Sunday, May 27, 2012

32 in 32: Washington Redskins

After another season of big free agent additions and a landmark trade to get a new quarterback, the Redskins might end up being the exact same team they were last season. The Redskins have to learn the value of building talent through the draft rather than adding through free agency. Regardless of the team's overall success this season, it seems reasonable that someone on this team is worth owning in fantasy. The issue is going to be figuring out who you want to draft from this team. In all reality, this team is such a patchwork at this point that it is impossible to make any definite assumptions, but I can sure as hell try for you. So here we go.

Before Robert Griffin became a Redskin, there was another player who signed a bigger contract who will have to prove that he deserved it. That man is Pierre Garcon. Garcon actually had some success last season, despite the terrible quarterback situation in Indianapolis. At this point, I would say that he is going to be the number one receiver on this Redskins team, but it is possible that Santana Moss will beat him out. Really, it is whichever player the opposing defensive coordinator wants to focus on the most. My bet would be that Garcon gets the stronger coverage in 12 of the 16 games because of his youth and speed, but Moss might see tighter coverage near the goal line. If Moss slows down any more this season or faces some injuries, Anthony Armstrong could step up as a serious contender. I'm not saying you should draft Armstrong, but I wouldn't be surprised if he had a few good games this season with Stallworth and Gaffney gone. One of the strongest pieces of this passing game might be the tight end, Fred Davis. Davis was drafted a few years ago, but never managed to push past Chris Cooley until last season. It seems like Father Time has been cruel to Cooley, and he just didn't look dominant last season. Cooley should be a non-factor this season, with Davis being the premier tight end for the 'Skins.

All of the passing game, of course, hinges on how well the newly acquired Robert Griffin III lives up to the hype. Griffin is smaller than Newton, meaning that he is more likely to get injured if he takes off and runs on every play. Everything we have heard from the Redskin vets suggests that this kid is everything he was expected to be, but we will have to wait and see how he does once the regular season rolls around. 3200 yards and 20 touchdowns is probably a reasonable estimate for Griffin, assuming he has a good season. Naturally, Griffin's value will be hinged upon the plays he makes with his legs, and we can assume that he will get 300 yards and 4-6 touchdowns in the rushing game. The more the runs, the less productive his passing will likely be and the higher risk of injury he runs. Once we see some actual results from this guy, we won't know what to expect from him.

Last season a guy named Cam Newton took the league by storm, rushing for over 700 yards and 14 touchdowns. This was detrimental to the rest of the running backs on the Panthers. Last season a guy named Mike Shanahan drove the fantasy world crazy by randomly deciding which running back would get the most carries for his team. This leads to the perfect storm of having absolutely no idea which, if any, Redskins halfback is worth owning this season. The best bet would probably be Roy Helu. Helu was respectable last season while he was healthy, but he had trouble reaching the endzone, scoring only two rushing touchdowns on 151 attempts. Then there is Tim Hightower, who only played in 5 games but got 84 touches and scored one rushing touchdown. Both of these backs caught the ball successfully out of the backfield,  but if we don't have a clear-cut starter each week, it is hard to play either of those guys. Ryan Torain and Evan Royster loom as possible break out candidates if they have a strong showing in training camp.

The moral of the story for the Redskins is that there is no certainty at any position outside of tight end. You are rolling the dice when you draft anyone on this team, although they do typically field a good defense. The kicker, Graham Gano is an average guy who I probably wouldn't draft. Roy Helu and Tim Hightower might end up being better than late round picks, but we're going to have to see if anyone really wants this starting job.

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