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Offseason Primers: Washington Redskins

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Redskins were one of the most intriguing teams in 2012, and we hope this year will provide even more excitement with their young cast of stars. The key, of course, is the health of quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Before we get into Griffin, let's recap last year. The Redskins were 3-6 going into their bye in Week 10, and coach Mike Shanahan declared the season over. It was a tremendous rallying cry as Washington ran off seven wins in a row to win the NFC East and make the playoffs.

Unfortunately, the playoff loss against Seattle proved costly as Griffin suffered a knee injury, and his status for the start of this season is now in doubt. But we expect him to be back for Week 1 barring a setback, and the Redskins should continue to shine.

2012 Touches Leaders
810 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
Alfred Morris 346 (335 car., 11 rec.) 42.7%
Josh Morgan 51 (3 car., 48 rec.) 6.3%
Pierre Garcon 46 (2 car., 44 rec.) 5.6%
Santana Moss 44 (3 car., 41 rec.) 5.4%
Leonard Hankerson 40 (2 car., 38 rec.) 4.9%
All Others 283 34.9%

They have a tremendous young running back in Alfred Morris, who was a star as a rookie in 2012. And Pierre Garcon leads a decent receiving corps that is only made better by Griffin's presence. Bringing back tight end Fred Davis as a free agent was also a quality move.

With the NFC East having no dominant team -- the Giants and Cowboys are good but not great and the Eagles are starting over with a new coach in Chip Kelly -- the Redskins could again by playoff bound. If they can improve on defense -- getting Brian Orakpo back from a torn pectoral muscle will help -- Washington should continue to be in the hunt.

But they won't do it without a healthy Griffin, and all eyes will be on him in training camp to see if he's back at 100 percent.

Robert Griffin III -- Injury-risk sleeper

2012 Target Leaders
442 pass attempts
Josh Morgan 73 16.5%
Pierre Garcon 68 15.4%
Santana Moss 62 14.0%
Leonard Hankerson 57 12.9%
Logan Paulsen 38 8.6%
All Others 144 32.5%

Griffin is a wild card for Fantasy owners this season. He had surgery to repair a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in January, and he's hoping to be ready by Week 1. If that happens, then Griffin could have an Adrian Peterson-like impact this year in his comeback from knee surgery. But if Griffin isn't ready by Week 1 or suffers a setback with his knee, then depending on when you draft him, he could be a bust. We consider Griffin a low-end starting option coming into the year based on the uncertainty. No matter what you do with Griffin, you better back him up with a quality No. 2 quarterback (think Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger or Jay Cutler, for example) in case he doesn't recover at 100 percent. When healthy, Griffin was a star as he showed last year with 344 Fantasy points, which made him the No. 7 quarterback in standard leagues. He averaged 22.9 points a week, something only four other quarterbacks (Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning) did last year, and we hope Griffin can make a full recovery without any problems. Gamble on him with a pick as early as Round 5 or 6.

Alfred Morris -- Worth the price

Morris was one of the best surprises in 2012, and now he has to avoid a sophomore slump this year. Morris won the starting job for the Redskins in training camp, and he had a tremendous rookie season. He had 335 carries for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns and 11 catches for 77 yards. Morris was the No. 5 running back in standard leagues, and he had 12 games with double digits in Fantasy points, including six games in a row to close the season. Shanahan has said Morris could be more involved in the passing game this year, which would only enhance his value, but he'll be a quality option in standard leagues no matter what. He's a workhorse and a goal-line back with talent, and we know Shanahan has a great history with running backs. We expect Morris to play well again this year, and he should be drafted toward the end of Round 1 in standard leagues and Round 2 in PPR formats.

Pierre Garcon -- Breakout

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Robert Griffin III 70-77 overall
Alfred Morris 7-12 overall
Roy Helu Undrafted
Evan Royster Undrafted
Pierre Garcon 51-58 overall
Santana Moss Undrafted
Leonard Hankerson Undrafted
Josh Morgan Undrafted
Fred Davis Undrafted

Garcon is hoping his second season with the Redskins is better than the first. His debut season in Washington was met with mixed results in 2012. When he played, he was dominant, but Garcon missed six games and was limited in two others because of a nagging toe problem. But he had double digits in Fantasy points in four of the eight games where he was close to 100 percent and finished the season with 44 catches for 633 yards and four touchdowns. Garcon avoided surgery on his foot, which is a positive, but the injury could still be a concern. It's also a problem that Griffin is coming back from major knee surgery. But if all the reports on Garcon and Griffin are positive through training camp then Garcon should be considered a solid No. 2 Fantasy receiver. We would draft him as early as Round 5 or 6 in the majority of leagues, and this should be a great season for him if he can stay healthy all year.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
WR Andre Johnson: I didn't join Colts for revenge against Texans
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) Perennial Pro Bowl wideout Andre Johnson insists that he did not sign as a free agent with the Colts with two matchups against his old Texans team in mind. He claims the move was because Indianapolis, led by quarterback Andrew Luck, gives him the best chance to win.

Johnson was surprisingly released by Houston, but revenge was not part of his game plan.

"(Leaving the Texans) hasn't even really set in," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I was just talking about that with someone (Thursday). Everybody thinks that I went to the Colts to try and get back at the Texans and stuff like that. That had nothing to do with it. I just went to the ... place where I felt was the best fit for me and where I can have a chance to win a championship.

"It wasn't about circling (game) dates or nothing against the Texans. I had 12 great years here. Been around some great people, built some great relationships, a lot of great friends. Houston's always going to be my home."

Johnson remained productive in 2014, but his yards-per-catch average declined to 11.0, its lowest since 2005.


Report: Jaguars restructure contract of Marcedes Lewis
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) The Jaguars restructured the contract of tight end Marcedes Lewis, according to a report by Jacksonville.com.

Lewis did not receive an extension. This year will be the last year of his contract. The restructuring should reduce his cap number, which is currently $8.2 million. 


Jaguars sign Stefen Wisniewski
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/18/2015) The Jaguars announced the signing of free agent center Stefen Wisniewski on Saturday. 

Wisniewski reportedly signed a one-year contract for $2.5 million, per Jacksonville.com.

"We had the opportunity to spend time with Stefen earlier this month and remained in contact with him with the hopes of getting a deal done," GM David Caldwell said. "We are excited to get him on board before we officially start our offseason conditioning program next week. He gives us great position flexibility along our offensive line as he has started at both center and guard during his career. He has a familiarity with our offensive system and brings a lot of experience to our offensive line room."


49ers looking to extend Michael Wilhoite
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) After the unexpected retirements of two linebackers, the 49ers are looking to lock up Michael Wilhoite to a contract extension. 

Wilhoite is an exclusive rights free agent, but GM Trent Baalke told the media he hopes to negotiate a long-term deal. 

"We’re working on something with him as we speak … He’s kind of in a unique situation. He was kind of caught in a numbers deal," Baalke said, per SFGate.com.


DeMeco Ryans likes improved Eagles' defense
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans likes the changes that the team has made to its defense in the offseason.

"We got better on the outside, which we struggled at last year,” Ryans said, per ESPN. “We had a lot of struggles there on the outside at the corner position, so I feel we've upgraded there with (Byron) Maxwell , a guy that you've seen make a lot of plays for the Seahawks. A guy like Kiko (Alonso), who his rookie year was a really outstanding player, up for defensive rookie of the year, a playmaker all over the field, and another guy in (Walter) Thurmond , who is expected to definitely push guys to be the starting corner on the other side. So I feel like we upgraded at a lot of positions, and I feel like it's really going to improve our defense."


Kubiak: Time for Broncos' backup Brock Osweiler to step up
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler hasn't had much playing time, as Peyton Manning's backup, but coach Gary Kubiak wants to see progress from him.

"I think it's time for Brock to take a big step as a player," Kubiak said, per NFL.com. "A lot of times in this league, the young quarterbacks don't get the opportunity to be behind a player of Peyton's status and learn before they get the opportunity in this league ... I think Brock needs to take advantage of this. But he's going to be very competitive. I'm very impressed with his skills. I'm very impressed with how hard he works in the classroom. I know he's got all of the ability."


Kubiak: Broncos will run no-huddle with Peyton Manning
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Gary Kubiak said he plans to take advantage of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning when designing the Broncos' offense for next season. 

We'll definitely be running the hurry-up offense," Kubiak said per NFL.com. "Peyton's been the best at the business at it for many years, so that's a strength that we'll stay with."

That doesn't mean everything will be the same for Manning. Kubiak said he planned on having Manning under center more than in recent seasons. 


Steelers claim LS Brandon Hartson off waivers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) The Steelers announced on Friday that they claimed long snapper Brandon Hartson off of waivers. 

Hartson was waived by the Chiefs on Thursday. 


S Chris Banjo signs EFA tender with Packers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) Packers safety Chris Banjo signed his exclusive-rights tender on Friday, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The tender is good for one year and is worth $585,000 for the 2015 season. 


Trent Baalke praises 49ers LB Aldon Smith's offseason work ethic
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/17/2015) 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith has had plenty of off-field issues since entering the NFL.

After serving a nine-game suspension a year ago for violating the NFL's personal-conduct and substance-abuse policy, Smith returned and only tallied two sacks. 

The time off followed by sub-par performances has ignited Smith on the practice field thus far, according to general manager Trent Baalke. 

"He’s probably in as good a shape as he’s been in a long time," Baalke said, via the San Jose Mercury News. "He’s starting to develop into a leader out there, which is good to see and been a pleasure to watch."

Baalke knows that Smith has an uphill climb in repairing his image. But while Smith attempts to do so, Baalke wanted the San Francisco media to know that Smith is doing what he can to improve ont he playing field. 

“He’s got a great look in his eye,” Baalke said. “He’s doing well. I look forward to having you guys visit with him.”


 
 
 
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