Breakdowns

When It Comes to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Receivers, Size Does Matter

Over his up-and-down 16-year playing career, 38-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick has developed a reputation as a quarterback who favors taller, big-bodied receivers. The Washington Football Team brought Fitzpatrick in to elevate a stagnant and underperforming offense from 2020, but do they have the weapons necessary for him to perform at a high level?

Looking back at the past six years of Fitzpatrick’s career, here are the heights and weights of the top wide receivers he has thrown to. Any games where Fitzpatrick split with another quarterback, did not play, or did not take a majority of the snaps are not accounted for in this data set.

Five of Fitzpatrick’s 12 best options over the past six years lined up out wide, and the other seven played primarily in the slot. Even though most of Fitzpatrick’s top wide receivers play the slot position, only one of these seven receivers (Enunwa) finished as his No. 1 option in the past six years. (A top wide receiver is a player who receives special attention from defenses and accumulates top tier statistics for their team.)

Fitzpatrick’s standout No. 1 receivers have been Brandon Marshall (2015), Quincy Enunwa (2016), Mike Evans (2018) and Devante Parker (2019 and 2020), with an even distribution in 2017. From 2015-2020, Fitzpatrick’s No. 1 receivers averaged a height and weight of 6-4, 224 pounds.

Fitzpatrick loves tall receivers – and the feeling is apparently mutual. Marshall had a career year in 2015; Enunwa had a career year in 2016; and Devante Parker had a career year in 2019 – all with Fitzpatrick as their QB.

This data raises the question: who will be Fitzpatrick’s primary targets on the Washington Football Team? Washington’s wide receiving corps averages a height of 6-1 and a weight of 203. There is no question that Terry McLaurin (6-0, 210) will perform as the No. 1 option for Fitzpatrick, as he has been the team’s leading receiver since being drafted two years ago (145 receptions, 2,037 yards). The real question that remains is: who will be that second and third option for Fitzpatrick?

Newly signed Curtis Samuel (5-11, 195) is the likely favorite to give him a qualified No. 2 option. Samuel is coming off a career-best season in which he gathered 77 receptions for 851 yards. He has the speed and versatility to play, outside, in the slot and even out of the backfield. Samuel also has the ability to create mismatches, play the middle of the field, and make plays after the catch.

The options at WR3 are slim for Fitzpatrick; could it be another breakout year for 6-5, 215-pound Cam Sims? Sims seems like the best option as a potential No. 3 because of his stature, build and emergence toward the end of last season. He’s the most likely candidate for an uptick in targets due to Fitzpatrick’s penchant for targets with size and length. Sims had a career year in 2020, catching 32 passes for 477 yards, an average of 9.9 yards per reception. Sims might not be Fitzpatrick’s No. 1 target this season, but having at least one big-bodied receiver among his top three options could prove to be substantial for the Washington QB.

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