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Koh Knows: Josh Doctson is a fantasy league-winner

For any kind of analyst, fantasy football or otherwise, it's obviously easy to sit there and tell you who is good after the fact. The trick is trying to project who will be good two, three or even six weeks from now.

And I get it, it's scary. Real talk, it's terrifying to truly believe in something and to then put it out there for the world to see. If you're wrong, you will be called out. You will be flamed. You will be publicly shamed. But that's also the fun of it, for my anyways.

So let me put this out there: Josh Doctson might win someone a fantasy championship this year.

Bold? Yes, definitely. Crazy? Hell no.

The tape, the numbers, the situation; all of it points to a potential Doctson explosion that could carry you deep into the fantasy playoffs.


Doctson is squarely at a crossroads, not THA Crossroads, just A crossroads. And if I'm reading everything right, I think it's his time.

A second-year player out of TCU, Doctson was a first-round selection by Washington in 2016. His road to this point reads like a 19th-century children's book, fraught with twists and turns and unexpected terrors.

Injuries, injuries and more injuries; that's the story of his young career thus far. Doctson suffered an Achilles ailment his rookie year, in addition to hamstring and groin maladies in the early part of this season. The signing of Terrelle Pryor essentially wiped Doctson from our memory banks and we were quick to paint him as yet another first-round wide receiver bust.

But Doctson has quietly worked himself back. A splash play here, a big grab there. It was anything but consistent through 2017's first 11 games, so his emergence in Washington's passing attack has gone largely unnoticed.

Doctson is healthy. Pryor is out of the picture. And at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Doc is the clear downfield threat in a good offense. Talent, targets and situation. They're all lining up for a special back-half stretch.


From a fantasy standpoint, Doctson has been largely unremarkable, averaging just 5.6 fantasy points per game over his last six games in standard scoring leagues, never topping more than 8.1 points in any game. Certainly nothing to get too amped about. But as he continues to get healthy, everything is trending in the right direction for Doctson. His playing time and targets are going up, and per Next Gen Stats, his targeted air yards, as well.

In fact, Doctson's targeted air yards have increased every week over his last four games culminating in a season-high 115 in Week 11.

We've talked about it before, but a pass that travels from the 20-yard line to the 30-yard line travels 10 air yards. Pretty simple. But it's also an indication of the kind of targets a receiver is getting. More air yards means deeper targets. Deeper targets mean more chances for huge plays. Huge plays means fantasy points.

*Note: Think air yards don't matter? Here are your current leaders in total air yards: Antonio Brown, Nuk Hopkins, Desean Jackson, Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffery, Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Marvin Jones. That's your top-10 guys. Everyone except Jackson is a top-25 wideout in fantasy. The Marvin Jones example is also key. No one considers him a top-10 receiver in this league, but it doesn't matter. He's getting pounded with deep shots. As a result, he currently resides as the WR9 in standard fantasy leagues. *

Chase air yards like you would targets. It doesn't always result in production but it's a great predictor of potential success. Back to the column.)

As mentioned, his season high 115 air yards in Week 11 vs the Saints is elite-level stuff. We're talking Mike Evans, Julio Jones and A.J. Green-type company. Obviously, that number will trail off but even in Week 10 Doctson saw nearly 92 air yards. If he can stay in that 90-100 range the rest of the year, Doctson will do serious damage.


Going through our Next Gen Stat numbers on WR/TEs, I noticed a very odd statistical anomaly with Doctson.

He's averaging 14.7 air yards per target, which is great. It's the 14th most among WR/TE with at least 28 targets. But at the same time, Doctson is averaging just 2.0 yards of separation per target. It's tied with Kelvin Benjamin for the second-lowest separation in the league among WRs/TEs, while beating out only Alshon Jeffery (1.7). Those guys are basically power forwards boxing out smaller defenders, so that makes sense. But Doctson?

So, then I start going through his tape, literally every target in his NFL career (don't worry, it was less than 50, just fun to sound dramatic). I came to the realization that Doctson LOVES going over the top of defensive backs. It's his go-to move. It's his Rock Bottom, his Stone Cold Stunner, his figure-four leg lock; him Moss-ing guys is his finishing move.

We saw him do it in college but doing it against some poor 5-foot-10, 19-year old corner is not the same as doing it in the NFL. But guess what? He's doing it in the NFL.

Normally the shockingly-low separation stats would scare me off of a wide receiver who wants to thrive as a deep threat, but here's the thing: unlike just about every other receiver on earth, I think Doctson wants that contact. I think he likes it. He certainly seems more than comfortable with it. Remember, this is a guy with a legit 41-inch vertical.


It's a favorite saying of mine, but basically: if given enough opportunities, success will follow. It doesn't matter if it's broadcasting, sports or selling cars. If you combine opportunities with talent? Special things can happen.

As we mentioned, Pryor was placed on IR and his handful of targets will be spread around but if that means even one more deep ball per game moving forward for Doctson, sign me up.

In addition, Jordan Reed being banged up, as per usual, could also open more doors for Kid Doc around the red zone.

And as the numbers above illustrate, the coaching staff is finding ways to get Doctson the ball.

Look for this to continue as deep throws to Doctson have yielded good results. Cousins has a 114.8 passer rating when targeting Doctson on throws 20 or more yards downfield.


With the Giants, Cowboys, Chargers and Cardinals on the docket, the Washington's schedule also lends itself to a potential Doctson breakout.

The Giants have been up and down defensively but they give up nearly 265 pass yards per game, the fourth-most in the NFL. The Cowboys could continue to be without Sean Lee, and as we've seen without their star backer, Dallas gets shredded. The Chargers certainly are a tough matchup, and I know what you're thinking with Patrick Peterson but the Cardinals overall have been extremely sketchy in pass defense. The 243 passing yards they give up are the 10th-most and the 25.4 points per game they allow is tied for the eighth-most. I doubt Peterson travels with Doctson and the Redskins use him both outside and in the slot, as well.

The fact that Washington's defense has been so porous will lend itself to more shootouts and more aerial warfare. Doctson could be a featured weapon through the back stretch in those scenarios.

It's all lining up for Doctson. The targets, the downfield throws and the schedule are all favorable. If things break just reasonably well, you'll have a fantasy star in the making. A star that will be a possible fantasy playoff hero and one that could be drafted quite early next year.

James D. Koh is an anchor and host for NFL Network. He is also a host of the NFL Fantasy Live Podcast and a guest columnist for the NFL fantasy football editorial staff. Follow him on Twitter @JamesDKoh to tell him how much of an idiot he is for writing this column.

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