Washington Redskins: 2014 Outlook
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Washington Redskins

By Larry Gold, Friday, September 12, 2014

What a difference a year makes. Last offseason, there was a mounting tension between then-coach Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III centered around RG3's ability to be ready for the season-opener. Griffin was recovering from ACL and LCL ligament damage in his right knee. Although RG3 took the field to start the season, he struggled all year (much of which was attributed to his knee brace that kept him from being the athlete he was as a promising rookie). Griffin and Shanahan took passive jabs at each other all year long and it was clear that changes needed to be made. Fast forward to this year where a new regime is in place, led by first-year coach Jay Gruden and Griffin looks to be back to his old self and will be able to play without the brace. Griffin was able to put in offseason work that he couldn't do the prior year because of his rehab. the former Baylor Bears QB will benefit from the addition of DeSean Jackson as a compliment to Pierre Garcon (who was targeted an incredible 182 times last season). Jackson will surely be an improvement over Santana Moss, who was RG3's second-most reliable wide receiver. RG3's ADP is 73.33 or QB8. At this position, the assumption prices Griffin as though he will revert back to his 2012 form. As a rookie, he ran for seven TDs on 120 attempts, compared to no rushing TDs on 86 attempts with the knee brace in 2013.

Editor's note: The re-injury risks are high with Griffin so if you target him, be sure to secure a capable backup. He's always going to be one big hit away from standing on the sideline.

Update: RG3 suffered a dislocated ankle in Week 2 and is out indefinitely. Kirk Cousins will assume the starting role.

Kirk Cousins found himself behind center for the last three games of the 2013 season after RG3 was shut down in order to protect him from unnecessary injury. Cousins' performance was a mixed bag, including one terrific 381-yard, three-TD performance in a losing effort to the Falcons (who were terrible on defense at this point). His other two outings were poor, although given all the turmoil in Washington and obvious small sample size, not much can be read into it. Cousins has shown flashes that he could compete for a starting QB role down the road. For now, his only value is as an immediate waiver wire pick up should RG3 get injured or the tremendously patient dynasty owner who wants to wait until his rookie contact ends.

Update: Kirk Cousins filled in admirably in RG3's absence and carried the Redskins to victory in Week 2. Cousins inherits the starting role and could find success as a high end QB2 with an abundance of weapons around him.

Alfred Morris has quietly been one of the most consistent backs since being drafted in the sixth round out of Florida Atlantic by the Redskins in the 2012 draft. He only trails Adrian Peterson in rushing yards from scrimmage over the last two years. Morris has a knack for extending runs and getting the most out of every touch as evidenced by his career 4.7 YPC. It is his non-use in the passing game that has fantasy owners cautious going into this season. He has been targeted a microscopic 28 times in 32 career games and new head coach Jay Gruden has already stated that he doesn't see Morris as a player that possesses natural hands. Gruden has more of a pass-first mentality than the prior regime, meaning that Morris could potentially see less total touches than he grew accustomed to under Mike Shanahan. Morris is also a product of the prior regime, meaning Gruden may be less than patient with Morris's frequent fumbles (seven lost fumbles over two years). While no running back on the roster is expected to challenge Morris for his role of grinding out yards between the tackles, it is unlikely that Morris will maintain his two year averages in runs and yards. As the 16th running back (41.46 ADP) off the board, you could do worse, but if RG3 starts stealing goal-line carries and Gruden calls formations for running backs more comfortable in the passing game, you may find yourself disappointed with Morris.

Editor's note: New regimes have new priorities. It's very possible that Gruden opts to give guys like Roy Helu and rookie Lache Seastrunk a piece of the action on third downs and other passing situations. Morris should keep his playing time locked up on first and second down though. He retains the most value in standard leagues of course since he brings very little to the table as a pass-catcher.

Roy Helu is a running back that fits the mold of a total fantasy weapon and it's not because we all love saying "Heh-loo" when he scores. As a rookie in 2011, Helu caught everyone's attention with three-straight 23-rush/100 or more yard outings; even more impressively though, he hauled in 14 receptions in another contest. 2012 was a lost year as he found himself on injured reserve in September with severe turf toe and lower leg injuries. He battled back from to be the clear handcuff for Alfred Morris last year. Even in a backup role, Helu turned in a highlight reel game with three touchdowns in a shootout win over the Bears. He has also averaged a respectable 4.3 YPC in his short career. With team Gruden now running the Redskins, Helu may potentially see an increased role (much like Gruden used Giovani Bernard to complement BenJarvus Green-Ellis). Helu is currently falling to the back end of drafts (196.33 ADP, RB61), meaning you can take a shot on him without risk.

Editor's note: We here at FFToolbox have Helu ranked 50th. This is a big difference where his aforementioned ADP, roughly a two or three round difference. PPR owners looking to make a big splash with a late-round back should be all over this former Nebraska RB.

DYNASTY DIAMOND: Lache Seastrunk is an interesting rookie running back to keep an eye on this year should Alfred Morris and Roy Helu Jr. stumble. Seastrunk, out of Baylor University, is reunited with his college teammate Robert Griffin III. Although they did not play together due to Seastrunk sitting out a year after transferring, they are close friends. Seastrunk brings blazing speed to the Redskins, but the knock on him is that he has very little receiving experience. It is expected that Seastrunk will be limited to special teams his first year, but given the fact that the new coaching staff drafted him (and the other running backs were inherited), it is a situation worth monitoring.

Pierre Garcon shook off an injury-riddled first year with the Redskins to post career-highs in targets, receptions, and yards in 2013. In fact, Garcon led the entire league with a staggering 182 targets; even more impressive, he had ten or more targets in each of the last ten games. While those stats are as much a product of RG3 having no other trustworthy weapons than anything else, it validates Garcon as one of the premier receivers in the league. Griffin is expected to spread the ball around more this year with the additions of DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts and a healthy Jordan Reed, but Garcon will still be the most heavily targeted receiver in Jay Gruden's pass-happy offense. Garcon is currently the 12th WR being selected (32.60 ADP) and going approximately two rounds ahead of his new teammate Jackson. Expect fewer targets but greater efficiency this year as defenses will not be able to double-team Garcon.

The DeSean Jackson Show joins Redskins nation after six drama-filled years with the Philadelphia Eagles. Week to week, Jackson has always been one of the more difficult players to handicap. In his first year in Chip Kelly's high-octane offense, Jackson posted career-best in targets (126), receptions (82), yards (1,332) and touchdowns (9) and had three monstrous games where he eclipsed 150 yards receiving. But Kelly grew tired of Jackson's antics, alleged gang ties and ultimately released him for what may be nothing. Jackson now finds himself on an equally exciting offense with an opportunity for an explosive year beside Pierre Garcon. Jackson is expected to be on his best behavior in an effort to stick it to the Eagles, but fantasy owners continue to be uneasy given Jackson's history of disappearing from the stat line games at a time. Jackson is currently falling to the fifth round (54.18 ADP), which he can easily outperform if he and RG3 develop immediate chemistry, especially on deep balls.

When Andre Roberts signed with the Redskins during the offseason, he immediately moved to the top of many sleeper lists. Unfortunately, an impromptu DeSean Jackson signing put Roberts right back in a situation he is quite familiar with: the third receiving option behind two star receivers. In fact, Roberts is the fourth receiving option on the Redskins given that TE Jordan Reed will be far more heavily-utilized than any Cardinals tight end was during his tenure with the club. Roberts has sure hands and will be a terrific checkdown option for RG3, but will not receive enough targets to warrant a spot in your starting line-up.

Jordan Reed tops the list of young tight ends that are set to become an elite offensive weapon. As a rookie in 2013, the former Florida Gator made an immediate impact, hauling in a touchdown reception in only his second game. Reed and RG3 demonstrated impressive chemistry, connecting on 45-of-59 attempts. Reed was Griffin's second-favorite target behind Pierre Garcon and was on pace for over 100 targets in his first year before a severe concussion sidelined him for the rest of the season. Now (mostly) recovered, Reed is poised for a breakout year. With a supporting cast of elite receivers, defenses will struggle to cover Reed. Fantasy owners are buying into the hype as Reed is currently the sixth tight end off the board (76.67 ADP). Look for Reed to outperform all tight ends not named Graham, Gronkowski or Thomas and therefore surpass the expectations of his draft position.

Editor's note: There is a lot to like about Reed; however, his re-injury concerns are valid. A report came out earlier in the year that suggested Reed had suffered multiple concussions through college and into his rookie season. The fear being one more serious concussion could end his career, not just another season. Reed has big-time potential though, so that's just the risk owners will have to take.

Kai Forbath was a sleeper coming into 2013 due to his efficient rookie season where he made 94-percent of his field goal attempts. However, his sophomore season was less than stellar as he battled through a groin injury that sidelined him for three weeks. The Redskins also trailed heavily in many games, creating less field goal opportunities. The Redskins also selected Zach Hocker from Arkansas with their last pick of the draft, meaning Forbath will be fighting for his job in training camp. While Forbath has the opportunity for a big year if he retains his role on a strong offense, his current situation is too murky for your commitment with a draft pick.

Although the Redskins' defense gave up the second-most points in 2013, they landed in the middle of the pack in terms of INTs, sacks and tied for the league-lead in fumble recoveries. In an effort to bolster their porous defensive line, they signed Pro Bowler Jason Hatcher away from the Dallas Cowboys. There are still questions at safety given that Phillip Thomas has yet to solidify a starting role. In a division with Tony Romo, Eli Manning and Nick Foles, expect there to be more offense than defense; you should shop elsewhere for a fantasy defense.