Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera announced Wednesday that veteran QB Jacoby Brissett would start over Sam Howell in Week 17 vs. the San Francisco 49ers. Brissett replaced Howell in the second half of Week 16’s loss to the New York Jets. The Commanders nearly came back after trailing 27-7 at halftime.
Washington has lost six games in a row and are 4-11, having long been eliminated from 2023 NFL playoff contention. In a lost season, the Commanders would rather start Brissett and give themselves the best chance to win rather than sticking with the second-year starter in Howell.
The move isn’t surprising as Rivera is likely trying to save his job. Rather than taking blame for how bad the Commanders are, Rivera will start Brissett and try and show that this season was Howell’s fault. Howell was on pace for perhaps the worst QB performance of all-time this past Sunday, finishing 6-for-22 with 56 yards and two INTs, a 1.7 passer rating. Despite that and struggles during the losing streak, it’s still difficult to put all the blame on Howell.
Howell still ranks 11th in the NFL in passing yards at 3,624 while leading the League in sacks taken at 60. While his decision-making hasn’t been sound, he’s also been the most pressured QB in the NFL. Howell has decent weapons but the Commanders’ run game has been poor and has missed Brian Robinson Jr. the past few weeks. Terry McLaurin isn’t having an incredible season and Jahan Dotson didn’t take the leap forward we all thought he would. It’ll be interesting to see how the offense performs under Brissett.
Brissett did lead somewhat of a comeback on Sunday but only completed 10 of 13 passes for 100 yards and a TD. It was mostly while an already eliminated Jets team was sleep walking through the second half of a meaningless game. Brissett going up against a 49ers team coming off a blowout loss to the Ravens on Monday night is a different animal. So what can we expect in fantasy football?
Many will point to Brissett outperforming Howell in the second half and assume the Commanders’ offense will look better, making some players more viable in fantasy football. That may not be the case against San Fran, which needs a win to keep pace for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. There is a very real scenario in which the Niners drop to the 3-seed and are thrust into a tougher first-round matchup in the playoffs. It would also mean San Francisco has to go on the road the rest of the playoffs potentially.
Anyway, getting around to the fantasy plays. TE Logan Thomas caught the TD from Brissett in the loss to the Jets. He finished with five catches on six targets for 36 yards and the TD. Thomas could be an OK TE streamer option this week with Brissett under center. McLaurin and Dotson are also decent FLEX plays. You’d think the Commanders will get shelled in this game and forced to throw the ball a ton. That bodes well for the receiving core, even WR Curtis Samuel.