, there is a silver lining, if you’re looking for one. 11 of Washington’s 16 carries came against during a 51-14 blowout win over the Cincinnati Bengals. During that contest, Washington recorded 47 yards and 4.27 yards-per-carry. Granted, this came against a bad Bengals run defense late in a blowout, but it shows that Washington is at least capable of decent rushing production.
Some running backs are capable of putting up great production regardless of matchup, but Washington isn’t one of them. If Washington’s to be a startable asset, he’ll need as much working in his favor as possible.
Unfortunately for Washington, the New Orleans Saints face a tough matchup in Week 17. Despite being in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, the Carolina Panthers are currently allowing the ninth-fewest fantasy points per game to the running back position. Football Outsiders, meanwhile, has Carolina ranked as the 17th-best run defense in the league. This defense isn’t elite against running backs by any means, but they’re more than capable of shutting down a subpar running attack.
The Saints have the second-best run-blocking offensive line in the league, per Football Outsiders. This obviously helps Washington, but that line may not be at full force in Week 17. As previously mentioned, the Saints have nothing to play for, so they’ll probably rest anyone playing through injury. Terron Armstead suffered a setback in Week 16 and might not even return in the playoffs, so New Orleans is already far too familiar with the dangers of playing injured starters along the offensive line.
Additionally, the Panthers will give everything they have in Week 17. While they’re already out of the playoff hunt, head coach Ron Rivera is very much on the hot seat. By all accounts, the players love their head coach and will do everything possible to save Rivera’s job. While some teams might pack it in for the season, Carolina’s defense will do everything possible to try to end the season on a high note.
Last Word on Dwayne Washington In Week 17
Dwayne Washington will have ample opportunity, which should set a safe floor in your fantasy football championship match. However, all the other factors around Washington suggest that he probably won’t have a massive game.
For one, Washington just isn’t very good. He was never able to break out in Detroit’s subpar backfield, and he averages less than three yards-per-carry throughout his career. With this type of low-efficiency running, he’d need to have a significant amount of carries and/or a touchdown in order to be worth starting.
Additionally, the matchup isn’t doing Washington any favors. While it’s not an elite unit by any means, Carolina’s defense is more than capable of shutting down a running back like Washington. Additionally, the Saints could rest some of their offensive linemen, as this game means literally nothing to New Orleans. The Panthers, meanwhile, are playing for their coaches job and will lay it all on the line in their final game of the season.
If you’re really pressed on the waiver wire and need a last-second add, Washington should be able to give you low-level flex production. However, you can probably do better. C.J. Anderson is in a similar boat as Washington but is a better player with a better matchup. If he’s available, take him instead.
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