|By Larry Gold, Friday, September 12, 2014|
QB Robert Griffin III - Stud (low risk)
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.
QB Kirk Cousins - Low Potential
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.
RB Alfred Morris - Solid/Safe Pick
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.