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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
Sidney Rice opting to return to Seattle
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:05 am ET) The Seahawks re-signed free-agent wide receiver Sidney Rice to a one-year deal Wednesday, after being cut earlier in the offseason.

Financial terms of the deal are not yet known, though it will surely pay him less than the $8.5 million he was initially set to make before he was cut. Rice is recovering from a torn ACL in October, but has been cleared to return to football activities. 


Jaguars sign Mike Brown
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:03 am ET) The Jaguars signed exclusive rights free agent receiver Mike Brown Wednesday. The terms of the contract are not immediately available.

Brown finished third on the team in receiving yards a year ago, finishing with 32 receptions for 446 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 11 games. 


Jets backfield takes shape following Johnson signing
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) With the Jets signing Chris Johnson on Wednesday, the rest of their backfield should start to take shape, reports the New York Daily News.

The report says Johnson and Chris Ivory will work as a tandem, and Bilal Powell will be the No. 3 running back. Mike Goodson is expected to be released before the start of the season.


Chris Johnson excited for 'fresh start'
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) New Jets running back Chris Johnson's two-year deal is worth $8 million with another $1 million in incentives, reports Pro Football Talk. Johnson was scheduled to make $8 million for the Titans in 2014 alone before he was released.

Meanwhile, Johnson told the Tennessean that he's looking forward to this opportunity with the Jets.

"I have a fresh start. Now I am going to go out there with a chip on my shoulder," Johnson said. "I know a lot of people are doubting me. I want to prove everybody wrong who has doubts in me."


Bengals sign punter T.J. Conley
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) The Bengals signed free agent punter T.J. Conley on Wednesday. 

Conley punted in 16 games for the Jets in 2011. He averaged 42.7 yards on 92 punts, and his 38.8-yard net average was the highest in Jets history. He had 32 inside-20 kicks with just six touchbacks, and his plus-26 differential on inside-20s to touchbacks ranked tied for third in the NFL.

Conley did not play in the 2012 or 2013 regular seasons. He was with the Jets in the 2012 preseason and with Cleveland in the 2013 preseason.

Conley will challenge incumbent Kevin Huber for the starting job, but most likely he won't make the final roster.


Chris Johnson signs two-year deal with the Jets
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) The Jets have signed running back Chris Johnson to a two-year deal, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. 

Johnson told reporters on Tuesday he was taking free agency one day at a time and added that he had other visits planned, but the Jets must have made him an improved offer to lock up the one-time 2,000-yard running back. 

Johnson has totaled at least 1,400 yards in each of his last four seasons with the Titans since running for 2,006 yards in 2009. He also scored 10 touchdowns in 2013 (four receiving). 


Clay Matthews says it's thumbs up for training camp
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said he's diligently rehabbing his injured thumb, comparing it to a torn ACL rather than a typical bone break. As part of the injury he also had surgery on his forearm, which got damaged when he re-injured the thumb late last season. But he told USA Today that he'll be ready for the start of training camp, though he'll miss offseason workouts. 

Mike James resumes running and cutting
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) Buccaneers running back Mike James is working his way back into football shape after breaking his left ankle last season. He told the Tampa Bay Times that he's been running and cutting and is aiming to get back to full strength and speed. Asked if he would be ready for the team's April minicamp, James said he and the team are "taking everything day by day." 

Josh Freeman signs with Giants
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) The Giants have signed quarterback Josh Freeman, reports FOX Sports.

Freeman spent last season with the Buccaneers and Vikings. His only appearance for Minnesota was against the Giants, and he completed 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and an interception.

Freeman will try and make the final roster for the Giants as a backup to Eli Manning, who is coming off ankle surgery this offseason. The Giants also have Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib on the roster.


Rob Gronkowski will 'take his time' coming back
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/16/2014) Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will "take his time and then take more time" coming back from a torn ACL suffered last season, a source told Bleacher Report

Gronkowski's heart was questioned last year when he took his time coming back from forearm and back procedures. This year he might not care how long he takes as he wants to practice patience in his rehab. 

The knee injury happened in December of last year. Usually it takes nine months to come back from an ACL injury without incident. That would mean he'd be ready to hit the field by late August. 


 
 
 
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