James Washington Fantasy Value Could Benefit From Shared Oklahoma State History With Mason Rudolph

By David Hayes
Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers
Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers / Justin Berl/Getty Images

Some NFL fans might be considering the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season over after losing Ben Roethlisberger for the reminder of the year, but James Washington’s fantasy football owners could be looking at just the beginning of his fantasy season.

Steelers’ backup quarterback Mason Rudolph is taking over the reins in Pittsburgh, and while he may not have the same sort of proven NFL talent as Roethlisberger, Rudolph does have one thing that the 16-year veteran starter can’t replicate: a storied history and chemistry with James Washington. 

Washington and Rudolph’s history as teammates goes well beyond the league, as the pair have been connecting for touchdown passes since their collegiate careers both began at Oklahoma State together in 2014. 

While there are numerous pairs of NFL teammates that go back together to college, it’s safe to say that a QB-WR duo that connected for 35 touchdowns, 206 receptions and 4,188 yards through 42 games across four seasons together on the same college team is rather unprecedented. 

In fact, the two fed off one another so much during their time together that Rudolph left Stillwater as the Cowboys’ all-time leader in passing yards (13,618) and passing touchdowns (92), while Washington as the program’s all-time receiving leader (4,472). 

The longevity and success that Rudolph and Washington had in college was incredible, and it didn’t take long to resurface once the two saw more significant playing time together in Pittsburgh. Rudolph and Washington connected on an 8-yard touchdown pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1 of the 2019 NFL preseason, and then once again for a 41-yard touchdown pass against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3 of the preseason. 

Beyond Roethlisberger’s injury, Washington was already emerging toward Pittsburgh’s WR2 status, especially after Pittsburgh’s Week 2 snap count saw Donte Moncrief (18 snaps) fall eight snaps behind Dionte Johnson (26) against the Seattle Seahawks. Washington saw 33 snaps, second to only JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 46, and nothing screams "safety blanket" for a second-year backup QB like Rudolph quite like knowing he has a six-year chemistry with Washington. 

While Smith-Schuster remains the clear WR1, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect a continued rise in Washington’s fantasy value with his long-time teammate Rudolph stepping in at QB for the foreseeable future.

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David Hayes is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, David Hayes also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username DavidWHayes. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.