After a 2012 rookie season that saw him finish as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in ESPN leagues (tied for fifth; 304 points), Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was benched for the final three games of his second season as he struggled to get back to full strength after suffering a torn ACL in the Redskins’ Wild Card Round loss the previous postseason.
Griffin threw for more 280 or more yards in six games last season, including three straight 300-yard games to start the season, which helped him throw for slightly more yards (3,203) than he did in 2012 (3,200) despite playing two fewer games. He threw the ball a lot more last year (35.1 attempts per game) compared to his rookie season (26.2 pass attempts per game), but otherwise his numbers were worse across the board and he failed to rush for a touchdown after scoring seven times on the ground in 2012.
The Redskins have hired former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden as their new head coach, and putting better weapons around Griffin seems to be a priority with the recent addition of wide receiver DeSean Jackson to go along with the signing of Andre Roberts earlier in free agency.
Can Griffin re-capture his previous form in 2014?
Griffin will reportedly ditch the brace he wore on his surgically repaired right knee last season, which clearly hindered him and kept him from showing the same burst as a runner that he did as a rookie. A fully healthy offseason can also only help Griffin as he works to become a more polished all-around quarterback, and the fact Gruden got good production out of an ordinary talent like Andy Dalton bodes well for a rebound in 2014.
Owning Griffin in a fantasy league comes with risk and potential downside, since he has not finished either of his first two seasons completely healthy and in uniform, and that will not change until he strings together multiple seasons playing all 16 games. But in terms of a calculated risk on draft day this summer, after the first 5-10 quarterbacks are off the board, Griffin’s upside is hard to ignore as long as you make it a priority to pair him with another solid option.