Fantasy Football 32: Washington Redskins
The Washington Football Organization.
I don’t know what we will be calling this team come September, and quite frankly, I don’t really care. However, for the time being, I will be referring to them as the Washington Football Organization.
That’s not offensive, is it?
Washington’s 2012 and 2013 campaigns were polar opposites. In 2012, we saw a playoff team with flash, excitement and fight. Last year, however, we saw one of the worst defensive units in football, a sophomore quarterback that appeared to be “slumping” and a disaster in the front office. However, fast forwarding to 2014, the Redskins serve as one of the better bounceback teams to target in all of fantasy. A new head coach, some more weapons and (I pray) a fully healthy RG3, Washington is up next, part of Fantasy 32.
Post. Hype. Sleeper.
Robert Griffin III was amazing in his rookie season, of course. 20 passing touchdowns, seven rushing scores and a top-seven fantasy finish, RG3 was as good as advertised. However, a disastrous ending to a playoff game against Seattle resulted in that torn ACL, and in year two, he wasn’t quite the same. He looked hesitant and rusty on his throws, didn’t put a ton of force behind his passes and wasn’t as explosive running the football. Because of this, he finished outside of the top-15 among fantasy quarterbacks.
This is terrific news if you like Griffin.
The quarterback position is do darn deep that RG3, a former top-seven passer, can be had at a significant bargain. Last year, according to ESPN, 13 passers totaled 250 fantasy points, the most since 1960. Just one year after being the talk of the NFL, Griffin has become a bit of an afterthought. Now, he gets pass-happy Jay Gruden calling the shots. Since being hired as the Bengals offensive coordinator, Gruden has led Cincinnati to improve from 22nd in scoring to 12th, to 6th a season ago. I mean, he helped Andy Dalton finish as a top-five fantasy passer, and RG3 is lightyears better. During his first two seasons, Griffin ranked 25th and 18th in pass attempts, and was still very good, despite the lack of volume. Meanwhile, Dalton has seen his pass attempts increase in each season, as the Bengals ranked 8th in pass attempts last year.
And, of course, the Redskins have great weapons. Already having Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed, Washington went out and grabbed DeSean Jackson, who will be great for RG3. While Griffin doesn’t throw the ball down field a whole lot, he’s very effective when doing so. According to Pro Football Focus, in 2012, Griffin attempted just 36 passes traveling 20 yards or more (9%), but seven of those passes went for scores and his deep ball accuracy of about 50 percent was good for top-five in the league. Combine all of this with the fact that, while it may not be as much as 2012, Griffin is still going to run with the football. Gruden said he will remove some read-option, but if you look at Griffin’s rushing totals in his rookie year, he was more effective on non-designed running plays (9.36 YPC to 6.32).
The Butler– serving up fantasy points since, well, 2012.
No matter how productive he’s been, it seems that fantasy owners are never “thrilled” to grab Alfred Morris in their fantasy drafts. I mean, all the guy has done is carry the ball 611 times, rush for 2,888 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first two seasons. And look, I get it. The guy doesn’t catch passes, hauling in 20 passes during that same span. That’s why fantasy owners are laying off, especially in PPR leagues, and especially under Gruden. And I get it. Gruden likes to throw, Roy Helu was in the game on 37.1 percent of passing downs and Gruden also utilized a two-running back set during his time in Cincinnati.
I’m not worried about Morris. He’s a top-10 running back, based on talent and ability in this league. However, I am worried about Washington’s defense. Last year, this defense was atrocious, and as a result, hurt Morris’ value. Pat Thorman of PFF did a great job pointing out that in 2012, Washington held a lead about 38 percent of the time, but last year, they led just 10 percent of the time. When they are behind, Helu is in the game, and in the game quite a bit.
113 receptions is pretty good, no? Last year, Pierre Garcon set a franchise record for receptions in a single season,and was absolutely force-fed the football, finishing with 184 targets, the most in the NFL. Of course, he greatly benefited from Washington trailing over half of the time, but either way you look at it, he was fantastic last year, finishing as the 13th-best wideout in fantasy. While he probably won’t catch 113 balls again, especially with DeSean Jackson in town, Garcon could actually see better numbers in 2014, as RG3 should be much better under center. According to CBS Sports, only 124 of Garcon’s 184 targets were catchable last year.
As for Jackson, I think this is a much better real life move than fantasy. It helps RG3 a ton, and maybe forces Garcon to take a slight hit. But then again, RG3 doesn’t look downfield a ton, and that’s Jackson’s bread and butter. Griffin and Garcon have that rapport, and I still believe he will be “the guy” in the passing game. I’d still draft Garcon as a low-end WR1, while Jackson is a low-end two/high-end three.
There’s no denying the talent that Jordan Reed has. And when he’s on the field, he’s really good. During his first eight games last year, he averaged over eight fantasy points per game, which put him inside the top-10 among the position. He served as an ideal safety valve for RG3, averaging over seven targets per game during that span. A ton of people are all in on the athletic tight end, but his concussion history worries me a bit, especially since it’s such a gray area in sports. I’d draft him as a top-12 fantasy tight end, but not much higher than that. I want to see more.