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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Washington Redskins

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Redskins are oozing with optimism this offseason, and there are plenty of reasons to be excited heading into 2014.

There's a new coach in Jay Gruden, a new weapon in DeSean Jackson and a healthy quarterback in Robert Griffin III.

The latter is easily the best news of all -- for Redskins fans and Fantasy owners. When last season ended, Griffin was on the bench because former coach Mike Shanahan wanted to protect his surgically repaired knee. Kirk Cousins was given a three-game audition, and he failed, not that there was any doubt Griffin would be the starter this year.

After last year's offseason where Griffin couldn't work out and was limited with a knee brace following his injury in the 2012 playoffs, he's 100 percent and ready to go. He's apparently picked up Gruden's offense already, and his receiving corps is loaded with the addition of Jackson and Andre Roberts to go with Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed.

On defense, the Redskins added defensive end Jason Hatcher to improve their pass rush and safety Ryan Clark to help the secondary, but replacing retired middle linebacker London Fletcher will be tough. Keenan Robinson has the inside track to start, but he will be challenged by Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan.

The winner of that battle is someone to monitor heading into Draft Day for IDP leagues this season.

Bounce-back candidate ... Robert Griffin III

Griffin went from the No. 6 quarterback in standard Fantasy leagues in 2012 to No. 19 last year when he struggled to return from the knee injury in the 2012 playoffs. He passed for 3,203 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and had 86 carries for 489 yards, but he never looked comfortable despite six games with 20-plus Fantasy points in 13 starts.

We're expecting the Griffin from his rookie year to show up, and there's a lot to like about him this season. He has plenty of weapons with Garcon, Jackson, Reed and Roberts, and Gruden should allow him to make plays. He's also without restrictions on his injured knee.

Gruden has already said he wants Griffin to run more, which is a great sign, and Gruden also helped Andy Dalton finish as a Top 12 Fantasy quarterback the past two seasons. It won't take much for Griffin to return as a Top 10 quarterback this year, and he's worth drafting as a No. 1 option.

Health is always going to be a concern for Griffin, but you can wait on him with a late-round pick on Draft Day. He has the chance to rebound with a big year after last season's disappointment.

Still a stud ... Alfred Morris

Morris was viewed as a disappointment in 2013 because he scored six less touchdowns from the previous year, but that's unfair criticism. Yes, his touchdown total was nearly cut in half from 13 to seven, but he still had 276 carries for 1,275 yards. He had 335 carries for 1,613 yards in 2012, and his yards per carry were basically the same (4.8 in 2012 and 4.6 in 2013).

What you should like about Morris this season is the addition of Jackson and all the weapons in the passing game should open up plenty of open lanes at the line of scrimmage. Gruden still plans to use a similar scheme running the ball that Shanahan implored, which helped Morris finish as a Top 15 Fantasy running back the past two seasons.

The negative is Gruden could get pass happy, and Morris has struggled in that area with 20 combined catches for 155 yards in his career. He did catch four passes for 68 yards at the Pro Bowl, and Gruden said he could see Morris catching 20-25 passes a year.

We consider Morris a No. 1 Fantasy running back, and he's worth drafting in Round 2 in standard leagues and Round 3 in PPR formats. Even if he "struggles" again like he supposedly did in 2013, you're still looking at 1,300 total yards with the chance for double digits in touchdowns. I'll take that upside in what should be an explosive offense.

Tight end to target ... Jordan Reed

2013 Touches Leaders
808 total touches
Alfred Morris 285 (276 car., 9 rec.) 35.3%
Pierre Garcon 115 (2 car., 113 rec.) 14.2%
Roy Helu 93 (62 car., 31 rec.) 11.5%
Jordan Reed 46 (1 car., 45 rec.) 5.7%
Santana Moss 45 (3 car., 42 rec.) 5.6%
All Others 224 27.2%

We're all searching for the next Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski. Some will tell you it could be Dennis Pitta or Jordan Cameron. Others will look at Zach Ertz or Eric Ebron.

Reed is definitely in that discussion, and if he can stay healthy he could be a star. He might not be as good as Graham or Gronkowski, but the potential is there.

Reed finished his rookie season in 2013 with 45 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns in only nine games. He missed the final six games with concussion issues, but he's expected to be fine heading into this year.

He averaged 7.5 Fantasy points a game when he was healthy last year, and if you project that over 16 games he would have finished as the No. 7 Fantasy tight end in standard leagues with 121 points. We think he's capable of being in that range, and he's a No. 1 Fantasy tight end coming into the season.

So if you're the owner who won't draft Graham, Gronkowski, Julius Thomas or Vernon Davis in the first four rounds, then look for Reed beginning in Round 6 or 7. I like him at No. 7 overall at his position after the aforementioned four guys along with Pitta and Jason Witten. Reed has the ability to be that good.

Schedule analysis

The first thing that jumps out on the Redskins schedule is four road games in a six-week period starting in Week 8. They play at Dallas and at Minnesota before a bye in Week 10. Then they face Tampa Bay at home in Week 11 before road games at San Francisco and at Indianapolis. Having the NFC West on the docket won't be easy, but the Redskins do avoid a trip to Seattle, which is a positive. And this offense should benefit with five games indoors, which will help based on their speed at receiver.

Training camp battles

Who's the No. 4 receiver? The Redskins are locked in with their Top 3 guys with Garcon, Jackson and Roberts. But the No. 4 spot could come down to Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson, who is coming off last year's torn ACL. If Hankerson is healthy he could bump Moss down the depth chart, so keep an eye on his status during training camp. But no matter who wins this job, neither should be drafted in the majority of Fantasy leagues this year.

Bold prediction

Jackson was awesome last year in Chip Kelly's offense with career highs in catches (82) and yards (1,332), and he tied his career high in touchdowns (nine). But he's not going to duplicate those stats with the Redskins, and I don't expect him to finish as a Top 24 Fantasy receiver this year.

He accomplished that feat last season with Jeremy Maclin out, and Jackson struggled the previous three seasons when he wasn't the clear-cut No. 1 option. Garcon has that role with the Redskins, and he led the NFL in targets last year.

Jackson will still have his moments -- his two games against the Eagles in Week 3 and Week 16 should be dominant -- which make him a solid mid-round selection. But if you draft Jackson as a starter you will probably be left disappointed. I would only consider him a No. 3 receiver in 2014.

Injury report

Leonard Hankerson (knee), questionable for start of training camp.

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Player News
Redskins place LB Ja'Gared Davis on non-football injury list
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(1:48 am ET) Reserve linebacker Ja'Gared Davis , who spent time last season on the Redskins' practice squad, was placed on the non-football injury list by the team Thursday after apparently injuring himself during practice, per The Washington Post

Davis last played in the NFL in 2014 with the Patriots. 


Cowboys DE Greg Hardy suffers strain in side
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(1:33 am ET) Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy suffered a strain in his left side during Thursday's practice, which the team said is not considered serious, per the Dallas Morning News. 

Hardy told fans "I'm invicible," as he signed autographs after practice. The Cowboys training staff was checking out Hardy after practice as a precautionary measure. 

"To be honest with you, with Greg right from the start, he was actually going too hard," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He was going too hard in the weight room and too hard on the field early on in the offseason."


Cowboys WR Dez Bryant says new deal won't change him
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(1:28 am ET) Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant reported to camp Thursday and said that just because he's inked a big-money contract, he won't change the way he plays, per the Dallas Morning-News. 

Bryant participated in every drill and the afternoon practice, even though the team suggested he might be limited at the start of camp after signing his $70 million deal so late in the offseason. 

"That deal don't make me," Bryant said. "It don't make me. I play this game because I love this game. I don't give a damn about none of that. It's not going to change the way I play. It's not going to change the way I act."


S Kam Chancellor lone Seahawks no-show
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(1:19 am ET) Kam Chancellor did not report to the Seahawks' facility on Thursday, and appears to be prepared to hold out when the team's training camp opens Friday, per the SeattlePI.com. 

If Chancellor does hold out, he would incur up to $30,000 per day in fines. He is upset about the four-year, $28 million deal he signed in 2013. 

Chancellor recorded 78 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble in 14 games for the Seahawks last season.


Cowboys QB Tony Romo intends to practice more
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/30/2015) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said he plans to ramp up his level of activity during training camp, planning to practice for three days in a row at times, per the Dallas Morning-News

Romo, who has battled back issues for the last several seasons, did not practice in more than consecutive days last training camp. 

"I think we'll practice more this year than we did last year, but at the same time it's not out of the realm to go two-and-one sometimes (two days on, one off) and I think the plan is we'll have some where we go three in a row," Romo said. "We'll see how it goes."


Report: WR James Jones to sign with Giants
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/30/2015) Veteran wide receiver James Jones , who was released earlier in the year by the Raiders, will sign a one-year deal with the Giants , per NFL.com. 

Jones fielded offers from the Eagles, Chiefs, Seahawks and Bengals, but decided to sign with the Giants due to his relationship with New York offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, per the report. 

Jones had 73 receptions for 666 yards and six touchdowns last season. 


Jets DL Sheldon Richardson charged with resisting arrest
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/30/2015) Less than two weeks after being suspended for four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was charged with resisting arrest and child endangerment in Missouri on Wednesday, per NFL.com.

Richardson was clocked driving as high as 143 miles per hour in mid-July with a 12-year-old in the back seat. According to the police report, Richardson turned off his headlights in an attempt to evade the police and lost control of his car at times. Police found a fully-loaded semi-automatic weapon under the seat once the stop was made. 

"We are aware of the situation and are gathering information," the Jets said in a statement. "This is a pending legal matter and we will have no further comment at this time."


Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson in camp, 'frustrated' with deal
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(7/30/2015) Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson did indeed report to the start of training camp Wednesday, but remains "frustrated" with his contract status, per ESPN.com. 

"It is a little frustrating, but at the end of the day I am happy to be out here with my teammates and get the season going," Wilkerson said. 

The veteran is seeking a big-money, long-term contract, and hopes to work out a new deal with the Jets before the start of the season. If not, he will make $6.97 million and become a free agent - at which point, the Jets could apply the franchise tag. 

Wilkerson has racked up 16 sacks over the past two seasons. 


Bengals place Rey Maualuga on injury list
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7/30/2015) The Bengals placed linebacker Rey Maualuga on the non-football injury list, the team announced on Thursday. 

The team didn't release details on the nature of Maualuga's injury. He can be activated from the list whenever he's medically cleared to play. 


Report: Bengals reacquire WR Greg Little
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/30/2015) Wide receiver Greg Little has signed a one-year deal with the Bengals, a source has told Pro Football Talk.

Little, who was cut by Cincinnati in late February, caught just six passes for 69 yards last season after a disappointing three-year stint with Cleveland.


 
 
 
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